The Danger of Being Flattered

Read: Isaiah 39:1-8

Nothing shall be left, says the LORD. (v. 6)

Isaiah records Judah’s first interaction with Babylon, a nation that later played a major role in Judah’s collapse. Babylon was a rising power but, like Judah, was no match for Assyria. So it was quite reasonable for Hezekiah to receive the envoys of the king of Babylon for this might lead to common resistance against Assyria. Hezekiah was flattered. He showed these envoys his wealth to impress them. Tragically he did not seek wisdom and guidance from God and his prophet Isaiah.

The prophet confronts the king with two penetrating questions in a quiet, gracious manner (a wise way to pose an issue to a king). Hezekiah’s answers set the stage for a devastating, prophetic message from God. Babylon would take everything that he had shown the envoys. Even worse, his descendants would also be taken from Israel and forced to serve in Babylon. (vv. 6-7) Hezekiah’s response to Isaiah’s warning was alarming, only focused on the short-term: it was fine because “there will be peace and security in my days.” (v. 8)

Where was the spiritual insight and vitality he demonstrated when he became king? After his son Manasseh succeeded him, spiritual and civic life rapidly deteriorated. Babylon devastated Judah just 120 years later. It is all too easy to be flattered into complacency. Subtle temptations of success and comfort can deaden our spiritual senses. God calls us to wake up and focus on that which really matters. —Gordon Van Wylen

As you pray, ask God to show you where you have become complacent.

About the Author

Gordon Van Wylen served as the Dean of the Engineering School at the University of Michigan, and was the President Emeritus of Hope College. Dr. Van Wylen died in 2020.