Hephzibah, the daughter of Isaiah the Prophet, became the wife of Hezekiah after her father rebuked the king for not being married. She became the mother of Manasseh and of a daughter, Bilhah who later married a foreign prince. Growing up in the home of a prophet would have prepared her for the tumultuous life she was to experience. Her name means “My delight is in her.” 2 Kings 21:1
Hephzibah was blessed in that her husband, Hezekiah, was considered the second best king of the Southern Kingdom. Hezekiah passionately pursued pleasing God. Ironically, righteous Hezekiah was born the son of a wicked man. As a youth, Hezekiah turned to God when almost everyone else busied himself satisfying selfish cravings and pursuing evil desires. He ascended the throne when he was only 25. The young king smashed the pagan altars and images that polluted all of Judah. “And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord.” This being her life, it was easy for Hephzibah to “delight in her Lord.” More blessings were to come in the birth of a son, Manasseh.
Hephzibah would remain in the royal household for a very long time which would have given her the golden opportunity to have a spiritual influence on her son and even her grandchildren. One would think that with the Godly influence not only of his mother, but also of his father, that young Manasseh would follow in their footsteps in serving God. This was not to be the case. In the years to follow her ‘delighting in the Lord’ would be tested over and over.
Hephzibah’s son would assume the throne when he was only twelve, and would reign for fifty-five years (2 Kings 21:1).. Manasseh reigned for about ten years as co-regent with his father. Then when he was twenty-two his father died and Manasseh took over the throne. This young ruler enjoyed a rich heritage. He had a godly father and mother, and lived in a time of spiritual vitality and prosperity. He had the words of the prophets Isaiah and Micah ringing in his ears. He had seen the Lord deliver Jerusalem in a very miraculous way when it was under siege by the Assyrians. And yet : he did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord dispossessed before the sons of Israel. His mother must have been heartbroken.
What went wrong? Perhaps that is a question that Hephzibah asked herself over and over. Like many mothers throughout history who witness the waywardness of their children, she must have berated herself for not being a better mother. Her heart-wrenching intercession to her Heavenly Father on behalf of her prodigal is likened unto many mothers today. Yet, the delight of the Lord was in her soul. As she watched her son destroy all that her husband and her father had worked so faithfully in restoring the nation to Godliness, Hephzibah did not lose faith in what her Heavenly Father could do in the life of her child, and neither should we in the life of our prodigal. Her love for her son could not compare to the love that God had for Manasseh. It is the sin that God hates, not the sinner.
Hephzibah must have been grieved that her son was the worst of all the kings of Judah. Yet, her faith prevailed and it did come to pass that after much harsh chastening, Manasseh repented of all his evil works. And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, And prayed unto him: and he was entreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom” (2 Kings 33:12 and 13). God’s mercy is always available to those who develop a repentive attitude, acknowledging their wickedness and choosing to serve God instead.
Whether Hephzibah was alive when her son repented I know not, but most assuredly wherever she was, she rejoiced with the Heavenly host when he did. Let us not lose faith in God as to what he can do in the life of our prodigals.