I’ve been working my way through I and II Kings for the past few months. I used to think the Old Testament was, well, old. Outdated. A great story book, for sure. Just not as relevant to daily living as the New Testament.
I was wrong.
Jump with me to II Kings 19. By this time, the northern kingdom (Israel) has fallen to the Assyrians. The southern kingdom (Judah) has endured a slew of kings – some good, some bad, some so-so.
Hezekiah is the current king of Judah. He succeeded his father, Ahaz, a king who did what was evil in the sight of God. But Hezekiah turns the family tides. Here’s how he’s described in I Kings 18:
Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the Lord and did not cease to follow him…
Complimentary, isn’t it? It’s almost enough to make me wonder if Hezekiah followed God because he somehow had it easier than the other kings. After reading further, I think the opposite might be true.
The Assyrians, the same people who conquered the northern kingdom, come after Judah during Hezekiah’s reign.
The Assyrian commanders descend on Jerusalem, spewing threats against Hezekiah’s people. Then Sennacherib, king of Assyria, sends a nasty letter to Hezekiah, basically predicting the Judah’s annihilation. It’s Hezekiah’s reaction to this letter that gives me pause today.
Instead of rushing to his armory and suiting up, Hezekiah does something remarkable (to my way of thinking at least).
He goes to the temple and spreads the letter out before God.
Hezekiah pours out his heart to God, laying the situation before Him and reaffirming his trust in God’s protection.
That’s amazing to me. Very counterintuitive. But so much better than the way I tend to respond in tight situations.
After studying II Kings 19: 9 -19, I see five aspects of Hezekiah’s approach that I’d do well to remember.
1. Go to God first.
Hezekiah didn’t summon his advisors. He didn’t get on the phone and ask advice from everyone in his contacts. He went to the One who matters most. He took the situation to God.
2. Lay it all before Him.
God was already briefed on the situation, but Hezekiah spells it out for Him anyway.
“Umm, God, the Assyrians are threatening us. They’ve never lost a battle. And they pretty much obliterate anyone or anything in their path. Just wanted to make sure you knew the stakes here.” (not in the text, my own loose translation)
3. Believe God is who He says He is.
Notice that before Hezekiah makes his request, he takes the time to reaffirm who God is. He keeps the focus on God, not on himself, not on his people, not on the Assyrians.
O Lord, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. v. 15
4. Believe God can do what He says He can do.
The Assyrians are unbeatable. Or so it would seem. Yet Hezekiah trusts God to give Judah the victory.
5. Assign God the credit.
Hezekiah knows that if his people defeat the Assyrians, it will be in God’s strength alone. He knows it and he acknowledges it.
O Lord our God, deliver us from [Sennarcharib’s] hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God. v. 19
Let’s talk: What is your typical response in a tough situation? Which of these five steps resonates most with you?
Disclaimer: I’m not a scholar or a theologian. I’m just an ordinary girl who believes that God is love and the Bible is truth. Any errors in interpretation are mine. I trust the Holy Spirit to work in my life and yours to give us glimpses of God’s glory with ever-increasing clarity and understanding.