2 Kings 18

2 Kings 18
Pastor David Groendyk

The northern nation of Israel is gone, and only southern Judah is left. Hezekiah is the new king, and the Lord’s assessment of him is a good one—“He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him” (v. 5). That is to say, Hezekiah was the best king Judah or Israel ever had. It really is, as Ralph Davis calls it, a breath of fresh air coming on the heels of chapter 17. What makes Hezekiah so great? Several of his actions are listed here. He thoroughly cleanses the land of all idols and idolatrous places of worship (v. 4). He trusts the Lord more so than any other king (v. 5). He obeys the Lord and consistently does what is good and right (vv. 3, 6). In a sense, Hezekiah is a new David. Ralph Davis points out that the only two kings in Israel’s history whom the Lord was with (v. 7), who were successful in war (v. 7), and who struck down the Philistines (v. 8) were David and Hezekiah. As the northern nation of Israel is turned into dust in chapter 17, chapter 18 gives us awesome hope that the Lord does not abandon his people and that the gates of hell will not prevail against his church. God will consistently raise up godly men to lead his people, and even though the church can sometimes go through years of darkness, the Lord loves to give relief and respite to his people.

However, as soon as we finish reading about Hezekiah’s whole-hearted godliness, we come across both trial and temptation for him in verse 13. Assyria had wiped out northern Israel, and apparently they had their sights set on southern Judah as well. Hezekiah had revolted against them for a while (v. 7), which was certainly a gutsy move, considering how Assyria decimated Israel (vv. 9–12), but then Hezekiah seems to break. As Sennacherib king of Assyria marches toward Judah and begins picking off cities, Hezekiah tells the king that he regrets his revolt and would do anything to get him to leave (v. 14). Hezekiah overall was solid as a rock in his faith, but in this incident with Sennacherib he wobbles a little. Even very strong faith and a strong sense of God’s presence do not make us impregnable to trials (like Assyria) or immune from temptations (like fear). We all still wobble from time to time.

Unfortunately, even though Hezekiah is willing to strip all the gold and silver from the temple in order to pay off the king of Assyria and send him home, Sennacherib seems to renege on the deal, and he sends his army to Jerusalem anyway (v. 17). The Rabshakeh is the spokesman for Assyria’s army, and he launches into a speech as they pull up to Jerusalem (vv. 19–35). It’s clear that this man doesn’t truly understand the Lord or what worship and obedience to him look like since he thinks all the idols and idolatrous places of worship belonged to the Lord (v. 22), but he’s also doing his best to taunt the people and undermine their trust in both Hezekiah and God. Everything he says is aimed at shaking their confidence. What strikes me is how the second half of the Rabshakeh’s taunt in verses 28–35 mirrors Satan’s temptations in the garden of Eden and mirrors exactly what all of our temptations look like too. Satan and our own sinful hearts tempt us with the same method over and over again—“Don’t listen to the Lord! Don’t trust him! There’s no way you’ll prosper or succeed or be safe or have fun if you do what he says! But if you make peace with me, you’ll have whatever you want. If you listen to me, you’ll have all the best things in life. It’s pointless to follow God anyway.” Both Satan and our own sinful hearts undermine God’s authority and make us doubt God’s goodness, and they try to tell us that there is a better way.

So how do God’s people respond? Second Kings 18 ends with silence. The test for Hezekiah and Jerusalem now is will they believe that all this holiness and righteousness and holding fast to the Lord is worth it? Will God’s people be put to shame for staying true to him? Will God stay true to his promises and reward and protect his people? It is a real test of faith for them, and it’s the same test of faith for us. This is why Scripture repeatedly reminds believers that whoever believes in Christ will never be put to shame (e.g., Psa. 25:2; Psa. 119:6; Isa. 28:16; Rom. 9:33; Rom. 10:11; 1 Pet. 2:6). It may look bleak right now for God’s people, but God assures us that this is not the whole story. You can really trust him, and you will not be put to shame when all is said and done.