2 Kings 19

2 Kings 19
Pastor Mark Hudson

Hezekiah is not a normal king for this time in the history of the nation of Judah.  Hezekiah is a godly man but peaceful times this is not.  For once, we see a king from Judah or Israel going to God instead of the gods of the nations.  How does he respond to this potentially life-threatening, nation-ending news?  First, let’s look at the messenger who brought this news.

Rabshakeh may be someone close to Sennacherib Assyria’s King, possibly a military leader but not necessarily.  He is in a position of authority.  Rabshakeh mocks God, Israel, and Hezekiah.  He thought he was pretty smart and Hezekiah was deceived.  Rabshakeh thought he had truth and recent history on his side.  Even when Rabshakeh left, he wrote back to Hezekiah warning the king not to trust in God.  Where do you think he is now?  I would not want to be with him now since he mocks God, mocks God’s king, and relies on the arm of flesh.

First, Hezekiah, although dressed in royal robes is humble in heart.  He tears his clothes (an expression of grief and repentance) and dons sackcloth and goes straight to the house of the Lord.  He is expressing his humility and repentance.  This is always the way to approach God.  We don’t mean that you should always be dour and sad when you approach God. Rather, you recognize your position vis-à-vis a holy God.  His majesty and holiness promotes a certain introspection that leads to humility. He continues that attitude as he communicates to Isaiah.

Notice Hezekiah knows who to ask for help.  He is praying to God and dictating a letter to Yahweh’s prophet.  Hezekiah speaks straightforwardly so Isaiah understands that this is serious.  Also notice that God seems to be ready for this problem and has given Isaiah a reassuring word from God for Judah’s King Hezekiah.  This might serve as a reminder for us.  Of course, we tell God what is bothering us, what we are afraid of, what areas in our lives we feel powerless to change (‘there is no strength to bring them forth’ in v. 3).  We also need to remember, He not only knows, but He has also known from eternity.  God is not on his heels rather He is orchestrating everything that happens to us: both what we think is bad and what we call good.

In vs. 10ff, Rabshakeh tells Hezekiah that he is being deceived by God (what a claim!).  In essence he tells the king of Israel that your local god will be just as powerless as the other local gods.  Just give up.  But Hezekiah is made of sterner stuff.  Hezekiah lays that rot in front of God and prays a magnificent, humble, beautiful, God-exalting prayer.   He begins with praise that recounts the glory of God.  He is enthroned above the cherubim, and no one compares to God.  He rules over all the kingdoms of the world.  He created all that is seen and unseen.  How God loves to hear others pray the truth of Scripture.

Hezekiah wants God to listen and see.  Hezekiah admits that Assyria has a point.  They have done damage to other nations.  Hezekiah has a higher ambition.  He wants ‘all the kingdoms of the earth [to] know that You, O Lord, are God alone.’  Do you think God loved that prayer?  God wants to very same thing: ‘that all the kingdoms of the earth may know . . . .(Him).”

If you saw this standoff at the time, you might be tempted to believe the Assyrians.  After all, they were vicious, violent, powerful, and successful.  Judah had reason to fear the Assyrians.  Isaiah’s prophecy in vs. 21ff is a clear rebuttal to the pride of Assyria.  We read these words of Isaiah and see what the wicked do when they mock believers: they mock “the Holy One of Israel.”  In fact, in vs. 25ff, God undercuts the claims of Assyrian by saying (in essence), ‘Assyria, you are just doing what I planned in eternity.  Even though you are doing this freely and have not the slightest intention to fulfill prophecy, in fact, you are.  You are merely doing My will.  But since you are doing My will with such evil hatred of Me, I will then judge Your sinful desires.’

God tells the Assyrians that they will not harm this city.  “For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David” v. 34.  And that night, God killed 185,000 Assyrians so they left and went home.  The King of Assyria, though 20 years later, is killed by his own two sons.  God gets the glory and Sennacherib is mocked due to his foolish pride.

The wicked may strut about and boast about their visible power and authority.  But Someone or someone is always over us.  We need to remember to never be proud in a way that exclude God from our life.  We should also remember that those who are over us are only there due to God’s choice.  And they may not last long.

If you are over someone, remember to treat them with respect.  The Larger Catechism addresses those in authority and reminds them of their many duties to those under them.  Read this for yourself here https://thewestminsterstandard.org/westminster-larger-catechism/#126  in questions #129 & #130.  You may have never thought about such obligations before. But you ought to think about your obligations to those in authority over you and to those under your authority.

Dear Father, this world thinks and acts as if You were of no consequence.  Help them to wake up and see how glorious You truly are.  When those more powerful than us threaten us, remind us to go directly to You.  We pray for the many millions of believers around the world who suffer for their faith.  Protect them, stop their persecutors, and give them boldness to speak up and endurance to suffer.  In the name of the One who suffered for us.  Amen.