God, I need You to be with me here and now.
Read 2 Kings 19:1–19
Jerusalem’s Deliverance Foretold
19 When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and went into the temple of the Lord. 2 He sent Eliakim the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary and the leading priests, all wearing sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. 3 They told him, “This is what Hezekiah says: This day is a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace, as when children come to the moment of birth and there is no strength to deliver them. 4 It may be that the Lord your God will hear all the words of the field commander, whom his master, the king of Assyria, has sent to ridicule the living God, and that he will rebuke him for the words the Lord your God has heard. Therefore pray for the remnant that still survives.”
5 When King Hezekiah’s officials came to Isaiah, 6 Isaiah said to them, “Tell your master, ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid of what you have heard—those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. 7 Listen! When he hears a certain report, I will make him want to return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down with the sword.’”
8 When the field commander heard that the king of Assyria had left Lachish, he withdrew and found the king fighting against Libnah.
9 Now Sennacherib received a report that Tirhakah, the king of Cush,[a] was marching out to fight against him. So he again sent messengers to Hezekiah with this word: 10 “Say to Hezekiah king of Judah: Do not let the god you depend on deceive you when he says, ‘Jerusalem will not be given into the hands of the king of Assyria.’ 11 Surely you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the countries, destroying them completely. And will you be delivered? 12 Did the gods of the nations that were destroyed by my predecessors deliver them—the gods of Gozan, Harran, Rezeph and the people of Eden who were in Tel Assar? 13 Where is the king of Hamath or the king of Arpad? Where are the kings of Lair, Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah?”
14 Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. 15 And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: “Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God.
17 “It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. 18 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. 19 Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God.”
a 2 Kings 19:9 That is, the upper Nile region
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat is your first response when things don’t go your way?
Having an Assyrian aggressor at the gates of your city was not a minor problem! The Assyrians were infamous for their cruelty in war (17). We might expect the leader of the threatened nation to respond by holding an emergency meeting of key counselors, making plans and assembling troops. Not Hezekiah! His “go to” response is to consult God through prayer (1,14,15).
Prayer is not inaction. Hezekiah is well aware of the scale and threat of the problem, yet he knows that God is far bigger and more powerful than his present problem (15–19). Is prayer our reflex response in times of trouble? Do we believe that God is able to deliver us from our difficulties, however looming they may appear?
It is striking that Hezekiah does not rehearse the insults and threats with the people around him but takes the issue straight to the Lord and to those he can rely on for prayer (2–4). Notice too that Hezekiah does not pray for the destruction of his enemy, rather his primary concern is for the honor of God’s name and reputation (4,16,19) and deliverance for the people of Judah (4,19).
Prayer: praise, petition, meditation, listening… Try various methods of prayer today as you come before God.
Lord, You know the problems I am facing today. I lay them before You now.