Have you ever received some not so pleasant news, or heard some false accusation(s) concerning your life spreading about in the wind, and you were unsure of what to do about it? If so, you’re not alone. I understand, and the man of God Hezekiah would have understood also. Today, I want to look at and expound on Hezekiah’s actions, when he was confronted with unpleasant news and taunts from the Assyrian King, Sennacherib—actions God recently reminded me of.
The Assyrians were known for their fierce army—they were powerful, cruel, and ruthless warriors. This truth was something Sennacherib predicated himself on in his continuous threats against Hezekiah and the Judeans. Through the voice of the Rabshakeh, his cup bearer (whom he’d sent to Hezekiah), Sennacherib said to the people (those whom Hezekiah had sent to meet him and others of Judah), “Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD by saying, ‘The LORD will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria … Has any of the gods of the nations ever delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their lands out of my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?” (verses 29-30, 33-35).
The people didn’t respond to Sennacherib, per the king’s (Hezekiah) orders; they simply tore their robes and went to report to Hezekiah all that was said. On hearing the news (see verses 13-37 of chapter 18 to see all that Sennacherib said), Hezekiah, distressed, also tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord. He then sent Eliakim, who was over the household, Shebna the secretary, and the senior priests, covered with sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah. When they arrived, they told the prophet all that Hezekiah had sent them to say (19:3-4). Isaiah, on behalf of the Lord, encouraged them and urged them to not be afraid, as God would put a spirit in Sennacherib, so that he would hear a rumor and return to his own land, where he’d fall by the sword (verse 6).
We see in verse 9 the words of the Lord concerning Sennacherib come to pass: “Now the king heard concerning Tirhakah king of Cush, ‘Behold, he has set out to fight against you.’” Upon hearing this rumor, Sennacherib sent messengers again to Hezekiah, saying, “This shall you speak to Hezekiah king of Judah: Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you by promising that Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, devoting them to destruction. And shall you be delivered?” (verses 10-11). He then goes on to boast again in all that the Assyrian kings had done.
When Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it, he didn’t send word to the prophet Isaiah as he’d done before on hearing Sennacherib’s threatening message, but instead, he went up to the house of the Lord and spread the letter out before the Lord. And he prayed to the Lord, the only God, who made all things by His power and might, Sennacherib included, for His help. “So now, O LORD our God, save us, please, from his hand,” Hezekiah pleaded, “that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O LORD, are God alone.”
Like Hezekiah, sisters, whenever we find ourselves plagued by the enemy or facing one of his fierce attacks, our immediate response shouldn’t be to lash out in anger, or to retaliate in any other manner; but like Hezekiah, we should quickly bring the matter before God, trusting him to take care of our enemy (cf. Romans 12:19).
If Hezekiah would have been stubborn and decided he could take on Sennacherib in his own strength and might, or that he could form an ally with some other nation in order to save himself instead of depending on God, he would have, as King Asa (2 Chronicles 16), found himself in trouble with the Lord and possibly facing even more disaster than he was currently facing.
Sisters, God has never commanded any of us to do anything in our own strength, but He has commanded that we rely on Him in all things. Those who rely on Him will find themselves fortified, strengthened, and victorious, “for the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him (2 Chronicles 16:9a).