Chapter 19 picks up the story of Assyria’s siege of Jerusalem. Sennacherib has sent Rabshakeh to taunt Jerusalem into submission. King Hezekiah’s first response is to tear his clothes, cover himself with sackcloth, and go into the house of the LORD. He then sends for Isaiah the prophet with this plea: “This is a day of distress, of rebuke, of disgrace…It may be that the LORD your God has heard…and will rebuke the words that the LORD your God has heard; therefore, lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.”
While sending for a prophet might appear to be a wise action, remember that no king has truly sought the word of the LORD for centuries. They’ve toyed with the prophets, executed the prophets, or added the LORD’s prophets to their collection of seers and the LORD to their quiver of gods. Though facing annihilation and with no model for such faithfulness, Hezekiah seeks none but the LORD.
You’ll hear the name of Isaiah prominently today. Isaiah first spoke to Hezekiah’s father almost thirty years ago, failing to convince him that the Syria-Israel coalition would not last (this is recorded in Isaiah chapter 7). Instead of trusting Isaiah and the LORD’s promise, Ahaz requested aid from Assyria, which we read about yesterday. Today Isaiah is the LORD’s mouthpiece to one who will listen.
This promising outlook follows Hezekiah almost to the end of his life. In chapter 20, Hezekiah receives emissaries from Babylon, which Hezekiah describes as a far country, and presumably a safe one, especially because they are also attempting to thwart Assyria. Whether for pride alone, or because the king fails to seek the LORD, or because of Judah’s attempt to forge yet another alliance with yet another foreign power, the LORD pronounces judgment: not simply on Hezekiah, but on his house.
In this pivotal episode, a disconcerting possibility emerges: the line of David might be under threat. This threat becomes more tangible as Hezekiah is succeeded by a son who led Judah astray to do more evil than the nations had done whom the LORD destroyed before the people of Israel…
Our verse for this week is Romans 8:28: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
2 Kings 19 through 21. Now let’s read it!
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.