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2 Kings 19:20-34 – Hezekiah and Sennacherib – Part 5

“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” is a Christmas song about a man who felt hopeless. The culture around him seemed to have forgotten God and he was giving up the world as lost. But something made him change his mind. He suddenly understood that God was not dead nor asleep and that He was active in his community.

Hezekiah may have felt great emotion when he took his prayer requests to the Lord. He knew that God was able to deliver him, but he also wanted God to do something to defend His name in front of the people and the enemy soldiers. In today’s passage, we will see how God answered Hezekiah’s prayer. God’s reply came in poetic form. Isaiah sent the following message to Hezekiah and announced that God had answered the king because he prayed to him about the situation.

  1. The proud king was being mocked in Jerusalem (2 Kings 19:21).

    What does it say?

    Through poetic verse, the Lord told Sennacherib that the virgin daughter of Zion had laughed at him with scorn. He also said that the daughter of Jerusalem had shaken her head behind his back.

    What does it mean?

    This was God’s way of putting Sennacherib in his place. Despite all of his bravado and claims of superiority, the city of Jerusalem didn’t take him seriously. The city full of believers was like a young girl who laughed at his threats and shook her head mockingly behind his back. All of this means that the people who were trusting the Lord had no need to fear the threats of Sennacherib because of what God was going to do.

    How does it apply?

    My wife told me that the University of Michigan quarterback announced that nobody could beat their football team. I shook my head when I heard that because proud statements are often followed by failure. Thankfully for them, the Lord did not take action and cause them to lose. But that often happens when someone boasts about their ability.

    However, it is different when we boast in the Lord instead of our own abilities. We can have confidence that God is almighty and able to do anything. When someone starts to boast in his abilities and doesn’t mention God, we are right to shake our heads and point out their folly. But let’s not stop there. We need to point proud people to the Lord. Unless they know the truth, they will have a sad meeting with God someday.

  2. The proud king had ignorantly blasphemed God (2 Kings 19:22-28).

    What does it say?

    The Lord told Sennacherib that he had blasphemed, raised his voice at, and lifted up his eyes against the Holy One of Israel. When he sent messengers to Hezekiah, the proud king had reproached the Lord by bragging about his exploits. These included many chariots and an army bigger than mountains. He was so confident that he thought he could cut down all the cedars of Lebanon and dry up all the water brooks used for defense.

    The Lord informed him of his ignorance. He didn’t realize that God had created the world. He didn’t realize that God had given him the power to overcome the other nations. He had crushed fortified cities and left them in ruins all because God had appointed him to do that. But now, after all of his rage against the Lord, God was going to put a hook in his nose and make him go back home.

    What does it mean?

    These verses show us the ignorance of the proud Assyrian king. He had been able to destroy nations. He had defeated the great armies of the world. He had been able to overcome everything that had risen against him. But he was ignorant of the real reason why. He thought it was his own power, but it was actually what God had raised him up to do. He could not have done it otherwise. And now that God was done using the proud king, He would not be successful.

    How does it apply?

    We have to remember that we are just people whom God chooses to use for His purposes. Whenever we get to the point where we think we are something special, that is where God will get our attention. While unbelievers like Sennacherib are often set aside because of their pride, it seems that God is often more lenient with believers. He will often get our attention, point out our sin, and then bring us to repentance. That is good.

  3. The trusting king and his people would escape (2 Kings 19:29-34).

    What does it say?

    The Lord gave Hezekiah an encouraging sign. He told him that he would eat whatever grew by itself for two years. Then during the third year, they would plant and harvest their fields and get fruit from their vineyards. The remnant of people would also take root and bear fruit. The remnant would escape because of the zeal of the Lord of hosts.

    The Lord also told Hezekiah that the king of Assyria would not harm them. He would not come into the city. He wouldn’t shoot arrows there, come to the city with a shield, or besiege it with a mound. Instead, he would return to Assyria the same way he had come. All of this would take place because the Lord promised to defend the city for His own sake and the sake of His servant David.

    What does it mean?

    There are two parts to the meaning. In the first section, we see that God was very zealous to provide for his people. When God wants something to happen, it will happen. So it was for the remnant in Jerusalem. God made it possible for them to remain and prosper despite the big words offered by Sennacherib.

    In the second part, God was making it clear that the city was safe from harm. The army wouldn’t shoot arrows or make a siege against the city. Nothing would happen. And it all would happen for the sake of God (perhaps this refers to Him protecting His reputation) and for the sake of David.

    How does it apply?

    Did you notice how zealous God was for Jerusalem and the believers inside the walls? Why was He so eager to help them. He has His own reputation to uphold but it is amazing that God still remembers David at this point. A quick Google search says that David reigned from 1010-970 BC and Hezekiah reigned from 720-695 BC. If those dates are correct, it had been about 300 years since David was the king of Israel. And yet… God still remembered him.

    I want to leave a legacy like that. Not so as I am remembered by people but that God would remember me and want to do good for those who follow the Lord in the future. As you know, David had many failings. But he also had a heart that was very close to the Lord. And that is what we should strive for despite our failings. Be faithful to the Lord today and make a difference now and in the future.

Conclusion

The problem that Hezekiah faced was real. The proud Assyrian king had defeated just about every other country in the would. If things continued as they had, Hezekiah would do no better than the others. But as big as his problem was, Hezekiah knew that God was bigger. There was nothing too big for God to handle and so he prayed and God chose to deliver him from his problems. Remember that as you pray this week. Don’t be so overwhelmed by your difficulties that you forget how big God is.