Spreading Out the Letter – 2 Kings 19

 Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah.  Matthew 1:9 NKJV

Upon the passing of King Ahaz, Hezekiah became King of Judah.  On balance, he was a good king for the people and for the Lord, although he made a serious error along the way that would come back to haunt the nation. More on that in a later meditation.

During Ahaz and Hezekiah’s reigns in the south, the Northern Kingdom of Israel finally fell to the invading Assyrian Empire.  Their stubborn idolatry and disdain for God and His commandments finally led the Lord to remove His protection.  Left to their own strengths and defenses, the people were defeated and carried off into exile.  A replacement population was sent in from the invader’s land. 

This defeat was more of a chastisement than an eternal punishment – God promised that He would bring them back into their land in peace after they gave up their idols and false gods and turned back to Him.

Unfortunately for Judah, the leader of the Assyrians, Sennacherib, was not content to stop with just the Northern Kingdom.  He brought his armies right up to the gates of Jerusalem, and ordered them to surrender, as well.  He sent King Hezekiah a message – no other armies or gods had been able to successfully repel them, so he might as well give up, too.  He taunted them with confidence, and his threats terrified the nation and their king.

14 And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. 2 Kings 18:14 NKJV

What do you do when confronted by a bad situation and do not have any idea what to do about it?  We have a good answer here from Hezekiah – spread our problems out before the Lord.  Take it to Him in faith – He wants to hear about it from us.

Hezekiah faithfully spread the letter out before the Lord and prayed, earnestly asking Him to defend and protect Judah for His own name’s sake.

17 Truly, Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, 18 and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands—wood and stone. Therefore they destroyed them. 19 Now therefore, O Lord our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord God, You alone.” 2 Kings 19:17-19 NKJV

Hezekiah did the right thing in seeking the Lord in the midst of a crisis.  His was not just a “foxhole prayer”, one that would be quickly forgotten once the Lord delivered him. Hezekiah had sought the Lord before in good times as well as bad and had a true faith relationship with Him.  God promises to always deliver those who are faithful to Him.

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.  Psalm 34:19 NKJV

There are days when I feel totally overwhelmed by the multitude of challenges facing me.  In those moments, I try to remember Hezekiah, and stop what I am doing to take them before the Lord.  Sometimes I shake my head and say, “Lord, I have no idea how you are ever going to handle these.”  But He always does, and often in some way that I could never have anticipated.

The Lord is so good to us, often quiet and in the background, with countless blessings of grace showering us each and every day.  When a crisis comes, as it often does, He looks forward to us calling upon His name in faith.  He loves to exercise His infinite power to save and amaze us, and to show us that He is the Lord God, alone.

Reflection

What burden or fearful situation do you need to “spread out” before the Lord?  He would love to hear about it.

Lord, You alone are the one and true God.  In Christ, we are blessed with Your righteousness and protection.  You are our strength and shield in times of trouble, the shade at our right hand.  Thank You that as we turn to You, You have a caring ear and a powerful hand to save us.  May You be glorified in all the earth for Your goodness!  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

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