Meditation on the Account of Hezekiah
You knew exactly where he would come from. Your enemy, when he attacked – the king of Assyria. It was no secret; you knew where your weaknesses lie, and you knew he was not merciful enough to ignore them. You were the king, and it was your job to know. You flouted him; you refused to pay him tribute out of confidence in your God, but when his reaction reached you, your confidence shattered. You stripped the Lord’s temple of all its treasures and sent them to him, trying to make amends, trying to earn his mercy. But he has no mercy. He wanted to kill you, and you handed him a reason.
“This is what the great king of Assyria says: What are you trusting in that makes you so confident? …But perhaps you will say to me, ‘We are trusting in the Lord our God!’ But isn’t he the one who was insulted by Hezekiah?” 1 Kings 18:19, 22
You glanced nervously at your exposed resources; the fields of crops growing outside the walls where you could protect them, the people who lived in your enemy’s path, the gates you had to leave open for trade. Guard your resources too closely, and you would suffocate them and have nothing worth protecting. Leave them too exposed, and he would wreck them with glee. You knew where he will come from – through that plain, across that mountain pass, across that river at that ford… the only places that could accommodate his army. And you knew you couldn’t stop him.
“Listen to this message from the great king of Assyria! This is what the king says: Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you. He will never be able to rescue you from my power.” 1 Kings 18:28-29
You just didn’t know when.
I knew exactly where he would come from. My enemy, when he attacked. It was no secret; I knew where my weaknesses lay, and I know he is not merciful enough to ignore them. I flouted him; I openly opposed him out of confidence in my God, and now that his reaction has reached me, I feel the fragility of that confidence. No amount of amends will appease him. He has no mercy. He wants to destroy me, and I handed him a reason.
I glance nervously at my precariously balanced life; the bank account that barely stays in the green, the medical insurance with an expiration date, the time that is always stretched too thin, the chores I can barely keep from swallowing me. Keep going and I wear myself ragged. Stop, and I don’t have my most basic needs met. I knew where he would come from – straight for my health, after my insurance runs out, through my bank account. And I knew I couldn’t stop him.
I just didn’t know when.
So here we are now, you and I, watching the enemy come. Watching bodies armed to the teeth wash through that mountain pass like a rising river, watching the torrent widen out across the plain, watching them come and come and come – as many as we feared, stronger. They are doing exactly what we knew they would do. We just never had a way to stop them.
“The Assyrians took up a position beside the aqueduct that feeds water into the upper pool, near the road leading to the field where cloth is washed.” 1 Kings 18:17
This is a battle to exist, and we cannot win it.
We still have choices: fight and die, or hide and die. Some choices. And just that one other little one… obey. We could inquire of the Lord. We could ask Him to fight for us.
We tremble at the thought. We always meant to spend more time with Him. To bring Him our unflagging gratitude every day for all He’s done for us in the past, to tell our stories from the rooftops of the ways we’ve seen Him move, to come in worship and in prayer with our gifts to His alter. We started to, with the best intentions of continuing. But those fields needed working; those clothes needed folding; the houses needed building; the groceries needed buying; that enemy needed appeasing. After all that, we would come again. But there never was an after. Will He rush to our side when we neglected to rush to His?
We do not deserve His help.
Our shoulders droop. If, by some miracle, He chooses to help us – His help is not easy, and we are not strong. He will ask something of us, something painful, something hard. He will give us instructions that sound mad; He will tell us to walk through the sea, step into the flooding Jordan, march around the city until the walls fall down on their own. Or, worst of all – He might tell us to stay here, to watch the power of our enemy build in front of us while we just… wait. He will ask this of us, and He will require us to obey.
You do not know if you and your people are strong enough to obey.
“Do you think my master sent this message only to you and your master? He wants all the people to hear it, for when we put this city under siege, they will suffer along with you.” 1 Kings 18:27
I am almost certain I am not.
But this is how I see it; one way or another, my strength is going to fail. I am not enough. But I may not have to do this alone. I will go to the Lord. I will beg an audience with Him; I will fall to my knees in front of His throne, and I will bring all the tardy praise I should have brought all those times before, all the tearful stories of His amazing work in my life, all the gifts I thought to give and never did, I will bring it all and I will plead with Him to help us. Whatever His command to me, I will spend whatever is left of my strength on obedience – not on fighting, not on hiding.
“When King Hezekiah heard their report, he tore his clothes and put on burlap and went into the Temple of the Lord.” 1 Kings 19:1
I will obey with all that is left of my strength.
He might say no. I might still die. But I have a better chance with Him than I will ever have on my own.
“And this is what the Lord says about the king of Assyria:
‘His armies will not enter Jerusalem.
They will not even shoot an arrow at it.
They will not march outside its gates with their shields
nor build banks of earth against its walls.
The king will return to his own country
by the same road on which he came.
He will not enter this city,
says the Lord.
For my own honor and for the sake of my servant David,
I will defend this city and protect it.’
That night the angel of the Lord went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. When the surviving Assyrians[e] woke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere. Then King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and returned to his own land.” 1 Kings 19:32-34
I plead with the Lord, and I hear a voice whisper…
You are not enough… but you are not alone.