Daily Devotional - 18 August 2020
“In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears” (Psalm 18:6).
What do you do when faced with a problem? Not just a little inconvenience, but an apparently insurmountable dilemma? Some of us cower in fear and despair, while others of us go into problem solving mode ready to force a solution. Neither guarantees a desirable outcome and we often make things worse rather than better. Our best plan is to make prayer our first step. Today, I want to take a look at a time from the life of King Hezekiah to examine what this can look like in our lives.
God had allowed the Assyrians to effectively annihilate the people of Israel under King Shalmaneser. The nation of Israel had turned their backs on God and He had removed His protection; after a three year siege of the city of Samaria, the nation of Israel crumbled under the pressure and the city was destroyed and the remaining inhabitants were exiled to other lands by their conquerors. Eight years later the Assyrians came back under their new king, Sennacherib, this time for Judah.
Unlike the nation of Israel, the nation of Judah, under King Hezekiah, was living in obedience to God. In fact, after the reign of King David, 2 Kings 18:5-7 tells us that, “Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before or after his time. He remained faithful to the Lord in everything, and he carefully obeyed all the commands the Lord had given Moses. So the Lord was with him, and Hezekiah was successful in everything he did.” Successful...but not without difficulties! Fourteen years into his reign, at the age of 39, King Hezekiah is faced with the biggest challenge of his life to date. The Assyrian army has parked itself outside the walls of Jerusalem and is intent on waiting as long as is necessary to be able to add the nation of Judah to its list of conquests.
King Hezekiah sends out a delegation to speak with the Assyrian chief of staff. It is apparent they aren’t interested in any sort of negotiation. In his distress, King Hezekiah knows there is only one thing for him to do; he goes to the Temple to pray. He also sends his delegation to the prophet Isaiah for any direction he may have received from the Lord. Isaiah sends back this message, “This is what the Lord says: Do not be disturbed by this blasphemous speech against me from the Assyrian king’s messengers. Listen! I myself will move against him, and the king will receive a message that he is needed at home. So he will return to his land, where I will have him killed with a sword” (2 Kings 19:6-7).
But, the siege did not magically disappear. However, within a short time, the king of Assyria got word that the Ethiopians were mounting an attack and some of the army left to shore up this new military front. But even still, Jerusalem remained under siege. In fact, King Sennacherib sent a note to King Hezekiah warning him not to consider this brief reprieve as anything other than a slight change of plans. He had every intention of coming back with his full army to finish the job. With letter in hand, King Hezekiah once again visited the Temple to pray and lay out the impossible situation he was facing again before God.
Again, the prophet Isaiah had some encouraging words, ““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” (2 Kings 19:32-33). And that very night, after King Hezekiah had received Isaiah’s message, “the angel of the Lord went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. When the surviving Assyrians woke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere. Then King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and returned to his own land. He went home to his capital of Nineveh and stayed there” (19:35-36). God had not only responded to King Hezekiah’s prayer, He had decisively moved against King Sennacherib who had to admit defeat. And while King Hezekiah went on to continue to reign in Jerusalem for another fifteen years, Sennacherib was murdered shortly thereafter by two of his own sons (19:37).
What can we learn from Hezekiah’s story? How did he deal with insurmountable situations? His response was always the same. Go to the place of prayer. Meet with God. Seek His solution! Might I suggest we do the same.
~ Pastor Jane
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!