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. Then Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said: "O Lord God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Incline Your ear, O Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God” (2 Kings 19:14-16).
King Hezekiah ruled the Judah during the time of the Assyrian takeover of the northern kingdom of Israel (2 Kings 17:6-7; 18:1-2). Hezekiah was a godly king who served God and strove to remove idolatry from the southern kingdom of Judah (2 Kings 18:3-4). God’s Word testifies to his faithfulness to God: “He trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who were before him. For he held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses” (2 Kings 18:5-6).
However, King Hezekiah faced a great challenge. Unlike his father Ahaz who had served the king of Assyria and paid tribute to the Assyrians (2 Kings 16:1-8), Hezekiah trusted in God and refused to serve the king of Assyria (2 Kings 18:7). As a result the king of Assyria sends his forces to attack Judah and threaten the capital city of Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:13). He sends his official, the Rabsaris, to urge Jerusalem to surrender to his forces (2 Kings 18:17-35). The Rabsaris (i.e. also called the Rabshakeh) mocks the idea of Hezekiah or Judah trusting in God’s power to deliver them from the powerful hand of the king of Assyria. He relays the word of the king of Assyria as he says, “Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their countries from my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?” (2 Kings 18:35). Later, the king of Assyria sends a letter by his messengers again making similar threats to King Hezekiah and the nation of Judah and boasting how he had conquered all the other nations who had stood in His way (2 Kings 19:9-13).
What does Hezekiah do as he faces such a great threat? Assyria was an incredibly cruel power which used terroristic techniques to intimidate their opposition such as skinning people alive and leading them into captivity with hooks in their noses and bridles in their lips. As the opening verses above indicate, Hezekiah takes this letter to the house of the Lord and “spread it before the Lord”.
God does intervene. God spoke against the king of Assyria saying, “'But I know your dwelling place, your going out and your coming in, and your rage against Me. Because your rage against Me and your tumult have come up to My ears, therefore I will put My hook in your nose and My bridle in your lips, and I will turn you back by the way which you came” (2 Kings 19:27-28). God did this as “the angel of the Lord” went out and killed 185,000 Assyrians in their camp. The Assyrians turned back and Sennacherib, the king of Assyria is killed by his own 2 sons (2 Kings 19:33-36).
When I consider how God intervened on the behalf of His righteous servant King Hezekiah, I am encouraged to know that God will take up my cause when I am faced by challenging situations or threats from others. Today, I will rejoice that I can “spread out” my cares before the Lord and He will rise up to help me. God is able to deliver me!
“When I cry out to You, Then my enemies will turn back; this I know, because God is for me. In God (I will praise His word), In the Lord (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 56:9-11).