“Then he set military captains over the people, gathered them together to him in the open square of the city gate, and gave them encouragement, saying, ‘Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.’ And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah” (2 Chronicles 32:6-8).
King Hezekiah was a great man of faith who led God’s people during very tumultuous times. His father Ahaz had been a wicked king who had encouraged moral decline and whose unfaithfulness to God increased as events became increasingly distressful for him (2 Chronicles 28:19, 22). But Hezekiah had made a covenant with God to seek His Will and to turn God’s wrath away from Judah (2 Chronicles 29:10). He reopened the temple, sanctified the priest, kept a great Passover feast, and saw that tithes were brought to support the Levites so they could devote themselves to the Law of the Lord (2 Chronicles 29:12-31:21). God’s Word commends him by saying, “Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and true before the Lord his God. And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, in the law and in the commandment, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart. So he prospered” (2 Chronicles 31:20-21).
Instead of being rewarded and facing years of peace and plenty following these righteous acts, Hezekiah is faced with an additional challenge: “After these deeds of faithfulness, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and entered Judah; he encamped against the fortified cities, thinking to win them over to himself” (2 Chronicles 32:1). Now the powerful king of Assyria is coming and threatening the cities of Judah! 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). Sennacherib was now coming to force Hezekiah’s submission to him.
Hezekiah’s reaction is a great example for us to follow. First, he “strengthens himself” (2 Chronicles 32:5). I believe this means he did so by looking up to God in faith (cf. Philippians 4:13). Second, he builds up the cities defenses, equips the people for battle, and stops up the water supply so the Assyrians can enjoy no water when they come up against the land (2 Chronicles 32:2-5). Then he gathers the military captains over the people and gives them encouragement by reminding them that although the king of Assyria may have a powerful army, the Almighty God is on the side of His people: “With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles" (2 Chronicles 32:8). The people were strengthened by these words of Hezekiah and God will go on a save His people by sending His angel to destroy the Assyrian army (2 Chronicles 32:21-22).
It is encouraging to me to consider how I can “strengthen myself” by remembering God’s presence with me when I face threats or challenges. Like Hezekiah, when we are faced by an obstacle or an adversary, we need to be keenly aware that “With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God...” (2 Chronicles 32:8). Today, I rejoice that God doesn’t expect me to face the tests of life alone. I don’t need to fear the power that confronts me because I know that God’s power is with me and that His power is greater! God is with me to help me and to fight my battles!
“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me” (Psalm 138:7).