Hezekiah had finally turned his heart back to God, but it was still troubling times for the people of Judah, as Assyria was still bent on taking Jerusalem.
But with his faith in God restored and perhaps taking heart from God’s promise of deliverance after his recovery from illness, Hezekiah told the people,
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles. (II Chronicles 32:7-8).
Upon hearing this, the people of Jerusalem were encouraged, but that didn’t last long as the king of Assyria sent his field commander to intimidate them while the Assyrian army was laying siege to one of Judah’s major fortified cities, Lachish.
And as Satan is wont to do, he used a mixture of lies and truth to try to discourage the people. Basically he told them that Egypt couldn’t help them, that no nation had been able to stand against the Assyrians, nor had these nations’ gods been able to protect them from the Assyrians hands (all true).
But then he said that God himself couldn’t help them, and that even if he could, he was really on the Assyrians’ side, that God had sent Assyria to attack Jerusalem. This especially was an interesting mix of truth and lies, the lie of course being that God couldn’t help them. But I do wonder if they had heard about all the words the prophets of God had warned Jerusalem with. That Assyria would come and attack. It’s possible that they were saying, “See, even your own prophets told you we were coming. God sent us to destroy you.”
This was of course conveniently ignoring the prophesies of Assyria’s own destruction, and the fact that the reason God gave these warning was so that Jesusalem might repent and be saved.
Hezekiah immediately went to the temple upon hearing these words, and through Isaiah the prophet was told once again that God would deliver them. When the Assyrians were forced to withdraw because of an attack by the Cushite king and his army, they sent word to Hezekiah basically saying (very Terminator-like), “We’ll be back,” and once again boasting of all they had done to the other nations.
What did Hezekiah do? He took the letter out and spread it out before God. Then he prayed,
O Lord Almighty, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Give ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; listen to all the words Sennacherib has sent to insult the living God. It is true, O Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste all these peoples and their lands. They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. Now, O Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God. (Isaiah 37:16-20)
I think there are several things we can take from this prayer. First, when we are in trouble, the first thing we should do is remember who God is. That he is God in heaven, and that he alone is God over all the earth. That he is the creator and that he has the power to help us in our time of need.
Second, lay our problems before him. Be completely honest with him about our needs and our doubts.
Finally, humble yourself and ask for his help.
And because Hezekiah did this, God heard him and delivered him. He slaughtered the army of Assyria and then had its king killed by his own sons.
What troubles are you going through in your life? Remember that God is bigger than your troubles. Lay out your problems before him. Ask for his deliverance. And then trust him and do exactly as he says. And like Hezekiah, you will find God’s salvation in your life.