Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Ps.62:8
Here is what the Bible says about King Hezekiah: Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the Lord and did not stop following him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses. And the Lord was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. 2 Kings 18:5-7.
During Hezekiah’s reign, the King of Assyria was a man named Sennacherib. You probably studied about him in ancient history, because he was a superstar, ancient-history-wise. He was rich, powerful and brilliant. And extraordinarily evil. The Assyrians were known for flaying their victims, which means peeling their skin off, then immersing them, screaming and flailing, in boiling water. Assyria was an endless black hole of suffering and destruction. Throughout the Old Testament, Sennacherib and his Assyrian kingdom were symbols of ultimate evil.
Sennacherib threatened the kingdom of Judah. His vast armies swarmed over Judah’s territories like dark locusts, decimating its fortified cities. The conquering Assyrians reached Jerusalem’s walls, breathing the foul stench of violence and evil over God’s holy city. He sent a message to King Hezekiah: Say to Hezekiah king of Judah: Do not let the god you depend on deceive you when he says, ‘Jerusalem will not be given into the hands of the king of Assyria.’ Surely you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the countries, destroying them completely. And will you be delivered? Did the gods of the nations that were destroyed by my predecessors deliver them? Is.37:10-12.
The Bible says that Hezekiah tore his robes and put on sackcloth, the clothes of grief.
He knew that Assyria had defeated every obstacle in its path to world domination. He
knew that the Assyrian army had left a trail of defeat and horror in its bloody wake.
He knew what Sennacherib’s fierce armies had already done to his people in the surrounding cities. He knew that the suffering in Judah was a black pit, deep and dark. He knew that his tiny, broken nation could not win against such a mighty force.
He also knew that Egypt hated Assyria. He knew that Egypt was powerful, and it sought an alliance with Judah. He knew that the Egyptian Pharoah would rise up to defend Judah. Who besides the Lord do we call upon in our most desperate hours?
This is what King Hezekiah did with the message from Sennacherib.
Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord. Is.37:14-15.
I can see him in my spirit. The faithful king, his soul wracked with sorrow over his people’s suffering, his heart twisted in fear of his nation’s annihilation, clothed in the ragged sackcloth of mourning and woe. I see him bowed under the weight of his leadership, laying prostrate in the Holy Place, face in the dust where priests and kings have cried out to God. Like his ancestor, King David, he clung to the not-so-secret access key to the heart of God: You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. Ps.51:16-17.
Am I Hezekiah? Do I turn my suffering into offerings? When the armies of darkness invade my fortified territory, do I spread their diabolical lies at the altar of my God and cry out to Him?
Or do I turn to Egypt? Do I crumple to dust under the pressure of external attack? Do I hide in a house of cards? Do I forfeit trust in the face of opposition?
I confess that the answer is: both. My history is a dizzying strata of triumph and failure. It is perhaps something like yours. (Without forgiveness and grace, we are all undone.) As the Lord expands my heart with a longing for holiness, I also confess that that is no longer enough for me. I want to be like Hezekiah, of whom God’s Word says, there was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the Lord and did not stop following him. 2 Kings 18:5.
It is a legacy that takes my breath away.
I want to reject Egypt’s empty refuge, to shake my fist at Assyria’s obscene mastery, to grieve every ounce of evil that corrupts those I love, to transform every moment of suffering into an offering to my heavenly King.
Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Ps.62:1-2.