Thursday, March 09, 2023

2 Kings 19:1-19

2 Kings 19:1–19 (NIV)✞: Jerusalem’s Deliverance Foretold, Hezekiah’s Prayer


In 18:1–16 we read about Hezekiah becoming king of Judah, and the fact that he was the greatest king Judah ever had (in terms of faithfulness to the LORD), and then in the last passage we read about Assyria’s threats against Judah, but we didn’t actually get to Hezekiah’s response to those threats.

Chapter 19 starts out with that response, and, frankly, Hezekiah is worried, to say the least! It starts with him tearing his clothes and putting on sackcloth—a common form of public grieving for the day—and going to the Temple (I’m assuming to pray). He then sends a number of officials to Isaiah, with a message: “This day is a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace, as when children come to the moment of birth and there is no strength to deliver them. It may be that the LORD your God will hear all the words of the field commander, whom his master, the king of Assyria, has sent to ridicule the living God, and that he will rebuke him for the words the LORD your God has heard. Therefore pray for the remnant that still survives” (vv. 3–4✞).

As I read that I’m immediately struck the the phrase, “the LORD your God” – why “your” God? Why not “our God,” or “the God,” why “your God”? I’ve seen this phrase in other places and questioned the faith of the speaker because of it, but in this case I don’t think Hezekiah is so far gone he no longer considers the LORD to be “his” God, nor do I think the officials he’s sent have abandoned the LORD. I assume this is a figure of speech, somehow calling attention to Isaiah’s close relationship with God, but it’s just an assumption. (Out of curiosity I looked at the ESV Study Bible notes and they didn’t say anything about this phrasing either, though it’s common enough in the Old Testament that they might very well have talked about it elsewhere.)

Regardless, Isaiah has good news:

5 When King Hezekiah’s officials came to Isaiah, 6 Isaiah said to them, “Tell your master, ‘This is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid of what you have heard—those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. 7 Listen! When he hears a certain report, I will make him want to return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down with the sword.’”

2 Kings 19:5–7 (NIV)✞

Shortly after this the field commander (the one who’d actually delivered the message from Assyria in the previous passage) hears that his king has left the city he’d previously been at, and returns to help his king fight a battle. The Assyrians send a message back to Hezekiah in verses 9–13✞, however, which basically says the Assyrians haven’t forgotten about Judah and reminds them that they shouldn’t trust in their god, since none of the gods of the other nations have been able to stop the Assyrians. At this, Hezekiah prays to the LORD once more:

14 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. 15 And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD: “LORD, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Give ear, LORD, and hear; open your eyes, LORD, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God.


17 “It is true, LORD, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. 18 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. 19 Now, LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, LORD, are God.”

2 Kings 19:14–19 (NIV)✞

In the next passage we’ll get a message from the LORD (via Isaiah) for Hezekiah.


I made a big point of calling out how faithful Hezekiah was, in 18:1–16, and I don’t think anything that happens here negates that. Yes, Hezekiah is worried, as I would be too in his place; that doesn’t mean he’s abandoned God, it just means that he recognizes the danger that Assyria poses to Judah – especially after Assyria has just conquered Israel! It’s true that the northern kingdom of Israel never obeyed God properly but they were still part of His people, so I’m sure Hezekiah was shaken when Israel was conquered. Perhaps he’d be looking back on Judah’s own history, seeing that they weren’t 100% perfect either, and worrying that God was about to do the same in Judah that He had done in Israel. (If he was thinking that he wasn’t too far from the truth, because God will be allowing Judah to be conquered in just a few chapters!)

Despite his worries, however, I see Hezekiah doing the right things in this passage: he’s in the Temple, praying to God for deliverance, and inquiring of God’s prophet Isaiah. He also recognizes the difference between the “gods” of the other nations and the God of Judah, which is that “they [other gods] were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands” (v. 18✞).

He may be worried that the LORD will allow Judah to be conquered, but he’s never in question of the fact that God is God, and He is in control, so he knows that it’s ultimately in His hands, not in the power of the Assyrians.

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