by Sheila Marie Andales
Scripture:2 Kings 19:8-19, 35-36
The context of this passage is primarily the hostilities between Judah and Assyria during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah and King Sennacherib of Assyria.
Judah (Southern Kingdom) was ruled by King Hezekiah, a king who did what was right in the sight of the Lord. He is known to have trusted in the LORD so that after him was none like him among all 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. The Lord was with him and he prospered wherever he went.
On one hand, Assyria, led by King Sennacherib was a very powerful nation able to conquer the neighboring nations of Israel and Judah.
Before King Hezekiah of Judah became king, his father submitted to Assyria. But King Hezekiah rebelled against him and asserted independence. Thus, Sennacherib, the Assyrian king, sent messengers to demand Hezekiah’s complete surrender.
Sennacherib, through his messengers, threatened King Hezekiah and reproached Judah’s living God, saying:
“Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you, saying: ‘Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria’. Look! You have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the lands by utterly destroying them; and shall you be delivered? Have the gods of the nations delivered those whom my fathers have destroyed…?” (vv.10-12)
Two Observations on Sennacherib’s Threat:
From this, I gleaned two observations from Sennacherib’s threat:
First, Sennacherib and his messengers falsely accused God. Through Isaiah, the prophet, the LORD assured Hezekiah that He would deliver him. Hezekiah trusted the LORD and he encouraged the people of Judah. He gathered them together and said,
“Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all te 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”.
Sennacherib, on one hand, accused God of deception. He accused God of deceiving Judah in promising victory for them. He accused God of being powerless to give victory for his people.
The second observation is that Sennacherib and his messengers mocked God. They did this by equating and likening the One True God with the gods of the surrounding nations. They placed God at the same level with the gods of the gentile nations. They likened Him to the powerless gods of the Gentiles.
As a response, Hezekiah sought the LORD and pleaded for the exaltation of God’s Godhood through victory over Sennacherib and his army. In his prayer, he affirmed the power of God, by saying: “You have made the heavens and the earth”(v.15). He pointed out the non-existence of Gentile gods as the reason of the Gentile nations’ defeat while affirming the existence and power of God as the ground of his hope for deliverance. He says in vv15b and 19:
“You are God , You alone of all the kingdoms of the earth.. Now, therefore, O LORD our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD God, YOU ALONE.”
God’s Response to Hezekiah:
God exalted His Godhood in His judgment against Sennacherib and the Assyrian army. The Angel of the LORD slaughtered 185,000 men of Sennacherib’s army. In Psalm 76, the slaughter was attributed to the LORD Himself
“[God] broke the arrows of the bow, the shield and sword of battle… The stouthearted were plundered; they have sunk in to their sleep; and none of the mighty men have found use of their hands. At Your rebuke, O God of Jacob, both the chariot and horse were cast into dead sleep”.
Moreover, God’s Word regarding the death of Sennacherib came to pass. He was assassinated by his sons while worshipping in the temple of Nisroch his god. God punished His mockers.
Instructions Gleaned from the Passage:
Certain instructions can be gleaned through this passage.
First, this account instructs us about the God who demands our worship. The God who demands our worship is a God of truth who promised punishment on His mockers. He is mocked when people persist in their evil ways, waywardness, and unbelief. He shows Himself strong for those whose heart is loyal to Him but shows Himself just and powerful to the rebellious and unbelieving. He deceives not. What He promises will surely come to pass. His promised punishment will surely come to pass.
The God who demands our worship is also the Only True God. He is solitary in His ESSENCE and BEING. No one can be compared to Him. We could not liken him to gods made of wood or stone. We could not reduce Him to something He is not. He is unequal. He cold not be likened to any created things or beings. Thus, he has the right to demand a bowing before His SUPREMACY and INCOMPARABILITY.
Second, this account instructs us about proper attitude in worship.
Since the God we worship is a powerful God who punishes His mockers, we should fear Him. In Ps. 76, a psalm believed by most scholars to have been written after God’s slaughter of Sennacherib’s army, the psalmist exhorted Judah to fear God (Ps. 76:7 “You, Yourself, are to be feared; And who may stand in Your presence when once You are angry?”). This fear has two results. First, it results to resolutions to fulfill one’s obligations to Him. Second, it results to expressions of homage and gratitude (Ps. 76:11 “Make vows to the LORD your God , and pay them: Let all who are around Him bring presents to Him who ought to be found.”). Worship, which is manifested trough godly living and yielding of one’s self, has the fear of God as its foundation.
Since the God we worship is also SUPREME and INCOMPARABLE, our worship should likewise be SUPREME and INCOMPRABLE. Our worship should match His supremacy and incomparability. May our affections be devoted wholly to the ONLY TRUE GOD. May our devotion to Him be unrivaled just as He Himself is unrivaled.