“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.” — 2 Kings 19:14 (NIV)
Poor Hezekiah. He’s known as one of the good kings of Judah, but his father Ahaz was surely the worst. Ahaz inherited a secure and independent kingdom and by his idolatry and cowardice reduced it to a tributary of Assyria. Assyria, in turn, had little interest in having smaller states paying tribute. It wanted to conquer them all and rule directly.
Hezekiah trusted God more than any other king of Judah before or after him, and eventually rebelled as the Lord prospered him (2 Kings 18:5-7). In the fourth year of his reign, Shalmaneser, King of Assyria laid siege to Samaria, the capital of the neighboring kingdom of Israel, captured it, and forcibly relocated all of its people.
Ten years later, another Assyrian king, Sennacherib, came calling on Judah and conquered its fortified cities. Hezekiah paid tribute (2 Kings 18:13-16).
Notice therefore, that Hezekiah prospered enough early in his reign that he could afford to rebel against Assyria. Assyria attacked and destroyed a close neighbor, but left Judah alone. Then the tide turned. That’s when we learn the strength of his faith, and the strength of ours when we suffer such devastating reverses.
Buying off Assyria brought only short respite. Soon an Assyrian general stood at the gates of Jerusalem shouting threats and accusations for all to hear. A little later, that general returned and sent Hezekiah a written threat.
Through all of this torrent of bad news, Hezekiah turned to God. He asked Isaiah the prophet to stand with him, but did not neglect to pray for himself. Today, in similar straits, someone might ask for the pastor to visit. That’s good, but don’t leave all the praying to the pastor or friends or relatives! Pray without ceasing.
And another thing: Hezekiah always went to God first. In so doing, he models what we should do (and not do) in trouble. Continue in prayer even when it seems like God is not paying any attention.
Pray instead of complaining to others about how bad the situation is. Pray before considering your own resources or looking for advice from anyone but God. To be sure, ask godly people for advice and prayer support, but neither seek nor accept advice from people who do not know God. And keep praying in faith and trust until God comes through and rescues you. He who has promised is faithful.