Hezekiah was 25 years old when he became king of Judah. He was a good king and did the things that God says are right just like his ancestor, King David did. He took away all the shrines and places of worship of the false gods that people had been worshiping. He trusted in the Lord so much so that there was no other king like him either before or after his time. He held on tight to the Lord and never stopped following Him and doing His commands. God was with Hezekiah and caused him to be successful everywhere he went.
Now, fourteen years after Hezekiah became king, an enemy king named Sennacherib came against Judah. Sennacherib demanded that Hezekiah pay him 11 tons of silver and 1 ton of gold. To get that much, Hezekiah had to take all the silver from the temple of the Lord and take all the gold off the doors. Even after Hezekiah paid him, Sennacherib sent one of his chief officers to give Hezekiah and the people of Judah this message:
“What are you trusting in that makes you so confident? Do you think that mere words can help you in war? Are you trusting in Egypt? Egypt is unreliable! Or are you trusting in the Lord? Do not let Hezekiah trick you into trusting the Lord by saying, ‘The Lord will surely save us and Sennacherib will not defeat us!’ Do not listen to your, king but instead, come and make peace with me and I will take you to a better land. Do not listen to Hezekiah when he says, ‘God will save us!’ Every country we have taken over had their own god, but none of them were able to save them. What makes you think your God can deliver you out of my hand?”
Nobody answered the officer because Hezekiah told them not to. They went back to Hezekiah and told them all the things that the enemy said.
As soon as Hezekiah heard about it he went into the temple of God and mourned. Then he sent some people to Isaiah the prophet. They told Isaiah everything that happened. Then Isaiah answered, “Tell Hezekiah that this is what the Lord says: ‘Do not be afraid. I will make Sennacherib go back to his own land and there he will die.'”
After this, the chief officer went back to talk with Sennacherib. There was a battle happening in another place and the enemy king decided to go back to his land but first sent the chief officer back to Hezekiah with another message. This time the message was:
“Do not let your God who you trust trick you by promising that your land will not be given to Sennacherib. You have heard how we have destroyed all the lands around you and none of their gods were able to help.”
When Hezekiah heard this message he went in to the temple again and placed the message before the Lord and prayed: “O Lord God, you are God alone of all the kingdoms of the earth. It is you who made the heavens and the earth. Open your ears to hear our prayer, O Lord, and open your eyes to see what Sennacherib has said to us mocking you! It is true that they destroyed the gods of those other nations because they were not gods at all but mere statues that were made by men. So now, Lord, save us please! Save us so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, and you alone, are God!”
Then Isaiah sent a message to Hezekiah to tell him that God heard his prayer. God said, “I will defend your city and I will save it for the sake of your ancestor, King David.”
That very night, the angel of the Lord went out and killed 185,000 people of Sennacherib’s army. Sennacherib went back to his home and while he was worshiping his god, his own sons killed him.
Around this time Hezekiah got sick and was going to die. Isaiah the prophet came to him and said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Get ready, for it is time for you to die. You will not recover from this sickness.” But Hezekiah said, “O Lord, please remember how I have walked before you and been faithful with my whole heart and have done what is good in your sight!” Then Hezekiah wept and cried. Before Isaiah left, while he was leaving, the Lord told him to go back to Hezekiah and say, “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you and add 15 years to your life and continue to keep you safe from your enemies.”
Soon after this, the king of Babylon sent messengers with letters and presents for Hezekiah since he knew that Hezekiah had been sick. And Hezekiah welcomed them and showed them all the treasure in his house–all the silver, all the gold, all the spices, oils, and storehouses. There was not anything that Hezekiah did not show to them. But afterward, Isaiah the prophet came to Hezekiah and said, “What did those men want? Where did they come from?” And Hezekiah said, “They came all the way from Babylon!” Isaiah asked, “What did they see in your house?” Hezekiah answered, “They have seen everything. There is not anything that I did not show to them.”
Then Isaiah said, “Hear what God has to say: ‘The time is coming when everything you own and all that your ancestors have stored up until now will be carried away to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the Lord. And some of your own sons will be taken away and made personal slaves to the king of Babylon.” Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “What God says is good.” Hezekiah was thinking, “At least there will be peace while I am alive.”
“Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”
“Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.”
“[Hezekiah] trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him. For he held fast to the LORD. He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments that the LORD commanded Moses.” (2 Kings 18:5-6)
We esteem King Solomon for having asked the Lord for wisdom instead of money and power–and rightfully so! God Himself esteemed Solomon and honored him for His request! We esteem Solomon, and follow in his footsteps, asking the Lord for wisdom, knowing full-well that without the Lord, we are utterly foolish.
But Hezekiah shows us something better than wisdom. No; he shows us the culmination of all wisdom: he trusted in the Lord and held fast to Him. He didn’t depart from following God–something to which Solomon could not lay claim.
I will continue beg the Lord for His wisdom, but I think I’ve found a better request than Solomon’s–Lord, “increase my faith!” (Luke 17:5)
Help me to trust in You!
Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.
Those who make them become like them
Quite a few years ago a friend of mine asked me to come and help him with his Sunday School class. I reluctantly agreed and showed up Sunday morning with my assignment: take a passage of scripture and illustrate it on the white board for the kids. I choose Psalm 115.
As I read verses 4 through 7 I doodled the silliest little man I could come up with. Starting with the squiggly mouth, then the googly eyes, gigantic ears and so on. By the end of verse 7 I had the kids giggling at the goofy picture.
Then the clincher.
Verse 8, “Those who make them become like them.”
The class erupted and laughter. And so did I. I actually didn’t plan it that way. My intention was to talk about the absurdity of creating idols in life out of material possessions. It wasn’t until the words “become like them” came out of my mouth that I (the teacher) realized what this passage was teaching.
“Wouldn’t you rather become like God?” I asked the class.
Think about who God is. God is perfect. God is love. God is holy. God is gracious. He is merciful, kind, patient, strong, reliable, faithful, just….
If those who worship and trust in these absurd (despicable, really) idols so easily become as useless as they are, how much more so do those who worship and trust in the True and Living God become like Him.
- Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)
- For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29)
- But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:20-21)
- Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (1 John 3:2-3)
So, as the Psalmist naturally progresses, “O Israel, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield. O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield. You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield” (Psalms 115:9-11).
He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.
Not afraid of bad news
Bad news is inevitable. It is not a matter of if it comes but when. The one who fears the Lord (v.1) will not be afraid.
- Proverbs 3:25-26; Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes, for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.
- Jeremiah 17:7-8; Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.
- Psalms 46:1-2; God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea.
His heart is firm…his heart is steady
The word translated here as firm means stable, established, set up, secure. Steady means to lean, lay upon, rest, uphold, sustain.
The one who fears the Lord is strengthened day by day yet will always lean upon Him who strengthens it. His heart is made firm but never with the intention to endure suffering alone.
- Psalms 73:26; My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
- Isaiah 40:28-31; Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
- Deuteronomy 33:26-27;There is none like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty. The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.
Oh, let us fear the Lord! Let us trust in Him when bad news comes, trusting Him to sustain us, leaning on His everlasting arms.
“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.” [read context]
In all circumstances
No matter what Satan throws at us in the form of temptation or trial, Paul reveals to us the secret to quenching his flaming darts: faith.
- 1 John 2:16; “For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world.”
- 1 John 5:4-5; “Everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
The world is full of temptation–that will never change. You can’t isolate yourself from sin, and even if you did, your heart will still betray you. The victory that overcomes the world and its lusts is faith. We place our faith in Jesus Christ and are born-again. This faith not only gives us life but sustains in it as well. “The righteous live by faith.”
In every circumstance we quench the devil’s flaming darts by faith.
Search the internet for self-help advice concerning addiction. You’ll read a lot about willpower, you’ll read a lot about accountability, you’ll read a lot about ways to distract yourself or change your habits. What you won’t likely see is this simple solution: put your faith in God–trust the Lord.
The reason you won’t see this is because trusting the Lord is not self-help. People want to fix things themselves; they don’t want to give up control. Faith doesn’t depend on our methods but on God.
Faith is trusting Him who gave us these promises:
- Philippians 1:6; “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
- 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”
- 1 Corinthians 10:13; “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
- 2 Thessalonians 3:3; “But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.”
- Psalm 121:7; “The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.”
The shield of faith
Now, any warrior would tell you, when you are in battle you should carry your shield at all times. In other words, don’t wait till the enemy shoots his darts. Always be ready.
As Christians, we need to strengthen our faith before we are tempted.
How do we strengthen our faith?
- Romans 10:17; “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
The Lord’s word; specifically the bible–and even more specifically, the gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed throughout the entire bible–will grow and strengthen our faith.
- Romans 16:25-27; “Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith–to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.”
As we read the Word of God we are edified. We are built up and encouraged. We are prepared to defend ourselves within this spiritual battle we wage. We will be ready in every circumstance of life, when Satan hurls his flaming darts our direction, to take up the shield of faith, placing our trust, not in ourselves, but in the Lord.
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
In Psalm 124, David said, “If it had not been the LORD who was on our side–let Israel now say–if it had not been the LORD who was on our side when people rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us up alive;” Psalms 124:1-3. If the Lord was not with us, we would have every reason to sink with dismay; we would have every reason to be disquieted, to be disheartened, to feel dejected, to lose our courage. Without God, we would be swallowed alive.
- Psalms 40:11-13; “As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me! For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me. Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me!”
He is a very present help in trouble. We can run to Him and be safe. We may approach His throne of grace freely and with boldness in our time of need. He is with us to strengthen us, to help us, to uphold us with His righteous right hand.
- Psalms 56:1-4; “Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me; all day long an attacker oppresses me; my enemies trample on me all day long, for many attack me proudly. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?”
- Psalms 56:10-13; “In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you. For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.”
- Psalms 27:1-5; “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.”
In Jesus Christ we have assurance of God’s perpetual presence. We have the covenant sealed in His blood: the forgiveness of sins, life everlasting. We stand justified–innocent, righteous–before Him and completely sure that He will never abandon us. He who did not withhold His only Son to purchase our redemption–He who did not withhold His only Son in order to reconcile us to Himself–how shall He glibly forsake the sheep of His fold? We know God is for us; so then, who can be against us?
- Romans 8:31-39; “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Fear not, He is with us. He is our God. He will strengthen us. He will help us. He will uphold us.
“Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.”
On those who fear him
Verse 13 of this same chapter says the Lord sees everyone. He knows everything. He is aware of all circumstances. In Matthew’s gospel were even told He blesses both the evil and the good alike.
But for those who fear him, those who hope in his steadfast love, they can trust in the certainty of the promise: he will deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.
Deliver their soul from death
It’s not that those who trust the Lord will never physically die. However, we have the eternal hope of life after death. Our soul shall never die.
- John 11:25-26; “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?'”
- John 5:24; “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
- 1 Peter 1:3-6; “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,
And keep them alive in famine
We rejoice in God and our hope of eternity, though now for a little while, if necessary, we have been grieved by various trials. As the hymn writer sang, “Whatever my lot, though hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul!” We don’t have a promise of never going through famine, but of being protected in it. We don’t have a promise to never endure any hardship, we have the assurance that the Lord will always be with us in them.
Just ask Job.
- Job 1:21; “He said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.'”
- Job 13:15; “Though he slay me, I will hope in him.”
Just ask Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
- Daniel 3:17-18; “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
The eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. When we go through times of trial on this earth, we can rejoice that the Lord has delivered our soul from death and that He promises to sustain us in difficult times. Whatever ill this life can throw at us, we know God is with us.
- Romans 8:35-39; “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”