Is. 37:14 – Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. 15 And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD…
Is. 37:21 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Because you have prayed to me concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria…”
One of the struggles that we often face is making time to pray. Different situations in our life “force” us to see our vulnerability more clearly than when life is going well. Hezekiah was in one of those spots. The king of Assyria (Sennacherib) was pressing in to conquer Israel. He positioned himself at the city gates with a horde of his military and sent a messenger (Rabshakeh) to communicate their terms of surrender (37:2). Rabshakeh stood outside the city and was mocking Hezekiah to not be foolish about trying to broker a deal with Egypt to come and help (37:6). He also spent considerable time mocking them if they thought they would trust in the Lord and rely on Him for deliverance; after all, Assyria had been crushing everyone in the area and their gods did nothing to deliver them (37:7, 14-16; 18-20).
Clearly, there was lots of reasons to not trust in the Lord. It would be easy for Hezekiah to conclude that God had sent Assyria to punish / discipline His people and this was simply their fate. When Hezekiah received the letter from the king of Assyria he does not just toss it away, he does not consult with anyone else, he does not dismiss it either. He lays it down before the Lord and spends some earnest time seeking the Lord and pleading for His wisdom and help (37:14-20).
What is powerful about this one act was there was an inherent conviction that nothing in life was settled until God has the last word on it. In spite of the circumstances, the discouragement that Israel was feeling, the lack of resources, the inability to defend themselves, only two viable options available to them, Hezekiah chooses to seek God before he does anything else. The response was truly encouraging – “because you have prayed to Me… this is the word that the LORD has spoken…” (37:21-22).
Because you have prayed to Me (says the Lord). This is quite a revelation and it ought to cause us to pause and reflect on our first responses when life hits a crucible. if you read through the text God was willing to intervene for Israel in way that had not happened with any other nation. God’s response was all premised on that one simple act of Hezekiah, “because you prayed…”
This is a powerful reminder that instead of creatively finding our own solutions to life’s challenges our best, first choice is to pray. Instead of reacting to people who threaten us we ought to first pray; instead of panicking and surrendering to our circumstances we ought to pray; instead of losing hope and giving in to our fears, we ought to pray. God saw the humility and dependence of Hezekiah and promised deliverance from an impossible situation that Hezekiah was not going to solve on his own.
There are always some who will snort a little and criticize Hezekiah that his faith was not genuine because he was forced into it by his situation. I think people are naive when they say things like that, we all face trials and hardships for the very purpose that God will perfect (grow or transform) our faith (James 1:2-4). None of us have it all figured out even though you will always run into some who think they do.
Remember that we all need to keep teaching and training ourselves that our first response to life is always to pray. You never know what surprises God has in store for those who pray.
Sincerely in His grace,