April 20 I Thursday
2 Samuel 9-11
“Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD...And Hezekiah wept bitterly.” —2 Kings 20:2-3
In the days of King Hezekiah, Judah was sandwiched between the superpowers of Egypt and Assyria. Egypt’s strength was on the decline, but Assyria was rising to power. Three years after Assyria conquered the northern kingdom of Samaria, which had seceded from Judah hundreds of years earlier, King Sennacherib of Assyria laid waste to Judah and surrounded Jerusalem. Sennacherib mocked Hezekiah and the Lord in a letter, reminding the king that no nation or god had resisted Assyrian conquest yet.
Hezekiah was one of Judah’s most faithful kings. The Bible says he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and trusted Him. Immediately upon receiving Sennacherib’s letter, he brought it before the Lord, and admitted the Assyrians were a formidable power. He appealed to God to deliver Judah from Assyria “so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, LORD, are God” (2 Kings 19:19). In response to this prayer, God gave Hezekiah a massive victory over the Assyrians. He sent His angels to put to death 185,000 Assyrian soldiers while they were sleeping. In the morning, Sennacherib broke camp and withdrew; he went to Nineveh and stayed there.
This is an example of Hezekiah’s faith while in public office, but the next chapter tells a very different story. Through the prophet Isaiah, God now told a sick Hezekiah to get his house in order because his illness was going to kill him. This time, it was Hezekiah’s personal world that was being affected, and he responded to God quite differently. He was only 39 years old, so it is understandable he would feel cheated out of a long life and his prayer was for himself; one of fear and sorrow, begging to live longer. His courage and faithfulness to God for the nation of Israel did not carry over seamlessly when he was behind closed doors.
This kind of discrepancy can easily arise in our own relationship with God. People involved in full-time ministry may find themselves pastoring others through difficult situations and preaching about the resources we have in Christ while failing to adopt those resources themselves. Others may have an easy time praying for friends or interceding about the future of our nation but struggle to trust God with their day-to-day life. If this is the case, their spiritual vocabulary is bigger than their experiences of God.
We should encourage others in their faith, but we must also be constantly assessing where we are in our own walk with God. Trusting Him is a decision we must make each and every day, and this is what will translate a confident, abiding faith from our private lives into the public domain.
Prayer: Almighty God, align my thoughts and actions with Your desire for me. Help me to demonstrate an ever-deepening faith in You in all my interactions with others. Thank You, God.