Who Are You Putting Your Trust In?
Now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God. 2 Kings 19:19
It is called Syria today, but in ancient days it was known as Assyria. Historians often referred to the Assyrians as the Romans of ancient Asia. Their religion wasn’t much different from that of the Babylonians whom they had displaced as the greatest power in the world. They believed in many gods who supposedly directed human destiny and controlled the earth, water, storms and fire. In their temples, they worshipped Nabu, the god of learning; Ishtar, the goddess of love and sex; and Niruta, the god of war. But most of all, they believed in their weapons, and they used them well.
One of the most prominent of the Assyrian kings was a man by the name of Sennacherib, who came against Judah and the children of Israel long ago. And, like many today, Sennacherib had a pretty high opinion of himself. When his palace at Nineveh was excavated by an archaeologist by the name of Layard, a sculptured relief of the Assyrian king bore the inscription, “Sennacherib, king of the world, king of Assyria, sat upon his throne of state and caused the spoil of Lachish to pass before him.”
At the same time Sennacherib was carving his name in the annals of military history, another man bore the title of king. He lived seven hundred miles to the southwest in the city of Jerusalem. His name, Hezekiah. A contrast to the fierce, debauched Assyrian king, this man was gentle and God-fearing. Both men believed in the supernatural. Both men had fathers who were debauched. Both men wore the mantle of responsibility, but the two had little more in common than this.
When Hezekiah died, he was mourned by his people, honored by the prophets, and laid to rest with his fathers in the tomb of David’s descendants. And his son succeeded him. And what of Sennacherib’s fate?
Following a devastating defeat at the hands of Hezekiah’s army led by an angel, Sennacherib came home and went to the pagan temple to pray, whereupon he was cut down by a dagger in the hand of his own son, Esarhaddon, and the son who was the assassin reigned in his place.
What a contrast, the lives of these two men who both wrote history in the eighth century. By and large the difference was their decisions and their choices!
Sennacherib built one of the most deadly war machines ever assembled, and his trust was in the god of might! Hezekiah had learned that the most formidable army ever equipped is no match for a single angel who fights on the side of right! The full text of how these two met and pitted their gods against each other is in the Bible, 2 Kings Chapter 19. It was the defeat which Sennacherib sustained which led to his disgrace and death.
Strange how the gods of this world are still with us. Some still trust the gods of might and power, while others trust in the God who made heaven and earth. A study of the life of Hezekiah gives a lot of insight into what it takes to really succeed. He faced armies from without, fears from within, and illness which threatened to cut his life short, but this man had learned that God has the might to deliver, and will, as we trust Him. Hezekiah had learned what the songwriter penned, “The arm of flesh will fail you; we dare not trust its might.”
Winding up today’s brief commentary, I’d like to ask, “Whose God are you trusting? Hezekiah’s or Sennacherib’s? The arm of flesh, or the arm of the Almighty?” It is one or the other, but not both.
Resource reading: Psalm 75: 1-10