6 November 2023
Integrity under threat
So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 1 Corinthians 10: 12
Despite Hezekiah’s fine reputation as the godly king of Judah, he had a great fall. King Sennacherib of Assyria invaded his kingdom and captured his fortified cities. In a panic, Hezekiah tried to buy off Sennacherib with bribes, choosing to give him tons of silver and gold from the temple. What had been dedicated to God was given to a pagan king!
In his turmoil, Hezekiah’s famous integrity was breached and he compromised with the enemy. This happened in the fourteenth year of his reign. As we go on in the Christian life, how careful we need to be not to ease up, or despise our earlier zeal as ‘youthful enthusiasm’. We may sing along with a hymn of dedication, but do we mean every word? ‘Take my life … hands … feet … lips … silver … my ALL.’
Despite the bribes, Assyria marched on Jerusalem. Hezekiah was tested again by the army commander’s taunt, ‘On whom are you depending …?’ (2 Kings 18: 20) This searched his heart, as it should do ours. Was he, and are we, continuing to rely on human resources, or first of all on the Lord?
Before answering, Hezekiah wisely went to the now plundered temple to seek again the Lord’s enabling, repenting of past failure and reaffirming his faith. Isaiah the prophet then relayed God’s comforting message, ‘Do not be afraid.’ (2 Kings 19: 1–6) He also prophesied the enemy’s downfall, which quickly came about. So God wonderfully vindicated Hezekiah’s faith.
We too can find strength under fire from Paul’s encouraging word to Timothy: ‘God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.’ (2 Timothy 1: 7)
Prayer: Dear Lord, please help us to turn to you at times of stress, learning again that those who trust you wholly will find you wholly reliable. Amen.
Read: 2 Kings 19: 14–19, 35–36.