The promising king

Many of you who know me know that I am an avid Liverpool fan. You may even have spotted me in a Liverpool jersey at church on multiple occasions as well. While one may assume that Liverpool has always been the tremendously successful club that it is today, this has not always been the case. Despite the club’s illustrious history, Liverpool fans were once known to be one of the longest suffering groups of football fans, spending many years winning few trophies under a string of “good” to “sub-par” coaches. So, when existing coach, Jurgen Klopp, took over the mantle in 2015, there was an air of excitement amongst the fans. After all, this was a hugely experienced and successful coach who had received multiple accolades throughout his career. Over the course of the following few seasons, many positive changes were made within the squad and fans could also see vast improvements in the way the team played. After years of disappointment, a refreshing feeling of relief and optimism began to well up within me, realising that Liverpool may have finally found ‘the One’ that would lead the club on the path to glory and success once more.

This was exactly how I felt as I began reading 2 Kings 18 on the character of Hezekiah. Here was a king who not only ‘did what was right in the eyes of the Lord’ but was said to have even removed the high places (18:3-4), a task that his other ‘good’ predecessors failed to do. The author summarised his reign by describing him as one who trusted and held fast to the Lord faithfully, such that ‘there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him’ (18:5-6).

Indeed, this presents a stark contrast to the preceding chapters, which revealed the dismal decline of the last few kings of Israel before their Assyrian exile, as well as the dreadful reign of king Ahaz of Judah, who introduced idolatry within the temple and committed despicable acts

such as child sacrifice. Under the reign of king Hezekiah, it seems that we can finally see hope for the nation of Israel.

Concern for the glory of God

Consistent with what the author wrote of his reign in 2 Kings 18:1-8, Hezekiah’s response to the Assyrians’ threat of conquest and their mockery of YHWH in chapters 18 and 19 not only revealed his trust in YHWH, but also his deep and overriding concern for YHWH’s name. This is clearly seen in his humble prayer, which is found in 2 Kings 19:14-19.

Hezekiah’s prayer was not merely a request for physical deliverance from his Assyrian adversaries, but one that was primarily motivated by the glory of YHWH and His name, that all might know that He was the one true God. See his reaction in 19:1 when he heard how the Lord’s name was treated with scorn! And in response to his faith, God assured Hezekiah through the prophet Isaiah and delivered Judah from the Assyrian threat, ‘for (his) own sake and for the sake of (his) servant David’.

How concerned are we when it comes to God’s name and His glory today? When faced with the storms of life, do we come to God to pray only for deliverance, or do we also pray for God to be glorified? Does it grieve our hearts when we hear of how non-believers denounce God or when believers tarnish God’s name through their ungodly conduct? Does it compel us to prayer and action for the sake of God’s name?

Oh, but let us have a heart like Hezekiah, steadfast in trusting in the faithfulness of God and unceasing in our desire to glorify God and make Him known!

The presence of sin

In chapter 20, the author shares two events that seem to highlight questionable moments during Hezekiah’s reign — moments that reveal Hezekiah’s heart of self-righteousness, self-centredness, and a failure to wholly trust in God’s word. Strangely enough, these events appear to be flashbacks that precede the faithful and God-fearing Hezekiah we see in chapter 18:13-19:36. Why did the author order the narrative in this manner? How do we reconcile these seemingly contrasting “versions” of Hezekiah?

Lest we have an overly elevated view of Hezekiah, I believe that the author intentionally draws our attention to the sin of self-centredness that was present in Hezekiah’s heart. Like king David and king Solomon who came before him, Hezekiah is no exception when it comes to yielding to the power of sin. The author reveals to us that even during Hezekiah’s period of faithfulness in chapter 18 and 19, there are instances of his failure to be wholly true to God, and the chapter ultimately ends with the foretelling of Judah’s future exile to Babylon. Almost on cue, the ‘oh-so-familiar’ feeling of eventual disappointment is felt by the readers of 1-2 Kings once again.

The better (Promised) king

In king Hezekiah, we see a promising king. But he is not the promised king. The promised king that the Israelites had eagerly looked forward to, and whom we have now come to know and believe in, is found in the person of Jesus Christ. In Jesus Christ, we have a king who is wholly obedient and faithful to God, even to the point of death on the cross (Lk 22:42-44), unwavering in His devotion to glorify God and make Him known (John 17:1-16). He truly is the long-awaited king that we can confidently place all our hope and trust in!

Let us then rejoice with thankful hearts and be committed in giving glory to our good and faithful king who is able to be our righteousness, so that we might be reconciled with God and enjoy Him forever.

– Deacon Tan Jiayi