2 Kings 19:20-31
“I have Heard Your Prayer.” Remember how we were tracing the usage of the word hear (Heb. Shema) throughout the chapters? Well, in today’s reading we see God answering Hezekiah’s prayer with an encouraging word: “I have heard your prayer...” (19:20). We hereby see in verses 21-28 is God’s pronouncement of how He was going to act, to defeat the Assyrians and to deliver Judah out of the enemy’s hands. Look at how God began His reply: “The Virgin Daughter of Zion despises you and mocks you. The Daughter of Jerusalem tosses her head as you flee” (19:21) Do you know what this was an instruction of? God was instructing Judah to gloat! Such a scene could only be possible if Judah actually expected Assyria’s defeat, and confidently anticipated their own victory. The people would not merely let out a huge sigh of relief upon their deliverance; they would confidently toss their head in confident gesture, fully expecting their win.
“Who is it you have insulted and blasphemed? Against whom have you raised your voice and lifted your eyes in pride? Against the holy one of Israel!” (Read 19:22-24; 27-28). Why would Judah come to expect such unlikely victory against a much stronger enemy? It was because the enemy had provoked the Lord’s wrath. It was because the Rabshakeh’s challenge attempted to put into question Yahweh’s ability to deliver His people, and that was an “insolence” (19:28) that needed to be taught a lesson.
“Have You not Heard, O Assyria?” Here’s the next use of the word Shema: “Have you not heard? Long ago I ordained it. In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass” (19:25) Yahweh would also remind Assyria that the fact that they were able to take so many of Judah’s fortified cities not due to their own might, but rather because Yahweh had “ordained” and “planned” for such event, as His disciplinary action for His people (19:25-26 cf Isa 10:12-19; 14:24- 27). And so, God would deliver Jerusalem; not with an act of military prowess lest the people think it is their own, but with a miraculous sign. God ensured that He would tell beforehand that this would be so, by giving Hezekiah a sign that he would be able to verify (19:29-31).
“Hear, O Israel!” But the fact that God heard Hezekiah’s prayer; and announces to Assyria of His infallible sovereignty was really to make Judah hear once again that their God was the one true God. And it is precisely because He is the one true God that His plan will surely prevail. Today, if we likewise are beholding an immense challenge in our lives; if we feel like the gods of this age are waving their fists at us; if we hear that the world is mocking at us because of our faith. We would do well to do what Hezekiah did: To spread out such insults before the Lord and lament before Him. To “cast all our anxieties on Him because He cares for us” (1 Peter 5:7). Hear, O Israel and know that the Lord your God is one. Hear Him and trust in Him!