Hezekiah is known for being one of the greatest kings of Israel and Judah. He was one of the few righteous rulers. When he became king, sin and idolatry were pervasive in the land, so he initiated a series of reforms that would stretch up even into the recently fallen Israel of the north (see 2 Chronicles 29). Yet, during his reign, the Assyrians, after destroying Israel’s capital of Samaria in 722 BC, continued to press down upon Judah.
The Assyrians, under Sennacherib, began to take the cities of the south and finally came to Jerusalem, Judah’s capital and Hezekiah’s home.
The leader of the Assyrian army, Rabshekah, sent word to Hezekiah as they were about to lay siege to the city. Isaiah records the Assyrian message:
“Say now to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria, “What is this confidence that you have? I say, ‘Your counsel and strength for the war are only empty words.’ Now on whom do you rely, that you have rebelled against me? Behold, you rely on the staff of this crushed reed, even on Egypt, on which if a man leans, it will go into his hand and pierce it. So is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who rely on him. But if you say to me, ‘We trust in the LORD our God,’ is it not He whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away and has said to Judah and to Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar'? Now therefore, come make a bargain with my master the king of Assyria, and I will give you two thousand horses, if you are able on your part to set riders on them. How then can you repulse one official of the least of my master’s servants and rely on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? Have I now come up without the LORD’S approval against this land to destroy it? The LORD said to me, ‘Go up against this land and destroy it.’” (36:4-10)
Note how Rabshekah was even claiming that God, Yahweh, had sent the Assyrians to destroy Jerusalem. He had wrongly assumed that Hezekiah was tearing down the high places of Yahweh, showing how little he really knew about what Yahweh really wanted. Yet still, upon what grounds could Hezekiah hope to stand up to the mighty Assyrians? Rabshekah’s taunt was intended not only to shake up Hezekiah, but to lessen the confidence of all the people of Jerusalem. Rabshekah continued, even speaking in the Judean dialect: “Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you; nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, ‘The LORD will surely deliver us, this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’” (36:14-15)
Hezekiah could have given in at this point, but he turned to God for the answer to the problem (Isa 37). He tore his clothes, prayed, and sent for Isaiah the prophet. God’s response was directly against Sennacherib: “Because of your raging against Me and because your arrogance has come up to My ears, therefore I will put My hook in your nose and My bridle in your lips, And I will turn you back by the way which you came.” (37:29)
Sennacherib, boastful and arrogant, would now see ruin. God dealt with him by sending death to 185,000 Assyrian troops in one night. Sennacherib returned back to Ninevah, where he soon was assassinated.
So what was that confidence that Hezekiah had? In contrast to the self-confidence and arrogance of the king of Assyria, Hezekiah’s confidence was in the Lord God. This confidence in God is what saved Jerusalem. That’s the kind of confidence that God had always wanted from His people. Trust him. Rely on His strength, and He will deliver.
Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might (Eph. 6:10). Today, our confidence is not to be in ourselves, as if by our own personal strength we will overcome the world. As with the kings, God wants us to rely upon Him and His strength. Without that godly reliance, we will ever fail. With that confidence, we are guaranteed victory.
So, what is this confidence that you have? Is it in yourself? Or is it in God? That has always been the choice of mankind.