Items posted on 7 March 2011
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2 Chronicles 32.1-15 – Recognition of God’s Providence
Posted: 7 March 2011 in 2 Chronicles

When Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib was come, and that he was purposed to fight against Jerusalem, He took counsel with his princes….. to stop the waters of the fountains which were without the city: and they did help him….. Also he strengthened himself, and built up all the wall that was broken, and raised it up to the towers, and another wall without, and repaired Millo in the city of David….. And he set captains of war over the people, and gathered them together….. and spake comfortably to them, saying, Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him: With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles. After this did Sennacherib king of Assyria send his servants to Jerusalem, unto Hezekiah king of Judah, and unto all Judah that were at Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith Sennacherib king of Assyria, Whereon do ye trust, that ye abide in the siege in Jerusalem?…. let not Hezekiah deceive you: for no god of any nation or kingdom was able to deliver his people out of mine hand, and out of the hand of my fathers: how much less shall your God deliver you out of mine hand?

This passage represents a sharp contrast between trust in God (Hezekiah), and outright contempt for God (Sennacherib). Hezekiah takes what might be regarded as prudent steps, in denying the Assyrians a water supply and reinforcing Jerusalem, but he realises that ultimately the outcome of the battle will depend upon the will of God, who always does that which seemeth him good. In contrast, the contempt of the Assyrians amounts to outright blasphemy. Consequently, God’s mercy and wrath are meted out respectively, and in equal measure, upon the two combatants.

Isaiah understood the current episode in terms of God humbling Sennacherib, whom he had previously used as the instrument of his judgment upon the nations, but who had now become over mighty, and was attributing his accomplishments to himself. Sennacherib lacked Hezekiah’s knowledge of God as being the only source of both weal and woe.

Attributing our successes to ourselves, rather than to the providence of God, to whom all glory belongs, is probably something we are all guilty of. Probably also, we are less conscious of God’s providence, as something ever present, than were either Hezekiah above, or Joab in 2 Sam 10.11-12:

And he said, If the Syrians be too strong for me, then thou shalt help me: but if the children of Ammon be too strong for thee, then I will come and help thee. Be of good courage, and let us play the men for our people, and for the cities of our God: and the LORD do that which seemeth him good.

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