Hezekiah: A Portrait of Trust
Dr. Brian Allison
Do you trust in God? The story is often told of a young man or a young woman who refuses to fully surrender to God, who refuses to totally give up his or her present selfish way of life, who refuses to be completely committed to the Lord, because they fear what may happen if they do. They fear that God will send them somewhere that they really do not want to go. They fear that God will have them do something that they are really going to hate; and so they do not cross over the line in surrendering themselves completely to the Lord. Why is this? The person who thinks this way evidences that he or she does not really trust in the Lord. Again, do you trust in God, or do you doubt His goodness and faithfulness?
Many Christians struggle with trusting the Lord; and as a result, they also struggle with anxiety, worry, and feelings of insecurity. In 1981, I was unemployed. I remember laying in bed late one night worrying about our financial situation and what the future may hold. In talking with my wife at that time, she said with concern, "That is not like you; you never worry about money." However, at that point I was not trusting in the Lord; and that is why I was worrying. Trust is a spiritual key to peace, calm, and joy.
Hezekiah trusted God
The story of king Hezekiah provides us with an appropriate picture of what it means to trust God. We read in 2 Kings 18:5,6, "[Hezekiah] trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel; so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him. For he clung to the LORD; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses." What a testimony concerning king Hezekiah! King Hezekiah was incomparable among the kings of Judah in terms of trusting in the Lord. His trust in God was his distinguishing mark. As believers, Hezekiah stands as a portrait of trust for us. If we want to understand trust, if we want to learn what trusting in God means, and hence experience the benefits of trust, we can do nothing better than to study the Bible account of king Hezekiah.
Hezekiah was 25 years old when he began to reign, and he refused to rely upon foreign nations for any help against invading enemies, especially the formidable enemy of Assyria. We read, "And the LORD was with [Hezekiah]; wherever he went he prospered. And he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him" (18:7). The Assyrians were the dominant nation at this time. They had destroyed and subdued various peoples. Now, in the fourteenth year of the reign of Hezekiah, Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, entered Judah with a massive army, and he began to seize the cities. Hezekiah pleaded with Sennacherib to withdraw from his land. He even presented a large ransom fee. The Assyrians, however, did not withdraw. Subsequently, Sennacherib sent a large army to Jerusalem, under the direction of Rabshakeh and others, demanding unconditional surrender. Hezekiah refused. Why? He trusted in God. Seemingly, Hezekiah was renown for his trust in God. Even his enemies acknowledged this trust. For instance, Rabshakeh warned, "Nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD" (18:30); and again, he said, "Thus you shall say to Hezekiah king of Judah, 'Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you saying, "Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria'''" (19:10).
What is trust?
Trust is simply, and generally, a firm or assured belief. For instance, I have the firm belief that my living room floor will hold my weight when I walk across it. I believe it so strongly that I do not even think about it. Trust is resting on a fact as true. Now, to trust someone is to place your confidence or assurance in him or her. For instance, if I share some sensitive issue with you (and assuming that I trust you), I have the confidence that you will not betray me, that you will not repeat what I have shared. Again, to trust someone is to rely on that person to be faithful. For instance, my wife does our banking. When I get my cheque, I give it immediately to her (in fact most weeks I do not even see my cheque). I implicitly rely on her to be faithful in looking after our financial affairs.
Now, it is self-evident that, as Christians, we are to implicitly, as well as explicitly, trust in God. We should be confident that God will do us good. We should rely on the fact that He will remain faithful to us. We should realize that God will never let us down; that we can always count on Him to 'come through' for us, even when the situation is drastic and desperate, or even when the situation seems bleak and hopeless. So, for instance, when you make that social blunder, and you wonder what the reaction will be, and you fear that people will misunderstand you, you need to trust in God. Or, when you cannot afford to pay out any more money to have your car or stove fixed, and you wonder how you will manage financially, you need to trust in God – you need to have that confidence that God will 'come through' for you. Or, when you have that reunion with friends or relatives with whom you are on shaky ground, you need to trust that God will undertake and look after that situation.
Trusting in God to deliver
Hezekiah's trust in God had a specific focus. He had the confidence that God would deliver him from a grave situation, that God would help him at a critical time. In short, Hezekiah trusted in God to provide for him and to protect him. We read that Rabshakeh threatened, "Nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, 'The LORD will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria...But do not listen to Hezekiah, when he misleads you, saying, 'The LORD will deliver us'" (18:30,32).
Again, remember that Hezekiah was faced with what appeared to be an insurmountable problem. There was a massive, military machine arrayed against him and his people. So, again we read the threatening words of Rabshakeh, "Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the lands, destroying them completely. So will you be spared? Did the gods of those nations which my fathers destroyed deliver them? Even Gozan and Haran and Rezeph and the sons of Eden who were in Telassar? Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of the city of Sepharvaim, and of Hena and Ivvah?" (19:11-13). How could Hezekiah even dare defy and resist this power? Was he a mad man? No. Hezekiah trusted in the Lord even in the face of what appeared to be an insurmountable problem.
In your life, you will find what may appear to be insurmountable problems. Maybe that is your experience right now. In your life there will seem to be numerous enemies that are arrayed against you. You may be able to count them right now. You need to trust that God will deliver you. A member of our congregation recently shared with the church about the difficult situations she observed in returning to her native Sri Lanka; and yet she bore witness to the faithfulness of God. She trusted in God. She shared how God protected her and gave her peace. Human problems are not problems for God. Indeed, 'our extremities are God's opportunities.' God is pleased to reveal Himself as God so that we might worship and praise Him.
The evidences of trusting in God
There are clear evidences of trusting in God. First, trust is seen in immediately turning to the Lord when a problem or difficulty arises. We read, "And when king Hezekiah heard it [what Rabshakeh had said concerning the intentions of king Sennacherib], he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth and entered the house of the Lord" (19:1). For Hezekiah, prayer was the first recourse in time of trouble; he resigned himself to God. Again, we read (when Rabshakeh had gone away, having delivered the message of threat, and then returned with a similar message), "Then Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it, and he went up to the house of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD. And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD" (19:14,15a). Again, prayer was his first response to apparent calamity or crisis. He did not trust in himself, nor in his own resources. D. L. Moody (1837-1899) wrote, "Trust in yourself, and you are doomed to disappointment; trust in your friends, and they will die and leave you; trust in money, and you may have it taken from you; trust in reputation, and some slanderous tongue may blast it; but trust in God, and you are never to be confounded in time or eternity."
What is your first recourse when a crisis comes? When that difficulty comes, how do you respond? Do you pick up the phone and call a friend? Do you try to get in touch with your husband or your wife? Do you notify the accountant? Do you turn to Mom or Dad? Do you rely on your own resources and strength? If we really trust in God, if we are convinced that He will 'come through' for us, then our first recourse will be to talk directly to Him. Immediately turning to God demonstrates the very fact that we do trust in Him? My wife, on different occasions, converses with an elderly saint on the phone, sharing various concerns. Sometimes, as she is sharing, this elderly saint will say, "Let's just pray about this matter right now on the phone." This is a woman who really trusts in God.
Now, God honours our trust in Him. He responds positively to us when we immediately turn to Him in prayer. So, we read, "Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah saying, 'Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, "Because you have prayed to Me about Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard you"'" (19:20). The same can be true for you, my friend. When you immediately turn to God in prayer, demonstrating your trust in Him, He may be pleased to hear you. Often, He does not hear us because we do not really believe that He does hear us. We may make such requests as: "God, change the attitude of my husband;" or "God, provide me with seven hundred dollars to pay this outstanding bill;" yet, we may have no confidence that God will answer. My friend, God is the God of the impossible. God says, "For those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me will be lightly esteemed" (1 Sam. 2:30). We honour God through our trust in His name, believing that He can do what His word reveals that He can do. "He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who [diligently] seek Him" (Hb. 11:6b). What do you want God to do for you?
The second evidence or indication of trusting in God is acting or living in such a way that demonstrates your confidence in Him. It is not enough to 'talk the talk,' you must demonstrate by how you live and by how you act that God is going to 'come through' for you. So, concerning Hezekiah, we read, "Then he sent Eliakim who was over the household with Shebna the scribe and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz" (19:2). Isaiah was a representative of the Lord – the one who authoritatively spoke God's Word. Hezekiah, knowing this truth, sent a delegation to him to present the grave situation in order to evoke compassion, because he believed that God could really help him. He acted; he responded in accordance with his trust.
Now, trust did not exclude the personal experience of pain. We further read, "And they [the delegation] said to him [Isaiah], 'Thus says Hezekiah, "This day is a day of distress, rebuke, and rejection; for children have come to birth, and there is no strength to deliver'''" (19:3). We should understand that trust in God does not exclude one from feeling life's pressures, stresses, and distresses. Hezekiah recognized that he had a serious problem, and he was deeply distressed; and yet it is said of this man that there was no king who trusted God like him. So, you can trust in God with your whole heart and still feel the pressures of life; you can even feel like you are going to snap, and yet still cleave to God. Wasn't that Job's situation? He became a broken man, and yet he professed, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him" (Jb. 13:15a). Trust is simply the proper response to life's difficult, stressful, and pressure-packed situations. Trust does not exclude the experience of pain. It simply helps us to foster a proper attitude in handling the pain.
So, Hezekiah acted on the basis of his trust. He applied for help from God. We further read that he said to Isaiah, "Perhaps the LORD your God will hear all the words of Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to reproach the living God, and will rebuke the words which the LORD your God has heard. Therefore, offer a prayer for the remnant that is left" (19:4). Again, Hezekiah's trust was honoured; God responded. We read, "And Isaiah said to them, 'Thus you shall say to your master, "Thus says the Lord, 'Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me. Behold, I will put a spirit in him so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land. And I will make him fall by the sword in his own land'"'" (19:6,7).
Because Hezekiah trusted in God, God delivered him. That is God's way. Could it be that often you do not experience the deliverance that you desire in your life because deep down inside you do not trust God? Be honest now. You believe in Him, you acknowledge Him, but deep down inside you are not resting on His promises and grace. If you trust in God, you will act or live in such a way that clearly reveals that you are resting on His promises and grace; that you are relying on the faithfulness of His goodness. In other words, if you are trusting in God, you will live in such a way as if your problem is His problem. Often when problems arise and difficulties come, we are overwhelmed, and we are stretched even to the point of breaking, because we think that we need to fix it, that we need to bring about change. We feel the burden of the responsibility to 'get things right,' and it is that sense of responsibility to 'get things right' – to fix things – that we find so burdensome. What I am suggesting to you is this: if you trust in God (and I am not advocating personal irresponsibility; we do have a role to play), then you will live in such a way that God is sovereign, in absolute control, and that He is responsible for resolving your care or concern. You will consciously entrust yourself and your situation to Him. To really trust in God will mean that you release the problem and give it to Him, believing that He is able to find a way out of no way. Again, you must acknowledge that your problem is now His problem, and rest in His sovereignty. Those who do not trust continue to hold onto the burden, and God will let you do that. However, the moment of trust – firmly believing that God will 'come through' for you – is your moment of release. Do what is right, and leave the consequences to God.
My wife and I know a couple who went through a period of financial straits; they had difficulty paying their bills, and they were expecting a rather heavy bill at the beginning of the next month. The wife was greatly concerned about where they would get the money to pay this bill. Her husband tried to reassure her, saying, "Listen, I do not want to hear that doubt any more. God has never failed us in the past, and He is not going to start now. What we need to do, because this is what He is looking for, is to trust Him that He is going to deliver us." God honoured that trust. Within a week, a cheque was received to put towards the bill. That is God's way. If you honour Him, He will honour you. That was the case with Hezekiah.
Do you trust in God to deliver you? Maybe you have a financial problem. Maybe you have an emotional problem. Maybe you have an employment problem. Maybe you have a relationship problem. Maybe you have a problem with your children. Maybe you have a problem concerning what the future will bring. Are you fretting and stewing about it? Have you not come to the point of saying, "Lord this is your problem. It is your responsibility, and I will not worry about it any more." Do you trust God? If you do, then you will do at least two things: you will immediately pray about it, giving it to God (and you may need to do that a few times), and you will live and act as if you are demonstrating the reality that He is able to 'come through' for you. God will bless you in your trust of Him. Trust is a key to your peace, calm, and joy. A. B. Simpson (1844-1919), founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, writes:
How often we trust each other,
And only doubt our Lord.
We take the word of mortals,
And yet distrust His Word;
But oh, what light and glory
Would shine o'er all our days,
If we always would remember
God means just what He says.