“Because you have prayed to me” – Isaiah 37:21b
King Hezekiah faced a great testing. Sennacherib, king of Assyria, had attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. Despite Hezekiah paying Sennacherib a healthy ransom, the Assyrian king still marched on Jerusalem to overthrow it. Samaria (Israel) had already been carried off into captivity because they had not obeyed the LORD their God, and now Judah faced the same prospect of a bitter herb in every bowl of broth placed before a famished Judahite mouth. Hezekiah, however, trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. It is recorded that there was no-one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him, for he held fast to the LORD and did not cease to follow Him. He kept the commands the LORD had given Moses.
What did Hezekiah do? He humbled himself and went into the temple of the LORD. He did not first seek the counsel of his aids, nor turn his back and prostrate before an idol; he went straight to the living God, whom he had trust in and held fast to all along. Hezekiah brought the matter to the LORD and laid it before the living God – he prayed to the God of Israel, the God of heaven and earth.
Was this necessary? Did God not know the facts? Was God not aware of the taunts and words of insult laid against Him that He needed king Hezekiah to bring them to His attention? Nay, dear saint, far from it! The LORD heard every word spoken by Sennacherib’s field commander, and read every word of the Assyrian king’s letter. Was this the first time that king Hezekiah prayed to the LORD that the LORD should say, “Because you have prayed to me”? Nay, dear reader, far from it! Why then would the LORD speak such? God wanted Hezekiah to seek Him on the matter. The LORD wanted him to humble himself and seek the source of his strength, and his true shield and sword. The Redeemer wanted the king to seek the Sovereign for salvation. Hezekiah did just that, so the LORD wanted him to know that because he had done it, an incredible deliverance and a mighty victory would be brought about by the hand of the LORD of Hosts.
How many times is a victory gained on the lone grounds of a humble, earnest prayer! How many times is a scale tipped in favour of a deliverance on the grounds of a solitary petition before the LORD! Hezekiah was familiar with the path that led between his seat of office and God’s sanctuary. No moss, mildew or slippery slime from the rains of conflict and the dark, damp conditions of oppression were ever given the chance to develop on the route between his palace and the Holy Place. The avenue between king Hezekiah and the Sovereign King was kept clean and clear. It was a way well worn, well-trod, and bore the sole imprints in the cobbled stones of a man who wholeheartedly sought the LORD his God and remained in faithful communion with Him. Like the prayers of his forefather, David, before him, king Hezekiah’s prayer ascended Jacob’s ladder forthwith, straight to the throne of the King, and was presented before the feet of the LORD of Hosts – the LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Dear saint, God desires that we seek Him; and that we seek Him earnestly in righteousness – for a caveat is proclaimed by the words of the psalmist, “If I regard (cherish) iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”
The channel, the communication, and the communion with our God needs to be kept open, clean and clear. Fasten the cords that hold Jacob’s ladder secure and steady before you, and let your prayers climb its stable rungs. The Omnipotent has the answer before the question is asked; He has the solution before the need arises, yet He desires that we seek it from Him. How many times does the LORD wait for us, withholding in order for us to first seek His face? How many times do we stumble because we have not stepped into God’s sanctuary? How many times is a battle lost for lack of a prayer brought before God? Let us be like Hezekiah, who in sackcloth sought the LORD; and let us be like he and his forefather, David, who can boldly proclaim, “I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.”