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persuaded by Hezekiah to give themselves over to famine and thirst, under the vain idea that the Lord their God should deliver them out of the hand of the king of Assyria. “ Know ye not,” said he, “what I and my fathers have done unto all the people of other lands? Were the gods of the nations of those lands able to deliver their land out of mine hand ? No god of any nation or kingdom was able to deliver his people out of mine hand, how much less shall your God deliver you out of mine hand ?" And Sennacherib's servant spake yet more against the Lord, and against his servant Hezekiah. He wrote also letters to rail on the Lord God of Israel, and to speak against him, saying, “The Lord God of Hezekiah shall not deliver his people qut of mine hand.” Now all these words were spoken, as I said, “ in the Jews' speech, to trouble them and to affright them, that they might take the city; and they spake against the God of Jerusalem as against the gods of the people of the earth, which were the work of the hand of man.” They had even the boldness to tell Hezekiah that the Lord his God had desired Sennacherib to come up against Jerusalem to take it.
E. What did Hezekiah do, mother, when he heard all this?
M. He was greatly distressed, Edward, and shocked at the wicked blasphemies of the king of Assyria. But he knew where to look for true comfort under all his trials; he felt that God, and God alone, could compose his troubled mind, and he made known all his griefs to him in fervent prayer. The letter which had made him so unhappy, he took up with him to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord, that is, before the holy place where his glorious presence dwelt. You would like, I dare say, to hear the beautiful prayer which Hezekiah used on this occasion.
E. That I should, mother, pray tell me what he said.
M. He prayed before the Lord, and said, “ O Lord God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubim ; thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth ; thou hast made heaven and earth. Lord, bow down thine ear and hear; open, Lord, thine eyes and see, and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he hath sent to reproach the living God. Of a truth, Lord, the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands, and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone. Now, therefore, O Lord our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord God, even thou only.”. Such, Edward, was the
prayer of this holy man, and the reward of it was great. The prophet Isaiah immediately came to him, saying, “ Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, that which thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib, king of Assyria, I have heard. Therefore, thus saith the Lord against the king of Assyria: he shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it. By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the Lord.” And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand ; and when the remainder of them arose early in the morning, behold they were all dead corpses ; and among them that were killed were all the mighty men of valour, and the leaders, and the captains, in the camp of the king. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. Thus the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib.
E. Did he ever come again, mother, against Jerusalem ?
M. No, my son ; his proud and insolent railing against the Most High God, had brought down the vengeance of the Almighty upon him, and it followed him to his own country; for, a short time after he returned there, he was murdered by the hands of two of his own sons, while he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god.
E. How happy Hezekiah must have been when he saw his country quite free again.
M. He had, indeed, great reason to be happy, for he had been delivered from great evils, and had received large proofs of the favour and mercy
of God. Thus far, Edward, the history of Hezekiah has been a very delightful one : we have seen how great his piety was, how he trusted in God, and prayed to him, and kept his commandments ; and though his troubles were many and great, we have reason to think that the Lord delivered him out of them all.
But Hezekiah was only a man, and, like other men, he came into the world with a nature prone to sin, which he had not quite rooted out. You cannot be too often reminded, my son, that there has never been any man in the world quite perfect but our Lord Jesus Christ. He alone was without sin. All the rest have gone astray; and even the best men have had reason to mourn over the corruptions of their own hearts, and their great natural inclination to evil. Even the good Hezekiah was once taken by surprise, and for a moment forgot the Lord who had done so great things for him.
E. When was this, mother?
M. It was soon after his recovery from his sickness; a neighbouring king, the king of Babylon, sent to rejoice with him on this occasion, and to inquire, most likely, about the great work which God had wrought for him. When the messengers of the king of Babylon came, Hezekiah went and showed them all his treasures; his gold and silver, his spices and ointments, and all his precious things; his armour, too, and all those stores on which kings are apt to pride themselves ; for Hezekiah at this time had exceeding much riches, so that he had made himself treasuries for silver, and for gold, and for precious stones, and for spices, and for shields, and for all manner of pleasant jewels : store-houses, too, for corn, and wine, and oil; and stores for all manner of beasts, and cotes for flocks; for he had possessions of flocks and herds in abundance. But Hezekiah forgot on this occasion that God had given him all this substance, and he allowed his
heart to be lifted up by these things, and to become proud and vain. He forgot how little his gold and his silver, and his other treasures, could do for him when he was dying, and that it was God who had raised him up from the very mouth of the grave. He suffered his heart to be drawn away by things in which he knew there was no profit without God; and he forgot in the meanwhile what great things the Lord had done for him.
E. Was the Lord displeased with Hezekiah for this, mother?
M. Yes, Edward ; his folly did not escape God's all-seeing eye. The Lord sent the prophet Isaiah to reprove him for his pride, and to tell him that all these things which had been shown with so much vanity to the king of Babylon, should one day be taken away to that very city.. How just was this punishment! The king and people were to lose those things in which they trusted more than in the living God; and the person who was to take them away was the king of Babylon, whom they had wished to win with their treasures.
God is greater and better than all things. He can help us better than any creature can. Indeed, nothing can help us without his leave.
Let us not affront him by loving his creatures more than himself, or by depending upon them more than upon God. Even the good Hezekiah fell into this sin. How much more likely are we to do so!
E. Mother, I am sure Hezekiah must have felt very sorry when he found that he had offended God