Friday 16 July 2010

Bible Book:

"Remember now, O LORD, I implore you, how I have walked before you in faithfulness with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight." (v.3)

Isaiah 38:1-16 Friday 16 July 2010


The story we have been following has moved on again. Hezekiah,the son of Ahaz, is now king of Judah. His father Ahaz had madeJudah a vassal to Assyria and introduced Assyrian ways of worshipin the Temple at Jerusalem. Hezekiah, by contrast, was a reformingking and smashed the idols that the Israelites hadworshipped. 2 Kings 18 records that he "trusted in theLORD the God of Israel ... held fast to the LORD" (verses5-6).

Hezekiah also attempted, unsuccessfully, to rebel against theAssyrians and during his reign Judah was invaded by Sennacherib andthe Assyrian army. Isaiah36:13-22 (and 2Kings 18:19-37) record a dramatic confrontation when Jerusalemwas threatened and Rabshakeh of the Assyrian army taunts thepeople, telling them that they cannot rely on Hezekiah or God. Infact, the Assyrians' siege of Jerusalem failed, but it seems thatshortly after the Assyrians left, Hezekiah faced a new crisis whenhe became extremely ill and was expected to die.

For the ancient Israelites, long life was seen as a sign of God'sapproval. The dead were believed to go to Sheol, a place ofshadows. In Sheol the dead were separated from God and it was onlyin later Jewish thought that a belief in the resurrection of thedead developed.

So today's reading gives us two aspects of prayer. First there is aprayer in crisis asking for healing. It is worth noticing thatGod's answer links Hezekiah's return to health with the delivery ofJerusalem from the Assyrians. Secondly, from verse 9 onwards, thereis a lament: a prayer in which a person who is hurting pours outtheir heart to God and tells of the struggle they are enduring.

To Ponder

Hezekiah pleads with God that he has beenfaithful all his life. Do you see this as an attempt to barter withGod? An attempt to be honest with God about how he was feeling? Orsomething else?

How do you respond to Hezekiah's lament? Have youexperienced laments in worship and to what extent do you think theycould be a fruitful way of praying?

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