Isaiah 37:1 When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and went into the temple of the Lord.
King Hezekiah lived in pretty terrible times, but he was definitely one of the better kings of Judah. The chapter before this details the very insulting threat delivered by an Assyrian field commander, at a point when Assyria had the most powerful military in the known world. Definitely the stuff of nightmares and panic! However, Hezekiah’s response was first, personal humility, and second, seeking God. We don’t have the custom of tearing your clothes and putting on burlap, but it was a fixture of society back then. What was not common was for the king to do it. Just as it is today, people in positions of authority and power seldom acknowledged their weakness before God and man. Hezekiah, however, had no illusions that he was able to give a proper military response to Assyria, and he wasn’t too proud to acknowledge that fact. What he did have, however, was knowledge of and faith in the Creator of the universe, and he knew someone with a strong track record of hearing from, and speaking for, Him. He was much wiser that his father Ahaz (chapter seven)! And the record shows that his actions were entirely appropriate, and God was merciful to Judah. We aren’t kings, but we have a lot to learn from Hezekiah!
I was raised in a household of faith, but I am still all too likely to depend on myself and what I see as my resources in a time of emergency. There aren’t any current social norms on the order of tearing your clothes or wearing sackcloth, but those aren’t the issue. As always, it’s a matter of heart attitude. I think I am more likely to cry out to God in an emergency than the average person is, but that doesn’t mean it’s totally automatic. The longer I live the more aware I am that I can accomplish nothing on my own, without God’s direct support and intervention, and that awareness is a huge blessing. I just need to walk in that awareness more and more consistently. The flip side of that is the assurance that God can do anything He likes, even through me. I’m not particularly worthy of being His instrument, but His grace does extend that far, and I am to rejoice in that grace. At the same time, I am not to presume on it, and think that because God did something one time that He’s going to do exactly the same thing again. Even Moses got caught in that trap! (Numbers 20) I need to listen to Him humbly and obediently all the time so that He may indeed do whatever He likes, through me or completely apart from me.
Father, thank You for this reminder. There’s a lot of truth that I “know,” but it needs to be worked deeper into me. Help me live it out, just as James said, (James 1:22) so that I may be fully useful to You in establishing Your kingdom and bringing people into Your family, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!