Pray Like a King

Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord and spread it before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord and said: “O Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. So now, O Lord our God, save us, please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Lord, are God alone.” 2 Kings 19:14-19.

Unlike his counterpart, the king of Assyria, King Hezekiah was not a bombastic braggart. He approached the Lord with humility. He called out the great things about his God. He approached with reverence. You don’t have to be a king to do this.

Solomon’s Prayer

Now as Solomon finished offering all this prayer and plea to the Lord, he arose from before the altar of the Lord, where he had knelt with hands outstretched toward heaven. And he stood and blessed all the assembly of Israel with a loud voice, saying, “Blessed be the Lord who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised. Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke by Moses his servant. The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers. May he not leave us or forsake us, that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers. Let these words of mine, with which I have pleaded before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, and may he maintain the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel, as each day requires, that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other. Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the Lord our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.” 1 Kings 8:54-61.

This day Solomon prayed for the people of Israel. Even though this was a day of great celebration, he prayed in a way that foretold all of the bad times that would come. And he did so because he ain’t gotta lie to everyone sins and that sin would separate them from God’s goodness. Why would Solomon, on this great day, bring up all of these negative things? It is because it is the reality of human living. people sin. Even when God has been kind to them beyond measure and fulfilled all his promises to them. People do forget him and walk in their own ways. So even though this was a day when the glory of God filled the temple and people have a hard time standing up under it, it was still a time to warn people about the realities of what would happen if they did forsake following God’s ways.

Today we need to hear the same warnings. Jesus can and warned us about the persecution we would suffer when we are obedient, but also the suffering we would go through when we are disobedient. In the book of Revelation there were messages sent to the seven churches of Asia. most of those churches were given stern warnings because they were walking and ways that were against the Lord. We need to hear those things again. because much of what we are suffering today in America is not because we are obedient. It is because we have been self-satisfied and have sought things instead of the kingdom of God.

“Get over it, David.”

It was told Joab, “Behold, the king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.” So the victory that day was turned into mourning for all the people, for the people heard that day, “The king is grieving for his son.” And the people stole into the city that day as people steal in who are ashamed when they flee in battle. The king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, “O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!” Then Joab came into the house to the king and said, “You have today covered with shame the faces of all your servants, who have this day saved your life and the lives of your sons and your daughters and the lives of your wives and your concubines, because you love those who hate you and hate those who love you. For you have made it clear today that commanders and servants are nothing to you, for today I know that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased. Now therefore arise, go out and speak kindly to your servants, for I swear by the Lord, if you do not go, not a man will stay with you this night, and this will be worse for you than all the evil that has come upon you from your youth until now.” Then the king arose and took his seat in the gate. And the people were all told, “Behold, the king is sitting in the gate.” And all the people came before the king. 2 Samuel 18:1-8.

When Joab learns that David is weeping over his son, the traitor, who sought his life, he has had enough. He gives David a classic tongue-lashing, and it seems to work. But the king gets the last word and replaces Joab with Absalom’s commander. And before David dies, he will tell his son, Solomon, to execute Joab for the things he has done.

Still, Joab saved David’s bacon on several occasions, and was loyal to him when he thought his king was in danger. Even if he had to disobey a direct order, he made hard decisions that would cost him his life.

Living Among Pagans

Then David said in his heart, “Now I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will despair of seeking me any longer within the borders of Israel, and I shall escape out of his hand.” So David arose and went over, he and the six hundred men who were with him, to Achish the son of Maoch, king of Gath. And David lived with Achish at Gath, he and his men, every man with his household, and David with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Abigail of Carmel, Nabal’s widow. And when it was told Saul that David had fled to Gath, he no longer sought him. 1 Samuel 27:1-4.

Even though God has delivered David over and over from Saul, he us weary of running from him. So he seeks refuge with his old enemy, the Philistines. Since the Philistines would rather make peace with him than fight him, they give him shelter at Ziklag.

This division between Saul and David keeps them from controlling the land God gave to Israel. The church is like this. When we are more friends with the world than each other, we have compromised our mission.

Unfinished Business

The territory of the people of Ephraim by their clans was as follows: the boundary of their inheritance on the east was Ataroth-addar as far as Upper Beth-horon, and the boundary goes from there to the sea. On the north is Michmethath. Then on the east the boundary turns around toward Taanath-shiloh and passes along beyond it on the east to Janoah, then it goes down from Janoah to Ataroth and to Naarah, and touches Jericho, ending at the Jordan. From Tappuah the boundary goes westward to the brook Kanah and ends at the sea. Such is the inheritance of the tribe of the people of Ephraim by their clans, together with the towns that were set apart for the people of Ephraim within the inheritance of the Manassites, all those towns with their villages. However, they did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, so the Canaanites have lived in the midst of Ephraim to this day but have been made to do forced labor. Joshua 16:5-10.

God gave this land to the Hebrews. God was judging the idol worshippers who lived there by sending the Hebrews to wipe them out. But it didn’t get done. Instead of obeying, they modified God’s command to use the Canaanites as forced labor. Canaanites stay in the land, we get slaves: win-win!

Failing to give out or kill the inhabitants was a mistake that came back to bite them over and over. Generations of enemies who want them dead persist to this day.

Ours is not a land based religion anymore. And we convert our enemies instead of kill them. But when we stop converting and become comfortable leaving them as enemies of God, they begin to oppress us. Our failure to obey the great commission, and to just circle the wagons, has left us like the Alamo: surrounded and facing extinction.