The king of Assyria sent his supreme commander, his chief officer and his field commander with a large army, from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. They came up to Jerusalem and stopped at the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Washerman’s Field. They called for the king; and Eliakim son of Hilkiah the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary, and Joah son of Asaph the recorder went out to them. The field commander said to them, “Tell Hezekiah: “ ‘This is what the great king, the king of Assyria, says: On what are you basing this confidence of yours? You say you have the counsel and the might for war—but you speak only empty words. On whom are you depending, that you rebel against me? Look, I know you are depending on Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff, which pierces the hand of anyone who leans on it! Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who depend on him. But if you say to me, “We are depending on the Lord our God”—isn’t he the one whose high places and altars Hezekiah removed, saying to Judah and Jerusalem, “You must worship before this altar in Jerusalem”? – 2 Kings 18:17-22
This passage is a welcome departure from the pattern of crummy kings that have been leading Israel astray for the last several generations. The water references in this passage are interesting too…a two-fer.
First a little context…Hezekiah is leading the Isrealites in Jerusalem and the Israelites are being harassed and relocated by the king of Assyria. Hezekiah has agreed to pay the king of Assyria, and the Assyrian king has sent his army with several military leaders to ask Hezekiah to pay up.
Hezekiah sends his representatives and they meet the Assyrians at the location of a water aqueduct to the “upper pool” on the road to the washerman’s field. This is an interesting detail because the Assyrians had besieged the city and availability of water would have been very important for the Israelite’s survival. Perhaps meeting at the connecting aqueduct between the water source and the city was to reinforce the position of power the Assyrians felt they had over the Israelites…kind of like bullies on the playground.
The representatives of the Assyrian king are trying to find out why king Hezekiah is so confident he will not lose….is he allied with those “splintered reed of a staff” Egyptians? Are they trusting their Lord to save them? They try to rebuke Hezekiah as the one who had removed high places and altars so that people would worship in Jerusalem. This seems a bit like an atheist walking into a church and telling the worshippers what songs they should sing. We will see how this all plays out, but at the moment king Hezekiah is leading by following and the people he is leading are faithfully following God.
Prayer: God give us the confidence to follow you even when we are confronted by those who seek to rule over us and doubt Your existence.