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16th April

2 Kings 18-19; Psalm 106

Bible in a Year
6 minutes
In this article
16th April

2 Kings 18-19; Psalm 106

Bible in a Year
6 minutes


So far in 1-2 of Kings, we've read through Solomon's reign, the splitting of the kingdom, the era of kings and prophets, and the northern kingdom of Israel's exile by the Assyrians. Solomon's reign began with eliminating his rivals. He then asked God for wisdom, which led to peace and prosperity in Israel. Solomon built the temple and his palace but disobeyed God by accumulating wealth, horses, and marrying foreign wives, leading to idol worship.

God told Solomon his kingdom would be divided after his death: Israel in the north under Jeroboam and Judah in the south under Rehoboam. Jeroboam led the northern tribes in worship of other gods. After Jeroboam, leaders like Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri, and Ahab followed in Israel, all doing evil. In Judah, Rehoboam also did evil, as did his son Abijam. Then came Asa, who returned the people to God but relied on Syria instead of God when attacked. He was replaced by his son, Jehoshaphat.

The story shifted to Elijah, a prophet who condemned Ahab for idolatry and predicted a drought. Elijah performed miracles, defeated Baal's prophets, and fled from Jezebel. He met God, anointed new leaders, and chose Elisha as his successor. We read as Elijah was taken to heaven, and Elisha stepped up to fill his place. We saw Elisha performing many of the miracles Elijah had done. Under Elisha, we saw the rise of Syria and much suffering in the northern kingdom of Israel.

This then started the section of the book focused on Israel's journey to exile. Elisha anoints Jehu as king in the north who process to kill Joram king of Israel, Ahaziah king of Judah, Jezebel, and all the Baal worshipers in Israel. In Judah, Ahaziah's mother, Athaliah, led wickedly before one of Ahaziah’s son, Joash, was old enough to reclaim the throne. We read as Joash sought to rebuild the temple, only to take all the wealth of the temple and give it to Hazael to stop Syria from attacking. Hazael and the northern kings waged war against each other. After Hazael died, Jehoash, king of Israel, won three battles against his son Ben-hadad. In Judah, Joash died and his son Amaziah led the people well but picked a fight with Jehoash king of Israel and Jerusalem was sacked. Amaziah was murdered and replaced by his son, Azariah.

Then yesterday we read through the rapid decline of the northern kingdom that led to their exile by the Assyrians. The northern kingdom was no more. In its place, the Assyrians resettled various different people groups who were taught the ways of the God of Israel but also continued worshipping their gods.

2 Kings 18-19

Yesterday, we saw Israel taken into exile by the Assyrians because they had been unfaithful to God for too long. We also saw king Ahaz in Judah do the very same things that Israel were doing before they got exiled. If Judah aren’t careful, they will go down the same route as Israel. Which brings us to the final section of 1-2 Kings focusing on Judah’s journey to exile.

Fortunately, after king Ahaz came his son Hezekiah, who was a good king. In fact, he was one of the best kings that Judah had ever had. In the past, the good kings of Judah would lead the people back to worshipping God, but wouldn't destroy the altars and poles that were used to worship the other gods. Hezekiah, however, was not willing to compromise.

He destroyed everything that the people had been using to worship anything other than God. Not only did he destroy the poles and the altars, but he also destroyed the bronze snake that Moses used to heal the people back in Numbers 21. In recent years, some people had worshipped that as a god too. Hezekiah also refused to submit to the demands of Assyria. This king was fully trusting in God.

Unfortunately, in his fourteenth year as king, Hezekiah trust falters. Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, captured some of Judah's cities. Instead of seeking God's wisdom, or fighting back, Hezekiah falls into the same trap as many of the kings before him and offers to pay Sennacherib gold from the temple to leave them alone. Hezekiah literally scrapes the gold of the doors of the temple and gives it to Sennacherib.

But Sennacherib attacks anyway, sending his commanders with great armies to Jerusalem. One commander starts shouting at the city to surrender, pointing out that there's no nation, not even Egypt, that can come to their rescue. He then claims that they've angered God and so God won't save them. In fact, God has sent the Assyrians to destroy Jerusalem.

This commander has made a mistake, though. The 'God' he is talking about is the god of the Assyrians. But the God of the Bible is still very much on Judah’s side. He even tells them that if they think their own God will protect them, they're wrong, because none of the other nations' gods protected them when Assyria defeated them.

Hezekiah is distraught, but fortunately, this time he turns to the right place; to God and to his prophet Isaiah. Isaiah tells Hezekiah to not be afraid because this commander has committed blasphemy against God, and God will not ignore it. Meanwhile, the Assyrian commander goes back to report to his king, Sennacherib, and finds out that the king of Cush might attack Assyria soon.

Assyria realise that if they are to defeat Judah, they need to do it soon so they can prepare for a new fight with Cush. The commander runs back to Jerusalem and sends Hezekiah a letter once again telling him to give up because no nation or god has stopped Assyria before. Hezekiah takes this letter with him in prayer before God. He recognises that they're in a difficult situation, but also recognises that God is all powerful and in control.

Isaiah comes and encourages Hezekiah. He has done the right thing seeking God, and God will now defend Jerusalem and punish the Assyrians for their blasphemy. God sends the Angel of the Lord out to the Assyrian camp at night and he kills 185,000 of the Assyrian army. Realising that this is a battle they're not going to win, the Assyrians return home. The commander who blasphemed God goes to worship his god. While there, his own sons come and strike him down, exactly as Isaiah had prophesied. Judah was in a scary situation, but because their king put their trust in God, God protected them.

Psalm 106

This psalm isn’t attributed to anyone. It can be loosely categorised as a lament psalm, but I think more specifically it’s a psalm of confession. The focus is less on the struggle and pain the psalmist and their people are going through, and more on acknowledging that it is their own mistakes that have brought them to this place.

This psalm is also the last psalm of the fourth book of the psalms (Psalm 90-106). Because of this, it ends with a doxology that closes out the whole book.

Psalm 106:1-5 - A call to praise God and initial request

Psalm 106:6-43 - A recount of Israel’s history

Psalm 106:44-47 - God hears his people’s cries and plea to save again

Psalm 106:48 - Closing doxology

The psalmist opens with praise for the Lord, because ‘his steadfast love endures forever’. The Lord is mighty and worthy of praise, and those who are happiest in the Lord are those who are righteous and observe justice. The psalmist then turns to the Lord in request. They ask that the Lord remember them when he inevitably delivers his people, so that psalmist might experience and enjoy all that comes with being the Lord’s people.

We then move to a recap of Israel’s history and all the times they rebelled against the Lord. When they were coming out of Egypt and came to the Red Sea, they rebelled and declared it would have been better to die in Egypt (Exodus 14:11-12). But despite this, the Lord still parted the Red Sea, letting them through and then drowning the Egyptians who chase them. He rescued and delivered them and defeated their enemies.

Next, the psalmist looks at their time in the wilderness, though a little out of order. They recall of how the people got greedy, and the Lord struck them with disease (Numbers 11). How the people got jealous of Moses and Aaron’s power and tried to rebel (Numbers 16). They made false idols and worshipped them at Horeb (Moun Sinai, Exodus 32). In short, they forgot how God had saved them and it took Moses’ intercession to save them.

The people refused to enter the land that God gave them and were condemned to wonder the wilderness for 40 years (Numbers 14). They slept with foreign women and worshipped their foreign god Baal (Numbers 25). They rebelled against the Lord at Meribah and this caused Moses to speak in anger (Numbers 20).

Then when the people were in the land, they didn’t destroy the Canaanites as the Lord commanded them to. Instead, they mingled with them, engaging in idol worship and child sacrifice. So the Lord gave them over to foreign nations who oppressed, and defeated them.

But through it all, the Lord would deliver them. He’d allow them to be brought low when they were rebellious, but he heard them and helped them when they cried out to him. He remembered his covenant with them and showed them his steadfast love. So the psalmist asked the Lord to do it again. To save them and gather them from among the nations. From this, we can assume that the psalmist and God’s people are in exile waiting to be saved.

And then the psalm ends with a doxology. Blessed be the Lord, who is God of Israel forever. In this psalm, the psalmist is framing their own suffering as a result of the people’s wickedness and rebellion against God. That’s not to say that all suffering is because of our own sin and poor choices, but it’s clear that some time it is. But even in that, God is loving and faithful, ready to rescue and redeem his people if they turn back to him.

Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.

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