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17th April

2 Kings 20-22; Psalm 107

Bible in a Year
6 minutes
In this article
17th April

2 Kings 20-22; Psalm 107

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. We read of much murder and fighting for both the northern and southern thrones. Hazael led the Syrian army to wage war and defeat the northern kingdom of Israel. They were then followed by the Assyrians who eventually led the Israel into exile. 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.

At the same time we saw much wickedness in the southern kingdom of Judah, highlighting that they were on a similar path. Yesterday we picked up with king Hezekiah, one of the few kings to destroy the foreign places of worship in Judah. When the Assyrians came to defeat Judah, at first he panicked and gave them all the wealth of the temple. But when they continued to come Hezekiah turned to God with the help of Isaiah. And God defeated the Assyrians for them. 

2 Kings 20-22

Not long after Assyria’s siege on Jerusalem, Hezekiah falls ill. Isaiah comes to tell Hezekiah that he won't recover from this illness, but will die. As soon as Hezekiah hears these, he cries out to God, asking to be healed and saved. Before Isaiah could leave the building, God hears Hezekiah's prayer and tells Isaiah to go back and let Hezekiah know he will live another 15 years.

Hezekiah asks for proof, and then, when given a choice, chooses the more difficult of the two options, trusting that if this is really from God, God is more than powerful enough. Hezekiah is a good illustration of Judah at this moment. Because of the way Judah has been behaving, we can see it won't be long before God removes them like he removes Israel. But because Hezekiah turned to God, he was saved, and as long as Judah keeps turning to God, they will be saved too.

Unfortunately, Hezekiah doesn't use his new lease on life well. Some ambassadors from Babylon come to Hezekiah to offer him gifts. In return, Hezekiah proudly shows off every inch of his treasure house. Every piece of gold and silver, every weapon he has. Hezekiah is being foolish here. He isn't being wise, but is just enjoying showing off all that he has. This pride will be Judah's downfall.

After the ambassadors have gone, Isaiah hears what Hezekiah has done. He points out to Hezekiah that now Babylon have seen all that Judah has, Judah will be on their radar. One day, not in Hezekiah's reign, but at some point, Babylon will come and capture everything Judah had and take its people into exile. The saddest part about this story is that Hezekiah is actually happy about this news. This won't happen in his reign, so it doesn't affect him. And that's the last we hear from Hezekiah. His reign started off so well and saw God do great things. But his foolishness and selfishness. meant his reign ended on a low point.

After Hezekiah came his son, Manasseh, who was another one of the worst kings Judah had ever had. He rebuilt multiple altars to different gods, encouraging the people of Judah to worship them. He brought back child sacrifices and burnt his own son on the altar. He was even so bold as to put idols into God's temple. At this point, the writer reminds us that this when this temple was built God had made a commitment to the people of Judah, to always be with them, and never cause them to have wonder around, country-less, like they did in the desert.

God made this commitment to the people of Judah, as long as they stayed faithful to him. In this moment, the people are not being faithful to God, and we know it's going to end badly for them. After Manasseh comes his son, Amon, who is just as bad as his father, and is eventually killed by his people. Then after Amon comes his son Josiah.

Josiah is a good king. He collects the money that goes into the temple and gives it to craftsmen to repair it. While repairing the temple, they find the book of the Law. This is most likely the first five books of our Old Testament, or at least an early version of them. Josiah has this book read to him and he realises how far the people have turned from God. He is distraught and immediately tells his servants to seek God and find out what is going to happen to the people because they have turned away from God.

They find a prophetess, Huldah, who tells them that all the things that are written in that book (think of the curses of disobedience in Deuteronomy 28) will happen to Judah. Judah will be conquered and taken into exile, just like Israel. But because of Josiah, because he has been faithful and repentant, God will hold back this punishment a little longer. Here we have a small glimmer of hope. If the people of Judah and their kings continue to be faithful, then God will hold off his punishment. Maybe, just maybe, Judah might survive after all.

Psalm 107

This psalm isn’t attributed to anyone in particular and falls into the category of thanksgiving psalm. Psalm 107 starts the fifth and final book of the psalm (Psalm 107-150). This psalm comes full circle picking up the themes of Psalm 1, the importance of following God’s word, and Psalm 2, the importance of a human king appointed by God. We get more psalms attributed to David, hinting at the importance of the Davidic line to the future king.

Psalm 107:1-3 - A call to give thanks

Psalm 107:4-32 - Four scenarios of distress and deliverance

  • Psalm 107:4-9 - Those lost in desert wastelands

  • Psalm 107:10-16 - Prisoners in darkness and chains

  • Psalm 107:17-22 - Fools suffering due to their rebellion

  • Psalm 107:23-32 - Mariners caught in a storm at sea

Psalm 107:33-38 - God shapes lands

Psalm 107:39-43 - God shapes societies

The psalm opens with a call to give thanks to the Lord for ‘his steadfast love endures forever’. Specifically, those who the Lord redeemed should be the ones to give thanks. The psalmist then works through four examples of people who were redeemed.

There are those who wandered in the desert hungry and thirsty. They cried out to the Lord and he led them through the wilderness to a town to satisfy their needs. These people should thank the Lord for his steadfast love and for satisfying them.

There are those who were prisoners held captive. They were there because they initially rebelled against God and their hearts were now low. They cried out to the Lord, who broke their captivity and brought them out of the darkness. These people should thank the Lord for his steadfast love and for freeing them from captivity.

Then there are those whose sin and poor choices had led to them being sick and afflicted. They couldn’t stomach food and were close to death. They cried out to the Lord, and he healed them. These people should thank the Lord for his steadfast love and for his healing.

Finally, there are those who were caught in a storm at sea. They immediately saw the power of the Lord in the force and terror of the storm. The waves lifted them high and then dropped them down low. They were terrified. They cried out to the Lord, and he calmed the storms, bringing them where they wanted to God. These people should thank the Lord for his steadfast love and for saving them.

The psalmist is trying to ground God’s redemption in these real-world, practical examples that the readers could identify with.

Next, the psalmist focuses on the Lord’s power to shape and change. He is able to take lands that are well watered and fruitful and make them dry desert lands because of the wickedness of the people there. Similarly, he can take dry dessert lands and turn them into well-watered springs where people can live and sow fiends and like well.

Not only does the Lord shape land for his purposes, he also shapes societies. When he sees his people oppressed, he brings their leaders low and raises up those in need. He causes the righteous to praise and the wicked to shut up. The psalm serves to remind people that, in the midst of their struggles, they have a redeemer in God.

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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