A Tale of Two Kings—Readers’ Choice

Selected by reader, Michelle Perez, NYC
This devotional hit me (and several of my friends) squarely in the face because we were all guilty of gathering all the day’s negative information and then trying to “fix our own problems” by incessant complaining to each other making us all feel worse than before. We were taking much of God’s to-do list and putting it on our own lists. This devotional directly and lovingly addressed what we are to do in these times: we are to humble ourselves and ask God for help and comfort.  We are to invite Him to take on our burdens and rest in Him. Simply, we are to trust Him. The inclusion of the link “A liturgy for those flooded by too much information” found in the body of the devotional was an added blessing. 

Originally published, June 5, 2020, based on readings from Isaiah 37 & Revelation 7.

Scripture Focus: Isaiah 37:14-20
14 Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. 15 And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord:16 “Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 17 Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to all the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God.

18 “It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste all these peoples and their lands.19 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. 20 Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, Lord, are the only God.”

Reflection: A Tale of Two Kings—Readers’ Choice
By Joshua B. Fikkert

What is the first thing you do when you are in a crisis? 

If you are like me, your first instinct is to seek a solution on your own, and you exhaust yourself thinking through every possible solution, plan, or contingency to fix the problem. This stubborn desire to fix our own problems is rooted in our chief sin of pride, our desire to be like God (Genesis 3:5-6).

The book of Isaiah brilliantly demonstrates the destructive nature of pride and the power of humility in the stories of King Ahaz and of his son, King Hezekiah. Ahaz’s pride created a generational catastrophe, which Hezekiah was forced to deal with. 

When faced with the threat of foreign invasion, Ahaz looked for a tangible solution of his own making. In spite of Isaiah’s insistence that God would save Judah, Ahaz begged for help from Assyria to deliver them. (Isaiah 7:10-12).

The result of Ahaz’s pride was devastating. Instead of helping Ahaz, Assyria defeated Judah’s enemies and then turned on Judah, forcing them into servitude (2 Kings 16:10-18). 

After Ahaz’s death, Hezekiah was left to handle the crisis created by his father’s pride. The Assyrian army surrounded Jerusalem, and destruction was certain. But unlike Ahaz, Hezekiah did not seek a solution of his own making. He humbled himself and sought divine aid. He asked for Isaiah to pray on his behalf (Isaiah 37:2), he sought the presence of God in the temple, and he came before the Lord in prayer. 

The humble prayer of Hezekiah proved powerful and effective. God answered his prayer, and Judah was spared by a mighty act of divine grace (Isaiah 37:36-37). 

When we face trials of various kinds, we must resist the temptation to take matters into our own hands. We must resist the allure of pride, which tells us we can fix our problems on our own. 

We know we have a God who answers and who delivers his people from trouble. We have a God who saves. Therefore, our first response, no matter what the crisis is, should be to call on the name of the Lord. Petitioning for God’s help is not our last resort. It is the first one. 

Let us cast “the burdens of this world upon the strong shoulders of the one who alone is able to bear them up” (Douglas McKelvey, “A Liturgy For Those Flooded By Too Much Information”).

*We will forgo the Divine Hours prayer today, replacing it with a quote from the prayer by Douglas McKelvey quoted above.

“…remind us that we are but small
and finite creatures, never designed to carry
the vast abstractions of great burdens,
for our arms are too short and our strength
is too small. Justice and mercy, healing and
redemption, are your great labors.”

Today’s Readings
Jeremiah 35 (Listen – 3:43)
Psalms 7-8 (Listen – 2:58)

This Weekend’s Readings
Jeremiah 36 (Listen – 5:54) Psalms 9 (Listen – 2:21)
Jeremiah 37 (Listen – 3:25) Psalms 10 (Listen – 2:13)

Read more about The Losers Who Write History
Scripture, especially when it comes to the prophets, passes the microphone to the losers of history.

#ReadersChoice is time for you to share favorite Park Forum posts from the year.
What post helped you pray more frequently?https://forms.gle/DsYWbj45y9fCDLzi7

A Tale of Two Kings

We are happy to welcome ministry-focused college and seminary students from around the country to write in June of 2020 for The Park Forum. Each of them is pursuing a career in ministry and received free coaching on their writing as a part of the program. For more information about the program and a profile of each of our student writers, visit our Student Writers Month page.

Today’s student writer is Joshua B. Fikkert, a student at Covenant Theological Seminary.

Scripture Focus: Isaiah 37:14-20
14 Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. 15 And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord:16 “Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 17 Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to all the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God.

18 “It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste all these peoples and their lands.19 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. 20 Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, Lord, are the only God.”

Reflection: A Tale of Two Kings
By Joshua B. Fikkert

What is the first thing you do when you are in a crisis? 

If you are like me, your first instinct is to seek a solution on your own, and you exhaust yourself thinking through every possible solution, plan, or contingency to fix the problem. This stubborn desire to fix our own problems is rooted in our chief sin of pride, our desire to be like God (Genesis 3:5-6).

The book of Isaiah brilliantly demonstrates the destructive nature of pride and the power of humility in the stories of King Ahaz and of his son, King Hezekiah. Ahaz’s pride created a generational catastrophe, which Hezekiah was forced to deal with. 

When faced with the threat of foreign invasion, Ahaz looked for a tangible solution of his own making. In spite of Isaiah’s insistence that God would save Judah, Ahaz begged for help from Assyria to deliver them. (Isaiah 7:10-12).

The result of Ahaz’s pride was devastating. Instead of helping Ahaz, Assyria defeated Judah’s enemies and then turned on Judah, forcing them into servitude (2 Kings 16:10-18). 

After Ahaz’s death, Hezekiah was left to handle the crisis created by his father’s pride. The Assyrian army surrounded Jerusalem, and destruction was certain. But unlike Ahaz, Hezekiah did not seek a solution of his own making. He humbled himself and sought divine aid. He asked for Isaiah to pray on his behalf (Isaiah 37:2), he sought the presence of God in the temple, and he came before the Lord in prayer. 

The humble prayer of Hezekiah proved powerful and effective. God answered his prayer, and Judah was spared by a mighty act of divine grace (Isaiah 37:36-37). 

When we face trials of various kinds, we must resist the temptation to take matters into our own hands. We must resist the allure of pride, which tells us we can fix our problems on our own. 

We know we have a God who answers and who delivers his people from trouble. We have a God who saves. Therefore, our first response, no matter what the crisis is, should be to call on the name of the Lord. Petitioning for God’s help is not our last resort. It is the first one. 

Let us cast “the burdens of this world upon the strong shoulders of the one who alone is able to bear them up” (Douglas McKelvey, “A Liturgy For Those Flooded By Too Much Information”).

*We will forgo the Divine Hours prayer today, replacing it with a quote from the prayer quoted above by Douglas McKelvey.

“…remind us that we are but small
and finite creatures, never designed to carry
the vast abstractions of great burdens,
for our arms are too short and our strength
is too small. Justice and mercy, healing and
redemption, are your great labors.”


Today’s Readings
Isaiah 37 (Listen – 6:47) 
Revelation 7 (Listen – 3:12)

This Weekend’s Readings
Isaiah 38 (Listen – 3:20) Revelation 8 (Listen – 2:15)
Isaiah 39 (Listen – 1:35) Revelation 9 (Listen – 3:30)

Read more about The Losers Who Write History
Micah, it seems, lived in a time when dissent was not considered unpatriotic disloyalty. Hezekiah, listened, repented, and the prophesied disaster was, seemingly, averted.

Read more about Political Promises
May we speak up for the downtrodden and helpless no matter which party is against them.

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