The first king over Israel was Saul. At first God worked with him and inspired him to accomplish much, but later Saul turned away. After this he no longer received God’s blessings. In his later years, nothing seemed to go right for him.
Before Saul was chosen to be king, judges had ruled Israel for about 500 years. Saul became king because the Israelites wanted to be like the nations around them. The prophet Samuel warned them of the consequences, but they obstinately refused to listen. God told Samuel to let them have their way (1 Sam. 8). So God now chose a king for them, and an entire new approach to government was implemented. Samuel was given instructions on how to recognize God’s choice for king, and He then told Samuel directly that Saul was the man (1 Sam 9:1-17). In a private ceremony, Samuel anointed Saul as king (1 Sam. 10:1).
After his anointing as king, one of the first things that happened to Saul is that the Spirit of God came upon him; he was changed into a new man. He was given a new heart and the ability to prophesy (1 Sam. 10-11). Shortly after, Samuel called a national assembly and introduced Saul to the people. Certain men were moved by the Spirit of God to give their full support (vv. 17-26), but some had reservations and did not fully accept him (v. 27).
When Israel came out of Egypt, God gave them the land east of the Jordan River. Three tribes had chosen this area for their inheritance. These were the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh. The Ammonites regarded this territory as theirs and maintained a smoldering resentment. About 90 years earlier, they had tried to take it back, but Jephthah defeated them in a bloody war (Judges 11:32-33). Sometime after Saul’s anointing the Ammonites renewed this threat and attacked Jabesh-Gilead, one of the major cities in the territory of the half tribe of Manasseh. God now moved mightily upon Saul.
And the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly. And he took a yoke of oxen, and hewed them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the coasts of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, Whosoever cometh not forth after Saul and after Samuel, so shall it be done unto his oxen. And the fear of the LORD fell on the people, and they came out with one consent. (1 Sam. 11:6-7)
Saul now manifested his leadership and decisiveness. “And it was so on the morrow, that Saul put the people in three companies; and they came into the midst of the host in the morning watch, and slew the Ammonites until the heat of the day: and it came to pass, that they which remained were scattered, so that two of them were not left together” (v. 11). So impressive was this victory that at a national assembly all the people readily accepted Saul as their king (vv. 14-15).
At this assembly the people were reminded of what they had done in choosing a king. Samuel told them that the blessings upon them and their posterity would depend on their fidelity and that of their king to the Law of God, as well as their determination not to follow a wicked king into idolatry (1 Sam. 12:13-15). Then Samuel called upon God to give them a warning sign.
Now therefore stand and see this great thing, which the LORD will do before your eyes. Is it not wheat harvest to day? I will call unto the LORD, and he shall send thunder and rain; that ye may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which ye have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking you a king. So Samuel called unto the LORD; and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day: and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel. And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the LORD thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king. (1 Sam. 12:16-19)
This sign was miraculous because no rains fell at this time of year. This is why the people were so impressed. They knew only God could have done this.
After being established as king, Saul’s weakness of character and lack of judgment began to appear. He gradually became arrogant. He disobeyed God and assumed priestly responsibilities that he had not been given (1 Sam 13:9-14; 15:17-23). Samuel told him that his dynasty would not continue. Later, an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him (1 Sam. 16:14). On more than one occasion, however, God intervened for Saul and the people by giving them great victories over their enemies (1 Sam. 14). Many of Saul’s wars involved the Philistines, who by this time had recovered from the destruction Samson had wreaked upon them. “And there was sore war against the Philistines all the days of Saul: and when Saul saw any strong man, or any valiant man, he took him unto him” (1 Sam. 14:52).
In spite of his shortcomings, Saul was a great warrior. The Bible tells us:
So Saul took the kingdom over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, and against the children of Ammon, and against Edom, and against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines: and whithersoever he turned himself, he vexed them. And he gathered an host, and smote the Amalekites, and delivered Israel out of the hands of them that spoiled them. (1 Sam. 14:47-48)
Because of his continuing self-will and rebellion against God’s instruction (1 Chron. 10:13-14), Saul and three of his sons, including Jonathan, were killed in battle warring against the Philistines. Upon his death David had this to say:
From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan turned not back, and the sword of Saul returned not empty. Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions. Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with other delights, who put on ornaments of gold upon your apparel. How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle . . . . (2 Sam. 1:22-25)
Saul, the first king of Israel, accomplished much during his 40-year reign. God manifested His power, by mighty acts, on numerous occasions as He used Saul to carry out His purpose in delivering His people Israel from their surrounding enemies. Saul’s reign set the stage for the golden age of Israel that was to follow, beginning with David and culminating in Solomon.
David was the next king chosen to rule over Israel. Like Saul, God told Samuel that David was the one He had chosen. He was the youngest son of Jesse, the Bethlehemite. Samuel would have chosen another son, but God said: ” . . . Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). When David came before him, ” . . . the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he. Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward . . . ” (1 Sam. 16:12-13). David was very courageous, confident that God would help him in all of God’s service. This was thoroughly manifested when he slew the giant Goliath (1 Sam. 17). In his many engagements with the Philistines, David was never defeated. On numerous occasions during these struggles, and later when he fled from Saul, he sought God for advice. See, for example, 1 Samuel 23 and 30.
Because of Saul’s jealously, David had been forced into exile and hunted as a criminal. A number of dissidents joined him during this period. When pursued by Saul, David sought refuge with Achish, king of Gath. Achish gave him the city of Ziklag for a military base, and David used it for a staging area in making forays against the nomadic tribes living in the desert. When David was on one of these forays, the Amalekites attacked Ziklag. The city was burned and the wives and children kidnapped. David and his men were grieved and greatly distressed. David asked God for guidance, and the Lord told him what to do. He pursued the Amalekites, overtook them, and killed most of them in an attack. All the wives, children, and spoil that had been taken were recovered (1 Sam. 30). It was at Ziklag that David heard Saul had died in the battle with the Philistines.
After Saul’s death, God instructed him to go to Hebron, and there the tribe of Judah anointed him king. He reigned over the house of Judah for seven years before he was anointed king over all the tribes of Israel.
In spite of his many wars, David abhorred unnecessary bloodshed. After Saul’s death, Ishbosheth, another of Saul’s sons, was made king over Israel, except for the tribe of Judah. Ishbosheth was a weak man, and his general, Abner, was the real power behind the throne. The two of them had a falling out over a concubine, and Abner decided to ally himself with David. Ishbosheth was now completely vulnerable, and two of his captains murdered him on his bed. They cut off his head and took it to David, expecting a reward. David was so incensed at this murderous deed that he had both of them immediately executed (2 Sam. 3 and 4). When Abner allied himself with David, David’s general, Joab, viewed Abner as a competitor. Also, he held a grudge against him for killing his brother Asahel in an earlier battle with the house of Saul. While pretending that he was a friend, Joab assassinated Abner. David could do little about this murderous act as Joab was too powerful of a man in the government, but David did make it known that he abhorred the act and was in no way responsible (2 Sam. 3).
One outstanding example of God’s Mighty Acts is recorded in 2 Samuel 5. After David’s accession to the throne over the united tribes of Israel, the Philistines invaded. God instructed David to attack and the Philistines were driven back. Later, they invaded again.
And the Philistines came up yet again, and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim. And when David enquired of the LORD, he said, Thou shalt not go up; but fetch a compass behind them, and come upon them over against the mulberry trees. And let it be, when thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt bestir thyself: for then shall the LORD go out before thee, to smite the host of the Philistines. And David did so, as the LORD had commanded him; and smote the Philistines from Geba until thou come to Gazer. (2 Sam. 5:22-25)
The Moffatt Translation renders 2 Samuel 5: 23-25 as follows:
When David consulted the Eternal, he was told, You must not march against them; get round to the rear of them and attack them in front of the balsam-trees. Whenever you hear a sound of movement among the tops of the balsam trees, be quick and attack, for the Eternal will have gone in front of you to rout the Philistine army. David did as the Eternal ordered him, and routed the Philistines from Geba as far as Gezer.
David’s conquest over the enemies of Israel is summarized in 2 Samuel, chapter eight. These included the Philistines, the Moabites, the Syrians, along with their allies, the Amalekites, and the Edomites. “. . . And the LORD preserved David whithersoever he went. And David reigned over all Israel; and David executed judgment and justice unto all his people” (2 Sam. 8:14-15).
David’s adultery with Bathsheba, and the murder of her husband Uriah, was the only black mark in his career. God sent the prophet Nathan to rebuke him and to give God’s judgment. David deeply repented of this sin and was forgiven (2 Sam 12). Psalm 51 is the psalm David wrote that reflects this repentance.
In effect, David was the great warrior king who completed Saul’s mission to destroy the enemies of Israel and to bring peace to the land. However, Because of his wars and bloodshed God would not allow him to build a Temple for the Ark of the Covenant.
And David said to Solomon, My son, as for me, it was in my mind to build an house unto the name of the LORD my God: But the word of the LORD came to me, saying, Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build an house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight. Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days. (1 Chron. 22:7-9)
David set the stage for the building of the Temple and the golden age that was to follow under the reign of Solomon. Most of David’s accomplishments were the result of the intervention of God and the mighty acts that He performed.
The next king we need to examine, in the light of God’s Mighty Acts, is Solomon. He was chosen as David’s successor (1 Kings 1:30, 34-35). After being given explicit instructions on how to walk according to God’s Way and to receive the blessings that go along with obedience (1 Kings 2:1-4), Solomon started out right. He loved the Lord (1 Kings 3:3), though along with the people of Israel the practice prevailed of offering sacrifices in places other than the tabernacle. This was because there was as yet no Temple, and the Tabernacle was constantly being moved from place to place. God tolerated this custom until the Temple was built.
Shortly after his accession to the throne, Solomon went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices (1 Kings 3:4). At Gibeon God manifested Himself to Solomon in a dream.
In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee. And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days. And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days. And Solomon awoke; and, behold, it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast to all his servants. (1 Kings 3:5-15)
This was the first of two manifestations that God gave to Solomon. But notice carefully, God put conditions on these blessings (1 Kings 3: 14). “So king Solomon was king over all Israel” (1 Kings 4:1). One of his great contributions was building the Temple in Jerusalem. What followed for the people of Israel was 40 years of peace and prosperity, and the wisdom that God gave Solomon was manifested many times during this period.
After the building of the Temple, God appeared to Solomon the second time. Again, God warned Solomon that obedience to Him was paramount to receiving His blessings.
And it came to pass, when Solomon had finished the building of the house of the LORD, and the king’s house, and all Solomon’s desire which he was pleased to do, That the LORD appeared to Solomon the second time, as he had appeared unto him at Gibeon. And the LORD said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually. And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments: Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel. But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them: Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people: And at this house, which is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the LORD done thus unto this land, and to this house? And they shall answer, Because they forsook the LORD their God, who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have taken hold upon other gods, and have worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath the LORD brought upon them all this evil. (1 Kings 9:1-9)
In spite of the tremendous wealth and wisdom Solomon possessed, he lacked real character. He forgot that what counts is not how one starts out, but how one finishes. Solomon’s wealth and power began to corrupt him, and he lusted after many women. He became the example of outlandish extravagance.
But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods. And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded. (1 Kings 11:1-10)
God now began to fulfill His promise by depriving Solomon’s descendants from ruling over the house of Israel.
Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father’s sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son. Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen. (1 Kings 11:11-13)
From that time on, events began to go sour for Solomon and the nation of Israel. After the death of Solomon, the kingdom broke up into two nations-the kingdom of Judah, and the kingdom of Israel.
The first righteous king to rule after the death of Solomon was Asa. Asa was the great-grandson of Solomon. He did not follow the wicked example of his father, Abijam. As a result, when he was in dire straits, God intervened mightily for him.
And Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did David his father. And he took away the sodomites out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made. And also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron. (1 Kings 15:11-13)
In spite of the fact that he was unable to remove the high places, the account continues: “But the high places were not removed: nevertheless Asa’s heart was perfect with the LORD all his days” (1 Kings 15:14).
And Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God: For he took away the altars of the strange gods, and the high places, and brake down the images, and cut down the groves: And commanded Judah to seek the LORD God of their fathers, and to do the law and the commandment. Also he took away out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the images: and the kingdom was quiet before him. And he built fenced cities in Judah: for the land had rest, and he had no war in those years; because the LORD had given him rest. (2 Chron. 14:2-6)
Sometime later, the Ethiopians invaded Asa and his people. The odds were against him as his forces were outnumbered by about two to one. “And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an host of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots; and came unto Mareshah” (2 Chron. 14:9).
Then Asa went out against him, and they set the battle in array in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. And Asa cried unto the LORD his God, and said, LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee. So the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled. And Asa and the people that were with him pursued them unto Gerar: and the Ethiopians were overthrown, that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before the LORD, and before his host; and they carried away very much spoil. And they smote all the cities round about Gerar; for the fear of the LORD came upon them: and they spoiled all the cities; for there was exceeding much spoil in them. They smote also the tents of cattle, and carried away sheep and camels in abundance, and returned to Jerusalem. (2 Chron. 14:10-15)
God sent a prophet to encourage Asa. The prophet told him: ” . . . Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you . . . . Be strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded” (2 Chron. 15:2, 7).
Asa was moved to continue his reformation.
And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the LORD, that was before the porch of the LORD. And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and the strangers with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon: for they fell to him out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that the LORD his God was with him . . . . And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul . . . . And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them: and the LORD gave them rest round about. (2 Chron. 15: 8-9, 12, 15)
The Bible demonstrates repeatedly that blessings and rewards come from God for obedience to His Law but rebuke and curses are a result of disobedience and a lack of faith. In this instance, Asa is a splendid example of how God intervened and performed a Mighty Act for him and his people.
Jehoshaphat was the son of Asa and followed his righteous example.
And the LORD was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim; But sought to the LORD God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel. Therefore the LORD stablished the kingdom in his hand; and all Judah brought to Jehoshaphat presents; and he had riches and honour in abundance . . . . And the fear of the LORD fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah, so that they made no war against Jehoshaphat . . . . And Jehoshaphat waxed great exceedingly; and he built in Judah castles, and cities of store. (2 Chron. 17:3-5, 10, 12)
Later in his reign, the Ammonites and Moabites attacked Jehoshaphat. As in the case of his father, God intervened, but it took a great deal of faith on the part of Jehoshaphat. He put all his confidence in God.
It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle. Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazazontamar, which is Engedi. And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD. And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court. (2 Chron. 20:1-5)
Jehoshaphat prayed to God before all the people, and God gave him his answer for deliverance.
. . . Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s . . . . Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you. (2 Chron. 20:15, 17)
Jehoshaphat appointed singers to perform as the army moved forward.
And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten. For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another. And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped. And when Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much. And on the fourth day they assembled themselves in the valley of Berachah; for there they blessed the LORD: therefore the name of the same place was called, The valley of Berachah, unto this day. (2 Chron. 20:22-26)
This entire incident is another example of what happens to a king and a people who obey God and place their trust in Him.
A little over 100 years after the time of Jehoshaphat, another Mighty Act of God took place. This involved Uzziah, the king of Judah. Uzziah was a righteous king, but incurred God’s wrath because of a serious mistake.
And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah did. And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper. And he went forth and warred against the Philistines, and brake down the wall of Gath, and the wall of Jabneh, and the wall of Ashdod, and built cities about Ashdod, and among the Philistines. And God helped him against the Philistines, and against the Arabians that dwelt in Gurbaal, and the Mehunims. And the Ammonites gave gifts to Uzziah: and his name spread abroad even to the entering in of Egypt; for he strengthened himself exceedingly . . . . And his name spread far abroad; for he was marvellously helped, till he was strong. (2 Chron. 26:4-8, 15)
But what happened?
But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense. And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the LORD, that were valiant men: And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the LORD, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the LORD God. Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, from beside the incense altar. And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the LORD had smitten him. And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the LORD: and Jotham his son was over the king’s house, judging the people of the land. (2 Chron. 26:16-21)
The last of the kings to be examined in this section is Hezekiah. During his reign, God again intervened in a marvelous manner. Why? Because he was obedient to God and His Law! Hezekiah was king of Judah-the southern kingdom-at the time Israel-the northern kingdom-was taken captive by the Assyrians and deported from their land.
Here is what we read about Hezekiah:
And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did. He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan. He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. For he clave to the LORD, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses. And the LORD was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went forth: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not. (2 Kings 18:3-7)
The nation had lapsed into idolatry, and Hezekiah was determined to bring the people back to God. He reestablished the Law of God and the priesthood, even observing the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread on a national scale.
At the time the Assyrians attacked Israel in the north, they also attacked Judah. Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, took the fenced cities of Judah, deporting many of the Jews at the same time he deported the Israelites. But he could not prevail against Jerusalem. This was because God defended the city.
God told Hezekiah through the prophet Isaiah:
Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it. By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the LORD. For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake (2 Kings 19:32-34).
And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh. And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword: and they escaped into the land of Armenia. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead. (2 Kings 19:35-37)
Also, earlier in his reign, Hezekiah contracted a life threatening disease. God sent Isaiah to tell him that he was going to die and to get his house in order. How did Hezekiah respond? “Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the LORD, saying, I beseech thee, O LORD, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore” (2 Kings 20:2-3).
How did God respond?
And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying, Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD. And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake. And Isaiah said, Take a lump of figs. And they took and laid it on the boil, and he recovered. (2 Kings 20:4-7)
But before this Hezekiah asked God for confirmation.
And Hezekiah said unto Isaiah, What shall be the sign that the LORD will heal me, and that I shall go up into the house of the LORD the third day? And Isaiah said, This sign shalt thou have of the LORD, that the LORD will do the thing that he hath spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees? And Hezekiah answered, It is a light thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees: nay, but let the shadow return backward ten degrees. And Isaiah the prophet cried unto the LORD: and he brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz. (2 Kings 20:8-11)
Having seen all these marvelous Old Testament examples of God’s Mighty Acts in the lives of the kings, we should ask ourselves this question. Why are they in the Bible? The Apostle Paul gives us the answer. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15:4). “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Cor. 10:11). We can learn and profit by them.