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Another Goliath

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
July 28, 2023 12:00 am

Another Goliath

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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July 28, 2023 12:00 am

When you get saved it doesn't mean your troubles will be end. It most likely means your troubles will begin! That's not a great sales pitch for following God, but understanding that helps us to not harbor unreasonable expectations. God never promised to keep us away from the Goliaths in our lives . . . but He did promise to give us strength in our stand against them. Listen to the full-length version of this message, or read Stephen's manuscript here:


Can you hear David writing to you, saying, He who formed the ear, can he not hear?

He who formed the eye, can he not see? Can you hear Jeremiah the prophet saying to you, Call unto me on behalf of God, and I will answer thee and show thee mighty things which thou knowest not? Can you hear Peter saying to you, Cast all your care upon him? I've got news for you, he really does care about you.

Ladies and gentlemen, we don't need prophets on our porches. We have his promise in writing. Have you ever cried out to God because trouble entered your life? I'm sure that you have.

We all have. In the Old Testament, King Hezekiah was trying to do the right thing, but still trouble came to him and his nation. It's hard when doing the right thing brings trouble. Today, we're going to learn that God never promised to keep you away from trouble. What he did promise was to give you the strength to face it.

This is Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. We're in our Vintage Wisdom series entitled We Three Kings. Stephen's lesson today is called Another Goliath. Second Kings chapter 18 is where we'll start. Let's look together at verse five.

As Jeremiah writes, the biography of Hezekiah, he says, these wonderful things about this king, especially after all the kings being before him were seemingly wicked and more wicked. He trusted in the Lord, he writes, the God of Israel, so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him. For he clung to the Lord. You could circle that word, clung. The word, the Hebrew verb to cling is the same root verb that appears in Genesis chapter 2 as God tells Adam to cleave to his wife. To cling, the Hebrew word is illustrated as ivy clinging to a tree. So Hezekiah, as it were, the word tells us clung to the Lord like ivy to a tree. He was, you could render the word, bonded to him. He was glued in our contemporary thinking to him. And he was an unusual king because of it. Look at the outward proof.

We skipped over it fairly rapidly in our last discussion. Let's look back at verse four. I want you to see something. He removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the asherah. He also, note this, broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it and it was called nahushtan. Stop here just long enough to observe the tendency in a human heart to want something visible to worship, something tangible, something we could see or touch or feel. The Israelites for 700 years have been carrying around this bronze serpent that had been raised on a pole as a symbol of healing. You can read the whole story in Numbers chapter 21.

Maybe some of you remember it. But now the text tells us they are burning incense to it. They created a religion, a tradition out of an earlier act of God's goodness. Now it's become sacred in and of itself. Isn't that just like us to do the same? Frankly, I'm glad that we haven't discovered Noah's Ark or the Ark of the Covenant. If we had and there was irrefutable proof that that was indeed the authentic item, we'd be burning incense to it.

We'd be making little plastic replicas and selling them in shops and t-shirts with it printed on it. That's our nature. It is to our benefit that our faith is in things not seen. And with this comes the warning to beware of the hucksters who will sell you a religion in a handkerchief or a club membership with something that you can see or feel. Our faith is far different than that. And the first courageous act of Hezekiah is to destroy a 700 year old tradition.

Imagine that. We have trouble today changing the color of carpet in churches. Which side the piano will be on?

700 years and he stands against it. I first discovered in a practical way the truth that we are so prone to stay the same rather than change. In church when I was a college student in Chattanooga I would drive about an hour and a half to two hours into the foothills of Tennessee where there was this small clapboard white chapel. It's something right out of a storybook. You can almost see it with its little steeple and a little gravel parking lot. And you'd step into the front foyer and almost immediately be in the little sanctuary that sat about fifty people. And I would preach every Wednesday night as a student preparing for the ministry and the faithful seven or eight would arrive. And I would deliver to them my latest discoveries.

Many of them I'm embarrassed to have ever discovered. I don't think they were there. But at any rate they were very kind to me. We would go back out on Sunday morning with a seminarian and his wife and he was the interim pastor and I would lead music and he would preach. Attendance would swell to about twenty to twenty-five and little gas heaters and hard pews. We wondered why the chapel never seemed to ever grow. It seemed stale and musty and the icon of that staleness was this banner we noticed every Sunday. It hung across in back of where the pulpit was. It was just a little one step stage and right against the wall was this old yellow paper banner. It was tattered.

It was ripped in different places and the edges had curled over time. It looked like it had been there forever. And it had a verse on it and some theme and it was not too artistically done to begin with but that really didn't matter.

At one point in time that was fresh and it was their vision. Well the seminary fella and I decided that we would breathe new life into this church and his wife was very artistic and so we developed a new theme, a new verse, a new banner. We came to church early that one Sunday morning after it was completed, excited about presenting to the church this new direction. And we were in the process of taking that old crinkled banner down and we were halfway finished with putting the new one up when the front door opened and the pillar of the church walked in.

This man doubled as a history professor at the college I attended and he was the teacher of the only adult Sunday school class in the church and he had done it for twenty years. He walked in, took a couple of steps into the sanctuary, looked up and he bellowed, ìWhat are you doing?î We knew we were doing the wrong thing at that moment. My friend said, ìWe're putting up a new banner.î And his face, I'll never forget it, was as red as a tomato. He said, ìThat other banner has been hanging up there for nearly twenty years.î And he turned on his heel. Now we knew the reason why.

The church was going nowhere and he slammed the front door as he stomped out. I'll never forget the feeling of taking that banner down and putting back up, the old crinkled banner, learning a lesson I would never learn in school. Fresh ideas can become sacred, worn out methods. And old methods rarely die before they take the life of the institution that created them.

Can you imagine what it was like to take a seven hundred year old practice and break it over your knee and throw it away? He made a list of enemies when he did that. But this courageous man would lead the nation for fourteen years in revival to the Lord. Then rather suddenly, and where we'll spend the remainder of our time, this surprising turn of events occurs. Would you look at chapter eighteen verse thirteen.

Now in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and seized them. Now I want you to hold your finger here and turn over to Second Chronicles chapter thirty-two. These books comprise something like the Gospels. They retell the same stories as we work our way through Kings and Chronicles.

We tend at this point to go back and forth. They add different nuances to the same story. Well here is Ezra's account of the biography of Hezekiah and he adds this interesting idea. Look at verse one, chapter thirty-two, Second Chronicles.

After these acts, would you just circle the word after? After these acts of faithfulness, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, came and invaded Judah and besieged the fortified cities and thought to break into them for himself. You notice the words after these acts of faithfulness. Sennacherib came and invaded Judah. There's something wrong with that, at least it seems to me.

Doesn't it strike you as a little odd? We would expect to read after years of faithfulness, God guaranteed peace as a reward for his faithfulness, not trouble. By the way Assyria was a name that struck terror into the heart of the nations around them. They were an especially cruel warmongering people that had a habit of implanting rings in the noses of the soldiers they would conquer and leading them back to their capital city named Nineveh.

It was for that reason that Jonah hated going to Nineveh and observing the grace of God toward those pagan idolaters who at that point turned to him. These were the bitterest of enemies and after living for God for fourteen faithful years, terrifying Assyria comes to conquer. If I had been Hezekiah I know my first thoughts would have been, Lord now wait a second here, why did I deserve this? I've restored the temple, I've led the people back in revival, I've destroyed the high places, I've taken care of superstitious tradition, is this how you reward me?

Have you ever felt that way? We actually have archaeological discoveries of Sennacherib's march against Hezekiah. They're preserved in the British Museum as he writes these words, I have hemmed up Hezekiah in Jerusalem like a bird within its cage. As I studied this passage it occurred to me that what we have here is just another story of David and Goliath. Here is undefeated menacing Sennacherib marching against little Jerusalem that the text will tell us they have hardly enough to match a thousand horses, they can't even put together a thousand infantry men. But the real story here is for us, it's the faith of a little David against the great Goliath, it's the faith of a man or a woman, a young person in a great God. One of the hardest lessons we have to learn and to relearn and to relearn again is this, that salvation did not end the fight, it began it. When you came and placed your faith in Jesus Christ, you for one time and for all time said you will be my God, but now life begins and we put that faith into practice. We have come to the wrong conclusion at least in the way we act that salvation must have ended the fight, oh no it began it. Salvation did not end your trouble, it gave you a thousand new ones.

Coming to Jesus Christ did not erase your anxiety or worry, it gave you a million reasons to be anxious and to have to constantly go to him who will take all your anxiety upon himself. One of the key battlegrounds is in the mind, it occurs here in Hezekiah's story. Go back to 2 Kings and look at chapter 18. Verse 14, then Hezekiah king of Judah said to the king of Assyria at Lachish saying, I have done wrong, withdraw from me whatever you impose on me I will bear.

This is a mistake by the way. Hezekiah hasn't done wrong, according to verse 7 he did stop the tribute, he stopped the bribe money, he quit paying off Sennacherib, but now he's weakening with fear and uncertainty, he doesn't know what's going to happen to him. Middle part of verse 14, so the king of Assyria required of Hezekiah king of Judah 300 talents of silver and 30 talents of gold, by the way that's one ton of gold and 11 tons of silver. And Hezekiah verse 15 gave him all the silver which was found in the house of the Lord and in the treasuries of the king's house. At that time Hezekiah, note this tragedy, cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of the Lord and from the door posts which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid and gave it to the king of Assyria.

Sennacherib's own journals will inform us that Hezekiah also gave to him precious gems of large sizes, couches of ivory, skins of buffalo and thrones made of ivory. Goliath had intimidated David into paralyzing, terrifying fear. And the man who had once opened the doors of the temple is now stripping them of their gold to buy off a barbarian rather than go to God. Is the barbarian satisfied? No, and by the way the enemy of our soul is never satisfied either with any compromise you might make.

He will want more and more and more. Verse 17, then the king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rab-sarris and Rab-shakha from Lakish. Now these are not Assyrian names, they're actually proper titles. Tartan is commander in chief. Rab-sarris is chief of staff. And Rab-shakha is chief of staff.

This is the top brass here. And they're coming from the Assyrian empire with an incredible army. Notice the verse tells us they went up and they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool which is on the highway of the fuller's field.

Can you see it? They're standing there on the highway and these Assyrians are polished and impressive. They are as intimidating as that great Philistine warrior who'd never been defeated in battle with his gleaming armor and his large spear and his armor bearer. And at this point in time the emissary is sent by Hezekiah, look about as intimidating as a little boy with a slingshot. Now most of chapter 18 is a speech delivered by the chief of staff to the emissaries of Hezekiah.

We don't have time for it all but let me just start reading a little bit of it. Verse 28, follow along. Then Rab-shakha stood and cried with a loud voice in Judean saying, Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria. Thus says the king, Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you from my hand. Nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, The Lord will surely deliver us and this city shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria, Make your peace with me and come out to me and eat each of his vine and each of his fig tree and drink each of the water of his own sister. And until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey that you may live and not die.

He is saying, in effect, elect me and I will put a car in every garage. Do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you, saying, The Lord will deliver us. Verse 33, Has any one of the gods of the nations delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of the Sephar Vayim, Hina and Iva? Have they delivered Samaria from my hand? Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their land from my hand that now the Lord should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?

In other words, he's just another god. But the people were silent and answered him not a word, for the king's commandment was, Do not answer him. Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Sheba the scribe and Joah the son of Asaph. This is the three party emissaries sent from Hezekiah to meet with the top brass from Assyria. They came back to Hezekiah with their clothes torn and told him the words of Rabshakah.

And when King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth and entered the house of the Lord. It's hard to go back and enter this drama. But after reading that you can see here's a man who is in deep trouble.

It couldn't get any worse. The Hebrew word for troubled is an interesting word. You could render it restricted, tied up, narrow or cramped.

In contemporary terminology, we would use that same word and we translated it this way. We are in a jam. We're squeezed tight.

We're between a rock and a hard place. You've been there? Maybe you're there this morning.

You've come in feeling like this. While you're there, the enemy puts on more and more pressure and whispers into your ear, Your God is not an ever-present help in time of trouble. Your God has forgotten you. Your God does not care about the trouble that you have.

If we can learn anything from Hezekiah's story, we could learn this. The trusting in God is not a one-time event. For salvation, yes. For life, no. You can't say, trust God?

Oh, yeah, May of 92 I did that. Trusting in God is not a one-time event. It is a series of events. And as each challenge presents itself, their demands from it, a fresh application of, Lord, I will cling to you like ivy to a tree.

Maybe you're there right now. Well, they go from bad to worse. For Hezekiah, you think it's bad now. Rab Sheka comes back with a second, even more intimidating message. Only this time it's written. It's a letter. Look at chapter 19, verse 10.

Here's the letter. Thus you shall say to Hezekiah, king of Judah, do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you saying Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. Behold, you've heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the lands, destroying them completely. So will you be spared? Did the gods of those nations, which my father's destroyed, deliver them, even Gozen and Haran and Erasheth and the sons of Eden who were in Telesar?

Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of the city of the Sephar of Vareen and of Hina and Iba? Now notice Hezekiah's response, verse 14. Then Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it. And he went up to the house of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord.

I love this. There's nothing he can do. So he takes the letter, the Hebrew is plural, which indicates that there are several sheaves of either papyrus or perhaps even leather. And he spreads them out in the temple. He's alone in the temple of God, the place he had only years earlier reopened the doors for the people to worship in. Now he's at his wits end. He is between that rock and a hard place. He's dressed in the clothing of mourning.

And can you see him laying out those papyrus sheaves before the Lord? Here is a man who's tried to bring change. He's tried to bring the people back to God.

There is a legacy of 14 years of faithfulness. And then the clouds come with fury. He's discouraged. It seems hopeless.

But wait, there is a glimmer of hope here. Did you see it? The fact that he's laying this letter out on the temple floor. You know what that implies? It implies he believes God can see. It implies that he's still clinging like ivy to the belief and trust that God can hear, not like the gods of Sennacherib and Samaria.

His God is indeed alive. And so he's laying out these sheaves. And by that he is saying, Oh, God, I'm bringing this to you. I trust that you do indeed see and hear and care. Maybe there have been times in your life when you have done something similar with whatever has been pressing upon you.

You have gone and you've just spread it out. Maybe not even knowing how to say it all. Listen to what he says. First of all, there's a statement of faith. Verse 15. And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord and said, Oh, Lord, the God of Israel, who art enthroned above the cherubim, thou art the God, thou alone.

Listen to that. Of all the kingdoms of the earth, thou hast made heaven and earth. What a prayer.

A man who knew less than 30 or 40 percent of what we know about God today, a man who understood less about God's providence than we know today by the declaration of scripture, a man who in fact had a scrap of scripture compared to the completed canon that we have. Here he is in his darkest hour of greatest pressure, saying, I know you are enthroned above the cherubim. I know you are alive. We need to start there in our moments.

Now there's a simple request for 16. Incline thine ear, O Lord, and hear. Open thine eyes, O Lord, and see. And listen to the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. Lord, did you hear what he said about you?

Look, read. Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have devastated the nations and their lands and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone. So they have destroyed them. And now, O Lord, our God, I pray, deliver us from his hand that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou alone, O Lord, art God. You notice the motive of his prayer here? Lord, deliver us so that we will have our peace back. I want that gold and silver back on the temple doors.

Oh, no. Lord, deliver us from his hands so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone art the living God. I wonder why we pray the way we pray.

This is great. Verse 20. Then Isaiah, you know him, the prophet, the great prophet, the son of Amos, sent to Hezekiah, saying, Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, Because you have prayed to me about Sennacherib, king of Assyria, I have heard you. You know, when I read that, I thought, wouldn't it be wonderful to have a prophet of God to come to your porch? You've been praying for something, and you've been impassioned about it, and you've struggled with it, and you want God to be glorified in it. And you're in the middle of your prayer, and the doorbell rings, or the door knocks, and there stands a prophet in a long robe, Isaiah. And he says to you, God has heard your prayer. How many of you would like that today? Wouldn't that be great?

Would it make a difference? Can you hear the Apostle John saying to you? And this is the confidence that we have in knowing that he hears us when we pray. Can you hear David writing to you, saying, He who formed the ear, can he not hear?

He who formed the eye, can he not see? The Lord will hear us when we pray. Can you hear Jeremiah the prophet saying to you, Call unto me on behalf of God, and I will answer thee and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not? Can you hear Peter saying to you, Cast all your care upon him? I've got news for you.

He really does care about you. Ladies and gentlemen, we don't need prophets on our porches. We have his promise in writing, which Hezekiah didn't. Notice verse 35. Then it happened that night that the angel of the Lord went out and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when men rose early in the morning, behold, all of them were dead. So Sennacherib, king of Assyria, departed and returned home and lived at Nineveh. And it came about as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch, his god. That's a half eagle, half lion god. That Adremalek and Sherezer, these are two of his boys, killed him with a sword. And they escaped into the land of Ararat and Esarhaddon, another boy, his son, became king in his place.

Now, don't miss the irony of what Ezra's trying to tell you. Did you notice here in verse 37, Sennacherib is praying where? In his temple.

To who? His god. Did his god deliver him? Hezekiah prayed where? In his temple.

To whom? His god. His god.

Is the living god. The turning point was when he, with fresh application, challenging us to this day, decided at that moment to cling to his god, like ivy, to a tree. Thanks for joining us today. This is Wisdom for the Heart. We're working our way through a series from our Vintage Wisdom Library. Stephen first preached this series back in 1996, and we brought it out now because we knew it would encourage you in the Lord. This is a seven-part series, and we'll continue working through it in the days ahead. Join us for all of it. If you ever miss one of our lessons on your radio station, you can go back and catch up on our website, Please be sure and join us next time for more wisdom for the heart. We'll see you next time.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-28 03:57:12 / 2023-07-28 04:07:43 / 11

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