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Vol.  10  No. 7 July 2008  Page 8
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Priscilla's Page By Marilyn LaStrape *Editor's Note*

When the Righteous Falter Before the Wicked

By Marilyn LaStrape

Marilyn LaStrape

    Solomon said in Proverbs 25:26 (NKJV), “A righteous man who falters before the wicked is like a murky spring and a polluted well.” To falter is to hesitate, waver or fall in action, intent or endurance. Murky means dark, gloomy and cheerless, obscure or thick, as with a mist. Polluted is to make foul, contaminated or tainted.

    These definitions are perfectly all right depending on what they are describing. However, they should never be used to describe children of God! The righteous faltering before the wicked today is just as contemptible! How can a murky or gloomy, cheerless Christian have the Word of God dwelling in him richly? If our lives, through a lack of faith, have become polluted or tainted, we have fallen down and compromised our spiritual integrity before the wicked who are all around us!

    Hezekiah, king of Judah, learned the lesson of standing with conviction before the wicked in one of the hardest ways during his reign. Second Kings chapters 18 and 19 give us the account of the circumstances of this sad event. His loyalty and steadfastness to God was commendable until the pressures of his commitment to God were brought to bear.

   Second Kings 18:1-6 tells of Hezekiah’s ascent to the throne of Judah. He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, held fast to the Lord, did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments. Verse 7 says, “The Lord was with him; he prospered wherever he went. And he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.” Hezekiah’s bold decision to rebel against the tyranny of this enemy was the beginning of his trouble.

    The king of Assyria had come up against the king of Israel in Samaria, besieged and took it, and carried Israel away to his own land. First Kings 18:12 states why this had happened. “Because they did not obey the voice of the Lord their God, but transgressed His covenant and all that Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded; and they would neither hear nor do them.”

    Fourteen years into Hezekiah’s reign, the king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cites of Judah and took them. Note the faltering of King Hezekiah before this wicked man. Second Kings 18:14 says, “Then Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying, ‘I have done wrong; turn away from me; whatever you impose on me I will pay.’ And the king of Assyria assessed Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold.” How much blood money was that?

    Hezekiah was so afraid of this man verses 15 and 16 tell us that he gave the king of Assyria, “all the silver that was found in the house of the Lord and in the treasuries of the king’s house. At that time Hezekiah stripped the gold from the doors of the temple of the Lord, and from the pillars which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria.” Since when does the attempt to pay off an enemy get them out of your life?

    In 2 Kings 19:5-6, the servants of Hezekiah came to Isaiah, and he had said to them, “Thus you shall say to your master, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Do not be afraid of the words which you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me. Surely I will send a spirit upon him, and he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.”’” Hezekiah did not believe what God said; he continued to falter and remained afraid! David said in Psalm 56:3-4, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God I will praise His word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?” This eternal promise from God had no power in Hezekiah’s life at this point because of his unbelief! This whole, agonizing experience was all so unnecessary!

    The king of Assyria pounced on Hezekiah’s fear. People are sometimes just like a mad dog; when they “smell” fear, their attack is vicious! The words and actions of this man were brutal in his aggression! He had sent his high ranking official to inform Hezekiah, “Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: ‘What confidence is this in which you trust? You speak of having plans and power for war; but they are mere words. And in whom do you trust that you rebel against me?” (2 Kings 18:19-20). His mocking, insulting, defying and blaspheming of God continued. The king of Assyria’s official further informed the people in verses 29-30, “Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he shall not be able to deliver you from his hand; nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord will surely deliver us; this city shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’” His taunts continued to Judah as he told them, “But do not listen to Hezekiah, lest he persuade you saying, ‘The LORD will deliver us’” (2 Kings 18:32b).

   At this point in the drama, there was one bright spot; Hezekiah’s wisdom was excellent. Second Kings 18:36 says, “But the people held their peace and answered him not a word; for the king’s commandment was, ‘Do not answer him.’” Psalm 39:1 says, “I will guard my ways, lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, while the wicked are before me.”

    Several of the king’s high ranking officials had gone to the prophet Isaiah and said, “Thus says Hezekiah: ‘This day is a day of trouble, and rebuke, and blasphemy; for the children have come to birth, but there is no strength to bring them forth’” (2 Kings 19:3). What had happened to this anointed leader of God’s people? Why was he faltering in his faith before this wicked pagan?

    Finally, Hezekiah came to his senses and did what he should have done in the first place. He prayed to God about this horrible situation! What took Hezekiah so long to do this? Before we make a move right or left, the first thing we need to do in any and all circumstances is to call down the power of God through prayer! Hezekiah prayed and said, “Truly, LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were not gods, but the works of men’s hands…Now therefore, O LORD our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD God, You alone” (2 Kings 19:17-19). His faith was renewed and made stronger once again as he recognized God’s power and gave Him the glory! Hallelujah!

    God’s response in verse 20 through the prophet Isaiah was rich beyond measure! “Because you have prayed to Me against Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard.” It does not get any better than God hearing and answering our prayers! Second Kings 19:35 says; “And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the LORD went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses—all dead.”

    Just as God had said, in verse 36, the king of Assyria was worshipping in the temple of his god, and his sons struck him down with the sword. He paid with his life, confirming the eternal truth of Galatians 6:7, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”

   Most of us are very familiar with Peter’s faltering before the wicked after Jesus was arrested. Three times he was asked about his relationship with our Lord, and three times Peter faltered before the wicked by denying he even knew Christ! Jesus tells us when we confess Him before others, He will confess us before His Father; but when we deny Him before others, He will deny us before His Father (Matthew 10:32-33).

   As Peter sat outside in the courtyard, a certain servant girl looking at him intently said, “‘This man was also with Him.’ But he denied Him, saying, ‘Woman, I do not know Him.’ And after a little while another saw him and said, ‘You also are of them.’ But Peter said, ‘Man, I am not!’ Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, ‘Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.’ But Peter said, ‘Man, I do not know what you are saying!’ (Luke 22:56-60a). Matthew 26:74 records, “Then he began to curse and swear, saying, ‘I do not know the Man!’” Luke 22:61-62 says, “And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ So Peter went out and wept bitterly.” Without a doubt, this had to have been one of the darkest moments in Peter’s life!

  These two accounts of godly, spiritual giants should cause us as Christians to examine ourselves daily to see if we are in the faith! Are we steadfast or are we faltering? Where are we on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best, in having convicting faith that is evident? Do people in our neighborhoods, in our communities, in our schools, on our jobs, and yes — even in the church — know that we are Christians in every aspect of our lives?! If they don’t, why don’t they?

   Let’s face it; there will be times when our faith, love, devotion and integrity to God grow weak. However, our faith, trust, reliance and confidence in Him must be such that we do as Paul did; pray that He will help us to open our mouths boldly, “to make known the mystery of the gospel” and “to speak boldly as we ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:18-20).

    Proverbs 28:1 states, “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.” David said in Psalm 138:3; “In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul.”

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