I don’t think I’m the only one who has ever read through Kings and Chronicles and thought, “What’s wrong with these royal guys? Every other generation is evil! Couldn’t they teach their kids better than that?”
Particularly, 2 Chronicles 29 through 35 really got to me yesterday. Starting with King Hezekiah of Judah, it’s like a spiritual ping-pong match: Good guy, bad guy, good guy, bad guy.
Often, there was a clean break between generations, a righteous king had an evil successor. But, taking a close look at Hezekiah and Manasseh, I think I see the problem right in the middle of their lives, a perfect case study. And, as usual, Scripture has a very modern application for me.
Over and over throughout Scripture, God blessed and prospered humble kings. David became king from humble shepherd roots and acknowledged that God had brought him so far. For centuries, David’s name has been preserved with honor. Think of Solomon, who humbly asked God for wisdom. Not only did God answer that request, but He made Solomon the richest man that ever lived. When kings followed the Lord, they often won battles without even raising a sword.
So, why is it that so often, these good and powerful kings left their kingdoms to sons who turned their backs on God?
Growing up in blessed households, perhaps pride was allowed to take seed in the young men’s hearts. No doubt they received homage from the people. They wore fine clothing and answered to, “Your majesty”. (Okay, admittedly they didn’t speak English, but go with me here.) Perhaps the power went to their heads. When opulence became the norm, power fermented and became putrid, infectious, fatal pride.
And pride always comes before a fall. Suddenly, the king found himself kingdom-less, powerless or poor.
But, when a son grew up in a humbled kingdom, his heart was soft, meek and submissive to the One True God.
Manasseh was an evil king. (2 Chronicles 33:2) God spoke to Manasseh and the people over and over again, urging them to repent. But they refused. Finally, God brought Assyria to conquer Judah. It was in captivity, that Manasseh was humbled. He sought the Lord and was restored to his kingdom. (This is a great story, read all of 2 Chron. 33.)
There, Manasseh led Judah in rebuilding the altar of Lord and sacrificing to Him. Manasseh’s son, Amon, grew up in this time of God’s favor. He watched his father be restored and blessed. By the time he took Manasseh’s place, he had an evil heart. Eventually, his own servants murdered him. But Josiah, his son, saw that his father’s wickedness cost him his life. Josiah took the throne at age eight, and was a Godly king.
I observed this ping-pong match in my own heart just yesterday.
In the beginning of my eating disorder I was proud. I was proud of my self discipline, strength and thinness. But pride led me into deep illness with anorexia. Finally, I was sick, powerless, out of control and captive to this eating disorder.
In my darkest, most humiliating moment, I turned toward God. He fed me and restored me, outside of my own conscious efforts. And for a time, I relinquished control. I ate what God fed me, I trusted Him for every bite and let Him lead me as I exercised. Now, I am strong, healthier than I’ve ever been. I feel attractive. I am restored and I recognize the beauty God created.
But yesterday, as I walked my dog around the lake, I caught myself checking to see if the cute guy who passed me was turning around for a second look. Did I catch his attention?
When I got hot, I stripped down to a sports bra, admiring my own body and thinking, “Wow, I’ve actually got abs! I look pretty good.”
I began to wonder what I did to get here. How did I accomplish such a nice physique? What workouts and meals am I doing to get these results? Look what I’ve been able to do!
Suddenly, I felt the Holy Spirit tap me on my spiritual shoulder.
“Daughter, this is what happened to those kings. They came to believe that they were responsible for their blessings. Man has an innate difficulty containing both my blessing and humility. I did not only create you in your mother’s womb, but I continually create each new cell to replace the dying ones. Every perfect gift, including your body and your life, come from me.”