“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. 17Give ear, Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to all the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God. (Isaiah 37:16-17)
In Isaiah 36, we see God’s people in a dire situation. King Sennacherib and his menacing Assyrian army threatened to consume Jerusalem, taunting both God’s people and God himself.
In Isaiah 37, King Hezekiah of Judah turns to the Lord in prayer. Though he would ask the Lord to rescue Judah (36:20), he didn’t begin with this plea. Rather, Hezekiah focused, first of all, on God’s unique and powerful nature, praising Him as the only true God and creator of all things. He prayed, “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” (36:16).
Why did Hezekiah begin his prayer with such praise? To be sure, it is always right to praise God. You don’t need a special reason to speak of God’s glories. The fact that God deserves our praise always provides a strong rationale for honoring Him in this way. But I expect that Hezekiah began his prayer with praise for another reason. It strengthened his own confidence in the Lord. When faced with apparently invincible Assyrian power, Hezekiah needed to remember who was the true King of the universe, who in fact created all things. In human terms, Sennacherib’s power appeared to be unmatched. But it was nothing compared to the all-surpassing power of God.
The present challenges of our lives may not be quite as dire as those of Hezekiah, but we all face apparently invincible problems in our lives. There are times when these challenges – at work, at home, in our relationships, in our own hearts – seem overwhelming. In such circumstances, we are certainly free to pour out our fears and needs to the Lord. Yet, sometimes we need to do more than ask for God’s help. Sometimes we need to focus on God’s glory and power. We need to magnify the LORD. By drawing our attention to God’s nature through giving Him praise, our hearts are encouraged. Our minds are uplifted. We remember that no problem is too great for God and that He is with us to help and comfort us.
Moreover, when we praise God as king over all other powers in the universe, we are reminded that God is also king over us. God is sovereign over our lives, our families, our workplaces, our communities, and our leaders. When we praise God as “King of kings and Lord of lords,” we surrender our presumption, our assumption that we can control our lives. As we offer ourselves to God as His servants, we are embraced as His beloved children.
When life is hard, be encouraged by praising God!