“Surely at the commandment of the Lord this came upon Judah, to remove them from His sight because of the sins of Manasseh.” (2 Kings 24:3)
Last week we noted how refreshing it was to read of a king who sought counsel of the LORD. How is it then that the sins of his son were the ‘last straw’ with the Lord’s patience?
Young or prospective parents would do well to note the circumstances of this grievous transition.
Manasseh’s father, King Hezekiah, had been faithful to the LORD; however, in his later years something changed and it is revealed in a prayer.
There are a number of prayers in the Bible in which the motive was sinful yet the LORD gave the request. In each case there was a sad consequence. Israel prayed for a king like the nations around them, contrary to the will of God, and He gave them their request to their sorrow. Gideon prayed for signs and God gave him his request. Signs are for the unbelieving and Gideon’s family suffered grievously because of his unbelief.
In Hezekiah we have a similar situation. He is sick and had been informed he will die so he pleads with the LORD to live. The Lord grants his desire. Can there be anything wrong with praying to live longer? It pleased the LORD to raise Dorcas from the dead through Peter (Acts 9:36-43) so what could be wrong with Hezekiah praying such a prayer?
The answer is in motive. It isn’t what we pray but why we pray what we pray.
As we read on we discover that the motive for Hezekiah’s prayer was not for the good of God’s people but so that Hezekiah could boast of his achievements. Pride had risen in his heart and instead of preferring to be with the LORD he preferred to revel in what he thought was his glory.
What has this to do with Manasseh? Manasseh was born three years after Hezekiah prayed. He did not witness all the good his father had done. He only witnessed his father taking glory for that which God had done.
Although Manasseh did repent late in his life, the damage was done.
By all means pray and keep praying but always guard your motive. Is it to bring glory to the LORD or to me? Beware the deceitfulness of the heart when discerning your own motive. Ask the Holy Spirit to search for wrong motives and correct them.
It seems to this writer that God intended to keep Hezekiah alive so that Manasseh would be born because he is in the royal line to Messiah (Matthew 1:10) so the prayer needed to be prayed. It was Hezekiah’s motive that brought things undone.