2 Kings 18
Hezekiah’s dad, Ahaz, had not been a good king. He had not done what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God, and had even sacrificed his son (presumably Hezekiah’s brother) as a burnt offering – see 2 Ki 16:2-4. Thankfully Hezekiah didn’t follow in his father’s footsteps. He ‘did what was right in the eyes of the Lord’; in particular, he removed high places, smashed sacred stones, cut down Asherah poles and broke into pieces Moses’ bronze snake (Num 21). Why? Because he was concerned that his people should worship the Lord correctly, in accordance with what was set out in the commands the Lord had given Moses. Even today, we must guard against the idea that ‘anything goes’ in worship. Worship must always be centred on, and consistent with, the glory and grace of God. It is not something we do primarily for our enjoyment, but for his glory. Every aspect of our worship, everything we do and everything we sing, must be for his glory, drawing attention to his character, his loving holiness, his grace in Christ. If it’s not God-honouring and Christ-centred, it’s not worship, and it may need to be removed, smashed, cut down or broken into pieces, no matter how enjoyable or exciting we may find it. Now, true worship will often be enjoyable and exciting, but our prime motivation must always be God’s glory rather than our pleasure or enjoyment. Worship must always flow from our understanding, appreciation and experience of God’s goodness. Our feelings and emotions should never be the chief motivation for our worship; we do not worship because of how we feel, but because he is worthy.
Hezekiah’s concern for true worship wasn’t merely a theological principle; it flowed out of his relationship with God. He ‘trusted in the Lord’ (v5), he was confident that God was trustworthy and reliable. He ‘held fast to the Lord, and did not stop following him’, walking faithfully in obedience to the Lord’s commands (v6). The Lord was with him, and gave him success (v7), not as a reward for his trust and obedience, but rather the Lord’s presence and blessing were the heart and the foundation of his trust and obedience. Hezekiah trusted in the Lord because he knew he was with him; he walked obediently with the Lord who had already blessed him, and would continue to do so.
Similarly, our worship must flow out of our relationship with God; our relationship with God should lead us to worship the one who is present with us and who lives within us by his Spirit, the one who is reliable, trustworthy and faithful. Sometimes we may not feel like worshipping, but we must remember that he is always worthy, always loving, always gracious.