Compromise with Assyria
16 At that time King Ahaz sent to the [d]kings of Assyria for help. 17 For again the Edomites had come and attacked Judah and carried away captives. 18 The Philistines also had invaded the cities of the [e]lowland and of the Negev of Judah, and had taken Beth-shemesh, Aijalon, Gederoth, and Soco with its villages, Timnah with its villages, and Gimzo with its villages, and they settled there. 19 For the Lord humbled Judah because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had brought about a lack of restraint in Judah and was very unfaithful to the Lord. 20 So Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria came against him and afflicted him instead of strengthening him. 21 Although Ahaz took a portion out of the house of the Lord and out of the palace of the king and of the princes, and gave it to the king of Assyria, it did not help him.
22 Now in the time of his distress this same King Ahaz became yet more unfaithful to the Lord. 23 For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus which had [f]defeated him, and said, “Because the gods of the kings of Aram helped them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me.” But they became the [g]downfall of him and all Israel. 24 Moreover, when Ahaz gathered together the utensils of the house of God, he cut the utensils of the house of God in pieces; and he closed the doors of the house of the Lord and made altars for himself in every corner of Jerusalem. 25 In every city of Judah he made high places to burn incense to other gods, and provoked the Lord, the God of his fathers, to anger. 26 Now the rest of his acts and all his ways, from first to last, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 27 So Ahaz slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city, in Jerusalem, for they did not bring him into the tombs of the kings of Israel; and Hezekiah his son reigned in his place.
I’m not certain the heading is accurate on this passage. For though Ahaz certainly attempted to find favor with Assyria, he ultimately failed. He sent tribute to Tilgath-pilneser of Assyria and Tilgath sees the weakness of Judah and invades instead. Judah was beset on every side, and instead of admitting his failure to follow God, he looks for more fake gods to worship and throws the country into full-blown rebellion with idol worship on ever corner.
When we try to be self-sufficient, to find a solution on our own, it is a recipe for disaster. When we see clearly, doing such things seem downright silly. To throw away the counsel of the God who knows every moment of the future (and past) and look to our own finite vision is utter foolishnesss.
Yet in the moment, there is something in us that revolts at the thought of giving up control. We recoil when the idea of surrendering our will is presented. Surely, we ought to know what is best for us, but oddly that is often untrue. Even stranger is that folks who are the most removed from our situation can often see our situation the more clearly. Because they can look at things objectively when our own vision is clouded by emotion, we can find value in the counsel of others.
Even better though, is what we gain when we surrender our will to God, and seek His wisdom. To find the counsel of God is better than anything else in this world. It’s a truth that Solomon knew well, yet his descendants strayed so far from this truth. We can, and we must, do better or we will suffer from the same short-sightedness as Ahaz.