On verses 1-13: One thing that strikes me as I read this passage is how much more merciful and gracious the Lord is compared to Shalmaneser king of Assyria. King Hoshea of Israel had been Shalmaneser’s vassal; in other words, King Hoshea had a relationship with Shalmaneser such that King Hoshea would pay tribute to Shalmaneser each year in exchange for Shalmaneser’s agreement to protect and not hurt Hoshea’s kingdom of Israel. But secretly King Hoshea began to side with Egypt and stopped paying tribute to Shalmaneser. In response to Hoshea’s rebellion and disloyalty, Shalmaneser seizes Hoshea, puts him in prison, lays siege to Israel for 3 years and deports the Israelites to Assyria.
Just as King Hoshea was unfaithful to King Shalmaneser of Assyria, the Israelites were unfaithful to the Lord. Verses 7-12 describe how the Israelites worshiped other gods, imitated the religious practices of foreign nations, and secretly did things against the Lord that were not right. Rather than putting them in prison or taking away their land immediately the way Shalmaneser did, the Lord was patient with the Israelites from generation to generation, warning them not to worship idols. It was only after persistent rebellion that the Lord finally disciplines the Israelites by allowing Assyria to invade Israel and deport the Israelites to Assyria.
I’m so thankful that God’s first response to our rebellion against Him was not to seize us, put us in prison, invade our land and deport us the way Shalmaneser did to Hoshea and the Israelites. Rather God’s first response was to warn us.
This shows me that the Lord is a lot more merciful than people can be. Our society tends be very quick to judge people. In Vancouver and in North America generally it seems people tend to talk about others in extremes: either that person is this great and amazing human being who should be worshiped and glorified, or that person is a bad, despicable human being who should be shunned and vilified. Compare this to God, who is fully aware of our sinful tendencies and yet who nonetheless loves us, even sending His Son Jesus to die on the cross in our place to pay for our sins. God is far more merciful than people.
It’s no wonder why David, when given a choice, says, “Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for His mercy is great, but do not let me fall into the hands of men.” (2 Samuel 24:14)
We are always better off placing our hope in the Lord than placing it in people.
Heavenly Father, thank You that no one can compare to You in mercy. You are so merciful, patient, gracious and compassionate, despite all of our rebellious and immature ways. You are a fair and just Father who doesn’t make rash decisions or mete out unnecessarily harsh punishment. You aren’t just greater than us in terms of justice and holiness, but You far exceed us in terms of mercy and compassion. Thank You for all the mercy, grace and compassion You show me. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!