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Empty Words

September 18, 2023

2 Kings 18:5, 20
5 He (Hezekiah) trusted in Yahweh, the God of Israel; so that after him was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among them that were before him. 20 You say (but they are but vain words), ‘There is counsel and strength for war.’ Now on whom do you trust, that you have rebelled against me?

(Editor’s note – this devotional is from a weekly series called Monday Musings by Edie R. September is 9th month and 2 times 9 is 18. So we put this devotional on 9-18. Hope you enjoy)

This week I have been thinking about some words I should have included in the ‘missing words’ list.  But maybe they actually belong in another category.  Words like Mother and Father may soon be missing words. The words that replace them probably belong in an ‘empty words’ list.  Google’s definition of empty words includes words that seem to contain meaningful content but do not.  Synonyms include hot air, palaver, and rhetoric.

Sennacherib, king of Assyria, had demanded tribute from Hezekiah, who was a good king of Judah.  At first Hezekiah rebelled and refused to pay him.  Then he changed his mind and paid the required tribute.  But of course, Sennacherib, the king, was not satisfied.  You will find these events in 2 Kings 18 and following.  King Sennacherib sent a huge army against Jerusalem.  The commanders of the army had words for the men who were under Hezekiah.  “Say to Hezekiah, ‘what is this confidence that you have?  You say (but they are only empty words) I have counsel and strength for the war. On whom do you rely?”

Sennacherib, the king, told him it was useless to rely on Egypt.  Which it was.  But he also told him it was useless to rely on the Lord his God.  Sennacherib thought that because Hezekiah had removed the high places where people worshiped idols that God was not with him. He accused Hezekiah of using empty words when he was telling his people to trust the Lord to defeat their enemy. 

The commander stood where all the people could hear him and said “don’t let Hezekiah deceive you into thinking that the Lord will deliver you from the king of Assyria.  That’s only empty words.” 

So was it nonsense for Hezekiah to trust the Lord for deliverance?  His response was to go before the Lord and beg for help.  He sent for the prophet, Isaiah.  “Perhaps God has heard the words of reproach and will rebuke the words which the Lord God has heard.  Isaiah’s words from God. ”Do not be afraid of the words you have heard.”  I will take care of the king and his army. 

There is more to this story, but the result was that the angel of the Lord during the night killed 185,000 men in the Assyrian camp.  So, Hezekiah’s words were not just empty talk.  His faith in his Lord was real and God was faithful.  Hezekiah did rely on the right person. 

Today there seems to be many words that are just empty words.  Palaver.  Certainly not words that you can rely on.  I have heard the phrase ‘you just don’t know who you can trust’ many times over the past year.  The only words we know that are true of course are God’s words.  On those we can rely.

But we need to make sure that our words are real words, too. Not meaningless.  We need to mean what we say.  If I tell someone I will pray for them, then I should pray for them.  It is easy to say words and harder sometimes to fulfill those words.  People can sense when your words are empty, full of hot air. 

Sennacherib’s question was a good question.  On whom do you rely?  In our culture today the only safe words upon which to rely are words we know to be true.  God’s words are never empty.  We need to take all of His words seriously.  Calling good evil and evil good is all empty talk.  But because God is just, He will one day, perhaps soon, set everything aright.  On that we can rely.  It is a done deal. We need not be afraid of empty words. 

Edie R

’43 / ’55 New holland PA


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