It is an honor to interview a good king when there have been so many bad ones.
“Good” is a relative term among men and kings. The Lord is good. Even the best of men are weak and foolish.
What one thing have you learned during your long reign?
I have learned this: “It is not by strength that one prevails.” I might have learned it much sooner, because Hannah, the mother of Samuel, spoke these words long ago. But it is only now, near the end of my days, that I begin to see Hannah’s wisdom. Even so, I have not learned it completely.
Will you give us an example of what you mean?
You have heard of my fortified cities and my army of half a million men. Then Zerah the Cushite came against me with an army twice that size. My only prayer was that the Lord would help the powerless against the mighty. My army prevailed, but not by its own might.
Why do you say you have not learned this completely?
Four years ago the king of Israel meant to invade our land. Instead of relying on the Lord, I sent silver and gold to Ben-Hadad in Damascus, who attacked Israel from the rear. Thus we fought off the invasion, but at the same time we were plunged into further war.
You spoke of relying on God rather than on personal strength. But what about the endless wars in your people’s history?
Not endless. Our prophets could tell you more about this than I can. For now, our people must survive. In days to come, however, a king will rise from David’s royal house. He will—well, I cannot tell you what he will do, exactly. But his kingdom will bring peace and justice. Then these hideous wars will end.
What one thing do you most want to tell our readers?
Rely upon the Lord. I have not always done so, and I am the worse for it.
Forgive me for not walking with you through the garden to the gate. You see the problem I have with my feet. Even as an old man I remain foolish. I have sought physicians, but I have sought the Lord too late!
Back to the Future
In what areas of your life are you tempted to rely on your own strength?
How would you respond to someone who asked you, “What does it mean to rely on the strength of the Lord?”
What practical steps can you take to become more dependent on the Lord’s strength?