And when he was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers,
And prayed unto him: and he was entreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord he was God.
Manasseh was the 14th king of the kingdom of Judah. Manasseh became king when he was 12 years old and reigned for 55 years, longer than any other of Judah’s kings.
Manasseh followed in the footsteps of both his father and his grandfather. His grandfather was the wicked Ahaz, who exceeded all the kings before him in evil. In his early years Manasseh managed to exceed even his grandfather in wickedness. Manasseh’s father was the godly Hezekiah. After the Lord humbled him, Manasseh walked in the godliness of his father.
The passage we consider for this meditation speaks of Manasseh humbling himself before the Lord his God. On account of Manasseh’s great sin the Lord afflicted him. In that affliction Manasseh besought the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. The Lord was gracious to Manasseh. He was entreated of him and heard his supplication and restored him to his kingdom.
Each of us must humble himself before the Lord. If we do not, the Lord will humble us as he did Manasseh. In the way of humbling us, the Lord will also exalt us, even as he did Manasseh. This is according to the universal truth repeated often in Scripture: “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matt. 23:12).
Manasseh had fallen into great sin.
According to verse 2 of this chapter, Manasseh “did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel.” Not only did Manasseh pursue the idols of the heathen, Manasseh also “made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the Lord had destroyed before the children of Israel” (v. 9).
What explains the great wickedness of Manasseh?
It is significant that when he was afflicted, Manasseh humbled himself before the Lord his God. This means that Manasseh knew the Lord as his God. This was due to his covenant training as a boy. His father was the godly king Hezekiah, his mother the godly Hephzibah. As godly parents, both Hezekiah and Hephzibah provided a solid covenant training, so that Manasseh came to know the Lord as his God.
But then Manasseh was led astray. He became king at the tender, vulnerable age of 12 and was most likely misled by ungodly princes and advisors of Judah. The nation as a whole had never fully embraced the reformation that Hezekiah had instituted in Judah. When Hezekiah passed away, the people and their leaders were eager to turn back into the idolatry of the reign of Ahaz. No doubt Manasseh was led also into this idolatry by influential men of the realm and then himself became a leader in this terrible sin. This underscores the need to provide our covenant children sound and consistent covenant training throughout their childhood and youth. We are all easily led astray, but especially our children and young people. To help children avoid being led astray, parents must be careful to provide consistent covenant training and nurture.
Manasseh’s great sin brought affliction to him by the hand of the Lord his God. According to verse 10 the Lord warned Manasseh and the people, but they would not listen. The Lord threatened to deal with Judah as He had with the ten tribes of Israel. In response, “Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of the Lord” (II Kings 21:16). This innocent blood included the prophet Isaiah.
And so God afflicted Manasseh. “The Lord brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon” (v. 11). The king of Assyria was most likely 195
Esarhaddon, the most powerful of the Assyrian kings, who established his residence in Babylon for thirteen years. “Among the thorns” refers probably to the fact that in desperation Manasseh was hiding among the thorns. However, some translate this to mean that his captors put a hook in his nose.
And when he was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed unto Him.
Manasseh besought the Lord his God. To beseech means to beg for help and deliverance. It has with it the sense of urgency. Manasseh besought the Lord his God. As a youth Manasseh had known the Lord as his God but had long departed from Him into idolatry, beseeching idol gods rather than the Lord. But now he turned back to the Lord his God, whom he had forsaken, to beseech Him.
The term “God of his fathers” is significant here. The “fathers” refers to the fathers of the nation of Judah—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and others. The term itself emphasizes the covenant that the Lord made with these fathers, including the commandments of the covenant and the promises. Manasseh had been instructed in these covenant realities as a child. For many years Manasseh had exalted himself in pride above the Lord his God and His laws. In pride he had concluded that he need not serve the Lord or listen to His prophets. In pride he had concluded that he could serve other gods that would allow him to indulge in all the pleasure of sin. This is the height of arrogance.
But now Manasseh greatly humbled himself before the Lord his God, and in the depths of humility he prayed to God. Although we do not have a record of his prayer, we know what the humble prayer of a sinner is. It is the prayer of the publican in the temple: “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13). The text of our meditation speaks of Manasseh’s “supplication.” This refers to a plea for mercy and grace. From this we conclude that Manasseh acknowledged his sin and the terribleness of it. He then cast himself upon the Lord’s mercy, seeking forgiveness of the Lord his God in the blood of atonement. And he sought the Lord’s help to turn from sin to serve Him.
Manasseh’s humbling himself was the Lord’s purpose in afflicting Manasseh.
It is important that we know how our covenant God deals with His people when they stubbornly persist in sin. Jehovah is angry with the sins of His people. Look up in a concordance the phrase “the anger of the Lord” to see how often the Lord is angry with His people. And in His anger He afflicts His people, sometimes grievously. But His purpose is not to hurt or to destroy. It is rather to correct and to purge His people from their sins. God first warns and rebukes them to turn them from their folly. But if they refuse His warning, He will afflict them. Sometimes that is the only thing that will bring His people to their knees in humility and repentance. This is called the Lord’s chastening, and it is an expression of His love.
Certainly the Lord chastened Manasseh for his sin.
And that same chastening will come to us, should we follow the folly of Manasseh. Idolatry easily and readily becomes a part of our lives. An idol is anything in which we place our trust, other than in the living God. These idols can be such things as wealth, pleasure, sports, position, recognition, and education. Harboring these gods inevitably leads us away from the Lord our God into sin. Should we fall into idolatry, the Lord will warn us. He will do so in the preaching and through the admonition of fellow saints. (Make sure you are in a church that will do this for you.) Should we stubbornly persist in this idolatry, the Lord will chasten us in His anger. If need be, He will bring disaster to our lives to get our attention and humble us. This is because He will not allow His people to perish.
Let us avoid this by heeding His word.
But should we be under such chastisement, let us humble ourselves before the Lord our God as did Manasseh.
And He was entreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom.
That Jehovah was entreated of Manasseh means that He received Manasseh’s entreaty.
Jehovah heard Manasseh’s supplication by giving him what he requested. In his supplication, Manasseh sought the Lord’s grace and mercy. The Lord heard by forgiving Manasseh’s sins. He even delivered Manasseh from imprisonment and restored him to the kingdom.
Manasseh’s restoration is according to the truth of II Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” Manasseh’s restoration is also according to that universal truth: “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”
This is also what we will find as we humble ourselves before the Lord. He will quickly and freely forgive all our sins. And He will restore us to Himself, delivering us from the misery we have brought upon ourselves. True, He may leave us in a lifelong situation of discomfort that we have made for ourselves in our sin. But even this is to teach us not to turn back to our sins. And one day he will exalt us into heavenly glory.
Then Manasseh knew that the Lord, He was God.
This means that Manasseh knew that the Lord is the God, the one and only true God, who is to be served. Prior to this, Manasseh considered also the idols he served to be truly gods. But now that the Lord had humbled him, Manasseh came to know the Lord as the one only true God. His other gods could not help him. Jehovah alone had delivered him and restored him to the throne.
This knowledge of Manasseh was the knowledge of true faith, a knowledge of love and trust. This knowledge led Manasseh to a great reformation in Judah. He spent the rest of his reign seeking to destroy the institution of idolatry that he had established.
Do you know that the Lord is the God?
In that knowledge, destroy the idols in your life in order to serve the living God.