Authors: Lynn Austin
Tags: #ebook, #book
FROM BETHANY HOUSE PUBLISHERS
All She Ever Wanted
A Proper Pursuit
Though Waters Roar
Until We Reach Home
Wings of Refuge
A Woman’s Place
Candle in the Darkness
Fire by Night
A Light to My Path
HRONICLES OF THE
Gods and Kings
Song of Redemption
The Strength of His Hand
Faith of My Fathers
Among the Gods
The Strength of His Hand
Copyright © 2005
Cover design by The DesignWorks Group
Scripture quotations identified NIV are from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION
. Copyright ® 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.
Published by Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South
Bloomington, Minnesota 55438
Bethany House Publishers is a division of
Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Printed in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Austin, Lynn N.
The strength of His hand / Lynn Austin.
p. cm. — (Chronicles of the Kings ; bk. 3)
Rev. ed. of: The Lord is my salvation. c1996.
Summary: “God has rewarded Hezekiah’s faithfulness with great wealth and power, but the king has much more to overcome. Will his faith sustain him against the ultimate enemy?”—Provided by publisher.
ISBN 0-7642-2991-5 (pbk.)
1. Hezekiah, King of Judah—Fiction. 2. Bible. O.T.—History of Biblical events— Fiction. 3. Israel—Kings and rulers—Fiction. I. Austin, Lynn N. Lord is my salvation. II. Title III. Series: Austin, Lynn N. Chronciles of the Kings ; bk. 3.
Dedicated to my mother,
who taught me to love books
The Lord is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation
LYNN AUSTIN is a three-time Christy Award winner for her historical novels
Hidden Places, Candle in the Darkness,
Fire by Night
. In addition to writing, Lynn is a popular speaker at conferences, retreats, and various church and school events. She and her husband have three children and make their home in Illinois.
A Note to the Reader
Shortly after King Solomon’s death in 931 BC, the Promised Land split into two separate kingdoms. Israel, the larger nation to the north, set up its capital in Samaria and was no longer governed by a descendant of King David. In the southern nation of Judah, David’s royal line continued to rule from Jerusalem. The narrative of this book centers on events in the life of Hezekiah, who ruled Judah from 716 to 687 BC.
Careful study of Scripture and commentaries support the fictionalization of this story. To create authentic speech, the author has paraphrased the words of these biblical figures. However, the New International Version has been directly quoted when characters are reading or reciting Scripture passages and when prophets are speaking the words of the Lord. The only allowance the author has made is to change the words “the Lord” to “Yahweh” in some cases.
Interested readers are encouraged to research the full accounts of these events in the Bible as they enjoy this third book in the C
HRONICLES OF THE
Scripture references for
The Strength of His Hand
2 Kings 18:13–37
2 Kings 19–20
2 Chronicles 32
1 Samuel 4–6
LIAKIM KISSED HIS FINGERTIPS
, then touched the mezuzah on the doorpost of his house. He usually performed the ritual without thinking, but not today. After his meeting with King Hezekiah, Eliakim paid homage to the little box of sacred laws as a tender act of thanksgiving.
When he finally pushed open the heavy front door, he saw his little son peeking around the corner at him. The boy’s dark curly hair was as unruly as his own.
“It’s Abba! Abba’s home!” the boy shouted.
Eliakim squatted down, and his son hurled himself into his arms, planting a warm, sticky kiss on his cheek.
“Abba, look what I’ve got!” He opened his fist, revealing two squashed figs stuck to his palm. “Want one?”
Eliakim feigned surprise. “You’d really share your treasures with me?”
“Uh-huh. Here, Abba. They’re good.”
He gently tousled his son’s curly hair. “The Proverbs of Solomon say, ‘A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.’ But you may eat them, Jerimoth—I’m not hungry.” The boy quickly devoured the figs, then licked the sticky juice off his fingers.
Eliakim had named his son Jerimoth after Jerusha’s father, but with his round face and mischievous brown eyes, he resembled his other grandfather, Hilkiah, more than his namesake. Little Jerimoth had been born to Eliakim and Jerusha four years ago, yet Eliakim still found himself studying his son in fascination, amazed that God had not only given him Jerusha for his wife but had blessed their love with this beautiful child.
“Where’s your mama?” he asked.
“Out in the garden with Grandpa.”
Eliakim stood, lifted Jerimoth in his arms, and carried him out to their tiny courtyard. He delighted in the familiar warmth of his son’s arms wrapped around his neck.
“Well, look who’s home early,” Hilkiah said. “What’s the occasion?” Hilkiah sat on a stone bench, bouncing Eliakim’s baby daughter, Tirza, on his knee. “More, more,” she begged whenever he stopped.
“That’s the only word this child knows,” Hilkiah said.
“That’s not true,” Eliakim laughed. “She can say ‘Abba.’ Can’t you, sweetheart?”
Eliakim set Jerimoth down and swung the baby off Hilkiah’s knee and high into the air.
“Careful!” Jerusha gasped. Eliakim laughed along with his giggling baby. He pushed the dark curls away from her forehead and kissed her. “Ugh—you’re sticky, too.” He set her down again and wiped his lips as she toddled back to Hilkiah’s knee.
“The early figs are ripe,” Jerusha said. “We’ve been eating our fill of them all morning.”
“Do I dare risk a kiss from you, then?” Eliakim asked as he bent to kiss Jerusha. “Mmm … sweeter than figs.”
Little Jerimoth tugged at his robe. “How come you came home, Abba? It’s not dinnertime yet.”
“Yes, what’s up, son?” Hilkiah asked as the baby resumed her horsey ride on his knee. “Let’s see. It’s not a new moon… .We just celebrated Shavuot, so I don’t think it’s a holiday… . It isn’t the king’s birthday, is it?”
Eliakim spread his hands. “Can’t a man come home early to see his family? Do I need to have a reason?”
Jerusha and Hilkiah exchanged glances and laughed. “Son, the day you leave work early for no reason is the day we’ll have snow in the summertime.”
“Will you listen to him? My own father doesn’t believe a word I say.”
“Neither do I, love.” Jerusha pulled him down beside her and tugged playfully on his beard. “Why are you home early?”
“To tell you my good news.”
“See? Didn’t I say there would be a reason?” Hilkiah asked, chuckling.
Eliakim grew serious. “I’ve been offered a promotion.”
“A promotion?” Hilkiah stopped bouncing the baby. “How can you be promoted? You’re already the chief engineer. Can you get any higher than that?”
“The king has asked me to serve as his secretary of state.”
“Secretary of state!” Hilkiah nearly dropped the baby onto the floor.
Jerusha gripped Eliakim’s hand. “Oh, Eliakim! What will that mean?”
“It means … well, King Hezekiah is the sovereign ruler, of course. Then Shebna ranks second as his prime minister. The thirdranking official is the secretary of state—me.”
Hilkiah closed his eyes and tilted his face toward heaven. “God of Abraham! Holy One of Israel! Who am I that you should bless my house and my family like this?”
“I asked Him the same question, Abba.”
“My son? The third most important man in the nation? Seated at the king’s left hand? Eliakim! It’s the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy!”
“I know, Abba. I thought of that, too.” Eliakim had been a boy the night he’d gone to the prophet’s house to deliver a message to him. When Isaiah had rested his hand on Eliakim and told him that one day God would place the key to the house of David on his shoulder, it had seemed an impossible fantasy. Yet this morning those words had come true.
“It’s funny—I used to dream about being somebody important,” Eliakim said as he slipped his arm around Jerusha and pulled her close.
“But when you agreed to marry me, all that ended. I honestly don’t care about power anymore.”
Hilkiah’s eyes widened in horror. “Son! You didn’t refuse the job?”
Eliakim slowly broke into a grin and held out his right hand. The golden signet ring of the secretary of state gleamed on his finger.
“No, Abba, I didn’t refuse it. How could I refuse it? As the psalmist has written, ‘It is God who judges; He brings one down, He exalts another.’ ” Little Jerimoth tugged curiously at his hand to examine the shiny ring. “You got a new job, Abba?”
“Yes, son.” He looked at the boy in surprise, proud that little Jerimoth had been able to follow the adult conversation.