Title: Gods and Kings
Author: Lynn Austin
Series: Chronicles of the Kings, book 1
Major Themes: Hezekiah, Ancient Israel
Synopsis: Hezekiah’s father wanted to sacrifice him to the gods—how could the boy’s mother protect her son and teach him about the true God?
One of the earliest free Kindle books I got and read, some nine years ago, was Gods and Kings, by Lynn Austin. It was the first book I read by her. I remember not being able to put it down, although I didn’t like everything that was included in the story. After my daughter got me started writing book reviews, I thought I should read the book again, in order to review it. I never got around to opening it again, though, until I picked it up from her shelf of physical books last week.
Hezekiah was sound asleep when men pulled him and his older brother out of bed early one morning and dragged them, along with the rest of the king’s sons, up to the high place of Molech. Hezekiah was scarred for life by what happened that morning—and again when his father tried to sacrifice him, later, when another enemy threatened Jerusalem. Abijah tried desperately to save her son, but what could she do? She was powerless to even save her own life as her husband, Ahaz, spiraled ever deeper into worship of the gods of the nations around Israel. What was happening to the people of Israel?
Uriah was sure he would be able to influence Ahaz back to the worship of the true God if only he went along with the king’s wishes for a little while. Surely, it would be all right to disobey God’s laws now in order to bring about good later—wouldn’t it? When the king discovered that his father-in-law Zechariah was teaching young Hezekiah about Yahweh, he ordered the high priest Uriah to kill Zechariah. Uriah couldn’t bring himself to do this to his mentor—but what would happen to Uriah if he disobeyed?
One of the explanations Zechariah gave to a question Hezekiah asked him really stood out to me. He said, in explaining what God is like,
“You’ve never seen the wind, but you know it’s there because you see evidence of what it does—how it ripples through the golden seas of wheat and rustles through the tree branches. And you can feel it cooling you on a hot summer day. Well, it’s the same with Yahweh.”
I loved the conversations Zechariah and Hezekiah had!
Gods and Kings is a powerful retelling of the story of Hezekiah. I could not put this book down. As far as I could tell, it is Biblically accurate, which is very important to me. I found the story of Uriah very sobering. Last week, in a Bible study our family has been doing, we heard about deciding to sin “a little” in order to reach out to people. I had to think of this book—what a picture. At the beginning of the book, Uriah was very unhappy about the way the nation was drifting away from God. He compromised, though, and found himself doing more and more awful things, until at the end—but you’ll have to read the book to find out what he tried to do there.
I could hardly wait to get to the end of the story to find out how this author surmised that Hezekiah became the godly king we know he was (yes, I reread the account in the Bible to see when we first know that he turned to God!). I also saw a hint that gives me a foreboding feeling about his wife—guess I’ll have to read book 2 to see what happens with her!
WARNING: Human sacrifice is described in chapters 1 and 4. In chapter 14, a woman goes to sacrifice to Asherah.