King David’s reign began a 400 year monarchy in Israel that ended with king Zedekiah in 586 B.C. Initially, David was told his kingdom would be established for ever (2 Samuel 7:16), but when Solomon became king, God established a conditional covenant with him that stated, “If thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments: then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel” (1 Kings 9:4-5).
After Solomon’s death, Jereboam rebelled and was given rulership over 10 of the tribes of Israel which became the northern kingdom of Israel. The southern kingdom of Judah was left to the descendants of David. The LORD said, “he shall have one tribe for my servant David’s sake and for Jerusalem’s sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel…Because that they have forsaken me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in my ways, to do that which is right in mine eyes, and to keep my statutes and my judgments” (1 Kings 11:32-33).
About 588 B.C., king Zedekiah went to Jeremiah and said, “Inquire, I pray thee, of the LORD for us; for Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon maketh war against us: if so be that the LORD will deal with us according to all his wondrous works, that he may go up from us” (Jeremiah 21:2). King Zedekiah was hoping for a miraculous deliverance from Nebuchadrezzar’s army. Because God had stepped in at the last moment numerous times in Israel’s history, Zedekiah thought it might not be too late to ask him for a miracle. Unfortunately, Zedekiah hadn’t been paying attention to the prophecies Jeremiah had been sharing for more than 30 years.
Zedekiah had actually been appointed to his position of king of Judah by Nebuchaddrezzar (2 Chronicles 36:10). Initially, Zedekiah paid tribute to Nebuchadrezzar, but later rebelled against him and must have thought God would come to his aid. The response to Zedekiah’s petition for help indicated God had switched sides and would be fighting against his own people. Jeremiah stated, “Thus saith the LORD God of Israel; Behold, I will turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands, wherewith ye fight against the king of Babylon, and against the Chaldeans, which besiege you without the walls, and I will assemble them into the midst of the city. And I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath” (Jeremiah 21:4-5).