Now when he was in affliction, he implored the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. 2 Chronicles 33:12
The Lord had spoken to Manasseh and his followers, “but they would not listen” (v. 10). Manasseh was an influential character; he was not passive but active and energetic in evil, and many of his countrymen followed him. How little we realize the influence we may have upon others for good or for evil.
God brought the king of Assyria to Israel who carried Manasseh off to a foreign country, bound with hooks and bronze fetters (v. 11). Like the prodigal in the Gospel, he would learn the rigors and destitution of the “far country.” God will cause things to come into our life that should awaken us to our need.
God was at work in the life of Manasseh. “Now when he was in affliction, he implored the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God” (vv. 12–13). When he was in affliction he humbled himself greatly. He now knew the true grace of the living God!
Christ describes the conversion of a sinner in the story of the prodigal son: “How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!” (Lk. 15:17). “But when he came to himself”—this is the true nature of biblical repentance. It is literally “a change of mind.” It is the judgment of my sin in the light of grace. It is taking God’s side against myself. This is exactly what happened to Manasseh (and to the prodigal): affliction turned his thoughts toward God, and he humbled himself greatly before God. Who would have thought? Manasseh, of all people! “This is the true grace of God in which you stand” (1 Pet. 5:12).