"And thou wentest to the king with ointment, and didst increase thy perfumes, and didst send thy messengers far off, and didst debase thyself even unto hell. Thou art wearied in the greatness of thy way; yet saidst thou not, There is no hope: thou hast found the life of thine hand; therefore thou wast not grieved. And of whom hast thou been afraid or feared, that thou hast lied, and hast not remembered me, nor laid it to thy heart? have not I held my peace even of old, and thou fearest me not? I will declare thy righteousness, and thy works; for they shall not profit thee."
It is impossible to give the exact identify of this "king." The Scriptures do not speak of Manasseh seeking an alliance with a king. The language certainly seems to indicate that Judah had sought some alliance which further angered God. The word for messengers is elsewhere translated ambassadors (Isaiah 18:2, Jeremiah 49:14). Perhaps Hezekiah had pursued a pact with Merodach-Baladan after he had sent his envoy to Jerusalem. Manasseh may have attempted to make ties with Assyria in an attempt to secure his kingdom against the surrounding enemies. While the particular identity of the king mentioned in the text remains a mystery, God's displeasure with the situation is quite clear. By forsaking the Lord and looking for security in idolatry and human alliances, Judah had stooped to the lowest possible level.
Amidst it all, repentance was absent. God's people would not confess that their path was hopeless. Every day when the sun rose upon the idols of Moloch, the Israelites felt a revived sense of security in their position. Each new alliance served to cement their godless way of thinking, not rebuke it. They had found a temporary and deceptive measure of strength in their hands; therefore, they stubbornly persisted in their ways. To this flawed thinking, God gives His answer. For many years the Lord had held His peace and spared His people from full judgment; yet, the time was approaching when God's hand would repay these evils.
The last verse is rich in timeless principle. God promised to expose the so-called righteousness of His people and to show their works for what they truly were. God does this with every man. Israel's worship of Moloch and her heathen confederations were appalling; however, it must be remembered that every individual's righteousness and works serve only to condemn him and not to deliver him - regardless of how moral or immoral he may be. The imparted righteousness of God is the only thing that will justify a man in the day of judgment. The tendency to follow after anything but God quickly reveals how every man is an idolater at heart. People like Manasseh simply took to the extreme that which is alive in every human being. Even the believer, though bought, justified and secure, is not always guiltless of idolatry in his motives and actions. If it were not so, John would not have written, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen (I John 5:22)."