In this chapter we have a further repetition of the story which we had
before in the book of Kings concerning Sennacherib. In the foregoing
chapter we had him conquering and threatening to conquer. In this
chapter we have him falling, and at last fallen, in answer to prayer,
and in fulfillment of many of the prophecies which we have met with in
the foregoing chapters. Here we have,
I. Hezekiah's pious reception of Rabshakeh's impious discourse,
II. The gracious message he sent to Isaiah to desire his prayers,
III. The encouraging answer which Isaiah sent to him from God, assuring
him that God would plead his cause against the king of Assyria,
IV. An abusive letter which the king of Assyria sent to Hezekiah, to
the same purport with Rabshakeh's speech,
V. Hezekiah's humble prayer to God upon the receipt of this letter,
VI. The further full answer which God sent him by Isaiah, promising
him that his affairs should shortly take a happy turn, that the storm
should blow over and every thing should appear bright and serene,
VII. The immediate accomplishment of this prophecy in the ruin of his
and the murder of himself,
ver. 37, 38.
All this was largely opened,
2 Kings 19:1-37
|Hezekiah's Message to Isaiah.
||B. C. 710.|
1 And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he
rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went
into the house of the LORD.
2 And he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna
the scribe, and the elders of the priests covered with sackcloth,
unto Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz.
3 And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a
day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy: for the children
are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring
4 It may be the LORD thy God will hear the words of Rabshakeh,
whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the
living God, and will reprove the words which the LORD thy God
hath heard: wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that
5 So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah.
6 And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say unto your
master, Thus saith the LORD, Be not afraid of the words that thou
hast heard, wherewith the servants of the king of Assyria have
7 Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a
rumour, and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall
by the sword in his own land.
We may observe here,
1. That the best way to baffle the malicious designs of our enemies
against us is to be driven by them to God and to our duty and so to
fetch meat out of the eater. Rabshakeh intended to frighten Hezekiah
from the Lord, but it proves that he frightens him to the Lord. The
wind, instead of forcing the traveller's coat from him, makes him wrap
it the closer about him. The more Rabshakeh reproaches God the more
Hezekiah studies to honour him, by rending his clothes for the
dishonour done to him and attending in his sanctuary to know his mind.
2. That it well becomes great men to desire the prayers of good men and
good ministers. Hezekiah sent messengers, and honourable ones, those of
the first rank, to Isaiah, to desire his prayers, remembering how much
his prophecies of late had plainly looked towards the events of the
present day, in dependence upon which, it is probable, he doubted not
but that the issue would be comfortable, yet he would have it to be so
in answer to prayer: This is a day of trouble, therefore let it
be a day of prayer.
3. When we are most at a plunge we should be most earnest in prayer:
Now that the children are brought to the birth, but there is
not strength to bring forth, now let prayer come, and help at a
dead lift. When pains are most strong let prayers be most lively; and,
when we meet with the greatest difficulties, then is a time to stir up
not ourselves only, but others also, to take hold on God. Prayer is the
midwife of mercy, that helps to bring it forth.
4. It is an encouragement to pray though we have but some hopes of
It may be the Lord thy God will hear; who knows but he will return
and repent? The it may be of the prospect of the haven of
blessings should quicken us with double diligence to ply the oar of
5. When there is a remnant left, and but a remnant, it concerns us to
lift up a prayer for that remnant,
The prayer that reaches heaven must be lifted up by a strong faith,
earnest desires, and a direct intention to the glory of God, all which
should be quickened when we come to the last stake.
6. Those that have made God their enemy we have no reason to be afraid
of, for they are marked for ruin; and, though they may hiss, they
cannot hurt. Rabshakeh has blasphemed God, and therefore let not
Hezekiah be afraid of him,
He has made God a party to the cause by his invectives, and therefore
judgment will certainly be given against him. God will certainly plead
his own cause.
7. Sinners' fears are but prefaces to their falls. He shall hear
the rumour of the slaughter of his army, which shall oblige him to
retire to his own land, and there he shall be slain,
The terrors that pursue him shall bring him at last to the king of
The curses that come upon sinners shall overtake them.
|Prayer of Hezekiah.
||B. C. 710.|
8 So Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria warring
against Libnah: for he had heard that he was departed from
9 And he heard say concerning Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, He is
come forth to make war with thee. And when he heard it, he sent
messengers to Hezekiah, saying,
10 Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying, Let
not thy God, in whom thou trustest, deceive thee, saying,
Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of
11 Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done
to all lands by destroying them utterly; and shalt thou be
12 Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers
have destroyed, as Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the
children of Eden which were in Telassar?
13 Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arphad, and
the king of the city of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah?
14 And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the
messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up unto the house of
the LORD, and spread it before the LORD.
15 And Hezekiah prayed unto the LORD, saying,
16 O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the
cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the
kingdoms of the earth: thou hast made heaven and earth.
17 Incline thine ear, O LORD, and hear; open thine eyes, O
LORD, and see: and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which hath
sent to reproach the living God.
18 Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all
the nations, and their countries,
19 And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no
gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone: therefore they
have destroyed them.
20 Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that
all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD,
even thou only.
We may observe here,
1. That, if God give us inward satisfaction in his promise, this may
confirm us in our silently bearing reproaches. God answered Hezekiah,
but it does not appear that he, after deliberation, sent any answer to
Rabshakeh; but, God having taken the work into his own hands, he
quietly left the matter with him. So Rabshakeh returned to the
king his master for fresh instructions.
2. Those that delight in war shall have enough of it. Sennacherib,
without provocation given to him or warning given by him, went forth to
war against Judah; and now with as little ceremony the king of Ethiopia
goes forth to war against him,
Those that are quarrelsome may expect to be quarrelled with; and God
sometimes checks the rage of his enemies by giving it a powerful
3. It is bad to talk proudly and profanely, but it is worse to write
so, for this argues more deliberation and design, and what is written
spreads further, lasts longer, and does the more mischief. Atheism and
irreligion, written, will certainly be reckoned for another day.
4. Great successes often harden sinners' hearts in their sinful ways
and make them the more daring. Because the kings of Assyria have
destroyed all lands (though, in fact, they were but a few that fell
within their reach), therefore they doubt not but to destroy God's
land; because the gods of the nations were unable to help they conclude
the God of Israel is so; because the idolatrous kings of Hamath and
Arphad became an easy prey to them therefore they doubt not but to
destroy God's land; because the idolatrous kings of Hamath and Arphad
became an easy prey to them therefore the religious reforming king of
Judah must needs be so too. Thus is this proud man ripened for ruin by
the sunshine of prosperity.
5. Liberty of access to the throne of grace, and liberty of speech
there, are the unspeakable privilege of the Lord's people at all times,
especially in times of distress and danger. Hezekiah took Sennacherib's
letter, and spread it before the Lord, not designing to make any
complaints against him but those grounded upon his own handwriting. Let
the thing speak itself; here it is in black and white: Open thy
eyes, O Lord! and see. God allows his praying people to be humbly
free with him, to utter all their words, as Jephthah did, before him,
to spread the letter, whether of a friend or an enemy, before him, and
leave the contents, the concern of it, with him.
6. The great and fundamental principles of our religion, applied by
faith and improved in prayer, will be of sovereign use to us in our
particular exigencies and distresses, whatever they are; to them
therefore we must have recourse, and abide by them; so Hezekiah did
here. He encouraged himself with this, that the God of Israel is the
Lord of hosts, of all hosts, of the hosts of Israel, to animate
him, of the hosts of their enemies, to dispirit and restrain
them,--that he is God alone, and there is none that can stand in
competition with him,--that he is the God of all the kingdoms of the
earth, and disposes of them all as he pleases; for he made heaven
and earth, and therefore both can do any thing and does every thing.
7. When we are afraid of men that are great destroyers we may with
humble boldness appeal to God as the great Saviour. They have indeed
destroyed the nations, who had thrown themselves out of the protection
of the true God by worshipping false gods, but the Lord, the God alone,
is our God, our King, our lawgiver, and he will save us, who is the
Saviour of those that believe.
8. We have enough to take hold of, in our wrestling with God by prayer,
if we can but plead that his glory is interested in our case, that his
name will be profaned if we are run down and glorified if we are
relieved. Thence therefore will our most prevailing pleas be drawn:
"Do it for thy glory's sake."
|Sennacherib Threatened; Sennacherib Destroyed.
||B. C. 710.|
21 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent unto Hezekiah, saying, Thus
saith the LORD God of Israel, Whereas thou hast prayed to me
against Sennacherib king of Assyria:
22 This is the word which the LORD hath spoken concerning
him; The virgin, the daughter of Zion, hath despised thee, and
laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her
head at thee.
23 Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom
hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high?
even against the Holy One of Israel.
24 By thy servants hast thou reproached the Lord, and hast
said, By the multitude of my chariots am I come up to the height
of the mountains, to the sides of Lebanon; and I will cut down
the tall cedars thereof, and the choice fir trees thereof: and
I will enter into the height of his border, and the forest of
25 I have digged, and drunk water; and with the sole of my feet
have I dried up all the rivers of the besieged places.
26 Hast thou not heard long ago, how I have done it; and of
ancient times, that I have formed it? now have I brought it to
pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste defenced cities into
27 Therefore their inhabitants were of small power, they were
dismayed and confounded: they were as the grass of the field,
and as the green herb, as the grass on the housetops, and as
corn blasted before it be grown up.
28 But I know thy abode, and thy going out, and thy coming in,
and thy rage against me.
29 Because thy rage against me, and thy tumult, is come up into
mine ears, therefore will I put my hook in thy nose, and my
bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which
30 And this shall be a sign unto thee, Ye shall eat this
year such as groweth of itself; and the second year that which
springeth of the same: and in the third year sow ye, and reap,
and plant vineyards, and eat the fruit thereof.
31 And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall
again take root downward, and bear fruit upward:
32 For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that
escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of the LORD of hosts shall do
33 Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the king of
Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow
there, nor come before it with shields, nor cast a bank against
34 By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and
shall not come into this city, saith the LORD.
35 For I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake,
and for my servant David's sake.
36 Then the angel of the LORD went forth, and smote in the camp
of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and
when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all
37 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and
returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.
38 And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of
Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him
with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Armenia: and
Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead.
We may here observe,
1. That those who receive messages of terror from men with patience,
and send messages of faith to God by prayer, may expect messages of
grace and peace from God for their comfort, even when they are most
cast down. Isaiah sent a long answer to Hezekiah's prayer in God's
name, sent it in writing (for it was too long to be sent by word of
mouth), and sent it by way of return to his prayer, relation being
thereunto had: "Whereas thou hast prayed to me, know, for thy
comfort, that thy prayer is heard." Isaiah might have referred him to
the prophecies he had delivered (particularly that
and bid him pick out an answer from thence; but, that he might have
abundant consolation, a message is sent him on purpose. The
correspondence between earth and heaven is never let fall on God's
2. Those who magnify themselves, especially who magnify themselves
against God and his people, do really vilify themselves, and made
themselves contemptible, in the eyes of all wise men: "The virgin,
the daughter of Zion, has despised Sennacherib, and all his
impotent malice and menaces; she knows that, while she preserves her
integrity, she is sure of the divine protection, and that though the
enemy may bark he cannot bite. All his threats are a jest; it is all
but brutum fulmen--a mere flash,"
3. Those who abuse the people of God affront God himself; and he takes
what is said and done against them as said and done against himself:
"Whom hast thou reproached? Even the Holy One of Israel,
whom thou hast therefore reproached because he is a Holy One."
And it aggravated the indignity Sennacherib did to God that he not only
reproached him himself, but set his servants on to do the same: By
thy servants, the abjects, thou hast reproached me.
4. Those who boast of themselves and their own achievements reflect
upon God and his providence: "Thou hast said, I have digged, and
drunk water; I have done mighty feats, and will do more; and wilt
not own that I have done it,"
The most active men are no more than God makes them, and God makes them
no more than of old he designed to make them: "What I have formed of
ancient times, in an eternal counsel, now have I brought to
pass" (for God does all according to the counsel of his will),
"that thou shouldst be to lay waste defenced cities; it is
therefore intolerable arrogance to make it thy own doing."
5. All the malice, and all the motions and projects, of the church's
enemies, are under the cognizance and check of the church's God.
Sennacherib was active and quick, here, and there, and every where, but
God knew his going out and coming in, and had always an eye upon him,
And that was not all; he had a hand upon him too, a strict hand, a
strong hand, a hook in his nose and a bridle in his lips, with
which, though he was very headstrong and unruly, he could and would
turn him back by the way which he came,
Hitherto he shall come and no further. God had signed
Sennacherib's commission against Judah
here he supersedes it. He has frightened them, but he must not hurt
them, and therefore is discharged from going any further; nay, his
commitment is here signed, by which he is clapped up, to answer for
what he had done beyond his commission.
6. God is his people's bountiful benefactor, as well as their powerful
protector, both a sun and a shield to those that trust in him.
Jerusalem shall be defended
the besiegers shall not come into it, no, nor come before it with any
regular attack, but they shall be routed before they begin the siege,
But this is not all; God will return in mercy to his people, and will
do them good. Their land shall be more than ordinarily fruitful, so
that their losses shall be abundantly repaired; they shall not feel any
of the ill effects either of the enemies' wasting the country or of
their own being taken off from husbandry. But the earth, as at first,
shall bring forth of itself, and they shall live and live plentifully
upon its spontaneous productions. The blessing of the Lord can, when he
pleases, make rich without the hand of the diligent. And let them not
think that the desolations of their country would excuse them from
observing the sabbatical year, which happened (as it should seem) the
year after, and when they were not to plough or sow; no, though they
had not now their usual stock beforehand for that year, yet they must
religiously observe it, and depend upon God to provide for them. God
must be trusted in the way of duty.
7. There is no standing before the judgments of God when they come
(1.) The greatest numbers cannot stand before them: one angel shall, in
one night, lay a vast army of men dead upon the spot, when God
commissions him so to do,
Here are 185,000 brave soldiers in an instant turned into so many dead
corpses. Many think the
was penned upon occasion of this defeat, where from the spoiling of
the stout-hearted, and sending them to sleep their long sleep
it is inferred that God is more glorious and excellent than the
mountains of prey
and that he, even he, is to be feared,
Angels are employed, more than we are aware of, as ministers of God's
justice, to punish the pride and break the power of wicked men.
(2.) The greatest men cannot stand before them: The great king, the
king of Assyria, looks very little when he is forced to return, not
only with shame, because he cannot accomplish what he had projected
with so much assurance, but with terror and fear, lest the angel that
had destroyed his army should destroy him; yet he is made to look less
when his own sons, who should have guarded him, sacrificed him to his
idol, whose protection he sought,
God can quickly stop their breath who breathe out threatenings and
slaughter against his people, and will do it when they have filled
up the measure of their iniquity; and the Lord is known by these
judgments which he executes, known to be a God that resists the
proud. Many prophecies were fulfilled in this providence, which should
encourage us, as far as they look further, and are designed as common
and general assurances of the safety of the church and of all that
trust in God, to depend upon God for the accomplishment of them. He
that has delivered does and will deliver. Lord, forgive our enemies;
but, so let all thy enemies perish, O Lord!