2 KINGS CHAPTER 19.
Jerusalem Delivered from the Assyrians.
THE MOURNING OF HEZEKIAH AND THE ARROGANCE OF THE ASSYRIAN KING. — V. 1. And it came to pass, when King Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, filled with horror over the blasphemy uttered by the Assyrian messengers, and covered himself with sackcloth, the garment of penitence, for he saw in the entire Assyrian campaign a punishment of God, and went into the house of the Lord. V. 2. And he sent Eliakim, which was over the household, and Shebna, the scribe, two of his chief officers, and the elders of the priests, the most notable among them, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah, the prophet, the son of Amoz, who, although advanced in years, was still proclaiming the Word of the Lord. V. 3. And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble and of rebuke and blasphemy, of rejection of the people on the part of God; for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth, said of the crisis in the birth of a child when the strength of the mother fails in the midst of the labor pains and the life of both the mother and the baby are in the greatest danger. The situation in Judah was likewise one of extreme peril. V. 4. It may be the Lord, thy God, will hear all the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria, his master, hath sent to reproach the living God, to heap contempt upon Him; and will reprove the words which the Lord, thy God, hath heard; wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that are left, induce the Lord to revenge the arrogant blasphemy which had been heaped both upon Him and upon His people. V. 5. So the servants of King Hezekiah, bearing this message, came to Isaiah. V. 6. And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say to your master, Thus saith the Lord, Be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me; the word rendered “servants” really signifies “immature boys, lackeys,” such as are not yet able to use proper judgment. V. 7. Behold, I will send a blast upon him, an extraordinary impetus driving him on, and he shall hear a rumor, this disquieting report causing the uneasiness of his mind, and shall return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land. V. 8. So Rabshakeh returned and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah; for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish, having meanwhile probably taken the city. V. 9. And when he, the Assyrian king, heard say of Tirhakah, king of Ethiopia, ruler over Egypt, successor of Shebek II, Behold, he is come out to fight against thee, to anticipate Sennacherib’s attack of Egypt, he sent messengers again unto Hezekiah, in a last attempt to obtain possession of Jerusalem and of Judah, saying, v. 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 delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria. The entire message was once more intended to intimidate Hezekiah by a false pretense of power. V. 11. Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, by destroying them utterly, this being a boastful exaggeration; and shalt thou be delivered? V. 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 Thelasar? These were provinces north of the Tigris, in Mesopotamia and in the district of Palmyra, in Eastern Syria. V. 13. Where Is the king of Hamath and the king of Arpad and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, of Hena, and Ivah? Cp. chap. 18, 34. Over against all the arrogant blasphemy of the unbelievers the children of God have the promise and comfort of the Word of God, in whose power they are able to withstand all enemies.
HEZEKIAH’S PRAYER AND THE DELIVERANCE OF JERUSALEM. — V. 14. And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers and read it. And Hezekiah went up into the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. This is a fine example to follow in case of every difficulty, namely, to lay the matter before the Lord first. V. 15. And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord and said, O Lord God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubim, that being the place where the glory of the Lord appeared to His servants, Ex. 25, 22, Thou art the God, even Thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth, not merely of Judah, Thou hast made heaven and earth. V. 16. Lord, bow down Thine ear and hear, in the attitude of the most careful attention; open, Lord, Thine eyes and see, the entire form of the prayer showing the importunity of the request; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach, to heap contempt upon, the living God. V. 17. Of a truth, Lord, the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands, v. 18. and have cast their gods into the fire, thereby really wiping out the whole nationality of the conquered peoples, which was connected with their gods; for they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, Ps. 115, 4; therefore they had destroyed them. It was the vanity, the nothingness, of the idols of the heathen which made their overthrow such an easy matter, and which also explains the subjection of the nations worshiping them. But the supposition that Jehovah of Israel is also a god like the idols of the heathen will quickly be shown to be foolish. V. 19. Now, therefore, O Lord, our God, I beseech Thee, save Thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that Thou art the Lord God, even Thou only, and not a vain idol of man s imagination. It is a model prayer of confidence in the Lord and the victory of His cause. V. 20. Then Isaiah, the son of Amoz, sent to Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, That which thou hast prayed to Me against Sennacherib, king of Assyria, I have heard. V. 21. This is the word that the Lord hath spoken concerning him. Now follows a prophecy in poetical form, full of powerful beauty. The first section is a scornful rebuke of Sennacherib’s boast. The virgin, the daughter of Zion, the entire city with all its inhabitants, all the true believers in Jehovah being meant, hath despised thee and laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee, in utter mockery and derision. V. 22. Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed, and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, when he lifted it up to utter proud words, and lifted up thine eyes on high? Even against the Holy One of Israel, whose majesty cannot be outraged with impunity. V. 23. By thy messengers, in both delegations, thou hast reproached the Lord and hast said, With the multitude of my chariots I am come up to the height of the mountains, to the sides of Lebanon, and will cut down the tall cedar-trees thereof, the finest specimens, and the choice fir-trees thereof; and I will enter into the lodgings of his borders and Into the forest of his Carmel, literally, “the forest of his tree-garden,” said of the thick forest of cedars near the highest points of the Lebanon. V. 24. I have digged and drunk strange waters, and with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of besieged, fortified, places. This was setting forth the measureless boast of the Assyrian with the proper scorn, for he not only prided himself on the fact that he had overrun the entire Lebanon district, subdued Phoenicia, Galilee, and Samaria, but he also asserted, with great boldness, that he would, in overcoming the power of Egypt, dig cisterns in the wilderness, and command the very Nile to dry up before him. This arrogant self-assumption is now properly rebuked. V. 25. Hast thou not heard long ago how I, Jehovah, have done it, that it was in reality God who had planned and executed these decrees upon the nations, the Assyrian king being but a small instrument in His hand, and of ancient times that I have formed it? If the arrogant boaster had never heard it, then it was time now that he knew the Lord to be the one who had fashioned and determined it. Now have I brought it to pass that thou shouldest be to lay waste fenced cities into ruinous heaps. Without this will and permission of God the Assyrian could have accomplished nothing; he was, without knowing it, carrying out the plan of the Lord. V. 26. Therefore, because the Lord had so decreed it, their inhabitants were of small power, unable to offer a successful resistance; they were dismayed and confounded; they were as the grass of the field and as the green herb, tender and easily scorched, as the grass on the housetops, which withers quickly on account of lack of soil, and as corn blasted before It be grown up, having the germ of decay in it before it has fairly begun to grow. V. 27. But I know thy abode, his quiet resting, and thy going out and thy coming in, all the activity of the ordinary person, and thy rage against Me. V. 28. Because thy rage against Me and thy tumult is come up into Mine ears, the arrogant security of which he boasted, therefore I will put My hook in thy nose, as is done in taming wild animals, and My bridle in thy lips, as in managing spirited horses, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest, without having reached his object. After this rebuke of the enemy, the Lord, through His prophet, encouraged Hezekiah and Judah. V. 29. And this shall be a sign unto thee, namely, Hezekiah, Ye shall eat this year such things as grow of themselves, the volunteer grain growing from kernels lost during harvest, and in the second year that which springeth of the same, the fruit-bearing stalks of grain growing up after harvest; and in the third year sow ye, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruits thereof, the country by that time having been restored to perfect peace, so that the farmer could do his work in security. V. 30. And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah, those of Jerusalem and elsewhere who had escaped the destructive hand of the Assyrians, shall yet again take root downward and bear fruit upward, be firmly established in the land. V. 31. For out of 3erusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of Mount Zion, this being the capital and center of the Old Testament Church. The zeal of the Lord of hosts shall do this. There is a Messianic thought underlying the prophet’s words, of the deliverance of the daughter of Zion, of those chosen by the Lord, to be kept by His power throughout eternity. The Lord now pronounces His decree in the crisis which was upon Judah-Jerusalem. V. 32. 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 shield, not make an attack upon it in closed formation, with the shields held out for protection, nor cast a bank, dig trenches and erect bulwarks, against it. The four statements form a climax showing the utter futility of Sennacherib’s hopes. V. 33. By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the Lord. V. 34. For I will defend this city, to save it, for Mine own sake, to uphold His honor against the blasphemy of the Assyrian, and for My servant David’s sake, on account of the promise made to him, 1 Kings 11, 13. V. 35. And it came to pass that night, the very same night after Isaiah had pronounced these words, that the angel of the Lord went out, in this case an angel of vengeance, a destroyer, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand, this being an extraordinary destruction and not to be explained by merely natural causes. And when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses, it was a ghastly sight which the comparatively small number of survivors beheld. V. 36. So Sennacherib, king of Assyria, departed, and went, and returned, the heaping of similar terms indicating the haste of his departure, and dwelt at Nineveh, his capital city. V. 37. And it came to pass, as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch, his god, the chief Assyrian divinity, shown in human form with double wings and an eagle’s head, that Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, smote him with the sword, as the Lord had foretold, v. 7; and they escaped into the land of Armenia. And Esarhaddon, his son, reigned in his stead. Thus all the enemies of the Lord will find all their plans frustrated and themselves the victims of a terrible destruction.