2 Kings 19
(New International Version, ©2011)
Jerusalem’s Deliverance Foretold
1 When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and went into the temple of the LORD. 2 He sent Eliakim the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary and the leading priests, all wearing sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. 3 They told him, “This is what Hezekiah says: This day is a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace, as when children come to the moment of birth and there is no strength to deliver them. 4 It may be that the LORD your God will hear all the words of the field commander, whom his master, the king of Assyria, has sent to ridicule the living God, and that he will rebuke him for the words the LORD your God has heard. Therefore pray for the remnant that still survives.”
To tear one’s clothes and put on sackcloth ( a rough, burlap-like fabric) was one way to express deep mourning. Hezekiah understands that this threatening speech comes from someone who is determined to destroy Jerusalem. Sennacherib has already destroyed city after city in Judah and sent thousands of Israelites into exile; Hezekiah knows it is his fault, for rebelling against superpower Assyria and siding with the Egyptians.
5 When King Hezekiah’s officials came to Isaiah, 6 Isaiah said to them, “Tell your master, ‘This is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid of what you have heard—those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. 7 Listen! When he hears a certain report, I will make him want to return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down with the sword.’”
Isaiah assures the king that God will deal definitively with the “underlings”!
8 When the field commander heard that the king of Assyria had left Lachish, he withdrew and found the king fighting against Libnah.
9 Now Sennacherib received a report that Tirhakah, the king of Cush, was marching out to fight against him. So he again sent messengers to Hezekiah with this word: 10 “Say to Hezekiah king of Judah: Do not let the god you depend on deceive you when he says, ‘Jerusalem will not be given into the hands of the king of Assyria.’ 11 Surely you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the countries, destroying them completely. And will you be delivered? 12 Did the gods of the nations that were destroyed by my predecessors deliver them—the gods of Gozan, Harran, Rezeph and the people of Eden who were in Tel Assar? 13 Where is the king of Hamath or the king of Arpad? Where are the kings of Lair, Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah?”
Such arrogance displayed here reminds me of Pharaoh: “Who is God, that I should let the people of Israel go?” We readers know that Sennacherib will get a very clear lesson, as did the Pharaoh, in just who God is!
14 Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD.
I love this verse! As one Bible commentator has said, it is like a child taking his broken toy to his father and asking him to fix it. What is bothering you? What in your life needs “fixing”? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
“When therefore letters come to you, anonymous or otherwise, full of bitter reproach; when unkind and malignant stories are set on foot with respect to you; when all hope from man has perished, then take your complaint – the letter, the article, the speech, the rumour – and lay it before God. Let your requests be known unto Him.”
–F. B. Meyer
15 And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD: “LORD, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Give ear, LORD, and hear; open your eyes, LORD, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God.
17 “It is true, LORD, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. 18 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. 19 Now, LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, LORD, are God.”
“If My People Pray” by Avalon.
Isaiah Prophesies Sennacherib’s Fall
20 Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent a message to Hezekiah: “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I have heard your prayer concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria. 21 This is the word that the LORD has spoken against him:
“‘Virgin Daughter Zion
despises you and mocks you.
tosses her head as you flee.
22 Who is it you have ridiculed and blasphemed?
Against whom have you raised your voice
and lifted your eyes in pride?
Against the Holy One of Israel!
23 By your messengers
you have ridiculed the Lord.
Galatians 6:7-8 (English Standard Version)
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
And you have said,
“With my many chariots
I have ascended the heights of the mountains,
the utmost heights of Lebanon.
I have cut down its tallest cedars,
the choicest of its junipers.
I have reached its remotest parts,
the finest of its forests.
24 I have dug wells in foreign lands
and drunk the water there.
With the soles of my feet
I have dried up all the streams of Egypt.”
25 “‘Have you not heard?
Long ago I ordained it.
In days of old I planned it;
now I have brought it to pass,
that you have turned fortified cities
into piles of stone.
26 Their people, drained of power,
are dismayed and put to shame.
They are like plants in the field,
like tender green shoots,
like grass sprouting on the roof,
scorched before it grows up.
27 “‘But I know where you are
and when you come and go
and how you rage against me.
28 Because you rage against me
and because your insolence has reached my ears,
I will put my hook in your nose
and my bit in your mouth,
and I will make you return
by the way you came.’
Ouch! The Assyrians would line up their captives, push a hook through their noses or lips, tie them together, and march them out. God says to them, That is exactly what I will do to you!
29 “This will be the sign for you, Hezekiah:
“This year you will eat what grows by itself,
and the second year what springs from that.
God promises that, although the war has prevented planting and harvesting for two years, God will insure that there will be enough food for them.
But in the third year sow and reap,
plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
30 Once more a remnant of the kingdom of Judah
will take root below and bear fruit above.
31 For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant,
and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors.
There is a war raging on
Between the right and wrong,
And we have encountered the darkness.
But as each night moves along,
We face another dawn
To reach for the courage of love.
As the faint hearted run for the shelter of home,
There’s a question that hangs in the air–
When the smoke clears away from the battlefield,
Who will be there?
Will you stand with the band of survivors
Hand in hand ’til the end of the day?
Taking the land with the band of survivors
Tried in the fire?
Will you stand with the band?
These are the ones
He will choose to win the victory
And He will declare it is over.
And so we honor the call,
Remain upon the wall,
And trust in the name of our God.
When the body is weak and the heart is afraid,
Then be strong, for the message is clear–
When the banner is raised on the mountain
We still will be here.
Will you stand with the band of survivors
Hand in hand ’til the end of the day?
Taking the land with the band of survivors,
Tried in the fire?
Will you stand in the path of the strong man
To be counted for all you believe?
Will you stand with the heart of a warrior
By the blood of the Lamb,
In the name of the King?
Will you stand with the band of survivors?
“The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.
32 “Therefore this is what the LORD says concerning the king of Assyria:
“‘He will not enter this city
or shoot an arrow here.
He will not come before it with shield
or build a siege ramp against it.
33 By the way that he came he will return;
he will not enter this city,
declares the LORD.
34 I will defend this city and save it,
for my sake and for the sake of David my servant.’”
35 That night the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! 36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there.
Psalm 34:7 (English Standard Version)
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
“The Destruction of Sennacherib”
The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.
Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.
For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still.
And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride:
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.
And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow and the rust on his mail;
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpets unblown.
And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!
– George Gordon Lord Byron (1788-1824)
37 One day, while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisrok, his sons Adrammelek and Sharezer killed him with the sword, and they escaped to the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son succeeded him as king.
An old Jewish legend – and nothing more than a legend – says how it was that Sennacherib’s sons came to kill him. Sennacherib was troubled at how God seemed to bless the Jews so much, and tried to find out why. Someone told him it was because Abraham had loved God so much that he was willing to sacrifice his son unto the Lord. Sennacherib thought he would be even more favored by God, and decided to kill two of his sons in sacrifice to the Lord, becoming even more blessed than Abraham and his descendants. But his two sons learned of the plan, and killed him before he could kill them, thus fulfilling the word of the Lord.