Isaiah 37 - Outline of Isaiah (Book Notes menu page)
II. Historic Interlude (prose) ch. 36-39
A. Destruction of Judah averted, ch. 36, 37
  1. King Hezekiah and the challenge to Jehovah by Assyrian world power, 36:1-22
  2. King Hezekiah's prayer, Jehovah's answer and judgment of the Assyrians, 37:1-38
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.
Hezekiah's reaction was to turn to the LORD.
  • He entered into the Presence of the LORD.-
    Beyond the outward expression of sorrow, humiliation, and disgust over blasphemy, he put off his kingly robes to wear sackcloth, displaying the depths of his poverty and inability to make right that which was wrong. This was not a public display, but rather a private declaration of total dependency upon the Lord. (cp. Psa 55:22, see the whole psalm)
  • He sought a Word from 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 forth.
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 is left.
...a day of trouble {ie., distress (from the enemy)}, of rebuke {ie., chastisement (from the Lord)},
and of blasphemy {ie., contempt (against God's people and against God's Person)}...-
...the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth...-
Because of their distress, God's people had begun to turn back to Him, but they were so weakened by years spent in apostasy, and by their recent struggles against the enemy, that it seemed all would be lost. (cp. Isa 26:17,18; 66:9; Hos 6:1)
it may be the LORD thy God will hear... lift up thy prayer...-
Although Hezekiah went into the house of the LORD, he is at such a low place of despair, that he cannot find words for prayer, and if he were to speak, he is uncertain as to whether the LORD would hear his prayer. The efforts that he had undertaken to secure the city had seemed wise, but now he saw that they were the works of unbelief, for they had been contrary to God's Word through Isaiah. Thus, the outward sackcloth also reveals a humbled and repentant heart... 'Isaiah, You pray to your God.' (cp. Rom 8:26,27)
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
{HB=na'ar, boys} of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me.
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.
be not afraid...- In undeniably fearful circumstances,
the heart that rests in God's Word has peace (Isa 41:10; 1Pet 5:6,7).
The things that God promised were literally fulfilled, each in its appointed time.
  • ...he shall hear a rumour... (vs. 8-9)
  • ...I will send a blast {HB=ruwach, wind, breath, spirit} upon him (v.36)
  • ...he shall return to his own land (v.37)
  • ...I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land (v.38)
8. So Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah:
for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish.
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 Assyria.
11 Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done
to all lands by destroying them utterly; and shalt thou be delivered?
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?
and he heard say concerning Tirhaka king of Ethiopia...-
Here is the 'rumour' {v.7; ie., report, news} that diverted Rabshakeh's attention from Jerusalem. The king of Assyria, in the process of subduing all of Palestine, had sent Rabshekah with a few divisions to subdue Jerusalem. Meanwhile, the greater portion of the army was dealing with the surrounding cities and towns. Libnah and Lachish are on the border between Philistia and Judah, on the approach to Egypt. Now word comes that the main body of the Assyrian army was under attack by Ethiopian (probably including Egyptian) forces. Rabshekah's troops were needed to reinforce the Assyrian positions.
when he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah...-
The blasphemous message was intended to undermine Hezekiah's faith in the LORD, and to advise him that the Assyrian army would soon return to resume their assault of Jerusalem.
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.
Hezekiah again took his burden to the LORD, but this time he himself is moved to pray.
In his distress, he drew near to the Lord and learned to trust Him.
His prayer is beautiful. But its power is not in beautiful words, but rather in...
  1. the Person of the One addressed (vs.16,17) -
    • The LORD of hosts... - the ever-living One, who commands armies
      far more powerful than any earthly enemy (cp. Isa 1:9; 31:4,5).
    • God of Israel...- the God who made everlasting covenants
      with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David.
    • that dwellest between the cherubims...-
      the Holy God, who manifests His glory above the Mercy Seat, where sinners find acceptance through the blood of the Lamb.
    • thou art the God... thou hast made heaven and earth...-
      the only true God, the Creator of all that is.
    • O LORD... hear... see...- He is the Judge,
      who understands and intervenes in the affairs of men.
         Not only does He see and hear (Psa 94:9), but He reads human communications (v.14) and hearts (Jer 17:9,10).
  2. the validity of the Petition (v.18,19) - The things which Rabshakeh had written were true.
    Jerusalem was not prepared to defend itself against Assyrian military might.
    Assyria had decimated many other nations.
    But the false gods of those nations were powerless to protect their worshippers.
  3. the appeal to the only Savior (v.20).- Note that...
    • Hezekiah's appeal was rightly motivated by a desire for God's glory,
      rather than merely for personal escape from trouble (cp. Jam 4:3-10).
    • Hezekiah's appeal is no longer 'second hand' through Isaiah ("thy God," v.4),
      but to "our God" (cp. the prayer of the Remnant, in Isa 25:9; 26:13).
    • Hezekiah's appeal was answered by the LORD, but through the prophet,
      for although Hezekiah had found words to pray, his heart was not attuned to hear the voice of the LORD.
         Isaiah, who was not present when Hezekiah prayed, heard from the LORD and forwarded His message to the praying king and also to the blasphemous enemy (v.21-35).
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.
{ie., even the weakest and tenderest citizen of Jerusalem is victorious over you.}
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 his Carmel.
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?
'I have formed it' means 'I have purposed it.'
Sennacherib's successes and also his downfall were according to God's plan. cp. Isa 10:5-18
now have I brought it to pass,
that thou shouldest be to lay waste defenced cities [into] ruinous heaps.
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 thou camest.
...I will put my hook in thy nose...- Sennacherib, 'the great king' (Isa 36:13),
like other rulers before and after him, thought he was in control of world affairs. The reality is that the LORD holds the reins of power. cp. Eze 29:3,4; 38:3,4; Amos 4:1,2; Psa 2:1-6; Joh 19:10,11
The message above, though addressed to the king of Assyria,
was meant for Hezekiah's ears. His prayer was answered. God would deliver Jerusalem from the Assyrians. The next few verses offer confirmation for this message, to strengthen the faith of His people.
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 this.
This shall be a sign unto thee...-
Within three years, the Assyrian army would no longer intimidate Judah.
     Because of the presence of the Assyrian army, the people of Jerusalem had not been able to tend their fields. However, when it seemed safe, they had made brief excursions into the fields to gather whatever they could find growing wild. Soon, as the Assyrians retreated, they would be able to return to their normal ways, and enjoy the benefit of what they would plant and harvest. This blessing would not apply to everyone from the tribe of Judah, for the Assyrians had already crushed some of them. However, those who remained {a remnant} would continue in the land.
     Only the LORD of hosts could accomplish the deliverance of His people, who faced overwhelming opposition. Only He could secure the kingdom for the son of David (ie., for Hezekiah in his day, and for the Messiah in that future Day, Isa 9:7).
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 it.
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.
"The zeal of the LORD of hosts" (v.32) was not inspired by the beauty of Hezekiah's prayer.
While the LORD responded to the prayer of faith, He acted according to His purposes...
  • to break "the Assyrian" (Isa 14:24-26).
    The judgment of Sennacherib foreshadows the destruction of the Antichrist in the latter days.
  • to preserve the glory of His Name (cp. Eze 20:9; 36:22,23),
  • and to fulfill His promises to David, which will find ultimate fulfillment in the Messiah (cp. Jer 23:5,6; 33:15,16; Eze 37:24,25).
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
{ie., the Israelites} arose early in the morning,
behold, they
{ie., the Assyrian soldiers} [were] all dead corpses.
37 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed,
and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.
Less than 100 years earlier, God had sent Jonah to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, to proclaim imminent judgment upon their sin. God had withheld judgment then, because they had repented. But now, they were again ripe for judgment. The prophet Nahum, who wrote near the end of Hezekiah's reign, foretold the destruction of Assyria by Babylon, less than 100 years later.
38 And it came to pass, as he {Sennacherib}
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.
Thus, God's promises to Hezekiah (eg., v.7; v.33-35) were fulfilled .

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