Scripture Reading – Isaiah 37-39; Psalm 76
After Hezekiah humbled himself before the LORD, tore down the “high (unholy) places” and restored worship and sacrifices in the Temple; “it came to pass” (37:1) that God allowed an enemy to taunt, mock, and scorn the people of Jerusalem (Isaiah 36).
Isaiah 37 – God Hears and Answers Prayer
Receiving the threats of war from Rabshakeh, the emissary of Sennacherib, king of Assyria, Hezekiah humbled himself, “rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house [Temple] of the LORD” (37:1).
Desperate for an assuring word from the LORD, Hezekiah sent messengers to Isaiah telling the prophet, “This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy” (37:3).
Isaiah encouraged the king saying, “Thus saith the LORD, Be not afraid of the words that thou hast heard, wherewith the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me” (37:6). The LORD promised to “send a blast”, literally a spirit that would trouble the king of Assyria; a rumor that drove him to return to his country where he would be assassinated (37:7).
Sennacherib, king of Assyria, renewed his threat against Jerusalem and mocked Hezekiah’s faith in God, reminding the king of all the nations that had already fallen to his armies (37:8-13). After receiving Sennacherib’s threat, the king took the letter to the Temple, “spread it before the LORD,” and prayed: “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” (37:14-15, 37:20).
Isaiah sent word to Hezekiah that the LORD had heard his petition and “the king of Assyria, He shall not come into” Jerusalem (37:33). The LORD promised, “I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake” (37:35).
Isaiah 37 concludes with the LORD sending an avenging angel that slayed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers (37:36). Sennacherib then retreated to Nineveh where he was slain by his own sons (37:37-38).
Isaiah 38 – A Premature Obituary: “Thou Shalt Die.”
God wonderfully answered King Hezekiah’s prayer and gave Jerusalem and the king a great triumph over Assyria. The king, no doubt rejoicing, received Isaiah who then delivered a sobering prophecy: “Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live” (38:1).
While that prophecy was not unusual, for it stated a reality all sinners must inevitably face, it overwhelmed Hezekiah who “turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the LORD” (38:2).
The king “wept sore,” praying, “O LORD, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight” (38:3).
The LORD received Hezekiah’s prayer and promised to add fifteen years to the king’s life (38:4-6). As a miraculous sign that his life would be extended, God turned the shadow on the sundial back ten degrees (38:7-8).
Isaiah 38 concludes with a psalm of thanksgiving composed by King Hezekiah, rejoicing in God hearing his prayer and extending his years (38:9-22).
Isaiah 39 – Flattery, Pride and a Foolish King
News of Hezekiah’s sickness had traveled through diplomatic channels and “Merodachbaladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon sent letters and a present to Hezekiah: for he had heard that he had been sick, and was recovered” (39:1).
No doubt, flattered by his guests, Hezekiah permitted the ambassadors from Babylon to see the wealth of his treasury (39:1-2). When Isaiah learned of the king’s guests, he questioned and then admonished Hezekiah (39:3-4).
Isaiah admonished the king that his arrogant decision to display the nation’s wealth would end with the king of Babylon taking away, not only Judah’s wealth, but also his sons and heirs to the throne (39:7). With humility, the king humbled himself and accepted Isaiah’s rebuke saying, “Good is the word of the LORD” (39:8).
A Spiritual Lesson Concerning Pride
I have witnessed men and women, who after experiencing a measure of success in their endeavors, permitted their hearts to swell with pride. Setting aside humility and dependence on God that was the incentive and catalyst of God’s blessings, they failed to remember, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).
Life Challenge: Deflect the best things men say about you, and don’t believe the worst; for somewhere in the middle is the truth about your character and person.
Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith