Scripture reading – Isaiah 37
Having heard the threats of Rabshakeh, the Assyrian general who served Sennacherib, king of Assyria, Hezekiah humbled himself before the LORD. Gripped by despair, he tore his royal robe, and prayed (37:1). He also sent leaders to Isaiah (37:2), and informed the prophet of the blasphemy and threats of the king of Assyria (37:3). Hezekiah asked of the prophet, “lift up thy prayer for the remnant that is left” (37:4).
Isaiah’s Prophecy Against Assyria (37:6-13)
The prophet comforted the king’s counselors, and encouraged them, saying, “Be not afraid of the words that thou hast heard” (37:6). Isaiah prophesied the LORD would send a bad report to Sennacherib, and the Assyrian king would retreat from Judah to his homeland (37:7).
Rabshakeh, the Assyrian general, “found the king of Assyria” (37:7), and learned he had received news the king of Ethiopia was coming to wage war against Assyria (37:9). Perhaps fearing the king of Ethiopia would join forces with Judah, Sennacherib ordered his general to return to Jerusalem. With the king’s letter in hand, Rabshakeh delivered an ultimatum to Hezekiah, threatening to destroy Jerusalem as he had the capitals of other nations (37:10-13). Sennacherib mocked Hezekiah’s faith in the LORD (37:11), and boasted no king or nation had withstood Assyria’s army.
Hezekiah’s Response to Sennacherib’s Letter (37:14-20)
When Hezekiah read Sennacherib’s letter, we read, he “went up unto the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord” (37:14), and prayed (37:15). He worshipped and praised the LORD, and remembered the Ark with two cherubim represented the throne of God in the midst of His people. He acknowledged the God of Israel was God alone, and there was no other. He is the God “of all the kingdoms of the earth,” and Creator of “heaven and earth” (37:16).
Remembering how “the kings of Assyria [had] laid waste all the nations, and their countries” (37:18), and their gods had not saved them, Hezekiah called on the LORD. He asked God to not only save His people, but to make His name great, “that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord, even thou only” (37:20).
Isaiah’s Prophecy of Hope (37:21-25)
Isaiah sent a message to Hezekiah, assuring the king his prayers were heard, and “the virgin, the daughter of Zion” (Jerusalem) would be delivered from the king of Assyria (37:21). The prophet assured Hezekiah that Assyria would be punished for mocking and blaspheming the LORD (37:22). Sennacherib had reproached the LORD (37:23), and boasted he was greater than all kings. He boasted he had conquered the mountains (symbolic of nations), and “cut down the tall cedars…and the choice fir trees” (both symbolic of great leaders, 37:24). The king of Assyria boasted he would dig wells, and drink the waters of other nations (37:25).
The LORD’s Rebuke (37:26-29)
The LORD rebuked Sennacherib for his insolence, and reminded the king he was nothing without Him (37:26). The king of Assyria had not acknowledged he was a mere tool, a vessel God used to punish other nations for their wickedness (37:26). The LORD had empowered Sennacherib to conquer the fortresses of other nations (37:27). Indeed, there was nothing the king of Assyria had done without the LORD’S knowledge (37:28).
Isaiah then prophesied, the king of Assyria would be punished, and led away in the manner a large beast is tamed. The prophet warned, the LORD would “put [His] hook in thy [the king’s] nose, and [His] bridle in thy [the king’s]lips” (37:29).
A Sign of Hope for Judah (37:30-32)
The LORD gave Isaiah a sign he was to give the king of Judah. Assyria had terrorized the land, and the people had been unable to work their fields, but the LORD promised the land would volunteer and bear fruit the first and second years (37:30a). In the third year, the people would sow their fields and harvest their crops (37:30b). Also, though scattered abroad, a remnant of Judah remained and would repopulate the nation (37:31-32).
Prophecy Against Sennacherib (37:33-37)
The LORD promised the siege of Jerusalem would fail (37:33), and the Assyrians would return to their homeland (37:34). The city would be spared, not because of the defenses of that great city, but because the LORD declared, “I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake” (37:35).
Then the LORD sent forth His angel, and 185,000 Assyrian soldiers were slain (37:36). Sennacherib, and the remnant of his army, returned to Assyria. Tragically, the mighty king of Assyria, was assassinated by two sons, leaving their brother, Esar-haddon to reign over Assyria (37:33-38).
Closing thoughts – King Hezekiah, though he first turned to Egypt to come to his aid, did humble himself, repent of his sin, and the LORD heard and answered his prayer. Jerusalem was spared, Sennacherib was humiliated, and Hezekiah and all Judah were reminded that God is sovereign over the nations, and is the Creator, and LORD.
Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith