The LORD is Sovereign of the Nations (2 Kings 19)

Scripture reading – 2 Kings 19

If today’s Scripture reading seems familiar, it is because it is a parallel account of historical events Isaiah recorded in chapter 37 of the book that bears his name. Rather than repeat the obvious, I encourage you to read 2 Kings 19, and I hope my brief outline of events will be a blessing.

Hezekiah’s Petition to the LORD (19:1-7)

With the Assyrian army encamped outside Jerusalem, king Hezekiah was shaken by the threats of Rabshakeh, the Assyrian general (18:28-35).  The king “rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord” (19:1). Hezekiah also sent messengers to appeal to Isaiah, and implore God’s prophet to pray for Judah and Jerusalem (19:2-5).

Isaiah then comforted the king, and encouraged him, saying, “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” (19:6). For all of king Sennacherib’s boastings, he was nothing compared to the LORD who promised to “send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour” (19:7), and send the king and his army fleeing to their homeland where he would “fall by the sword in his own land” (19:7).

Hezekiah’s Desperate Prayer (19:8-19)

Soon after Isaiah prophesied Sennacherib’s defeat, that king received news of a threat from Tirhakah king of Ethiopia. Realizing the coming danger against him, Sennacherib made one final threat against Jerusalem (19:9-13).

The Assyrian king mocked Hezekiah’s faith and declared, “Let not thy God in whom thou trustest deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria” (19:10). Naming all the kings who had fallen to Assyria (19:11-12), Sennacherib asserted the God of Israel and Judah would not deliver Jerusalem or Hezekiah from his assault.

When Hezekiah received Sennacherib’s letter, he made his way to the Temple, spread out the letter before the LORD, and prayed (19:14-19).

Consider with me some instructive elements we find in Hezekiah’s prayer that should serve as a model for believers. The king declared his faith in the God of heaven whose presence had been revealed in the Tabernacle and Temple, praying, “O Lord God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone” (19:15a). He acknowledged the sovereignty of the LORD over the “kingdoms of the earth” (19:15b), and declared His God was the Creator, for He “made heaven and earth” (19:15c).

After worshipping the LORD in prayer, Hezekiah appealed to Him to hear Sennacherib’s insults, and the reproaches he had cast upon “the living God” (19:16). He recounted the nations that had fallen to Assyria, and the gods of those nations that “were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them” (19:18). Hezekiah appealed to the LORD to save His people, asking “that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord God, even thou only” (19:19).

Isaiah’s Assurance: Hezekiah’s Prayer Would Be Answered. (19:20-31)

Referring to Jerusalem as “the virgin daughter of Zion” (19:21), Isaiah declared Hezekiah’s prayer had been heard, and the LORD had heard the scorn and mocking of Sennacherib king of Assyria (19:20). Proud and foolish, the king of Assyria had reproached and blasphemed “the Holy One of Israel” (19:22-24).

Sennacherib refused to acknowledge the sovereignty of the LORD, and did not understand God had strengthened him, and given him power over the nations (19:25-26). The king of Assyria, however, refused to accept that the God of heaven knew all about him, and his rage against the LORD (19:27). The LORD, therefore, had determined Sennacherib would be led away from Judah to his homeland, like a beast with a ring in its nose, and a bridle in its mouth (19:28).

What assurance would Hezekiah have that the LORD had performed all He had promised His people? The people would harvest volunteer crops for two years that they had not planted. The third year, there would be peace and the people would plant seed and reap a harvest (19:29). Furthermore, the remnant that escaped Assyria, would be blessed with a growing population (19:30-31).

Sennacherib and his Assyrian soldiers would never enter Jerusalem, although they were an overwhelming force (19:32-33). The LORD declared, “I will defend this city [Jerusalem], to save it, For mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake” (19:34). That very night, the LORD sent forth his angel and 185,000 Assyrians were slain (19:35). All that the LORD had promised came to pass, for Sennacherib returned to his homeland defeated, and years later “his sons smote him with the sword,” and a third son “reigned in his [father’s] stead” (19:37).

Closing thoughts – Our Scripture reading concluded today with a reminder for the ages: God is sovereign over men and nations. The LORD determines the boundaries of nations, and their success and destruction. Foolish man may not acknowledge Him, and some will scoff, but be forewarned: God determines the rise and fall of leaders and nations.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith