Scripture reading – Isaiah 36; Isaiah 37

Click on this link to translate this Bible study into Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, Chinese, Spanish, German, or Portuguese.

Isaiah 36 – A Crisis in Judah

Under the guidance of the LORD, Isaiah assumed the role of a scribe and historian. Recorded in this chapter were the current events of his day. Those who follow Bible studies will find the events recorded in Isaiah 36-39 familiar. Our text is a parallel history of 2 Kings 17-20 and 2 Chronicles 32. (2 Kings was recorded before the Babylonian captivity, and 2 Chronicles is believed to have been penned by Ezra following the return of God’s people to their land.)

The Siege of Jerusalem (Isaiah 36:1-6)

Hezekiah ruled Judah for 29 years, and the events recorded in Isaiah 36 occurred during his 14th year as king. In that year, when Hezekiah was about 39 years old, the armies of the Assyrian king Sennacherib invaded Judah and began a siege of Jerusalem (Isaiah 36:1).

Rab-shak-eh, a general of Assyria, led a great army to the walls of Jerusalem, and there he reproached Hezekiah and the soldiers of Judah (Isaiah 36:2-3). He mocked Hezekiah for his faith in the LORD and derided the soldiers on the wall for placing their confidence in the king (Isaiah 36:4-5). Unfortunately, rather than trust the LORD, Hezekiah made a treaty with Egypt, but Pharaoh failed to come to Judah’s aid (Isaiah 36:6).

The Scorn of Rab-shak-eh (Isaiah 36:7-21)

The Assyrian general mocked the LORD and scorned the people for trusting Him (Isaiah 36:7). He urged Judah to pay tribute to the king of Assyria. He promised to give the nation 2,000 horses for war. Still, he suggested not so many men in Judah could ride horses into battle (Isaiah 36:8). Rab-shak-eh even declared that the LORD led him to come against Judah with his army “and destroy it” (Isaiah 36:10).

Fearing Rab-shak-eh’s words would discourage the soldiers on the walls of Jerusalem, Judah’s leaders requested the Assyrian general deliver his message in the Syrian language and not in Hebrew (Isaiah 36:11). Rabshakeh, however, refused and continued speaking in Hebrew that he might discourage the people (Isaiah 36:12).

With defiance and contempt, Rabshakeh foretold that his siege would eventually bring the people to famine and thirst (Isaiah 36:12). He spoke against Hezekiah and urged the people to neither trust their king nor the LORD (Isaiah 36:13-16a). Rab-shak-eh asserted the fall of Judah and Jerusalem was inevitable, for the gods of other nations had failed to withstand the Assyrian army (Isaiah 36:17-20). The soldiers on the wall of Jerusalem remained silent, and none answered Rab-shak-eh’s insults (Isaiah 36:21).

Isaiah’s Prophecy Against Assyria (Isaiah 37:6-13)

Isaiah 37

The LORD is Creator and Sovereign of All Nations (Isaiah 37:1-5)

When King Hezekiah heard the report of the Assyrian’s insults, he tore his robes (an outward sign of grief), “went into the house of the LORD,” and humbled himself before the LORD. Gripped by despair, the king sent leaders to Isaiah (Isaiah 37:2), who communicated Rab-shak-eh’s blasphemies and threats to the prophet (Isaiah 37:3-5). Hezekiah asked Isaiah, “Lift up thy prayer for the remnant that is left” (Isaiah 37:4).

Isaiah’s Prophecy Against Assyria (Isaiah 37:6-13)

Isaiah comforted and encouraged the king’s counselors and said, “Be not afraid of the words that thou hast heard” (Isaiah 37:6). Isaiah prophesied the LORD would send a “rumor” (a bad report) to Sennacherib, and the Assyrian king would retreat from Judah to his homeland (Isaiah 37:7).

Rab-shak-eh returned to Assyria and “found the king of Assyria” (Isaiah 37:7) had received news the king of Ethiopia was coming to wage war (Isaiah 37:8-9). 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, Rab-shak-eh delivered an ultimatum to Hezekiah, threatening to destroy Jerusalem as he had the capitals of other nations (Isaiah 37:10-13). Sennacherib mocked Hezekiah’s faith in the LORD (Isaiah 37:11) and boasted no king or nation had withstood Assyria’s army.


Hezekiah’s Response to Sennacherib’s Letter (Isaiah 37:14-20)


When Hezekiah read Sennacherib’s letter, he “went up unto the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord” (Isaiah 37:14) and prayed (Isaiah 37:15). He worshipped and praised the LORD and remembered the Ark with two cherubim represented the throne of God amid His people. He acknowledged the God of Israel was God alone, and there was no other. The king declared that Israel’s God was sovereign “of all the kingdoms of the earth” and the Creator of “heaven and earth” (Isaiah 37:16).

Remembering how “the kings of Assyria [had] laid waste all the nations, and their countries” (Isaiah 37:18), and their gods had not saved them, Hezekiah called on the LORD. He asked God not only to 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” (Isaiah 37:20).


Isaiah’s Prophecy of Hope (Isaiah 37:21-25)


Isaiah then sent a message to Hezekiah and assured the king that his prayers were heard and “the virgin, the daughter of Zion” (Jerusalem) would be delivered from the king of Assyria (Isaiah 37:21). The prophet assured Hezekiah that Assyria would be punished for mocking and blaspheming the LORD (Isaiah 37:22). Sennacherib reproached the LORD (Isaiah 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, Isaiah 37:24). The king of Assyria boasted he had dug wells and drank the waters of other nations (Isaiah 37:25).


The LORD’s Rebuke (Isaiah 37:26-29)


The LORD answered and rebuked Sennacherib for his insolence and reminded the king of Assyria he was nothing without Him (Isaiah 37:26). The king of Assyria had failed to acknowledge he was a mere tool, a vessel God used to punish other nations for their wickedness (Isaiah 37:26). It was the LORD who empowered Sennacherib to conquer the fortresses of other nations (Isaiah 37:27). Indeed, there was nothing the king of Assyria had done without God’s knowledge (Isaiah 37:28).

Isaiah then foretold that the king of Assyria would be punished and led away like a large, tamed beast. The prophet warned the LORD would “put [His] hook in thy [the king’s] nose, and [His] bridle in thy [the king’s]lips” (Isaiah 37:29).

Prophecy Against Sennacherib (Isaiah 37:33-37)

A Sign of Hope for Judah (Isaiah 37:30-32)


The LORD gave Isaiah a sign he would deliver to the king of Judah. Assyria had terrorized Judah and made it impossible for the people to work in their fields. Still, the LORD promised the land would volunteer and bear fruit in the first and second years (Isaiah 37:30a). In the third year, the people would sow their fields and harvest their crops (Isaiah 37:30b). Assyria had conquered and carried away the northern ten tribes; however, though Judah would be scattered abroad (by Babylon), a remnant of the Jews would return and repopulate the land (Isaiah 37:31-32).


Prophecy Against Sennacherib (Isaiah 37:33-37)


The LORD promised the siege of Jerusalem would fail (Isaiah 37:33). The Assyrians returned to their homeland (Isaiah 37:34). Jerusalem was spared, not because of the city’s walls or defenses, but because the LORD declared, “I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake” (Isaiah 37:35).

Thus, the LORD sent forth His angel, and 185,000 Assyrian soldiers were slain (Isaiah 37:36). Sennacherib and the remnant of his army returned to Assyria (Isaiah 37:37). Tragically, the mighty king of Assyria was assassinated by two sons, leaving their brother, E-sar-haddon, to reign over Assyria (Isaiah 37:33-38).


Closing thoughts


Hezekiah was one of the great kings in Judah’s history. Yet, he failed to trust the LORD and turned to Egypt instead, risking the throne, city, and kingdom. How different this story might have unfolded had he first turned to the LORD!

King Hezekiah finally humbled himself and repented of his sin. The LORD heard and answered the king’s prayer and spared Jerusalem. Sennacherib was humiliated, and Hezekiah and Judah were reminded that God is sovereign over the nations and is the Creator and LORD.


Where and to whom do you turn in times of trouble?

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

* You can subscribe to the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals by entering your name and email address at the bottom of today’s devotion.

The Internal Revenue Service recognizes Heart of A Shepherd Inc as a 501c3 public charitable organization. Your donation is welcome and supports the worldwide ministry outreach of