New European Commentary

 

About | PDFs | Mobile formats | Word formats | Other languages | Contact Us | What is the Gospel? | Support the work | Carelinks Ministries | | The Real Christ | The Real Devil | "Bible Companion" Daily Bible reading plan


Deeper Commentary

2Ki 19:1 It happened, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he tore his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of Yahweh-
Instead of devising human schemes of salvation, he does as we should, turning to God's house, His presence, and His people. He could have prayed anywhere, but he felt that God's presence was there in particular. Judah's leadership had torn their clothes but not dressed in sackcloth (Is. 36:22). Sackcloth was a sign of repentance, as witnessed by the response of Nineveh. Nineveh had repented the generation before; and it seems Hezekiah is now seeking to imitate their repentance. Nineveh was the capital of Assyria; if their repentance had been permanent, they would not have invaded Judah. Hezekiah was seeking to imitate Nineveh but make it permanent, although after the crisis passed, it seems his repentance likewise didn't hold. God knew all this from the start, and yet still so respected the repentance of Hezekiah and Nineveh in their extremity that He still changed His threatened judgment of them. Hezekiah was aware that he had sinned by trying to buy off the Assyrians with the gold of the temple, representing faith sacrificed to human expedient; and Judah had definitely trusted in Egypt for help rather than God. His words of :3 are a recognition that the invasion was a Divine rebuke and rejection of him. But a man may be rejected by God in this life, having a foretaste of condemnation ahead of time; but still change the verdict. Hence Peter went out from the Lord's presence and wept and gnashed his teeth, the very language of the rejected; but changed the verdict. This is the intensity of our situation, as Paul in Romans emphasizes; we stand condemned, and yet in this life we can change the verdict, by God's grace.

2Ki 19:2 He sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz-
Humanly speaking, sending your right hand men to a prophet was not the way out of the situation. But he realized as should we, that the only ultimate recourse is to God's word. The covering of the leadership with sackcloth as noted on :1 was a sign of repentance, again imitating how the leadership of Nineveh repented in sackcloth and achieved a change of the Divinely promised judgment.


2Ki 19:3 They said to him, Thus says Hezekiah, ‘This day is a day of trouble, of rebuke, and of rejection-
As noted on :1, Hezekiah understood he had sinned, hence his sackcloth and desperate repentance. Isaiah has repeatedly condemned Judah for trusting in Egypt for help from the Assyrians (Is. 20:5, 6; 30:1-4; 36:6,9). Those passages all say that if Judah did this, they would be rejected by God, as they were rejecting His help. And Hezekiah realizes that now those prophecies were going to come true. But the depth of his repentance meant that they didn't; just as the destruction of Nineveh in 40 days didn't happen, all because of human repentance. See on :1,4; Is. 22:5, which prophecy Hezekiah appears to allude to here.

For the children have come to the point of birth, and there is no strength to deliver them-
The birth of a remnant is spoken of in Isaiah in spiritual terms; "the children" here are "the remnant" of :4. The sense may be that Hezekiah sensed there had been some spiritual reformation, which he himself had done so much to bring about through his banishing of idolatry in Judah, but the final strength for the birth was lacking; they had indeed trusted in Egypt and in gold rather than in God, despite all the purging of idolatry. This was the tragedy which Hezekiah felt, as we do; that there was some genuine spirituality, but not enough. That may be the idea in Hos. 13:13 where the imagery is used again.


Is. 66:9 can be read as an implicit criticism of the words of Hezekiah at the time of the Assyrian invasion, who lamented that the children had come to be born but there was no strength to bring them forth: "Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? says Yahweh: shall I who cause to bring forth shut the womb? says your God". God is saying that He will certainly bring forth the new nation of Zion out of their trauma at the hands of their invaders. He is not powerless, and therefore Hezekiah was wrong to imply this. Why the children were not brought forth at Hezekiah's time was because of the lack of spirituality in the daughter of Zion, rather than because of God's limited ability.


2Ki 19:4 It may be Yahweh your God-
This continues the connection with Nineveh's repentance (see on :1,3); in this case, to Jon. 3:9 "Who knows whether God will not turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we might not perish?". However "your God" is a recognition by Hezekiah that Isaiah stood closer to God than he did.

Will hear all the words of Rabshakeh-
"Hear" is used at times to mean 'hear and respond to', as God in that sense 'hears' all things and there is no need to ask Him to hear anything.

Whom the king of Assyria his master has sent to defy the living God-
This is not just Hezekiah trying to get God to see the situation from the viewpoint of His own glory; rather was there a real and actual spiritual dimension to the invasion. The idea of 'defying' Israel's God is stressed so much (Is. 37:4,17,23,24); although Isaiah concludes by using this word about what Judah had effectively done to their own God (Is. 65:7). Sennacherib really did despise Yahweh and wanted to impose his gods upon Judah, and this will be the dominant feature of the latter day Assyrian invasion of the land. Radical Islam would appear the obvious latter day equivalent.

And will rebuke the words which Yahweh your God has heard- "Rebuke" here is a legal word, used of legal reasoning against an accuser in court (as in Is. 1:18; 11:3,4; 29:21; Mic. 6:2). Hezekiah had a strong sense of the court of Heaven; and so the answer is expressed in terms of an Angel 'coming out' from that court room and articulating the agreed judgment (:36). This is a huge comfort; that all situations on earth are reflected in Heaven, and judged there.

Therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left’. So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah-
The remnant would refer not only to the fact that Jerusalem alone remained, but to the righteous remnant within the city who were now repentant. The desire to get others to pray for issues is found throughout the Bible. But we should not draw the implication that God is as it were hard of hearing and only responds if enough of us offer enough prayers. But on the other hand, the combined prayerful requests of many of God's children are not unnoticed by God.

In response to Isaiah’s prayer, an Angel ‘went forth’ on earth and slew 185,000 Assyrians (2 Kings 19:35). Hezekiah was aware of the court of Heaven responding to his prayer; for he had commented that God would there “reprove the words” of Rabshakeh (2 Kings 19:4). The Hebrew for “reprove” is a legal term, meaning to convict, judge, plead etc. Hezekiah knew that the court of Heaven was considering Rabshakeh’s words, and his prayer was a plea for those words to be convicted in Heaven’s court, and an answer sent out. And this is what happened. Later, we read of Hezekiah asking that same court to “remember” his good life- again using a word capable of having legal overtones, of considering witness. And God replied by saying that He had “heard” that prayer- the same Hebrew word is translated ‘to make a proclamation’, as if He had considered Hezekiah’s ‘plea’ and would respond (2 Kings 20:3,5).


2Ki 19:5 Isaiah said to them, Thus you shall tell your master, ‘Thus says Yahweh, Don’t be afraid of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me-
We too can fear words, forgetting that the only ultimate reality in all things is God. "Servants" here translates a word which is almost colloquial, the idea being "lackeys". Just as the risen Lord referred to the disciples as "guys, fellas" (see on Jn. 21:5), so His Father is able to relate to people on their language level too.


2Ki 19:6 Behold, I will put a spirit in him-
Sennacherib retreated because God “put a spirit in him”. The AV has: “I will send a blast / spirit upon him”. Was it not that the Angel who later destroyed his army came upon him and put a spirit / disposition of mind within him that made him want to retreat? We see how God can directly affect the human spirit / mind. He can give a holy spirit, or an evil spirit. The Old Testament sets us up to understand that God can work directly on the human spirit, and then the New Testament says that He can give us a holy spirit, working again directly on the human mind and perception.

And he will hear news, and will return to his own land. I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land’-
The "news" could have been of the destruction of Rabshakeh's army; or of the approach of Tirhakah, or some other threat to his empire. The situation points ahead to how the latter day "king of the north" will likewise hear "news" (s.w. Dan. 11:44 "tidings"). The Lord 'caused' Sennacherib to fall by the sword in that He put a spirit of jealousy in his sons, resulting in the murder of :39.


2Ki 19:7 So Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah; for he had heard that he had departed from Lachish-
Sennacherib was aiming for Egypt and was attacking the fortresses on the route there; and Libnah was just south of Lachish, which he had destroyed. This is the scene we have in Dan. 11, where the "king of the north" attacks "the king of the south", Egypt, ransacking Palestine along the way, but then had to return to his own land after hearing the "tidings" of Dan. 11:44. The historical invasions of Israel and Judah therefore follow a pattern; and this will be repeated in the final latter day invasion which all the previous invasions point forward to. The image of Dan. 2 stands complete in the last days, and all the beasts of Dan. 7 are incorporated into the mega beast of the last days. This is to say that the final destructive entity oppressing Israel in the last days will combine features of all her historical oppressors, including the Assyrians. We note too the difference between Rabshakeh and Sennacherib, and wonder how far this points forward to the "false prophet" of Revelation who appears to be an agent of the beast.


2Ki 19:8 When he heard it said of Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, Behold, he has come out to fight against you, he sent messengers again to Hezekiah saying-
Tirhakah was the dominant king in Egypt at the time. We wonder if the much criticized efforts of Judah to get "Egypt" to help them were actually directed towards Tirhakah. But we wonder why therefore God still used this person to play a part in His plan to destroy Sennacherib. Or it could be that Tirhakah was the one who had destroyed the Egyptians upon whom Judah had hoped [rather than upon their God], and so it was appropriate that he and not Egypt played a part in the Divine plan to destroy "the king of the north".  


2Ki 19:9 Thus you shall speak to Hezekiah king of Judah saying, Don’t let your God in whom you trust deceive you saying, Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria-
The king recognizes that Hezekiah does indeed trust in God, and that Yahweh was indeed his God. This may have comforted him, as we noted on :4 that Hezekiah speaks of God as Isaiah's God rather than his God.


2Ki 19:10 Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, by destroying them utterly. Will you be delivered?-
This is the classic challenge to faith; no other god achieved anything, therefore, the one true God can't either. But the point is that the gods of this world didn't achieve anything precisely because they are not God. The 'utter destruction' of conquered lands by Assyria is historically well attested. But the word has the sense of 'sanctified' in a religious sense; like the latter day "king of the north", the invader thought that they were serving their God by destroying people, and the barbarity of the destruction was a sign of how far they had devoted people and lands to their God. Jihadist Islam exactly fits this scenario.


2Ki 19:11 Have the gods of the nations delivered them, which my fathers have destroyed, Gozan, Haran, Rezeph and the children of Eden that were in Telassar?-
These were the very cities to which the Assyrians had deported the ten tribe Kingdom of Israel (2 Kings 17:6; 18:11). The implication is that Judah would be taken there likewise.

The historical Assyria ‘destroyed utterly’ the nations around Israel (2 Kings 19:11); but the Hebrew word used specifically means to consecrate or dedicate. It has a distinctly religious sense. And this is precisely the idea of jihad- taking land in a holy war in order to dedicate that land to Allah. In practice, the Assyrians did this by ‘destroying’ or ‘drying up’ these lands. Charab¸ ‘to dry up’, is used about their scorched earth policies (2 Kings 19:17), and Assyria threatened to ‘dry up’ Judah (2 Chron. 32:11), just as he boasted “with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of besieged places” (2 Kings 19:24); and the metaphor continues with the idea of Assyria being like a river gushing forth over the land they had dried up (Is. 8:7). This is why God’s answer to the Assyrian threat to Judah is expressed in terms of His reminding Judah that it is He who has ultimate power to dry up rivers and nations (Is. 44:27; 50:2; 51:10- every time, the same Hebrew word charab is used).


2Ki 19:12 Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of the city of Sepharvaim, of Hena and Ivvah?-
The kings of these cities are paralleled with their gods (:11). The parallel Is. 36:19 asks "Where are the gods" of these same cities. Truly we become like that which we worship; football fans become like their idols, in spirit. And if we worship the one true God of Israel, Yahweh, then we will become like Him.

2Ki 19:13 Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it. Then Hezekiah went up to the house of Yahweh, and spread it before Yahweh-
"Spread" translates the same Hebrew word used about spreading abroad the hands in prayer (Ex. 9:29,33 etc.). It was as if the letter was the prayer. Our situation is read by God as our prayer. There are times especially in serious illness when we are too weak or mentally unclear to be able to verbalize prayer; or where the situation is so complex that we do not know what to pray for in terms of our desired outcome. And some are simply better at verbalizing than others. But the essence is our faith that God sees the situation and will respond. It was in this sense that Hezekiah spread the letter before Yahweh, as we might place an unpleasant hospital diagnosis on the kitchen table and attempt to pray, but what we are doing is bringing the situation before God and asking for His wise and powerful response.

Rabshakeh confirmed the threatened destruction of Jerusalem with a letter. Hezekiah took this “before the Lord”. His first response was not to turn to Egypt; he’d learnt the wrongness of that. He went to the house of the Lord. Whilst we are always in God’s presence, there is surely a sense in which coming into His presence through prayer is drawing yet closer to Him. And so it was with the special presence of YHWH in the temple at that time. Hezekiah was aware that YHWH ‘dwells between the cherubim” (2 Kings 19:15). Presumably standing before the ark, Hezekiah “spread out” the letter (2 Kings 19:14). The Hebrew word translated ‘spread out’ is the same as that usually used about how the wings of the cherubim were ‘spread out’ over the ark (Ex. 25:20; 37:9). It’s also the word used in Solomon’s prophecy of how repentant people would spread out their hands in the temple at the time of the punishment for their sins, and receive forgiveness and help: “Whatever prayer, whatever plea is made by any man or by all your people Israel, each knowing his own affliction and his own sorrow and stretching out his hands in this house, then hear from heaven your dwelling place and forgive” (2 Chron. 6:29,30). And Hezekiah would also have been only too aware of Isaiah’s judgment against Judah of a few years earlier: “When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen” (Is. 1:15). But Hezekiah summoned his faith in God’s forgiveness, and spread out his hands as he spread out the letter. He showed his deep repentance, and his faith in forgiveness to such an extent that he was bold enough to ask God for deliverance. Faith in forgiveness of our sins is perhaps one of the hardest things to believe in- strangely enough, seeing that God delights in forgiveness.


2Ki 19:14 Hezekiah prayed before Yahweh and said-
As noted on :13, the situation itself was the prayer; but Hezekiah, like us, does his best to articulate things in words.

 

Yahweh, the God of Israel, Who sits above the cherubim-
Hezekiah has just "spread" the letter before Yahweh (:13), using the same word for how the cherubim 'stretched forth their wings' (Ex. 25:20; 1 Kings 8:7 etc.). He knows that God is in Heaven with the cherubim as it were around Him, and also in the Most Holy place of the temple where Hezekiah was. And he imagined that letter as being with God, spread out as the cherubic wings were spread out. Those wings were spread out over the mercy seat, the cover over the ark, which was sprinkled with the blood of atonement each year. This is a profound insight into prayer. Our situations are not unnoticed. They are placed as it were upon the blood of the Lord Jesus, in the very presence of God, with the cherubim overshadowing them, peering down into them. And we can understand the cherubim in this context as representing God's Angelic might. And appropriately enough, an Angel was sent to bring about the great deliverance sought. There over our kitchen table with the troubling letter placed upon it, as with Hezekiah, there are the cherubim and the presence of Almighty God Himself.

God, whom we reflect, is not something nebulous of which we cannot conceive. Ezekiel saw God enthroned above the cherubim, with the silhouette of “the likeness of a man” (Ez. 1:26; 10:20); it is God Himself who is located above the cherubim (2 Kings 19:14 RV). All this has a practical import; because we are in the image of God, because it is imprinted on every part of our bodies, we must give that body to God, just as men were to give the penny which had Caesar’s image on it to Caesar (Lk. 20:25). 

You are the God, even You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth-
Believing that the cosmos was created and didn’t evolve from nothing isn’t a painless academic decision which we take somewhere within our brain cells. To believe God is the creator means that we believe that nothing in the life of this planet or our own lives is therefore too hard for Him to do.

Reflection upon God's power in creation should inspire our faith too; the God who could do that has made all men and their kingdoms, and is unlimited in what He can do for us. To let 'science' diminish our faith in God as creator is to remove such inspiration from us. Hezekiah states that God alone is the God of all kings or kingdoms of the earth; and yet we have just learnt that those kings were identified with their idols and were no more. Perhaps Hezekiah was using the present tense as God does, speaking of the reality of the final Messianic Kingdom as being so sure of ultimately coming about.

 

2Ki 19:15 Incline Your ear, Yahweh, and hear. Open your eyes, Yahweh, and see. Hear the words of Sennacherib, with which he has sent to defy the living God-
This is not to say that God is deaf and blind usually. Seeing and hearing are being used with the sense 'See, hear and respond'. God sees and hears but doesn't respond immediately, usually; He waits until judgment day. Hezekiah is asking for an immediate response in the here and now, for the essence of judgment day to come now, just as we noted on :16 that he was in expectation of the Messianic Kingdom being established.

Perhaps he even placed the letter upon the top of the ark, beneath the spread out wings of the cherubim, upon the blood-sprinkled mercy seat or atonement cover, symbolizing the future work of the Lord Jesus. He brought the situation before the presence of God. He asks God to open His eyes and see. I take this as a tacit recognition from Hezekiah that God had turned away His eyes from Judah and Hezekiah personally because of their sin. But Hezekiah believed in the promises of forgiveness, and asks God to therefore respond to the awful situation they were in. He believed that the cherubim-Angels, God's eyes, would take note of that letter. And it’s significant that God’s response was to send an Angel to destroy the Assyrians. It may help us to focus our faith in prayers by being aware of the way that God responds to prayer through sending out Angels. He is enthroned, as Hezekiah put it, upon the cherubim.


2Ki 19:16 Truly, Yahweh, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands-
"Destroyed / laid waste" is the word for sanctifying and devoting in a religious sense. The king of Assyria, like his latter day equivalent, was deeply religious, and saw the cruel destruction of other lands and peoples as part of his service to God, and a sign that his god was triumphant over their gods and belief systems. This exactly fits the spirit of jihadist Islam, which I suggest is the latter day equivalent.

Goliath's defiance of Israel is a major theme (s.w. 1 Sam. 17:10,25,26,36,45). David's victory over Goliath was inspirational to other Israelites, just as the Lord's triumph on the cross should be to us. The history of Goliath would have been inspirational when the Assyrians likewise defied the living God, and again this is a theme of the record (2 Kings 19:4,16,22,23; 2 Chron. 32:17 s.w.).


2Ki 19:17 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-
Here we have an example of the Bible using language from the viewpoint of men on earth. They thought their gods were indeed "gods", but they were "no gods". Likewise the language of demons is used in the New Testament, but this doesn't mean demons exist or have power in reality.

Passages like this almost define God by reason of His being uncreate. Whatever is created, is not God. And it follows that if we think that we have truly created anything, or that we are anything that God didn’t create, then we are in fact playing God. Understanding God as creator, in its true, deep and thought-through sense, leads to an understanding of grace. That all we have, are, were, shall ever be, is purely His gift. Likewise, to take for ourselves what is God’s is to play God. Materialism and selfishness are in this sense playing God


2Ki 19:18 Now therefore, Yahweh our God, save us, I beg You, out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You, Yahweh, are God alone-
The day when all earth's kingdoms shall know Yahweh is the Kingdom age, as Isaiah points out elsewhere with the same Hebrew phrase (Is. 12:5; 49:26; 61:9). Hezekiah envisaged salvation from the "king of the north" as leading directly to the establishment of the Kingdom; and that is the scenario in Dan. 11:40-12:3. Perhaps it was potentially possible; but Judah's general lack of repentance and Hezekiah's apostacy meant it was deferred in fulfilment. The desire for salvation was therefore not simply for the sake of personal safety, but for the wider glory of God in the earth. 

There will come a day when all the world realizes that God is one (Is. 37:20 Heb.)- in that they will realize that He alone is God and all else is pure vanity. Because God alone is holy, only He will be worshipped then (Rev. 15:4). "The Lord alone shall be exalted in that day" (Is. 2:11,17).

Hezekiah’s faith was also strengthened by having the right motives: “Save us, please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O LORD, are God alone”. This is alluded to by the Lord in His prayer just before His death: “That the world may know” (Jn. 17:23). Hezekiah’s prayer for the Assyrian destruction was in fact so that the Gentile nations around Judah would come to know Yahweh, to accept Him. What finer motivation! This was no selfish shriek for help.

That God is one is a command, an imperative to action (Mk. 12:28,29). It underlies the whole law and prophets (Mt. 22:40)- it's that fundamental. If there were two Gods, Yahweh would only demand half our energies. Nothing can be given to anything else; for there is nothing else to give to. There's only one God. There can be no idolatry in our lives, because there is only one God (2 Kings 19:18,19). Because "there is none else, thou shalt keep therefore his statutes" (Dt. 4:39,40). The Hebrew text of Dt. 6:4 suggests: "The Lord is our God, the Lord is one", thereby linking Yahweh's unity with His being our God, the sole Lord and unrivalled Master of His people. It also links the first principle of the unity of God with that of the covenant to Abraham; for "I will be their God" was one of the features of the covenant. The one God has only one people; not all religious systems can lead to the one Hope of Israel.


2Ki 19:19 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah saying, Thus says Yahweh, the God of Israel, ‘Whereas you have prayed to Me against Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard you-
Answers to prayer don't often come through bolts of revelation; in this case it was through another believer, Isaiah. And we note the power of one man's prayer- because of this prayer, God's word of :20 was uttered. See on Mk. 2:5.


2Ki 19:20 This is the word that Yahweh has spoken concerning him: The virgin daughter of Zion has despised you and ridiculed you. The daughter of Jerusalem has shaken her head at you-
The remnant within the closed city of Jerusalem, likened to a protected virgin who had not been 'opened', had hardly despised and ridiculed the Assyrians. They were terrified of them. But their faith was counted to them for more than it was; according to Ps. 2, it was God within Zion who despised and ridiculed the armies outside the walls. But His characteristics were counted to them. This is exactly the reasoning of Paul in Romans about imputed righteousness.


2Ki 19:21 Whom have you defied and blasphemed? Against whom have you exalted your voice and lifted up your eyes on high? Against the Holy One of Israel-
When and how was this mocking made? I suggest on Prov. 25:1 that a number of the Proverbs in the later part of the book of Proverbs were rewritten in the context of the Assyrian crisis at the time of Hezekiah. We may have a clue in Prov. 26:6: "One who sends a message by the hand of a fool is cutting off his own feet and drinking violence". Rabshakeh, the servant of the king of Assyria, is presented as a "fool" (see on Prov. 26:4), and by using him, the king of Assyria was cutting off his own feet. This and other of Hezekiah's Proverbs (see on Prov. 25:1) which mock messengers would then be the reference of 2 Kings 19:21, where we read that the daughter of Zion had mocked at and despised the Assyrians and their messengers. There is no other recorded fulfilment of this. Defeat by Assyria looked certain, and so to mock them at the time when they would [humanly speaking] soon be seeking their grace- was a true act of faith. See on :32.

That would’ve required an extraordinary level of faith to do that. Hezekiah wasn’t just hoping for the best, using prayer as a last resort, a kind of back up insurance policy after doing all he could. This was the prayer and faith of utter confidence, believing that things that are not are in fact, and being so sure they will come about that this faith actually affects our feelings. Hezekiah felt confident, superior to the Assyrians, all the feelings that come from knowing that one is in a far stronger position. This is a challenge in our self-assessment. To what extent does our confidence in faith affect our emotions and feelings?

Sennacherib was fully aware that he had done all these things against Yahweh; the motivation for his rage against Jerusalem was his particular hatred of Yahweh. And so it shall be in the latter day invasion, which will also be strongly motivated by religion. This verse is simply restating the truth about Sennacherib. It is addressed to him, so presumably Isaiah's duty was to get the message to him. We wonder why God would, as it were, bother. But there are many points of contact with Pharaoh. God even tried to bring him to repentance, and perhaps this address to Sennacherib was to likewise give even him a chance. This is great encouragement to us, to never consider anyone not even worth trying with.


2Ki 19:22 By your messengers you have defied the Lord, and have said, ‘With the multitude of my chariots I have come up to the height of the mountains, to the innermost parts of Lebanon-
The intensive plurals here refer to the great mountain, of Zion. Sennacherib spoke in the present tense because he was certain he would achieve it. His intention was to desecrate the innermost parts of the cedar-of-Lebanon decorated temple.

And I will cut down its tall cedars, and its choice fir trees; and I will enter into His deepest dwelling place, the forest of His fruitful field-
This could continue the allusion to the cedar-of-Lebanon covered temple. Or the whole verse may be simply as GNB: "You sent your servants to boast to me that with all your chariots you had conquered the highest mountains of Lebanon. You boasted that there you cut down the tallest cedars and the finest cypress trees, and that you reached the deepest parts of the forests". However, an obsession with destroying the temple would fit the theme of Sennacherib's rage against Yahweh and particular desire to destroy the temple and gain the temple mount. This would match the similar motivations of the latter day Assyrian.


2Ki 19:23 I have dug and drunk strange waters, and with the sole of my feet will I dry up all the rivers of Egypt’-
Rabshakeh tried to cut off water from Jerusalem (hence Hezekiah's tunnel of 2 Kings 20:20). Sennacherib considered victory against Egypt as just as certain; although he was clearly fazed by Tirhakah's approach.


2Ki 19:24 Haven’t you heard how I have done it long ago, and formed it of ancient times? Now have I brought it to pass, that it should be yours to lay waste fortified cities into ruinous heaps-
This is the Divine response. Understanding predestination helps us see the frailty of all human strength and device; and Paul introduces it into his argument in Romans to likewise demonstrate that salvation is of grace and not by works. "Destroy" is literally to rush upon, and the word is used of how the rushing of the nations against God's people would be turned back (see on Is. 17:13).


2Ki 19:25 Therefore their inhabitants were of small power. They were dismayed and confounded. They were like the grass of the field, and like the green herb, like the grass on the housetops, and like grain blasted before it has grown up-
Similar language is used in Is. 40:6 of how "all flesh" is like this. The reference is to the "all flesh" of the nations around Israel whom the Assyrians had conquered, who trusted in their own human strength.


2Ki 19:26 But I know your sitting down, and your going out, and your coming in, and your raging against Me-
This reflects David's awareness that God knows our every physical movement, standing or sitting. God knew Sennacherib's going out from his homeland and how he would return there. Sennacherib's rage was against Yahweh; he intended to utterly subvert the true faith; see on :27.


2Ki 19:27 Because of your raging against Me-
There was a specifically religious, spiritual aspect to the invasion; the idea was that the claims of this Yahweh were to be shown false. The motivation of the latter day Assyrian will be the same. Dan. 11:40 [see note there] envisages the "king of the north" likewise raging against the God of the fortress of Zion.

And because your arrogance has come up into My ears, therefore will I put My hook in your nose and My bridle in your lips, and I will turn you back by the way by which you came- This is the language of the latter day invasion by Gog (Ez. 38:4), which has this Assyrian invasion as its prototype. The Gog confederacy, of 10 nations headed by a rosh, a charismatic leader, will likewise be unsuccessful.


2Ki 19:28 This shall be the sign to you: You shall eat this year that which grows of itself, and in the second year that which springs of the same; and in the third year sow, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat its fruit-
They were besieged in Jerusalem. This sign was a medium term sign, not the short term indication of salvation they perhaps wanted. The sign was that there was the potential for the house of Judah to bear fruit "upward", to God (:29); the fruit of repentance. But there are hints later in Isaiah that this sign was not believed; they did not respect the Jubilee year, they did sow instead of trusting that the land around Jerusalem would miraculously bring forth its own fruit. And this reflects how they did not bring forth the fruit of the Spirit "upward" to God but rather of their own strength (:29). See on :30. The language here seems to suggest that the events of the Assyrian invasion and deliverance happened around a year of Jubilee, which later in Isaiah is alluded to as a type of the time of the Lord's return and the Messianic Kingdom. It could have come then; but Is. 58 and other hints in later Isaiah are that the Jubilee year was not respected, they did plant instead of trusting in the Lord's provision, and so the Kingdom was precluded from coming then. The idea of planting vineyards and eating their fruit is used in Is. 65 of the Messianic Kingdom; it is kingdom language.

The verse has been translated: 'Ye did eat (the first year) such as groweth of itself, and in the second year that which springeth of the same, but in this third year sow ye'. This would mean that they were now in the third year of the Assyrian invasion. Perhaps there was a three and a half year domination of Judah by the Assyrians, just as there shall be in the last days.


2Ki 19:29 The remnant that has escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward-
See on :28,30. Apart from Jerusalem, Judah had been overrun by the Assyrians, so this remnant who escaped could refer to the inhabitants of Jerusalem; or it could be that "the remnant" refers to the spiritually faithful minority.

Is. 4:2 had spoken of how this "remnant" (s.w.) would be the basis of a revived kingdom of God in Judah, based around a Messianic "Branch", "in that day"- the day of Is. 4:1, when Jerusalem would be overcome and left in ruins with hardly any men left. These "survivors" are those saved from the ruins of a desolated Jerusalem, those who "escaped" the Assyrian invasion (s.w. Is. 10:20); the same word is used in Joel 2:32; Obadiah 17, the "remnant" of Ez. 14:22 (s.w.). The destruction of Jerusalem was intended to elicit repentance and to lead seamlessly into a revived Zion and reestablished Kingdom of God in Israel, when again all things would be "glorious" (s.w. Is. 24:23; 35:2). But this didn't happen. Jerusalem was saved by grace, and yet Hezekiah failed to act as "Yahweh's branch", and Judah were impenitent, unmoved by their salvation by grace.

 

2Ki 19:30 For out of Jerusalem a remnant will go out, and out of Mount Zion those who shall escape. The zeal of Yahweh will perform this’-
This is the language of Obadiah about the final establishment of Messiah's Kingdom. As noted on :28, this could have happened then, if Judah had kept the year of Jubilee as intended and brought forth spiritual fruit "upward" to God.


2Ki 19:31 Therefore thus says Yahweh concerning the king of Assyria, ‘He shall not come to this city, nor shoot an arrow there, neither shall he come before it with shield, nor cast up a mound against it-
This is in contrast to Sennacherib's first approach to Jerusalem, when according to his own inscriptions he did cast up a mound: 'Because Hezekiah, king of Judah, would not submit to my yoke, I came up against him, and by force of arms, and by the might of my power, I took 46 of his fenced cities, and of smaller towns scattered about I took a countless number. And I carried off as spoil 200,150 people. And Hezekiah himself I shut up in Jerusalem, his capital city, like a bird in a cage, building towers round the city to hem him in. Then upon this Hezekiah there fell the fear of the power of my arms, and he sent out to me the chiefs of Jerusalem, with 30 talents of gold and 800 talents of silver'. The fact not an arrow would be fired must be compared with how Is. 22:6 had predicted the presence of the archers of Elam around Jerusalem at the invasion, who would overthrow her. It was deferred until this same nation came with the Babylonians against Jerusalem at a later date (Jer. 49:35). Likewise Is. 22:7 foresaw the Assyrians 'coming before' the city; but this too was averted by the repentance and intercession of a minority. It is all a great lesson in the power of the repentance and intercession of a minority.


2Ki 19:32 By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and he shall not come to this city’, says Yahweh-
This unsuccessful invasion is like that of Ez. 38 and Ps. 2; the nations surround Jerusalem but fail to capture it because of the Lord's presence there. Jerusalem will indeed fall in the last days and be desecrated, but the Lord will return and save Israel, establish Himself in Zion- and then there will be this unsuccessful invasion which He crushes.

As discussed on :21, the Proverbs of Hezekiah are relevant to this situation. At this point,  Prov. 26:8 "As one who binds a stone in a sling, so is he who gives honour to a fool". I suggested on Prov. 26:4,6 that the particular fool in view is Rabshakeh, who had been honoured by the king of Assyria. But because of God's anger with this "fool", the military technology of Assyria would be confounded. Not a stone would be hurled at Jerusalem- exactly as stated here.


2Ki 19:33 ‘For I will defend this city to save it, for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake’-
The implication could be 'not for the sake of your righteousness, but by grace alone; for My sake, and because I respect the covenant of grace I gave David'.


2Ki 19:34 It happened that night, that the angel of Yahweh went out-
He went out from the throne room of heaven, where the case had been as it were considered; see on :4. Isaiah 37 is shot through with allusions to the Angel cherubim destroying the Assyrian host. The Angel went out- perhaps referring to Him physically going forth out of the temple where He dwelt to slay the Assyrians outside the walls of Jerusalem. This phrase 'went out' is nearly always used about literal physical movement, which we have seen is what  Angels literally do. Thus in the Ezekiel visions of the cherubim, they and the lightnings "went forth", physically and literally, in performing God's work. "Let my sentence come forth from Thy presence (Angelic language); let Thine eyes (Angels) behold the things that are equal", seeing they are involved with the 'coming forth', according to the parallelism of this verse. Similarly Job's satan Angel "went forth" from the presence of the Lord (Job 1:12). And so it happened that there were Angels on earth, as it were. Zech. 2:3 also has an Angel going forth to answer the prayers concerning  restoring the fortunes of Jerusalem (see Zech. 5:5 too). Ps. 81:5 describes the Angel going out through the land of Egypt in order to "remove (Israel's) shoulder from the burden". Ps. 81 is 'Angelic', following Ps. 80, which is another such Psalm. Heb. 1:14 also offers support: the Angels are "sent forth" to minister to us- by answering prayers offered in the spirit of Hezekiah's prayer here?

And struck one hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians. When men arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies-
The bodies were spoiled by the Jerusalem Jews (Is. 33:4). The agent of destruction appears to have been fire and hail (Is. 29:6; 30:30), both of which may be used in the last days too.


2Ki 19:35 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and lived at Nineveh-

This was due to the "tidings" he received (:8), presumably of the destruction of his army outside the walls of Jerusalem.


2Ki 19:36 It happened, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat. Esar Haddon his son reigned in his place
-
As noted on :7, this was caused by God putting a spirit / attitude of mind in these sons to do this. His Spirit, as today, confirmed the human spirit. He was killed as he was worshipping, about 20 years later; worshipping a god who had spectacularly failed him. We see here the terrible power of religion in blinding men to spiritual reality.