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Book of Isaiah
Chapter 37 in another way shows how foolish it was for Hezekiah and the elders of Judah to trust in Egypt, because Egypt never helped them one bit. God saved Jerusalem in ONE night. The contrast should be a lesson to us! Chapters 36 -37 should also serve as an excellent example of how we should trust of the One and Only TRUE God.
This chapter contains Hezekiah's message to Isaiah, wanting him to pray for him and his people in this time of painful distress (vs.1). The comforting and encouraging answer was returned by the prophet to him (vs.6). Sennacherib’s letter to Hezekiah, trying to terrify him into the surrender of the Jerusalem to him (vs.8), which Hezekiah took before the Lord, and prayed to Him for deliverance (vs.14), upon which he received a gracious answer by the hand of the prophet Isaiah, promising safety and deliverance to him, and destruction to the king of Assyria, of which a sign was given (vs.21), and this Chapter closes with the slaughter of the Assyrian army by one lone angel, the flight of the king, and his death by the hands of his sons (vs.36).
Theme for Chapters 36 -37: Hezekiah and Assyria.
Sennacherib, king of Assyria, had come down like a flood from the north, wiping out everything in his path. He had captured every nation and city that stood in his way, or they had willingly yielded to him. Glowing with the glory of victory, he appears with the Assyrian army before the walls of Jerusalem. He is surprised and puzzled that Hezekiah would try to resist him. He looks for some reason, thinking that Hezekiah must have some secret weapon. Rabshakeh, his representative, ridicules all known possibilities of aid. Arrogantly he demands unconditional surrender. The chapter closes with the terms and threats reported to Hezekiah.
For comment on Rabshakeh, see Special Comments at the end of Isaiah Chapter 36.
Reaction of Hezekiah to the Report (37:1-4)
Notice what Hezekiah does when he gets the report.
Isaiah 37:1 And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the LORD. (KJV)
And it came to pass, when King Hezekiah heard it . . . the report that his ministers made to him of the blasphemies and threats of Rabshakeh, the general of the Assyrian army.
That he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth . . . the one because of the blasphemies he heard; the other cause of the destruction he and his people were threatened with.
And went into the house of the Lord . . . Hezekiah went to the Temple, to pray to the Lord. He could have prayed in his house, but to go to the House of God, not so much on account of the holiness of the place, but because it was more public, and would be known to the people, and set an example for them to follow. Nothing is more proper than prayer in times of trouble, and it is NO way unbecoming nor does it lessen the greatest ruler on Earth to lay aside his royal robes, to humble himself before God. Hezekiah did not sit down to consider what Rabshakeh said, nor did he give an answer to it, instead . . . he appeals to God for answers. A great lesson for all of us! My we learn from it!
Isaiah 37:2 And he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests covered with sackcloth, unto Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz. (KJV)
And he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe . . . two of the commissioners sent to Rabshakeh, and who heard his blasphemy and disrespect, and were capable of giving a full account of it, to Hezekiah and Isaiah.
And the elders of the priests . . . as the chief of those that were concerned in civil affairs, so the chief of those that were employed in sacred things, were sent . . . this was a very honorable group; and it showed great respect to the prophet, to send such personages to him:
Covered with sackcloth . . . as the king himself was, following his example; and this is to be understood not of the elders of the priests only, but of Eliakim and Shebna also. These, so clad, were sent by the king.
Unto Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz . . . to give him an account of the present situation of affairs, of the distress he was in, and to ask for his prayers: a very proper person to apply to, a prophet, one highly dear and near to God, and honored by Him, had access to Him, and knew much of His Mind. Hezekiah now sends his messengers to Isaiah the prophet. This is another act of faith. He wants a word from God.
Isaiah 37:3 And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy: for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth. (KJV)
And they said unto him. . . the messengers to the prophet.
Thus saith Hezekiah . . . this is the message he has sent us with; this is what he would have us lay before you, and has given us to say to you.
This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy . . . it was a day of trouble to Hezekiah and his people, because it was a day of rebuke, meaning the Lord's rebuke for His people's sins (Ps.149:7; Hos.5:9), and/or of reproach and reviling, in which the Assyrians reviled and reproached both God and the people; and especially because it was a day of blasphemy against Almighty God. Blasphemy, the blasphemous criticism of Rabshakeh.
For the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth . . . Judah is compared to a woman who is trying to give birth to a child but is too weak to deliver. Even though all seems hopeless, Hezekiah did NOT give up. Instead, he prayed to God (vs.1), and asked the prophet Isaiah to pray that God would help His people. No matter how bad your circumstances may seem, we should NOT give up, ever! Turn to God in prayer!
Fourfold day of distress in Judah: #1. A day of trouble; #2. Rebuke; #3. Blasphemy and #4. Weakness.
Isaiah 37:4 It may be the LORD thy God will hear the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God, and will reprove the words which the LORD thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that is left. (KJV)
It may be the Lord thy God will hear the words of Rabshakeh . . . the Lord had indeed heard them, because He is omniscient (all-knowing, sees and hears all) . . . but the sense is, that He greatly resented them, and would punish for them. Hezekiah’s plea to God would be prevailed upon to take notice of the offensive speech of Rabshakeh.
Whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God . . . only Almighty God has life in and of Himself, and only He is the Fountain, Author and Giver of life to all others . . . it was this God that the king of Assyria reproached, by setting him on a level with the stupid, lifeless idols of the Gentiles.
And will reprove the words which the Lord thy God hath heard . . . rebuke him for his words, take vengeance on him, punish him for the blasphemous words spoken by him against the Great and Almighty Lord.
Wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that is left . . . lift up thy voice, thy hands, and thine heart, in prayer to God in Heaven; pray earnestly and ardently for those that are left; the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, the other ten having been carried captive some time ago.
The fewness of the number that remained seems to be made use of as an argument for prayer in their favor. In times of distress, men should not only pray for themselves, but get others to pray for them, and especially sincere, godly men in religion, who have access to God.
*****It should encourage us to pray, because we do have hope of His mercy. It may be that the Lord God will hear our prayer for our enemy, and maybe he will turn to God and repent. Nothing is impossible for God (Lk.1:37). When there is just a remnant left, it should concern us to lift up a prayer for that remnant. The prayer that will reach Heaven must be lifted up by strong faith, earnest desires and with the direct goal to be the glory of God.
Encouragement from the Lord through Isaiah (37:5-7)
Isaiah 37:5 So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah. (KJV)
So the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah. . . . and delivered the above message to him from the king: these servants are mentioned (vs.2).
Isaiah 37:6 And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say unto your master, 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. (KJV)
And Isaiah said unto them, thus shall you say unto your master . . . or, your lord. King Hezekiah, whose ministers and messengers they were.
Thus saith the Lord, be not afraid of the words thou hast heard . . . do not be terrified by them, they are just words, no more, and will never become facts.
Wherewith the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me . . . by representing the One and Only Almighty God, as no better than the false gods of the Gentiles, and as unable to deliver out of the hands of the king of Assyria the city of Jerusalem, when He had said He would. The word servants means boys, lads, young men; so Rabshakeh and his two companions, Rabsaris and Tartan, are called, by way of contempt, they acting out a weak and childish part as well as a wicked one.
Isaiah 37:7 Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land. (KJV)
Behold, I will send a blast upon him . . . on the king of Assyria; a harmful, destructive blast, as the Lord afterwards certainly did, which destroyed his army. The Lord put a spirit of fear and dread in him.
And he shall hear a rumour . . . of the sudden and total destruction of his army.
And return to his own land . . . as he did, immediately upon the slaughter of his army by the angel.
And I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land . . . as he did, being slain by his own sons (vs.37).
*****He would not be killed near Jerusalem but in his own land. This had literal fulfillment, as we shall see. God declares the destruction of Assyria.
Isaiah 37:8 So Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah: for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish. (KJV)
So Rabshakeh returned . . . to the king of Assyria, his master, to give him an account of how things went at Jerusalem, and that he could get no direct answer from the king of Judah
And found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah . . . Libnah is a city in the tribe of Judah (Josh. 10:29), and lay nearer to Jerusalem than Lachish, where Rabshakeh left him; so that he seemed to be drawing his army towards that city, on which his heart was set.
For he had heard that he was departed from Lachish . . . where he was, when he sent him to Jerusalem (Isa.36:2), having very probably taken it.
Isaiah 37:9 And he heard say concerning Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, He is come forth to make war with thee. And when he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying, (KJV)
And he heard say concerning Tirhakah king of Ethiopia . . . not Rabshakeh, but the king of Assyria heard a rumor of this Ethiopian king coming out to war against him: his name, in Josephus (Antiqu. l. 10. c. 1. sect. 4) , is Tharsices. Others take it for Cush, or Ethiopia in the land of Midian or Arabia. The report that was brought to the king of Assyria of him was:
He is come forth to make war with thee . . . not by assisting the Egyptians, as Josephus says, but rather the Jews; or by making an irruption into the king of Assyria's country in his absence: this some think to be the rumor predicted in (vs.7).
And when he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah . . . with terrifying letters, to frighten him into an immediate surrender of the city, that he might withdraw his army, and meet the king of Ethiopia with the greater force; so he dispatched these messengers in all haste to Hezekiah, that his letters might reach him before he had knowledge of the king of Ethiopia, asking a diversion in his favor, which would encourage him to hold out the siege all the longer.
Threatening Letter to Hezekiah (37:10-13)
When Rabshakeh got back to his army, he learned that the king of Assyria had left Lachish and was going to war against Libnah. A rumor came that the main force of the Assyrian army was being attacked by the Egyptian army. Rabshakeh withdrew from Jerusalem temporarily to assist the main force of the Assyrian army, but to save face, he dispatched a letter from Sennacherib to Hezekiah saying, I'll be back! The letter was just another attempt to shake Hezekiah's faith in God's deliverance.
Isaiah 37:10 Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying, Let not thy God, in whom thou trustest, deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. (KJV)
Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying . . . these the instructions Sennacherib gave to his messengers, in which he gives Hezekiah the title of king, and owns him to be king of Judah.
Llet not thy God, in whom thou trustest, deceive thee . . . nothing could be more satanical, to represent the God of Truth, that cannot lie (Tit.1:2), as a liar and deceiver: in this the king of Assyria outdid Rabshakeh . . . in that he had represented Hezekiah as an impostor and a deceiver of the people, and warns the people against him . . . and here Sennacherib represents God Himself as a Deceiver, and warns Hezekiah against trusting in Him. Nothing is more opposite to Satan and his devices, than faith in God, and so they labor with all their might to weaken it.
Saying, Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria . . . and so the Lord had said it (Isa.38:6), and by some means or another Sennacherib had heard of it; and there was nothing he dreaded more than that Hezekiah should believe it, which would encourage him to hold out the siege.
*****In verses 8-10, although the answer to Hezekiah's prayer was already in motion because Tirhakah was poised to attack, Hezekiah did not know it. He persisted in prayer and stood firm in his faith even though he could not see the answer coming. When we pray, we must have faith that God has already prepared the best answer. Our task is to ask in faith (Jam.1:6) and wait patiently in humility (Ps.27:14; 37:7,34; 59:9; 62:5; 130:5).
Isaiah 37:11 Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands by destroying them utterly; and shalt thou be delivered? (KJV)
Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, by destroying them utterly . . . he boasts of the achievements of himself and his ancestors, and of more than was true; and which, if it had been true, was more to their disgrace than honor, that is, utterly to destroy kingdoms and their inhabitants, to gratify their lusts; but though many had been destroyed by them, yet not all . . . not Ethiopia, whose king was come out to make war with him, and of whom he seems to be afraid; nor Egypt, which was in confederacy with Ethiopia; nor Judea, he was now invading; but this he said in a mocking way, to terrify Hezekiah.
And shalt thou be delivered? . . . can you expect to be delivered? Surely you cannot! Is it likely? Is it possible that you will be delivered? It is not possible, for just as sure as other lands have been destroyed, so it is sure that yours shall be also.
Isaiah 37:12 Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed, as Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden which were in Telassar? (KJV)
Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed . . . they have not. Is the God of Israel to be put upon a level with such dunghill gods . . . so Sennacherib counted him, as Rabshakeh had before (Isa.36:18).
As Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden, which were in Telassar . . . Gozan was the same as Gausanitis of Ptolemy, which he mentions in his description of Mesopotamia; and Haran was a city of Mesopotamia (Gen.11:31). My ancestors destroyed the cities of Gozan, Haran and Rezeph and killed the people who lived in Telassar. None of their gods could save them.
Isaiah 37:13 Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arphad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah? (KJV)
Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arphad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim . . . the same place where the gods or idols of those places . . . gone! (Isa.36:19). It may be the princes that ruled over those cities are meant, who were either slain, or become branches to the king of Assyria.
Henah and Ivah . . . which some take to be the names of the gods or kings of Sepharvaim; but since Sepharvaim is of the dual number, it was a double city, the river Euphrates passing between them; and these, as one guesses, were the names of them; or possibly these were different cities from those, but what or where they were is not certain. He states historical facts that were difficult to answer.
Hezekiah's Prayer (37:14-20)
Now notice what Hezekiah does! Another lesson here for us!
Isaiah 37:14 And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up unto the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. (KJV)
And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it . . . he took the letter (or book), from the hand of the messengers, read it over carefully to himself and considered the contents of it, and then,
Hezekiah went up unto the house of God . . . the Temple, the outward court of it, further than that he could not go.
And spread it before the Lord . . . not to re-read it, but since it mainly regarded the Lord, and affected His honor and His glory, he laid it before the Lord that He might take notice of it. He gave the letter to God in prayer.
Isaiah 37:15-16 And Hezekiah prayed unto the LORD, saying, 16 O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: thou hast made heaven and earth. (KJV)
And Hezekiah prayed unto the Lord, saying . . . he did not return railing for railing, but committed himself and his cause to the Lord, that judges all things righteously. Hezikiah did not write an answer to the letter himself, but lays it before the Lord, and pleads for Him to answer it, for it was He Who was most principally reflected on in it.
O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the cherubim . . . He Who is over the mercy seat, the residence of the Shekinah (theophany), or the Presence of the Majesty of Almighty God. The Shekinah is the symbol of the divine Presence of God in the holy of holies; a title which the God of Israel, the Lord of hosts in Heaven and Earth bears, and which distinguishes Him from all other gods. He is the Lord of hosts, He was able to do whatsoever was needed, and being the God of Israel, their covenant God, they might hope and expect that He would protect and defend them; and as dwelling between the cherubim, on the mercy seat, great encouragement might be had, and that He would be gracious and merciful, and hear and help. This still goes for us today! He will help us, if we believe in faith!
Thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth . . . this is opposed to the blasphemous conceit of Sennacherib, that he was only the God of the Jews, and had no concern with other kingdoms and nations; so all else belonged to him, and him only; they are all under his jurisdiction and dominion, and at his will and control.
Thou hast made heaven and earth . . . since God the Creator, made ALL things, He has an undeniable right to the government of the whole world, and to the disposal of all things in it.
Isaiah 37:17 Incline thine ear, O LORD, and hear; open thine eyes, O LORD, and see: and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent to reproach the living God. (KJV)
Incline thine ear, O Lord, and hear . . . the prayer which Hezekiah now presents to Him, as also the rebuke of the enemy.
Open thine eyes, O Lord, and see . . . the letter Hezekiah had spread before the Lord. He wanted the Lord to see the blasphemies in it; and punish for them.
And hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he hath sent to reproach the living God . . . some understand this to be the words which Sennacherib sent in the letter to reproach the Lord; but in 2 Kings 19:16, it is, which hath sent him; the messenger, Rabshakeh, or whoever the person was that brought the letter to Hezekiah. Both God and His people were reproached, and both carry in them arguments with the Lord to hear and avenge Himself and them; and Hezekiah prays that the Lord would see and hear, and take notice of and observe all the words and give a proper answer, by inflicting just punishment.
Isaiah 37:18 Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations, and their countries, (KJV)
Of a truth Lord . . . this is a truth and will be gladly owned that the king of Assyria has said that his ancestors have destroyed all lands, or at least have tried to do it, and have had it in their hearts to do it.
The kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations, and their countries . . . or all provinces and their lands, the countries and town and villages in them, or the chief cities and villages round about them.
Isaiah 37:19 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. (KJV)
And have cast their gods into the fire . . . and burnt them; and it may well be asked, where are they? (Isa.36:19).
For they were no gods, but the works of men's hands, wood and stone . . . they were made of wood or of stone, and therefore were not, nor could be called gods; neither could they save the nations that worshipped them, nor themselves, from the fire.
Therefore they have destroyed them . . . the Assyrian kings were able to do it, and did do it, because they were idols of wood or stone; but they were NO match for the God of Israel, the only true and living God.
Isaiah 37:20 Now therefore, 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. (KJV)
Now therefore, O Lord our God, save us from his hand . . . the hand of the king of Assyria. The Lord had promised that He would save them and Hezekiah believed He would. FAITH!!!
That all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord, even thou only . . . by doing what other gods could not do . . . they could not save the nations that worshipped them from the hand of the Assyrians . . . and IF the God of Israel saved his people from them, this would prove to all the world that He is God and there is none besides Him (Ps.86:8; Isa.45:6,18,21-22; 46:9; Jer.10:6-7; Acts 4:12; 1 Cor.8:4).
*****When we are afraid of men that are great destroyers, we should with humble boldness (confidence), appeal to God, who is the Great Saviour. There are those who have indeed destroyed nations, who had cast themselves out of the protection of the TRUE God by worshipping false gods, but the Lord, the Almighty God alone, is our God, our King, our Lawgiver, and He will save us . . . for He is the Saviour of those that believe. Boldness: (Pro.14:26; 28:1; Eph.3:12; Heb.4:16; 10:19; 13:6; 1 Jn.2:28; 4:17).
When we go to God in prayer, let us never forget that when we plead our prayer, the end result should be for His glory! He loves us, and is interested in what happens to us. Let us pray that His Name never be blasphemed or profaned. All that we do should be for His glory's sake.
The further full answer which God sent to Hezekiah by Isaiah, promised him that his affairs would shortly take a happy turn for the good.
God's Answer through Isaiah (37:29-34)
God says that He has heard the blasphemy of the Assyrian. Notice how He will deal with him.
Isaiah 37:21 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent unto Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Whereas thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria: (KJV)
Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent unto Hezekiah, saying . . . Isaiah, by a spirit of prophecy (holy Spirit), was made aware by the Lord both with the prayer of Hezekiah, and the Lord's answer to it. He immediately sent to Hezekiah, who was either still at the Temple praying, or was returned to the palace, to let him know, what the mind of the Lord was in this matter. Isaiah sent messengers to the king, and by them informed him what the Lord had said in answer to his prayer. Why Isaiah did not go himself, is not known.
Thus saith the Lord God of Israel . . . Hezekiah had been praying to Him, the God of Israel, under that title and character (vs.16).
Whereas thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria . . . or, what you have prayed, I have heard. Dear one, it is a bad thing indeed for any to have the prayers of good people against them (Ps.10:17-18; 34:15; 145:18-19; Pro.15:8,29; Jam.6:16).
Isaiah 37:22 This is the word which the LORD hath spoken concerning him; The virgin, the daughter of Zion, hath despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee. (KJV)
This is the word which the Lord hath spoken concerning him . . . the sentence he has pronounced upon him, the punishment he has determined to inflict on him, in answer to Hezekiah's prayer against him.
The virgin, the daughter of Zion; hath despised thee; and laughed thee to scorn . . . means the inhabitants of Zion, called a virgin, because it had never been forced, or taken and to show that it was a vain thing in Sennacherib to try it. The whole is intended to show the weak malice of the king of Assyria.
The daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee . . . or by way of scorn and derision. This means when he fled . . . which shows, that although these things are spoken as if they were past (after the manner of the prophets), yet they were to come, and would be when Sennacherib fled, when his army was destroyed. This expresses contempt, ridicule and scorn (Ps.22:7).
*****That those who receive messages of terror from persistent men, and send messages of faith to God by prayer, can well expect messages of grace and peace from God for their comfort, joy and peace, even when they are utterly cast down. Isaiah sent a long answer to Hezekiah's prayer in God's Name, sent it in writing, because it was too long to be sent by word of mouth. It was sent by way of an answer to his prayer. Since Hezekiah had prayed to God . . . God wanted him to know for his comfort, that his prayer had indeed been heard. Isaiah could have referred Hezekiah to the prophecies he had already delivered (especially Chapter 10), and tell him to pick out an answer from there, but a special message is sent to him on purpose.
All those who magnify themselves, especially who magnify themselves against God and His people, really do defame, insult and slander themselves, and make themselves contemptible in the eyes of all wise men. The virgin, the daughter of Zion, has despised Sennacherib, and all his ineffective malice and threats. She knows that as long as she preserves her honesty and honor, she is sure of the divine protection of the Lord, and even though the enemy may bark viciously, he cannot bite. All his threats are a joke, a put-on.
Those who abuse and blaspheme the people of God insult God Himself; and He takes very seriously what is said and done against them as that being said and done against Himself. Remember . . . IF you reproach God, you reproach the Holy One of Israel, the One and Only TRUE God of the Universe! BEWARE!!!
Isaiah 37:23 Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel. (KJV)
Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? . . . a creature like yourself? NO, but THE One and Only TRUE God, and not one like the gods of the nations, the ridiculous idols of wood and stone, but the TRUE and living God.
And against whom hast thou exalted thy voice? . . . referring to Rabshakeh's crying with a loud voice (Isa.36:13).
and lifted up thine eyes on high? . . . as all proud and arrogant persons do, hating to look upon those they treat with contempt.
Even against the Holy One of Israel . . . God is Israel's God, and He will protect them. He is a Holy One, of pure eyes than to behold with pleasure such a proud blaspheming creature, and can look on him only with anger . . . for it is against such as these that the Holy God will set Himself. He will these wicked ones resist, pull down and destroy.
Isaiah 37:24 By thy servants hast thou reproached the Lord, and hast said, By the multitude of my chariots am I come up to the height of the mountains, to the sides of Lebanon; and I will cut down the tall cedars thereof, and the choice fir trees thereof: and I will enter into the height of his border, and the forest of his Carmel. (KJV)
By thy servants hast thou reproached the Lord . . . mainly by Rabshakeh, and the other two that were with him, who, no doubt, agreed to what he said; not content to reproach him himself, he set his servants to do the same. He made use of them as instruments, and even set them, as well as himself, above the Lord.
And hast said, by the multitude of my chariots am I come up to the height of the mountains . . . not only with his foot soldiers, but with his chariots, and a great number of them, he had travelled over hills and mountains, as Hannibal had over the Alps, and was now upon the high mountains which were around Jerusalem, and very near the mountain of the Lord's House.
To the sides of Lebanon . . . meaning either the mountain of Lebanon, which was on the borders of the land of Israel, famous for cedars and fir trees, later mentioned; or, the Temple made of the wood of Lebanon, near which his army now lay as some understand it.
And I will cut down the tall cedars thereof, and the choice fir trees thereof . . . to make way for his army, and to support himself with materials for the siege; to make tents with for his soldiers to lie in, or wooden fortresses from where they could annoy the city. The cedars of Lebanon were many and very large and tall.
And I will enter into the height of his border . . . some think the tower of Lebanon, which stood on the east part of it towards Syria, is meant; but it seems rather to mean Jerusalem, the city of the nation, which he thought himself sure of entering, and taking possession of; for this was what his heart was set upon.
And I will subdue the city of their strength . . . their strong city Jerusalem, in which they placed their strength.
And the forest of his Carmel . . . or the forest and his fruitful field, the same city, which, for the number of its houses and inhabitants, was like a forest, and was Hezekiah's fruitful field, where all his riches and treasure were.
Isaiah 37:25 I have digged, and drunk water; and with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of the besieged places. (KJV)
I have digged, and drunk water . . . in places where he came, and found no water for his army, he set his soldiers to work digging cisterns or wells, so that they had water enough to drink (2 Ki.19:24), it is strange waters, which were not known before.
And with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of the besieged places . . . or with the hoofs of the horses, by which he trampled down banks of rivers, pools and cisterns of water; indicating the vast number of his soldiers, who could drink up a river, or carry it away with them, or could turn the streams or rivers that ran by or around besieged cities, and so hindered the completion of a siege . . . he had the ways and means to very easily drain them, and ford them; or to cut off all available water from those besieged.
Isaiah 37:26 Hast thou not heard long ago, how I have done it; and of ancient times, that I have formed it? now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste defenced cities into ruinous heaps. (KJV)
Hast thou not heard long ago? . . . by report, by reading the history of ancient times, or by way of the prophets . . . these are the words of the Lord to Sennacherib.
How I have done it; and of ancient times that I have formed it? . . . I have done mighty feats, and will do more; and will own all that I have done (vs.24-26). God does all according to the counsel of His will.
Now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste defenced cities into ruinous heaps . . . into heaps of dust, which being moved, and raised by the wind, fly away like flowers and blossoms of trees.
Now should I bring, it to be laid waste, and fenced cities to be ruinous heaps? . . . meaning the Jews, the city of Jerusalem, and other fenced cities. The meaning is, that that decree, which God had framed and formed in His own mind from all eternity, He was now bringing to pass; which was, that this king of Babylon would be a destroyer of fortified cities, which he would reduce to heaps of ruin . . . because of this, he had no reason to boast as he had done, for the king was only an instrument of executing the purposes and plans of God . . . even though it was not in the king’s heart, nor could the king ever bring it to, pass without approval of God.
Isaiah 37:27 Therefore their inhabitants were of small power, they were dismayed and confounded: they were as the grass of the field, and as the green herb, as the grass on the housetops, and as corn blasted before it be grown up. (KJV)
Therefore their inhabitants were of small power . . . or shorthanded, it was not in the power of their hands to help themselves, because the Lord took away their strength, having determined that they would be destroyed for their sins; otherwise it would not have been in the power of Sennacherib to have subdued them. This really took away a great deal from the king of Assyria's victory . . . that they were a weak people, who were given up into his hands by the Lord, according to His purposes and will.
They were dismayed and confounded . . . not so much at the sight of Sennacherib's army, but because the Lord had discouraged them, and took away their natural courage from them, so that they became an easy prey to him.
They were as the grass of the field . . . grass has no strength to stand before the mower.
And as the green herb . . . which is easily cropped by the hand of man or eaten by the beasts of the field.
As the grass on the housetops . . . which has no roots set, and is dried up with the heat of the sun.
And as corn blasted before it be grown up . . . before it rises up into a stalk, much less into ears, is blasted by disease or hot winds before it becomes ears.
Isaiah 37:28 But I know thy abode, and thy going out, and thy coming in, and thy rage against me. (KJV)
But I know thy abode, and thy going out, and thy coming in . . . God knew where he lived, what he did at home, his secret councils, groups, set-ups, schemes and plans for the subduing of kingdoms, and setting up an universal monarchy; and his going out of Babylon, his marches, and his entrance into the land of Judea; there was not a motion made, or a step taken in the cabinet or camp . . . all was perfectly known by the Lord.
And thy rage against me . . . God knew Sennacherib’s rage against God and His people, against the city that was called by His Name, against the Temple where God was worshipped, and especially against His servant Hezekiah, because he would not immediately deliver up the city to him. Sennacherib’s wrath and fury, is very clear to God.
Isaiah 37:29 Because thy rage against me, and thy tumult, is come up into mine ears, therefore will I put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest. (KJV)
Because thy rage against me, and thy tumult is come up into mine ears . . . the rage which Sennacherib expressed, both by Rabshakeh, and in his letter against Hezekiah and his people, is taken by the Lord as against Himself. So great was Sennacherib’s care and concern for the abuses, insults and blasphemies belched out against God; that it was impossible that the Lord did not hear the verbal abuse. The Lord did take notice of it, who had it in contempt, adds:
Therefore will I put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips . . . the Lord compares King Sennacherib to a leviathan, or a great whale, or to some very large and unruly fish, not easily caught and managed (Job 41:1), or to an ox or buffalo, in whose noses men put iron rings, and lead them about; and also to a horse or mule, which are managed by the bit and bridle . . . indicating the strength, fierceness and fury of the Assyrian monarch, and the power of God to restrain him, which He could easily do:
And I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest . . . God would turn him away from Jerusalem, back the same way from which he came, to his own land, and so He did (vs.37).
Isaiah 37:30 And this shall be a sign unto thee, Ye shall eat this year such as groweth of itself; and the second year that which springeth of the same: and in the third year sow ye, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruit thereof. (KJV)
And this shall be a sign unto thee . . . not a sign to Sennacherib, but to Hezekiah; for here the Lord turns Himself from Sennacherib, and directs His speech now to Hezekiah . . . in order to comfort him under the dreadful anxieties he had with the Assyrian monarch, and his army. The Lord assures Hezekiah of deliverance; giving him a sign, and which was a miracle, as the word sometimes means, and was no less marvelous than the deliverance itself:
Ye shall eat this year such as groweth of itself: and the second year that which springeth of the same: and in the third year sow ye, and reap and plant vineyards, and eat the fruit thereof . . .
a sign, a token which when fulfilled, would assure Hezekiah of the Truth of the whole prophecy as to the enemy's overthrow. The two years, in which the Jews were sustained by the spontaneous growth of the Earth, were the two in which Judea had been already ravaged by Sennacherib. Ye did eat (the first year) such as groweth of itself, and in the second year that... but in this third year sow ye, for in this year the land shall be delivered from the foe. The fact that Sennacherib moved his camp away immediately after shows that the first two years refer to the past, not to the future as some say.
Isaiah 37:31 And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward: (KJV)
And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah . . . the few that escaped out of the cities of Judah, when Sennacherib invaded the land, fled to Jerusalem for safety; these were a type of the remnant, according to the election of grace, the few that are chosen of God, the special people redeemed by Christ, the small number that enter in at the strait gate (Mat.7:13), and are saved; and who escape the vengeance of divine justice, the wrath to come and the damnation of Hell; which is owed solely to the love of God, the covenant of His grace, the security of salvation brought about only by Christ Jesus (Jn.14:6; Acts 4:12). These are the household of faith, they,
Shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward . . . the sense is, that those people that fled from their own homes to Jerusalem, should return there again after the breaking up of the siege, and be firmly settled, and live peaceably and prosperously.
Isaiah 37:32 For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of the LORD of hosts shall do this. (KJV)
For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant . . . when the city would be free from the enemy, the remnant would go out of it, and return to their former settlements, in several parts of Judea.
And they that escape out of Mount Zion . . . again, the same remnant, described in a different way, some who were in the city of Jerusalem, and others in the fort of Zion, but departed from there when the siege broke up (Isa.2:3).
The zeal of the Lord of hosts shall do this . . . the Lord’s concern is for His own honor and glory, and His great love for His people, shall allow Him to perform all that is here promised and foretold. One version says: by the word of the Lord of hosts this shall be done.
Isaiah 37:33 Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shields, nor cast a bank against it. (KJV)
Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the king of Assyria . . . this is what the LORD has said about the Assyrian monarch.
He shall not come into this city . . . he will not enter this city. Some think he never was any closer than Libnah, from where he sent his letter to Hezekiah (vs.8).
Nor shoot an arrow there . . . he would not even shoot a single arrow against it; neither he nor his archers would so much as to annoy or kill anyone in it.
Nor come before it with shields . . . no soldiers with shields will come near the city.
Nor cast a bank against it. . . raise a mount, in order to fix his troops on, and shoot his arrows in to greater advantage. See: (2 Ki.19:32-35).
Isaiah 37:34 By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the LORD. (KJV)
By the way that he came, by the same shall he return . . . without fulfilling his plans on Jerusalem, or other places; he shall lose his labor, and go the fastest way back to his own country, without disturbing other nations, enlarging his kingdom, for he was quite discouraged and confused by what he shall meet with.
And shall not come into this city, saith the Lord . . . or, unto this city, as before; which is repeated to confirm it, and to show the certainty of it. This is very specific and was also literally fulfilled.
Isaiah 37:35 For I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake. (KJV)
For I will defend this city to save it . . . I will shield it . . . and if God is the Shield and Protection of any place or people, they must know they will be safe, for who can hurt them?
For my own sake, and for my servant David's sake . . . not for the advantages of the inhabitants of it, but for the sake of His own Name and glory, who had been blasphemed by the Assyrian monarch, and his general, and for the sake of His servant David, in whose seed He had promised the Kingdom would be established (2 Sam.7:12), and mainly for the sake of the Messiah, David's Son, and the Lord's Servant, who was to spring from Hezekiah's race, and therefore must not be cut off.
*****God is His people's Bountiful Benefactor, as well as their Powerful Protector. He is both a sun and a shield to those that trust in Him (Ps.84:11). Jerusalem shall be defended (vs.35), the besiegers would NOT come into it, nor would they come before it with any regular attack, but they shall be routed away before they begin the siege (vs.33). In addition to this, God will return in mercy to His people, and will do good to them. Their land would be much more fruitful, so that their losses shall be abundantly repaired. They would not feel any of the ill effects either of the enemies' wasting the country or of their own being stopped from farming. But the Earth, as at first, shall bring forth of itself, and they shall live and live plentifully upon its unprompted productions. The blessing of the Lord can, when He pleases, make rich without the hand of the diligent.
God had answered Hezekiah through Isaiah, assuring him that:
#1. Judah would soon be free from the Assyrians: they would eat that which grew by itself for the rest of the year, and in the next year as well; then in the third year they would sow and reap in peace (vs.30).
#2. The remnant of Judah would again take root downward and bear fruit upward (vs.31).
#3. There would be a remnant which would escape out of Jerusalem and out of Zion (vs.32).
#4. The king of Assyria would be utterly driven out of the land of Judah without even besieging Jerusalem, and God would defend the city (vs.33-35).
God Destroys the Assyrian Army (37:36-38)
Isaiah 37:36 Then the angel of the LORD went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. (KJV)
Then the angel of the Lord went forth . . . from Heaven, at the command of the Lord, being one of His ministering spirits, sent forth by Him, for the protection of His people . . . to destroy their enemies. This was the same night, in which the Assyrian army sat down before Jerusalem, or possibly the same night in which the message was sent to Hezekiah (2 Ki.19:35).
And smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred and fourscore and five thousand men . . . an extraordinary slaughter indeed . . . revealing the awesome power and strength of ONE single angel. Josephus (Antiqu. l. 10. c. 1. sect. 5), says they were smitten with a disease; but other Jewish writers say it was by fire from Heaven, which took their lives, but did not consume their bodies, nor burn their clothes. Whatever it was, they all were totally destroyed as they were.
And when they arose early in the morning . . . the few of the army that survived; Sennacherib and his servants about him; or Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem that were besieged;
Behold, they were all dead corpses . . . the ENTIRE ARMY waskilled, with the exception of a meager few . . . this is well expressed with a note of admiration, behold for a magnificent thing it was.
*****There is no standing before the judgments of God when they come at His command. The greatest numbers . . . an hundred fourscore and five thousand CANNOT stand before them! ONE lone angel shall, in ONE short night, lay a vast army of men dead on the spot, when God assigns him so to do (vs.36). Dear one, do you really SEE and can you really comprehend the awesome POWER of Almighty God? This clearly reveals that 185,000 soldiers . . . in an instant . . . were turned into 185,000 dead corpses. I believe that angels are used by God, much more than any of us are aware of, as ministers of God's justice, to punish the pride and break the power of wicked men.
There are many who think that Psalm 76 was written because of the event of this defeat. It is called an ode against the Assyrian by some, and it is considered by many of the best commentators to have been composed by Asaph after the defeat of Sennacherib. Read it!
Isaiah 37:37 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh. (KJV)
So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went, and returned . . . being informed of the destruction of his army in this miraculous way, he left the place where he was in a big hurry to get to, fearing that he too would be killed in the same way, and since he had no army to pursue his plans, he took the quickest way back to his own country, where he returned with great shame and confusion.
And dwelt at Nineveh . . . the main city of his kingdom (Gen.10:11).
Isaiah 37:38 And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Armenia: and Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead. (KJV)
And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god . . . Josephus says (Antiqu. l. 10. c. 1. sect. 5.), in Sennacherib’s temple, called Arasce; but Nisroch was supposedly the name of the deity (god, idol) he worshipped; although who he really worshipped was not certain. One commentator says it was neser, a plank from the ark of Noah. Another says it was his idol Dagon, the word means a prince, there are others just as stupid. None of these can be verified. He was worshipping a false god!
That Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword . . . Adrammelech had his name from an idol so called (2 Ki.17:31), which means a glorious king; and Sharezer may indicate a prince of treasure. Josephus says Adrammelech and Sharezer were Sennacherib’s eldest sons. What caused them to be guilty of this parricide (killing of a parent) is not known. One suggestion that makes sense is: when Sennacherib prayed to his god, he vowed that if the god would keep him from being killed, he would offer up his two sons to him, who were standing close by and heard him, so they killed him. This cannot be verified.
And they escaped into the land of Armenia . . . or Ararat; on the mountains where the ark rested (Gen.8:4). Josephus says it was Armenia into which they escaped; another says it was a country in Armenia, through which the river Araxes flows, at the foot of Mount Taurus. One commentator calls it the land of Kardu; and the Syriac version the land of the Keredeans, which also belonged to Armenia; in these mountainous places they might think themselves most safe.
And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead . . . Josephus calls Esarhaddon Assarachoddas, and in another place Esarhaddon is called Assaradinus, the same, as some think, whom the Greeks call Sardanapalus; in the Apocrypha. Esarhaddon (Asnappar) . . . he is mentioned as having brought colonists into Samaria (Ezra 4:2,10; 2 Ki.19:37). He is thought to have been the king who carried Manasseh captive to Babylon (2 Chron.33:11). He is called Sarchedon, which some take to be the same as Sargon (Isa.20:1).
*****The greatest kings CANNOT stand before the judgments of Almighty God! The great and mighty king of Assyria, looks very small when he is forced to return, not only in disgrace and humility, but because he could NOT accomplish what he had expected to do. He was filled with so much pride and was so sure that he could accomplish all he had set out to do.
But when fear and terror entered in . . . he turned tail and ran, as fast as he could! Such fear he had never experienced! That lone angel, in one night, killed 185,000 soldiers in his massive army! The terror struck his heart! Would the angel now come and destroy him?
The Almighty and Awesome Creator God can quickly stop the breath of those who breathe out threats and slaughter against His people, and He will do it when they have filled up the measure of their iniquity (Rom.2:5; 2 Tim.2:13). The Lord is known by these judgments which He carries out, known to be a God that resists the proud but giveth grace to the humble (Jam.4:6; 1 Pet.5:5). So many prophecies were fulfilled in this providence, which should greatly encourage us, for they are designed as common and general assurances of the safety of the church and of all that trust in God, to depend upon God for the accomplishment of them. He that has delivered in the past . . . will do so for us today. The Almighty and Awesome God will never desert those who stand firm in their faith in Him!
Psalm 76:1-12 In Judah is God known: his name is great in Israel. 2 In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion. 3 There brake he the arrows of the bow, the shield, and the sword, and the battle. Selah. 4 Thou art more glorious and excellent than the mountains of prey. The stouthearted are spoiled, they have slept their sleep: and none of the men of might have found their hands. 6 At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, both the chariot and horse are cast into a dead sleep. 7 Thou, even thou, art to be feared: and who may stand in thy sight when once thou art angry? 8 Thou didst cause judgment to be heard from heaven; the earth feared, and was still, 9 When God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth. Selah. 10 Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain. 11 Vow, and pay unto the LORD your God: let all that be round about him bring presents unto him that ought to be feared. 12 He shall cut off the spirit of princes: he is terrible to the kings of the earth. (KJV)
Book of Isaiah . . Isaiah's Mini-Bible
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Isaiah's Introduction to the Suffering Servant
Isaiah's Suffering Servant Prophecy. . . Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Isaiah's Redemption Through the Suffering Servant . . . Isaiah Ch.49 . . Isaiah Ch.50 . . Isaiah Ch.51 . . Isaiah Ch.52 . . Isaiah Ch.53 . . Isaiah Ch.54 . . Isaiah Ch.55 . . Isaiah Ch.56 . . Isaiah Ch.57 . . Home Page
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