THE BEST DEFENSE IS A DIVINE DEFENSE
You have heard the saying in the sports world: The best defense is a good offense. Here we see in the spiritual and political realm: The best defense is a Divine Defense. When God is on our side we have nothing to fear. In fact God’s first word to us as we turn to Him for deliverance is always: “Fear not!” There are many important principles about prayer that we can learn from Hezekiah’s approach to God here. The judgment of God against His enemies may not be immediate, but it is certain and it is devastating.
Constable: Hezekiah’s response to this crisis was to turn to Yahweh in prayer and to His prophet for an answer. He sensed his position under Yahweh’s authority, humbled himself, and sought God’s help (cf. 2 Sam. 7; 1 Kings 8). God rewarded Hezekiah’s attitude and assured him of success because the Assyrians had challenged the reputation of Yahweh.
Dale Ralph Davis: Structure:
King’s plea, vv. 1–4
Prophet’s assurance, vv. 5–7
Assyria’s propaganda, vv. 8–13
King’s prayer, vv. 14–19
Prophet’s assurance, vv. 20–34
Assyria’s termination, vv. 35–37
I. (:1-7) THE BEST DEFENSE LOOKS TO THE LORD FOR DELIVERANCE – SEEKING GOD’S WORD AND CALLING OUT IN PRAYER
A. (:1) Humbling Oneself Before the Lord
“And when King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes,
covered himself with sackcloth and entered the house of the LORD.”
MacArthur: A reaction that symbolized Hezekiah’s grief, repentance, and contrition. The nation had to repent and the king had to lead the way.
Whitcomb: Having been thoroughly chastened by his experience with the Assyrians, Hezekiah now set the pattern for his people in following God’s way of dealing with a great crisis:
(1) self-humiliation – 19:1a;
(2) going to the appointed place of worship – 19:1b;
(3) consulting the Word of God through His prophets – 19:2; and
(4) putting God’s honor and glory above everything else – 19:4.
B. (:2) Seeking the Word of the Lord
“Then he sent Eliakim who was over the household with Shebna the scribe and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz.”
Paul House: Hezekiah knows he needs a word from the Lord, so he sends Eliakim, Shebna, and some priests to the prophet Isaiah. Again, the king’s behavior is extraordinary in light of past kings. Before, the prophets sought the kings, only to be rebuked. Now, the king actually wants a prophetic word. He is not simply acting out of desperation (Ahaz took quite another route when he was desperate. Hezekiah acts out his personal convictions).
C. (:3-4) Utilizing Prayer as the #1 Strategy
1. (:3) Recognizing Our Own Lack of Strength
“And they said to him, ‘Thus says Hezekiah, This day is a day of distress, rebuke, and rejection; for children have come to birth, and there is no strength to deliver.’”
Peter Pett: In his message to Isaiah Hezekiah likens the situation of the anguished nation to that of a woman having great difficulties in bringing forth a child that was overdue, something that all would understand. She was continuing to suffer the anguish of her labour, but she was so weak after what she had already suffered that the child just would not be born. Many would see such a situation as an indication that YHWH was rebuking her, and that in some way she was in disgrace. She herself would certainly feel the disgrace of it.
His point was that in the same way Judah was undergoing its own ‘labour pains’. It was in anguish, it was in great trouble, it was aware that it was under the judgment of YHWH, it was aware of its own disgrace. But it was too weak to produce anything.
Mordecai Cogan: Hezekiah’s message to the prophet is twofold. It conveys the sense of humbling which Sennacherib’s victories have induced, here termed “rebuke”; and at the same time, it calls attention to the blasphemies against yhwh hurled by the Rab-shakeh.
2. (:4a) RebukingThose Who Reproach the Lord
“Perhaps the LORD your God will hear all the words of Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to reproach the living God, and will rebuke the words which the LORD your God has heard.”
Whitcomb: If the thrice-holy God of Israel had honored the sincere repentance of a wicked king like Ahab (I Kings 21:29), and later honored the repentant prayer of another wicked king named Manasseh (II Chron. 33:12, 13), He would surely respond to this king of a prayer form this king of a king. And Hezekiah was not disappointed. The Lord promised through Isaiah that the blasphemies of Rabshakeh would be dealt with. With regard to Sennacherib, God would maneuver him back to Nineveh (possibly by a report of potential rebellion there) and cause him to be killed at the hand of assassins.
3. (:4b) Relying Mainly on Prayer
“Therefore, offer a prayer for the remnant that is left.”
D. (:5-7) Believing the Prophetic Word of the Lord
1. (:5) Appealing to Isaiah for a Word from the Lord
“So the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah.”
Peter Pett: The servants were the servants of ‘king’ Hezekiah. Here was represented all the might and authority of the kingdom, and its appeal was to Isaiah the prophet of YHWH. The kingdom could now do nothing. It had fought until it was on its knees. He was their last hope. But they did not come in despair. They came because they did believe that Isaiah, as the voice of YHWH, would tell them what to do.
2. (:6) Addressing Fear and Resisting Intimidation
“And Isaiah said to them, ‘Thus you shall say to your master, Thus says the LORD, Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me.’”
Message of support and encouragement
Paul House: Isaiah’s response to the envoys’ visit is clear, concise, confident, and comforting. He, too, reflects on the military and religious issues at hand, with the primary emphasis on the spiritual matters, which he in turn believes will decide the military concerns. Hezekiah need not fear, for the Lord will make himself known to the Assyrian king who has blasphemed him. Isaiah offers very specific promises, ones that will prove he is either a true prophet or a liar. His words also take Hezekiah one step further in his quest to serve the Lord. He knows now that the Lord promises to help him, yet he must believe this new promise, just as he has believed in the past.
3. (:7) Anticipating Deliverance
“Behold, I will put a spirit in him so that he shall hear a rumor
and return to his own land.
And I will make him fall by the sword in his own land.”
Peter Pett: As with most prophecy no time scale was laid down. That was not the point of prophecy. The point was its inevitability. The departure of Sennacherib would certainly happen shortly, as indeed is evidenced by the silences in the Assyrian inscriptions themselves, but his falling by the sword in his own land would happen at YHWH’s discretion. The point was that his death, whenever it came, was totally in the hands of YHWH Who had even decided how and where it would take place. It would not necessarily happen immediately, but it would necessarily happen as YHWH had said. And as we know from the inscriptions, when the time came, that was precisely how it happened. Thus YHWH’s power over Sennacherib was seen as total.
II. (:8-13) THE BEST DEFENSE IGNORES ENEMY LIES AND PROPAGANDA
A. (:8) Counterattacks Can Divert the Enemy
“Then Rabshakeh returned and found the king of Assyria fighting against Libnah, for he had heard that the king had left Lachish.”
Constable: God’s method of deliverance involved harassing the Assyrian army. First Libnah, a town a few miles northeast of Lachish, needed Sennacherib’s attention. Then he received word that the king of Cush (southern Egypt) was coming to attack from the southwest, the direction opposite from Libnah and Jerusalem. These divinely sent diversions caused Sennacherib to suspend his siege of Jerusalem.
B. (:9) Clout of the Enemy Can be Overestimated
“When he heard them say concerning Tirhakah king of Cush,
‘Behold, he has come out to fight against you,’
he sent messengers again to Hezekiah saying,”
R. D. Patterson: The reason for Sennacherib’s removal follows in v. 9: it had been reported to him that the Egyptian army under Tirhakah was even now advancing through the Philistine coast to aid the Philistine city of Ekron. Apparently by-passing Ekron, the Assyrian king was able to bring his forces safely to El Tekeh, where he met and defeated the Egyptian troops. After the victory at El Tekeh, Sennacherib turned back inland to capture Timnah and then Ekron itself.
While Sennacherib was thus engaged in fighting, he sent a siege contingent to Jerusalem so that Hezekiah could not attack from the rear. As well he sent the Rab Shakeh back to Jerusalem with a message for Hezekiah designed to continue the psychological warfare.
C. (:10-13) Claims of the Enemy Rely on Unsanctified Reasoning
1. (:10) Seeking to Undermine Faith
“Thus you shall say to Hezekiah king of Judah,
‘Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you saying,
Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’”
2. (:11-13) Finding Security in a Wrong View of History
a. (:11) Inevitability of Defeat
“Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done
to all the lands, destroying them completely.
So will you be spared?”
b. (:12-13) Inequality of Deities
“Did the gods of those nations which my fathers destroyed deliver them, even Gozan and Haran and Rezeph and the sons of Eden who were in Telassar? 13 Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of the city of Sepharvaim, and of Hena and Ivvah?”
MacArthur: The conquered cities mentioned here lay between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in Mesopotamia, and were cities of Syria that had recently fallen to Sennacherib and the Assyrians.
Mordecai: These references were intended to impress upon Hezekiah that continued rebellion would only lead to disaster, as it had in Israel.
III. (:14-19) THE BEST DEFENSE PETITIONS GOD FOR DELIVERANCE IN ACCORDANCE WITH GLORIFYING HIS NAME
A. (:14) Casting Our Cares Upon God
“Then Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it,
and he went up to the house of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD.”
B. (:15-19) Calling Upon God to Deliver His People and Glorify His Name
“And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD and said,”
Peter Pett: His prayer was simple and to the point.
• Firstly he considered just Whom it was to Whom he was speaking. It was the God of Israel, the One Who sits between the cherubim, the one Who is the only God and God alone, the Creator of Heaven and earth.
• Then he called on God to hear and look and consider the situation, and especially these words that he had received from the king of Assyria, which He should note were in defiance of Him as the living God.
• Then he humbly acknowledged the truth of what Sennacherib had written. It was true that the kings of Assyria had laid waste the lands and cities mentioned, and had cast their gods into the fire. But that had been because they were no-gods, and simply the works of man’s hands (he had been well taught by Isaiah – see Isaiah 40:18-20; Isaiah 44:9-20). It was that that explained how they could be burned.
• And finally he called on YHWH to demonstrate to all the kingdoms of the earth that He was different from all others, so that they might know that He alone was God.
Thus having reached the end of his resources Hezekiah had recognized that his only hope lay in God, and his approach was not on the basis of his own need, nor of the need of his people, but on the basis that Sennacherib had insulted YHWH and that YHWH should vindicate His Name for His own glory. His concern was for the honour and Name of YHWH. That should be at the root of all prayer.
1. (:15) Invocation – Transcendence of God = Master of the Universe
“O LORD, the God of Israel,
who art enthroned above the cherubim,
Thou art the God, Thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth.
Thou hast made heaven and earth.”
Dale Ralph Davis: Hezekiah comes to a God of intense presence (‘enthroned above the cherubim’), sovereign sway (‘God … of all the kingdoms …’), and massive power (‘you have made heaven and earth’). Yahweh is specially present to Israel in his temple (‘enthroned above the cherubim’) but that does not mean he has gone AWOL among the nations or throughout the world. In one sentence Hezekiah confesses that he approaches a God who is near, vast, and mighty. One who is accessible, sovereign, and able. He packs a three-point sermon into the opening lines of his prayer! And the twist is that it’s not only true but helpful. Is this not precisely what Hezekiah needs to remember in the present distress? What better way for Hezekiah to encourage Hezekiah than to rehearse God’s majesty as he requests God’s help? Speaking truth about God to God may stir up assurance in God. Is this a cue for us to take more care about our address to God, about the way we begin our prayers?
2. (:16-18) Complaint – Immanence of God = Familiarity with Our Situation
a. (:16) Apply Your Senses = Hear / See / Listen
“Incline Thine ear, O LORD, and hear;
open Thine eyes, O LORD, and see;
and listen to the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God.”
b. (:17) Admit Reality
“Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria
have devastated the nations and their lands”
c. (:18) Appeal to the Uniqueness of Judah’s Situation
“and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods
but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone.
So they have destroyed them.”
3. (:19) Petition – Intervention of God = Deliver Us / Glorify Your Name
“And now, O LORD our God, I pray, deliver us from his hand
that all the kingdoms of the earth may know
that Thou alone, O LORD, art God.”
Dale Ralph Davis: Hezekiah’s petition is two-pronged—emergency and testimony. ‘And now, Yahweh our God, save us from his hand’ (v. 19a). Requests are fairly simple and direct when the terror of the world is outside your walls. But there is an additional petition (which actually indicates the result should Yahweh save Jerusalem): ‘And let all the kingdoms of the earth know that you, Yahweh, are God all by yourself’ (v. 19b). Yahweh’s deliverance at Jerusalem will magnify Yahweh’s reputation throughout the world. Dozens of deities had proven helpless against the mighty Sennacherib and Sennacherib’s lord, Assur; but when Assur meets Yahweh and gets creamed he will go (as it were) and join the other loser gods. Hezekiah’s plea has its eye on his trouble and on Yahweh’s glory—and when we are concerned with God’s glory we are likely to be heard. . .
When the driving passion of our prayers is Yahweh’s honor a strange confidence begins to seep into them.
Prayer is frequently unnerving because it is the activity we engage in between catastrophe and deliverance. But if we pray truth, as Hezekiah did, we will find it not only reaches God but anchors us.
IV. (:20-28) THE BEST DEFENSE AGGRESSIVELY REBUKES GOD’S ENEMIES
(:20) Getting God’s Attention
“Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah saying,
‘Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel,
Because you have prayed to Me about Sennacherib king of Assyria,
I have heard you.’”
R. D. Patterson: The Lord’s answer was not long in coming. Isaiah sent a message from God to Hezekiah, assuring him that his prayer had been heard. The major portion of that message is composed within a threefold poetic utterance:
(1) for Sennacherib there is a reply to his misguided boasting (vv. 21-28);
(2) for Hezekiah God gives a sign that he would deal with Sennacherib and deliver his people (vv. 29-31); and
(3) for all there is a prophetic declaration that Sennacherib would not even begin the battle of Jerusalem let alone conquer it (vv. 32-34).
Iain Provan: A second Isaianic prophecy, in three parts, brings God’s response to Hezekiah’s prayer. The first part (vv. 20–28) opens with general indications about the consequences of Sennacherib’s blasphemy and pride in terms of his future downfall, when he will be despised and mocked by Jerusalem as he flees (vv. 21–22). His mistake has been to imagine that his military accomplishments have been achieved in his own strength (vv. 23–24). In reality, however, the Lord ordained and planned it all (vv. 25–26). Assyria was merely the rod of his anger (to use another Isaianic phrase; cf. Isa. 10:5–11), something already implied, unwittingly, in Sennacherib’s use of the verb ḥrm, “destroy,” in 19:11 (cf. 1 Kgs. 9:21 and 20:42 for the characteristic use of ḥrm in relation to the Lord). Now the judgment of the all-knowing God (v. 27) will come upon Assyria instead, and Sennacherib will be forced to return by the way he came (v. 28).
Peter Pett: The oracle divides up into four main sections:
1) Judah’s Scorn At Sennacherib For Setting Himself Up Against YHWH (2 Kings 19:21-22).
2) A Description Of The Boasting And Defiance Of Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:23-24).
3) YHWH’s Response That Sennacherib In Fact Owes All His Success To Him (2 Kings 19:25-26).
4) An Assurance That Because Of Sennacherib’s Taunts YHWH Intends To Act Against Him And Transport Him Back Like A Captive Wild Beast To Nineveh (2 Kings 19:27-28).
A. (:21-22) Rebuke for Underestimating Your Opponent
1. (:21) You Will be Mocked by God’s People as You Retreat
“This is the word that the LORD has spoken against him: ‘She has despised you and mocked you, The virgin daughter of Zion; She has shaken her head behind you, The daughter of Jerusalem!’”
Whitcomb: God’s answer to this humble and discerning prayer involved three distinct ideas:
(1) Sennacherib is a mere instrument in the hands of a sovereign God – II Kings 19:21-28;
(2) the remnant of Israel will prosper again – II Kings 19:29-31; and
(3) the Assyrians will not touch Jerusalem – II Kings 19:32-34.
Mordecai Cogan: No small amount of irony is involved here, as the prophet depicts the attacked consoling the attacker, and this by saying, “Poor Assyria, how you do suffer!”
R. D. Patterson: The term “virgin” emphasizes that Jerusalem would not be violated by Sennacherib. By the use of a rhetorical question, God points out that Sennacherib had not wisely considered his course of action. His pride and arrogance had caused him to insult the Holy One of Israel. God’s own holiness had been manifested clearly through his chosen people Israel (Ps 89:18), however much they may have failed him or poorly represented him (cf. Ps 78:41). What Sennacherib needed to understand was that a holy God would not countenance sin, whether in his own people (cf. Isa 1:4-31) or in those nations whose destinies he controls (Jer 50:29).
David Guzik: Jerusalem could be called the virgin, the daughter of Zion for several reasons:
• She was unpolluted with the gross idolatry of the pagans.
• God would defend her from the intended rape by Sennacherib and the Assyrians.
• She had never been invaded or conquered by another since the days of David.
2. (:22) You are Messing with the Wrong God!
“Whom have you reproached and blasphemed? And against whom have you raised your voice, And haughtily lifted up your eyes?
Against the Holy One of Israel!”
Paul House: God’s response begins with the promise of a reversal of fortunes. Assyria has been oppressing Judah, and certainly expects to continue doing so. Their king has mocked Judah’s king and Judah’s God. But everything will soon change. Jerusalem is personified as a virgin daughter who tosses her head in disdain at the proud, once-powerful Assyrians, who believe they have made themselves great. Indeed they have been great, but their reputation will not be “enhanced” by the rape of this virgin. Why? Because in insulting the virgin they have insulted the virgin’s protector, who happens to rule the universe.
B. (:23-24) Rebuke for Overestimating Your Strength and Achievements –
Your Ego is Misinformed
“Through your messengers you have reproached the Lord, And you have said, ‘With my many chariots I came up to the heights of the mountains, To the remotest parts of Lebanon; And I cut down its tall cedars and its choice cypresses. And I entered its farthest lodging place, its thickest forest. 24 I dug wells and drank foreign waters, And with the sole of my feet I dried up All the rivers of Egypt.’”
C. (:25-26) Rebuke for Ignorance of God’s Sovereignty –
Your Past Military Successes were Completely Due to God’s Working
“Have you not heard? Long ago I did it; From ancient times I planned it. Now I have brought it to pass, That you should turn fortified cities into ruinous heaps.
Therefore their inhabitants were short of strength, They were dismayed and put to shame; They were as the vegetation of the field and as the green herb, As grass on the housetops is scorched before it is grown up.”
R. D. Patterson: God then confronted Sennacherib with that which he had apparently not considered. Sennacherib’s successes were foreordained by God (v. 25). Moreover God’s purposes had not been done in secret; he had proclaimed them through his prophets of all ages and even then was bringing them to pass. The result had been that Sennacherib had been able to wreak havoc on people who were totally powerless and as helpless as tender herbage and plants before the blasts of the Sirocco (v. 26). No, Sennacherib should not boast as though what he had done was either self-generated or self-accomplished. It was God’s divine government that was at work; Sennacherib was but God’s instrument of correction for Israel and the nations.
D. (:27-28) Rebuke for False Confidence in Your Own Sovereignty –
Your Submission to God will be Complete and Humiliating
1. (:27) God Know All About You
“But I know your sitting down, And your going out and your coming in, And your raging against Me.”
2. (:28) God Will Control Your Every Movement
“Because of your raging against Me, And because your arrogance has come up to My ears, Therefore I will put My hook in your nose, And My bridle in your lips, And I will turn you back by the way which you came.”
Constable: Assyrian conquerors pictured themselves, on some monuments, as leading their captives with a line that passed through rings that they had placed in their victims’ noses. God promised to do to them as they had done to others (v. 28; cf. Gal. 6:7).
V. (:29-31) PROMISE OF IMMEDIATE (AND FUTURE) DELIVERANCE
A. (:29) Sign of Harvesting Crops
“Then this shall be the sign for you: you shall eat this year what grows of itself, in the second year what springs from the same, and in the third year sow, reap, plant vineyards, and eat their fruit.”
Peter Pett: There is a deliberate change here from poetic metre to prose indicating emphatically that this is a new prophecy and not a part of the prophecy in 2 Kings 19:21-28. It is a promise of immediate deliverance.
Whitcomb: there was hope for the remnant of Judah. The fruitful fields and vineyards which the Assyrians had devastated (cf. Isa. 7:18-25) would be resown and replanted, and by the third year the normal agricultural cycle would function again. To encourage his people, it is quite possible that Hezekiah wrote Psalm 126. The first three verses of this psalm reflect the national and international astonishment that Jerusalem could be delivered so suddenly from such a peril (cf. II Chron. 32:22, 23). Verse 4 is a prayer for the return of prosperity. And verses 5 and 6 are an encouragement to the remnant of Judah to sow their precious seed (instead of eating it), for even though it might involve weeping and tears, yet great joy would come with the harvesting of sheaves.
Constable: An immediate sign helped Hezekiah believe in the long-range deliverance God promised (v. 29). Signs were either predictions of natural events, which came to pass and thus confirmed the prediction (cf. Exod. 3:12; 1 Sam. 2:34; Jer. 44:29), or outright miracles that proved God’s work in history (cf. Isa. 7:14; 38:7). The Israelites had not been able to plant crops around Jerusalem because of the besieging Assyrians. God promised to feed His people for two years with what came up naturally, as a result of previous cultivation. This was a blessing of fertility for trust and obedience (cf. Deut. 28:33). In the third year, the people would again return to their regular cycle of sowing and reaping. Like the crops, the remnant of the people remaining after the invasions of Israel and Judah would also multiply under God’s blessing. As for Sennacherib, God would keep him away from Jerusalem (vv. 32-33).
B. (:30) Surviving Remnant Will Again Prosper
“And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward.”
Iain Provan: The second part of the prophecy looks beyond the withdrawal of the Assyrians from Judah, addressing the question of what will happen then. Recovery will be slow, but the remnant remaining in Jerusalem will survive (cf. 19:4) and go on to take root in the land and prosper (vv. 30–31). The sign that this human recovery will take place in the long term is to be found in the way the remnant will be provided for in the short term. In the aftermath of the Assyrian assault, life will be bleak. But the people will be able to survive because of the crops that spring up from what is already in the ground, and in the third year it will be possible to resume normal agricultural practice. The initial fragility of both human and economic conditions, in other words, should not be a reason for despair. This is not a people under God’s judgment, like those in verse 26—grass sprouting on the roof, withering in the sun for lack of deep roots. This is a people under God’s providential care, guaranteed to bear fruit (cf. Matt. 13:1–30, 36–43; Mark 4:1–20; Luke 8:1–15).
C. (:31) Salvation Comes from the Lord
“For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and out of Mount Zion survivors. The zeal of the LORD shall perform this.”
MacArthur: The same confirmation of God’s promise in 19:7 assured the future establishment of the messianic kingdom. Deliverance from Sennacherib in Hezekiah’s day was a down payment on the literal, final restoration of Israel at Christ’s second coming.
Wiseman: The doctrine of the remnant (vv. 4, 30) left by God’s grace through times of trial was demonstrated by Isaiah, whose son was named Shear-Jashub, ‘remnant will return’ (Isaiah 7:3; 37:30-32). Israelites fled to Judah so that in one sense Judah also included the remnant of Israel to carry on God’s name and work.
Dale Ralph Davis: So Yahweh’s encouragement to his hopeless people is: you will survive and be provided for and begin to prosper again.
The prophet then adds another assurance (vv. 32–34) meant to quiet Jerusalem’s fears. Yahweh explains that Sennacherib’s return to his own land (cf. v. 28b) will be before he can even lay a finger on Jerusalem. He will not enter the city, shoot an arrow against it, bring on his infantry with their shields, or start moving dirt for a siege ramp (v. 32). Sennacherib will simply go home (v. 33), Isaiah says, because Yahweh is our Shield and Defender (v. 34). He, not Sennacherib, will surround the city to save it for his own praise (‘for my own sake,’ here likely means to show his supremacy in face of Assyrian blasphemy) and for his own promises (‘for the sake of David my servant,’ i.e., because of his covenant to maintain David’s royal line until the new David appears).
Yahweh, then, not only blasts Assyria’s pride (vv. 20–28) but is careful to quiet his people’s fears (vv. 29–31, 32–34). The latter is as essential as the former and Yahweh does not forget to do so.
VI. (:32-37) THE BEST DEFENSE IS A DIVINE DEFENSE
“Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria,”
A. (:32-33) The Enemy Will Not Achieve His Goal
1. (:32) His Intentions Will Be Frustrated
“He shall not come to this city or shoot an arrow there;
neither shall he come before it with a shield,
nor throw up a mound against it.”
Peter Pett: Like modern politicians ancient kings could not resist a ‘photo-call’. They wanted to go down in history. Thus at any great victory, especially towards the end of a siege, they would arrive and make some military gesture towards the enemy that could later be recorded on stone. This might take the form of shooting an arrow, brandishing a shield and sword, or ostentatiously supervising the building of siege works. But in this case YHWH promised that this would not happen, simply because the victory would not be achieved. There would be no crowning moment.
2. (:33) His Path Will Be Reversed
“’By the way that he came, by the same he shall return,
and he shall not come to this city,’ declares the LORD.”
B. (:34) God Will Defend His City and His People
“For I will defend this city to save it
for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.”
C. (:35-37) The Enemy Will Be Utterly Defeated
1. (:35) Slaughter of Sennacherib’s Army
“Then it happened that night that the angel of the LORD went out,
and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians;
and when men rose early in the morning, behold, all of them were dead.”
Iain Provan: The angel of the Lord. There is a play on the Hb. word malʾāk (“angel, messenger”) similar to that in 1 Kgs. 19:1–8. Sennacherib’s messengers speak many words against the Lord (2 Kgs. 19:9, 14, 23), but neither Sennacherib nor his messengers have any power to act. The Lord has power of both speech and action and a messenger who is terribly effective.
2. (:36) Retreat of Sennacherib to Nineveh
“So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home,
and lived at Nineveh.”
3. (:37a) Assassination of Sennacherib
“And it came about as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer killed him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat.”
4. (:37b) Succession of Sennacherib by Esarhaddon His Son
“And Esarhaddon his son became king in his place.”
R. D. Patterson: Some twenty years later (681 B.C.), two of Sennacherib’s own sons assassinated him and successfully escaped to Urartu. Another son, Esarhaddon (681-686), succeeded Sennacherib as king. The last vestige of the divine prophecy stood complete. While God’s program may seem to tarry (cf. 2 Peter 3:4-9), it will be accomplished. The mills of God grind slowly but exceedingly fine.
Paul House: Isaiah’s predictions have all come true now. Sennacherib has heard a rumor, has gone home, and has now been killed (cf. 2 Kgs 19:7). In other words, Isaiah’s predictions are not just short-term in nature, they also cover long-term events. Thus, God is in control of all occurrences. Nothing happens outside the Lord’s realm of authority, not even if it has no direct impact on Israel because contrary to Sennacherib’s words the Lord is not a local deity nor a mere idol.