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I have a verse posted on the wall in my study above my computer that reminds me every day of the Lord’s ability to rescue me in times of trouble. I posted it there when I lost my job after 28 years with the same company just as we were starting to trust God for the planting of this church 5 years ago. It was a time of satanic pressure and intimidation.

Psalm 50:15

“Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.”

Satan has a different message and a different agenda for our lives. He loves to put us in the crucible of pressure and hardship in order to solicit our surrender to his seductive temptations.

“The Lord can’t save you,” our antagonist cries out. “I have something to offer you which will meet your needs and bring you comfort and happiness.” Isn’t that what Satan offered to the Lord Jesus to try to dissuade Him from going to the cross – look at all the kingdoms of this earth I would freely give you – just make a deal with me.

“I would never make a deal with the devil,” you glibly protest. But do you really understand the schemes and the strategies of the one pursuing you like a roaring lion? He comes at us very deceptively – presenting himself as an angel of light. The serpent is crafty and subtle. We need to understand his approach and his arguments – they haven’t changed.

4 chapters (36-39) of largely historical narrative inserted in between 2 major sections of Isaiah’s prophecy. First section focused mainly on the threat from Assyria. The second section will focus more on Babylon.

Parunak: The narrative is repeated almost verbatim in 2 Kings 18:13-20:21. Scholars debate extensively whether Isaiah is copying Kings, or Kings is copying Isaiah, or whether both are drawn from some common source. The fact that each differs at points from the other suggests that the third alternative is the case, but that discussion is not important for our understanding of the text.

Historical Context: Judah finally has a godly king – Hezekiah. He has been trying to institute religious reform; tearing down the idols and altars on the high places and pointing people back to the Word of God. But Satan puts him under some intense pressure in this confrontation with the armies of Assyria – under King Sennacherib in 701 B.C. and his arrogant mouthpiece Rabshakeh.



A. (:1-3) The Devil’s Approach: Making a Deal with the Devil Becomes an Option Under the Pressure of Intimidating Danger

1. (:1) Applying Pressure

“Now it came about in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and seized them.”

Constable: On an Assyrian record, Sennacherib claimed to have taken 46 cities of Judah during this campaign (cf. 2 Chron. 32:1). The record is on the Prism of Sennacherib, also called the Taylor Prism, now in the British Museum.

Oswalt – should read 24th year = 701 B.C. ?? Sennacherib had been on his throne about four years by 701 B.C. Those four years had been largely taken up with attempts to put down revolts spurred by the death of his father, Sargon II, on the battlefield. When the east and south had been dealt with in an at least temporary fashion . . . the Assyrian emperor was ready to turn to the West.

2. (:2) Asserting Dominance

“And the king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem to King Hezekiah with a large army. And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool on the highway of the fuller’s field.”

Constable: Rabshakeh is a title that seems about equivalent to field commander. The word literally means “chief cup-bearer,” but this appears to have been the name of the original office from which the present one evolved. The chief cup-bearer was the king’s personal advisor (cf. Neh. 1:11). Lachish stood about 30 miles southwest of Jerusalem. A bas relief, now in the British Museum, shows Sennacherib besieging Lachish. Interestingly, the place where the Assyrian commander took his stand near Jerusalem was the same place where Isaiah had stood when he urged Ahaz to trust God 23 years earlier (cf. 7:3).

Beall: Hezekiah here is presented in conscious contrast to his father Ahaz and his actions in chaps 7-12. Indeed, Rabshakeh picks the very spot to blaspheme the Lord where Isaiah had stood years before to exhort Ahaz to trust in the Lord. And it was Assyria to whom Ahaz had turned for refuge; now that nation was threatening Judah! Yet, Hezekiah’s godly response differed entirely from his father’s reaction to a much less serious threat.

3. (:3) Assembling the Key Leaders

“Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came out to him.”

Oswalt: Hezekiah had thought he had bought the Assyrians off with tribute, but there they stood, with all the calm arrogance of those who have absolute power on their side.

Pressure directed against Hezekiah, against his key leaders, and against the people as a whole

B. (:4-7) The Devil’s Argument: Making a Deal with the Devil is Your Only Viable Option

1. (:4-5) Folly of Resisting the Devil

“Then Rabshakeh said to them, ‘Say now to Hezekiah, Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria, What is this confidence that you have? I say, Your counsel and strength for the war are only empty words. Now on whom do you rely, that you have rebelled against me?’”

Constable: The Rabshakeh told the Judean officials to give Hezekiah—he did not call him a king—a message from “the great king,” a title the Assyrian monarchs arrogantly claimed for themselves (cf. 10:8; 30:33). He questioned Hezekiah’s confidence that led him to rebel against Sennacherib. Clearly Sennacherib wanted the Judahites to know that he regarded Hezekiah as a minor chieftain incapable of resisting the massive power of the Assyrian Empire.

But God commands us to resist the devil.

– Adam and Eve failed here

– Christ was successful in the Temptation in the wilderness

– The command of Scripture is clear: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

2. (:6) Folly of Relying on Egypt (= Other Resources of Power and Wisdom)

“Behold, you rely on the staff of this crushed reed, even on Egypt; on which if a man leans, it will go into his hand and pierce it. So is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who rely on him.”

Very subtle; the devil speaks truth here; in agreement with divine counsel; trying to gain some credibility so you will succumb to his other lies

Constable: Sennacherib had already defeated the Egyptians, who for the first and last time had unsuccessfully come to the aid of the Philistines, at Eltekeh northwest of Lachish.

Oswalt: According to Sennacherib’s annals, the Assyrian army struck the coast at Sidon and from that point worked its way southward, devouring opponent after opponent until the Egyptian army finally made a stand at Eltekeh about twenty miles west of Jerusalem at the edge of the hill country. There Isaiah’s prophecies concerning the foolishness of dependence upon Egypt (20:1–6; 30:1–5; 31:1–3) proved painfully true as the Egyptians were routed and the Assyrians continued on to Lachish, Judah’s last hope for stemming the tide.

3. (:7) Folly of Relying on the Lord

“But if you say to me, ‘We trust in the LORD our God,’ is it not He whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away, and has said to Judah and to Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar?’”

Hezekiah not very popular; had ruffled some feathers with his aggressive policies of worship reform;

Motyer: Hezekiah had conducted a centralizing reform of religion (2 Ki. 18:1-7; 2 Ch. 29-31) with the closure of local sanctuaries and their (at best) corrupt Yahwism. The Rabshakeh speaks from his own heathen background where reduction in quantity of worship detracted from a god’s glory, but he may have been playing also on the frayed nerves of any who were less than convinced of the rightness of what the king was doing.

C. (:8-10) The Devil’s Appeal = Closing Pitch: Making a Deal with the Devil is a Good Deal for You

1. (:8) The Devil Always Has Something to Offer – Seductive Appeal

“Now therefore, come make a bargain with my master the king of Assyria, and I will give you two thousand horses, if you are able on your part to set riders on them.”

Appeals to our Greed, our Pride, the Lusts of our Flesh

2. (:9) The Devil Always Tries to Magnify Our Weakness – Stirring Up Doubt and Fear

“How then can you repulse one official of the least of my master’s servants, and rely on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen?”

When we rely on God’s Grace, we turn our weakness into a strength

3. (:10) The Devil Always Lies to Try to Subvert Our Loyalty

“And have I now come up without the LORD’s approval against this land to destroy it? The LORD said to me, ‘Go up against this land, and destroy it.’”

He has been a liar from the beginning


A. (:11-12) The Devil’s Approach – Intensifying the Pressure

1. (:11) Attempt to Mitigate the Pressure – Confine the Confrontation to the Leadership

“Then Eliakim and Shebna and Joah said to Rabshakeh, ‘Speak now to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it; and do not speak with us in Judean, in the hearing of the people who are on the wall.’”

2. (:12) Intensification of the Pressure – Expand the Confrontation to the Masses

“But Rabshakeh said, ‘Has my master sent me only to your master and to you to speak these words, and not to the men who sit on the wall, doomed to eat their own dung and drink their own urine with you?’”

Constable: He explained that his message was for all the people, many of whom were sitting on the city wall listening, not just the politicians in Jerusalem. All the people were, after all, doomed to the horrible conditions of siege warfare. He wanted to separate the people from their king and his policy of resisting Sennacherib. He also wanted to shock and terrorize the people by using the most crude and disgusting terms he could to picture siege warfare.

B. (:13-15) The Devil’s Argument – No Hope in Other Options

1. (:13) Braggadocio of the Devil

“Then Rabshakeh stood and cried with a loud voice in Judean, and said, ‘Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria.’”

Young: we may be sure that he stood in such a position as to focus attention upon himself. In this position and in these words the voice and attitude of Satan are manifest. It is the kingdom of man, unregenerate, self-sufficient man, that now speaks, confident that Yahweh is merely a god like other gods and can be embraced in man’s empire. To heighten the infamy Rabshakeh raises his voice, and speaks in the language the inhabitants of Judah would understand. He is about to lay down an ultimatum.

2. (:14) Belittling of Spiritual Leadership

“Thus says the king, ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you;’”

Oswalt: How dare this nobody range himself against The King? And how could anybody commit himself to his nobody and his god? For those who persisted in believing, faith was never more audacious than at that moment! But then, it is always audacious, or it is not faith.

3. (:15) Blasphemy Against God

“nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, ‘The LORD will surely deliver us, this city shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’”

Oswalt: sums up what this entire section (chs. 7-39) is about. The question has been explored in scores of ways: Can God be trusted? Is he strong enough? Is he good enough? Is he faithful enough? If not him, then who or what should be trusted? The nations, humanity – what? The answer has come back in scores of ways: God can be trusted? . . . Sennacherib claims to be more trustworthy than God

C. (:16-20) The Devil’s Appeal – My Deal is Your Best Deal

1. (:16-17) Promise of Peace and Prosperity

“Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria, ‘Make your peace with me and come out to me, and eat each of his vine and each of his fig tree and drink each of the waters of his own cistern, until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards.’”

Terms of surrender: cut a peace treaty with me

Constable: The Rabshakeh promised that if the city surrendered, the people would enjoy peace and prosperity rather than war and starvation. They would be deported, a well-known Assyrian policy toward conquered peoples, but he portrayed the land where they would go as similar to their own but even better.

Motyer: He is too shrewd to try to hide the well-known Assyrian policy of deportation, but he tries to sweeten the pill.

2. (:18-20) Pattern of Assyrian Dominance Over Other Lands and Gods

“Beware lest Hezekiah misleads you, saying, ‘The LORD will deliver us.’ Has any one of the gods of the nations delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? And when have they delivered Samaria from my hand? Who among all the gods of these lands have delivered their land from my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?”

Transition (36:21) – Refusal to Negotiate

“But they were silent and answered him not a word; for the king’s commandment was, ‘Do not answer him.’”

Sometimes silence is the best approach; there is no adequate human response; the Lord must intervene and deliver


A. (36:22) Seeking the Lord by Appealing to God-Ordained Authority

“Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn and told him the words of Rabshakeh.”

B. (37:1) Seeking the Lord by Humbling Yourself in Repentance and Prayer

“And when King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth and entered the house of the LORD.”

C. (37:2-5) Seeking the Lord by Invoking His Glory and Inquiring of Divine Revelation

“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. 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. Perhaps the LORD your God will hear 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. Therefore, offer a prayer for the remnant that is left.’ So the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah.”

Oswalt: All the delegation were in sackcloth by this time. One wonders if Isaiah’s and Shebna’s eyes met for a moment as both remembered the time when Isaiah had denounced the then prime minister and prophesied his humiliation (22:15-19). So also Eliakim may have remembered Isaiah’s words about too much weight being hung on a new peg (22:23-25). At any rate, the king’s example had touched the entire government establishment at last. God was their only hope. Why had they not realized it sooner? . . .

It is of great significance that both here and in the next incident Hezekiah’s greatest concern is the honor of God. This is surely a testimony to the essential greatness of Hezekiah’s heart. He is not first concerned with his or his nation’s survival. He is chiefly concerned that their action have provided the vehicle whereby God’s name has been brought into contempt. Furthermore, he knows that if God’s glory is made paramount, then the nation will survive. It was the putting of survival first which had brought them to this perilous state.

Young: The metaphor pictures extreme distress, need, and suffering, and above all the fact that the intervention of extraordinary help is needed. In reality it is a cry of utter acknowledgment that God’s help is required. If the womb does not open so that the child can be born, the child will die and probably the mother also. So, unless strength is at hand to deliver Judah, she too will perish.

D. (37:6-7) Seeking the Lord by Believing in the Resources of Divine Grace and Power

“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. 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.’”


“Voice Of Truth” – Casting Crowns

Oh what I would do to have

The kind of faith it takes to climb out of this boat I’m in

Onto the crashing waves

To step out of my comfort zone

To the realm of the unknown where Jesus is

And He’s holding out his hand

But the waves are calling out my name and they laugh at me

Reminding me of all the times I’ve tried before and failed

The waves they keep on telling me

Time and time again. ‘Boy, you’ll never win!’

“You’ll never win”

But the voice of truth tells me a different story

And the voice of truth says “Do not be afraid!”

And the voice of truth says “This is for My glory”

Out of all the voices calling out to me

I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

Oh what I would do to have

The kind of strength it takes to stand before a giant

With just a Sling and a stone

Surrounded by the sound of a thousand warriors

Shaking in their armor

Wishing they’d have had the strength to stand

But the giant’s calling out my name and he laughs at me

Reminding me of all the times I’ve tried before and failed

The giant keeps on telling me

Time and time again “boy, you’ll never win!

“You’ll never win”

But the stone was just the right size

To put the giant on the ground

And the waves they don’t seem so high

From on top of them looking down

I will soar with the wings of eagles

When I stop and listen to the sound of Jesus

Singing over me

I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth