Hezekiah Seeks Isaiah’s Help
37 As soon as King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth and went into the house of the LORD. And he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and the senior priests, covered with sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz. They said to him, “Thus says Hezekiah, ‘This day is a day of distress, of rebuke, and of disgrace; children have come to the point of birth, and there is no strength to bring them forth. It may be that the LORD your God will hear the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to mock the living God, and will rebuke the words that the LORD your God has heard; therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.’”
When the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah, Isaiah said to them, “Say to your master, ‘Thus says the LORD: Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the young men of the king of Assyria have reviled 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.’”
The Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria fighting against Libnah, for he had heard that the king had left Lachish. Now the king heard concerning Tirhakah king of Cush, “He has set out to fight against you.” And when he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus shall you speak to Hezekiah king of Judah: ‘Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you by promising that Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, devoting them to destruction. And shall you be delivered? Have the gods of the nations delivered them, the nations that my fathers destroyed, Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the people of Eden who were in Telassar? Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of the city of Sepharvaim, the king of Hena, or the king of Ivvah?’”
Hezekiah’s Prayer for Deliverance
Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD: “O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. Incline your ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands, 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 were destroyed. So now, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the LORD.”
Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Because you have prayed to me concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria, this is the word that the LORD has spoken concerning him:
“‘She despises you, she scorns you—
the virgin daughter of Zion;
she wags her head behind you—
the daughter of Jerusalem.
“‘Whom have you mocked and reviled?
Against whom have you raised your voice
and lifted your eyes to the heights?
Against the Holy One of Israel!
By your servants you have mocked the Lord,
and you have said, With my many chariots
I have gone up the heights of the mountains,
to the far recesses of Lebanon,
to cut down its tallest cedars,
its choicest cypresses,
to come to its remotest height,
its most fruitful forest.
I dug wells
and drank waters,
to dry up with the sole of my foot
all the streams of Egypt.
“‘Have you not heard
that I determined it long ago?
I planned from days of old
what now I bring to pass,
that you should make fortified cities
crash into heaps of ruins,
while their inhabitants, shorn of strength,
are dismayed and confounded,
and have become like plants of the field
and like tender grass,
like grass on the housetops,
blighted before it is grown.
“‘I know your sitting down
and your going out and coming in,
and your raging against me.
Because you have raged against me
and your complacency has come to my ears,
I will put my hook in your nose
and my bit in your mouth,
and I will turn you back on the way
by which you came.’
“And this shall be the sign for you: this year you shall eat what grows of itself, and in the second year what springs from that. Then in the third year sow and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat their fruit. And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward. For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
“Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the LORD. For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.”
And the angel of the LORD went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home and lived at Nineveh. And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him down with the sword. And after they escaped into the land of Ararat, Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place.
Isaiah 37 Commentary
by Hank Workman
“Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”1 Peter 5:7
The Assyrian field commander’s words sent shock waves throughout the people all the way to King Hezekiah himself. Hearing these half truths spoken, he acted in wisdom and discernment. He turned not toward military might or counsel but went before God. He turned to Him for help and aid in the unfathomable prospect of looming war.
The beauty of Hezekiah’s prayer is he states the facts to God but would depend on Him in faith to see answers and deliverance.
Hezekiah sought answers. He asked Isaiah to pray for them. He then went to the temple and laid out the letter from Assyria before God pleading for insight and wisdom. What Hezekiah didn’t know was God had already set in motion another event that would take the Assyrians away from the attack on Jerusalem. Yet, Hezekiah persisted in his prayers even though by his own sight, there was not an answer. It was a moment of sheer trust.
When horrific things come against us, it is easy to look toward the facts and make plans from there. It’s far too easy to relegate our faith to the back burner and decide to act in how we see fit. The example of Hezekiah is challenging on many levels for it redirects our actions first and foremost back to what God would have us do.
There is potential that whatever you labor over at the moment in prayer, God has already set in motion an answer. But what He’s looking for is our sheer trust in Him even when the answer is not visible.
Cast all your stress and anxieties on Him. He has an answer. He has a way out. He has a plan. Lean into His strength and watch Him bring answers marked by His peace.
Isaiah 37 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Much of what Isaiah has written leading up to this point has been about the rebellion of God’s people. They were living like they really didn’t trust the Lord, and continually went back to idolatry. So, with the way they have been behaving, it makes sense that they would verbally agree with Assyria. The words Rabshaqeh has spoken are not true, but Israel has been living like they are.
This is a critical time for Judah. What will they do when their allies are stripped away and they are threatened by a powerful military force? We have these moments all the time in life. How do you respond to them? Are you swept away by the circumstances, or do you bury yourself in the Lord’s embrace?
Hezekiah takes it upon himself to repent because he knows his hope (and Judah’s hope) lies in the Lord. It’s a pattern we see all throughout Scripture. God heard and saw everything, but He was waiting for that repentance to take place. It was a necessary and crucial step to recommit themselves to His will.
Impatience can get us into a lot of trouble. Sometimes, we stand before trouble and tragedy and wonder, as Judah did, how does God not immediately punish the slanderous acts in our world today? Whatever reason is good enough for Him, is good enough for me. However, I think there is always more going on than we know about, and many times, it has to do with our character.
I like to think I’m on a “need to know basis” with God. No matter what we face, repentance is always an option. King Hezekiah did well to lead his people in this chapter, and we should use his example in our lives today.