Today’s devotional consists of study notes on Isaiah 36-39. Those of you who were in the Sunday school class for which they were prepared might note that the notes for today’s devotional have been somewhat reorganized to improve them over what you received in class. God bless you.
Because of Calvary,
Isaiah 36:1-39:8 ESV
Sennacherib Invades Judah
36 In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. 2 And the king of Assyria sent the Rabshakeh[a] from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem, with a great army. And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Washer’s Field. 3 And there came out to him Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder.
4 And the Rabshakeh said to them, “Say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: On what do you rest this trust of yours? 5 Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war? In whom do you now trust, that you have rebelled against me? 6 Behold, you are trusting in Egypt, that broken reed of a staff, which will pierce the hand of any man who leans on it. Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him. 7 But if you say to me, “We trust in the Lord our God,” is it not he whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, saying to Judah and to Jerusalem, “You shall worship before this altar”? 8 Come now, make a wager with my master the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses, if you are able on your part to set riders on them. 9 How then can you repulse a single captain among the least of my master’s servants, when you trust in Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? 10 Moreover, is it without the Lord that I have come up against this land to destroy it? The Lord said to me, “Go up against this land and destroy it.”’”
11 Then Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah said to the Rabshakeh, “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it. Do not speak to us in the language of Judah within the hearing of the people who are on the wall.” 12 But the Rabshakeh said, “Has my master sent me to speak these words to your master and to you, and not to the men sitting on the wall, who are doomed with you to eat their own dung and drink their own urine?”
13 Then the Rabshakeh stood and called out in a loud voice in the language of Judah: “Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria! 14 Thus says the king: ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you. 15 Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord by saying, “The Lord will surely deliver us. This city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” 16 Do not listen to Hezekiah. For thus says the king of Assyria: Make your peace with me[b] and come out to me. Then each one of you will eat of his own vine, and each one of his own fig tree, and each one of you will drink the water of his own cistern, 17 until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards. 18 Beware lest Hezekiah mislead you by saying, “The Lord will deliver us.” Has any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? 19 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? 20 Who among all the gods of these lands have delivered their lands out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?’”
21 But they were silent and answered him not a word, for the king’s command was, “Do not answer him.” 22 Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn, and told him the words of the Rabshakeh.
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. 2 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. 3 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. 4 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.’”
5 When the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah, 6 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. 7 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.’”
8 The Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria fighting against Libnah, for he had heard that the king had left Lachish. 9 Now the king heard concerning Tirhakah king of Cush,[c] “He has set out to fight against you.” And when he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying, 10 “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. 11 Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, devoting them to destruction. And shall you be delivered? 12 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? 13 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
14 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. 15 And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: 16 “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. 17 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. 18 Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands, 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 were destroyed. 20 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.”
21 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, 22 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.
23 “‘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!
24 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.
25 I dug wells
and drank waters,
to dry up with the sole of my foot
all the streams of Egypt.
26 “‘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,
27 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[d] before it is grown.
28 “‘I know your sitting down
and your going out and coming in,
and your raging against me.
29 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.’
30 “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. 31 And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward. 32 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.
33 “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. 34 By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the Lord. 35 For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.”
36 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. 37 Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home and lived at Nineveh. 38 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.
Hezekiah’s Sickness and Recovery
38 In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die, you shall not recover.”[e] 2 Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, 3 and said, “Please, O Lord, remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
4 Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: 5 “Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life.[f] 6 I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and will defend this city.
7 “This shall be the sign to you from the Lord, that the Lord will do this thing that he has promised: 8 Behold, I will make the shadow cast by the declining sun on the dial of Ahaz turn back ten steps.” So the sun turned back on the dial the ten steps by which it had declined.[g]
9 A writing of Hezekiah king of Judah, after he had been sick and had recovered from his sickness:
10 I said, In the middle[h] of my days
I must depart;
I am consigned to the gates of Sheol
for the rest of my years.
11 I said, I shall not see the Lord,
the Lord in the land of the living;
I shall look on man no more
among the inhabitants of the world.
12 My dwelling is plucked up and removed from me
like a shepherd’s tent;
like a weaver I have rolled up my life;
he cuts me off from the loom;
from day to night you bring me to an end;
13 I calmed myself[i] until morning;
like a lion he breaks all my bones;
from day to night you bring me to an end.
14 Like a swallow or a crane I chirp;
I moan like a dove.
My eyes are weary with looking upward.
O Lord, I am oppressed; be my pledge of safety!
15 What shall I say? For he has spoken to me,
and he himself has done it.
I walk slowly all my years
because of the bitterness of my soul.
16 O Lord, by these things men live,
and in all these is the life of my spirit.
Oh restore me to health and make me live!
17 Behold, it was for my welfare
that I had great bitterness;
but in love you have delivered my life
from the pit of destruction,
for you have cast all my sins
behind your back.
18 For Sheol does not thank you;
death does not praise you;
those who go down to the pit do not hope
for your faithfulness.
19 The living, the living, he thanks you,
as I do this day;
the father makes known to the children
20 The Lord will save me,
and we will play my music on stringed instruments
all the days of our lives,
at the house of the Lord.
21 Now Isaiah had said, “Let them take a cake of figs and apply it to the boil, that he may recover.” 22 Hezekiah also had said, “What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the Lord?”
Envoys from Babylon
39 At that time Merodach-baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent envoys with letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that he had been sick and had recovered. 2 And Hezekiah welcomed them gladly. And he showed them his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his whole armory, all that was found in his storehouses. There was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them. 3 Then Isaiah the prophet came to King Hezekiah, and said to him, “What did these men say? And from where did they come to you?” Hezekiah said, “They have come to me from a far country, from Babylon.” 4 He said, “What have they seen in your house?” Hezekiah answered, “They have seen all that is in my house. There is nothing in my storehouses that I did not show them.”
5 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: 6 Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the Lord. 7 And some of your own sons, who will come from you, whom you will father, shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” 8 Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my days.”
Adult SS Elective: Isaiah 36:1-39:8 October 9, 2016
- The Hinge (36:1-39:8)
“These historical chapters are the bridge between the two great sections of the prophecy, binding thus into one the entire volume.” [Moorehead, Outline Studies in the Old Testament, p. 224-225]
“In these four chapters the political situation that has been developing throughout Isaiah’s ministry comes to an immense climax, reinforced by two searching tests of the king’s faith and integrity, which are to have far-reaching consequences.
“Apart from Hezekiah’s psalm, found only in 38:9-20, these chapters coincide almost word for word with 2 Ki. 18-20,” [Kidner, p. 654]
“During Hezekiah’s reign the whole of west Palestine came into uneasy subjection to Assyria. Damascus fell in 732 and Samaria in 722, and the two northern powers vanished as Isaiah had said they would (7:7-9). The southern states found themselves, on the one hand, gripped by Assyria and, on the other, pressed by Egypt to front a concerted rebellion. The death of Sargon II and the accession of Sennacherib (704) seemed to offer an opportunity for revolt…. Furthermore, the remarkable Merodach-Baladan was once more ruling in Babylon, and even in Mesopotamia itself Assyria’s continuance as the dominant power was by no means a certainty. To the south, Egypt was vociferous in promising backing to a rebellion. What was Hezekiah to do?… The alternatives were clear: Egypt was offering an alliance and Merodach-Baladan was sending ambassadors, presumably also offering an alliance but in any case suggesting that he and Hezekiah make common cause in opposition to Assyria (39:1-2). Against this, however, Isaiah, in the name of the Lord, was offering promises. During Hezekiah’s illness the promise of recovery (38:5) was gratuitously amplified into a promise that the Lord would defend and deliver Hezekiah and his city from Assyria (38:6), and both promises received the double confirmation of the sign of the shadow and Hezekiah’s return to the house of the Lord (38:7-8; 1 Ki. 20:5)…. Like his father before him, however, Hezekiah found the lure of politics and militarism too strong. His envoys signed the Egyptian alliance (28:14-15) and he raised the standard of rebellion. The inevitable followed. By 701 Sennacherib was secure enough to turn his attention to his western dominions and Hezekiah found that (in his own metaphor) he had conceived a baby he was not strong enough to bring to birth (37:3)!…
“Following the battle of Eltekeh, at which Egypt’s single attempt to redeem its promises was quashed, Sennacherib turned on Judah. His ferocious assault on Judah’s defenses demonstrated the futility of further resistance, and Hezekiah asked for terms. The Assyrians imposed a fine which strained Hezekiah’s treasury to the limit (2 Ki. 18:13-16). But, having accepted this tribute, the king of Assyria at once returned to the attack (2 Ki. 18:17) and earned for himself and his empire a deserved reputation for treachery…. Belatedly taking up a position of faith, Hezekiah found the Lord to be as good as his word, and king and city were rescued.” [Motyer, p. 20]
- Looking Backward: Assyria (36:1-37:28)
“Comparing this historical narrative with that in 2 Kings 18:13-19:27, we find that Isaiah cuts into the story at the point where, having apparently accepted Hezekiah’s submission and agreed a monetary satisfaction (2 Ki. 18:13-16), the king of Assyria renewed his pressure on Jerusalem. This is the ‘treachery’ to which Isaiah has previously referred more than once (21:2; 24:16; 33:12). By doing this Isaiah brings the earthly king face to face with the Davidic king, and the scene is set for a key demonstration that the Lord rules the world, that he is steadfast in keeping his promises and that it is his purposes which are sovereignly accomplished.” [Motyer, p. 276]
- Hezekiah’s trouble (36:1-22)
- Invasion (36:1-3)
- Intimidation (36:4-20)
“Rabshakeh, an official title said to mean ‘chief of the officers.’” [Gray & Adams Bible Commentary III, p. 249]
“In ch. 36, in general, the technique of subversion is displayed for all time in the speeches of vs 4-10, 13-20. There we see the tempter’s skilful use of truth, barbing his shafts with a few unanswerable facts (e.g. the perfidy of Egypt  and the failure of the gods ), his use ridicule (8), threats (12b) and cajolery (16-17), and his perversion of theology ― misrepresenting Hezekiah’s reforms (7), selecting from Isaiah’s preaching (10; cf. 10:6, 12) and drawing damaging conclusions from false religions (18-20). The king’s instruction, Do not answer him (21), took due account of the fact that the speaker was seeking victory, not truth.” [Kidner, p.654]
“In all the Bible there is not a personage more clever than this Rabshakeh, nor more typical. He was an able deputy of the king who sent him, but he represented still more thoroughly the temper of the civilization to which he belonged. There is no word of this man which is not characteristic. A clever, fluent diplomatist, with the traveler’s knowledge of men and the conqueror’s contempt for them, the Rabshakeh is the product of a victorious empire like the Assyrian…a creature able to speak to natives in their own language, full and ready of information, mastering the surface of affairs at a glance, but always baffled by the deeper tides which sway nations; a deft player upon party interests and the superficial human passions, but unfit to touch the deep springs of men’s religion and patriotism. Let us speak, however, with respect of the Rabshakeh. From his rank (Sayce calls him the Vizier), as well as from the cleverness with which he explains what we know to have been the policy of Sennacherib towards the populations of Syria, he may well have been the inspiring mind at this time of the great Assyrian empire — Sennacherib’s Bismarck.” [George Adam Smith, p. 702]
“The Rabshakeh’s clever speech develops four themes: reliance on Egypt is a no-hope position (4-7); trust in the Lord as a solution is ruled out because the Lord has been alienated by the reduction of his places of worship (7’ 2 Ki. 18:4); even if Hezekiah had armaments as a gift he has not got the manpower (8-9); and Assyria has divine authority to attack (10)…. Isaiah had threatened that if they refused to hear him they would hear the message from foreigners (28:9-11)…” [Motyer, p. 277]
“the Lord said, ‘that the Assyrian should represent himself as commissioned by Jehovah to avenge the desecration of his sanctuaries is not by any means incredible. A precisely similar sentiment is put into the mouth of Cyrus in his account of the conquest of Babylon. It expresses no serious conviction (see vs. 20).’” [Cambridge Bible in Gray & Adams Bible Commentary III, p. 251]
“Behind this claim there no doubt lies some knowledge of what Isaiah had been saying (e.g. 10:5-6). Spies are not a modern invention, and the Rabshakeh knew enough to make a plausible perversion of the word of God.” [Motyer, p. 278]
“It was the purpose of the Rabshakeh to destroy both the religious and military confidence of the common soldiers. This the Jewish officers also feared.” [Gray & Adams Bible Commentary III, p. 251]
“Isaiah, as a faithful historian, records the filthy and blasphemous language of the Assyrians, to mark aright the true character of the attack on Jerusalem.” [Fausset, p. 673]
“…He not only insults Hezekiah, but flings his insults directly at Jehovah, whose name and power were soon after vindicated in the awful destruction of Sennacherib’s host.” [Gray & Adams Bible Commentary III, p. 251]
“37:9 indicates that Sennacherib was unwilling to be drawn into a war in western Palestine, possibly aware that his position at home was not yet totally secure. Thus he makes his offer in the most generous and attractive terms: an unmolested present (16) and an agreeable future (17). He is too shrewd to try to hide the well-known Assyrian policy of deportation, but he tries to sweeten the pill.” [Motyer, p. 278]
“…Never negotiate with Satan…” [Wiersbe, With the Word, p. 473]
“Young gentlemen, believe your belief, and doubt your doubts; do not make the mistake of doubting your beliefs and believing your doubts.” [C. F. Deems in Gray & Adams Bible Commentary III, p. 252]
- Impact (36:21-22)
- Hezekiah’s triumph (37:1-38)
”Ch. 37…is a model of response to intimidation. Hezekiah’s steadfastness owed nothing to blind optimism; his sackcloth (1) was proof of that. His call for Isaiah’s prayer (4) showed where his confidence lay, and his metaphor of birth (3) proved him a man of vision, whose longings were not for the old order but for the new (note too the evidence of 36”7 for his courageous reforms). His allusion to the remnant (4) further suggests attention to Isaiah’s preaching (cf. 10:20-23). Upon Sennacherib’s renewal of the war of nerves (9-13), Hezekiah was again too wise either to dismiss the threat or to succumb to it. His spreading out the letter before the Lord (14) epitomizes the act of prayer, and the candor of his words finely echoes the gesture. As in the Psalms, the situation clarified as he prayed (19), and his motive was raised to the highest level (20).
“In Isaiah’s successive replies (37:5-7, 21-35) not the absence of personal rancor against those whose policies were now in ruins (cf. 28:14-15; 30:1-5); on Eliakim and Shebna (2) see 22:15-25). In the vivid triumph song of vs 22-29, it was not time to answer Sennacherib’s challenge ‘On whom are you depending?’ (36:4) with the question ‘Who is it you have insulted? (923), and to taunt him with not knowing the meaning of his own career (26…).” [Kidner, p. 654]
- Penitence (37:1-4)
“Word is brought to the king, who immediately reacts with penitence and seeking the Lord (37:1). Out of this arose a deputation to Isaiah (2), eating humble pie indeed (3), noting the element of blasphemy in the Rabshakeh’s words (4) and requesting prayer. But Isaiah does not need to make any fresh approach to the Lord: what he has one said stands (5-6). The Lord will act to remove the threat (7) ― and the threatener!” [Motyer, p. 279]
“Of the king’s prompt appeal to God in his extremity, Gill quaintly says: Hezekiah does not sit down to consider Rabshakeh’s speech, to take it in pieces and give an answer to it, but he applies unto God.” [Alexander II, p. 52]
“Why should I stat at the plough of my Lord, that maketh deep furrows in my soul? I know He is no idle husbandman, He purposeth a crop.” [Samuel Rutherford in Gray & Adams Bible Commentary III, p. 253]
“The direst foe of courage is the fear itself, not the object of it: and the man who can overcome his own terror is a hero and more.” [George MacDonald in Gray & Adams Bible Commentary III, p. 253]
- Faith (37:5-7)
“They asked Isaiah to pray, but he did not do so. There is no hesitation, no turning to God, no waiting on him but only a simple belief that what the Lord once said he meant The initial message of reassurance (6) leads to a promise of divine action (7)…. If only Hezekiah had believed the word when it was first spoken!” [Motyer, p. 279]
- Problem (37:8-13)
“The move north indicates Sennacherib’s unwillingness at this point to face a prolonged Palestinian war. He had by no means finally dealt with the Babylonian threat to his empire and felt it necessary, therefore, to curtail his western objectives which had included the conquest of Egypt. The likelihood of further Egyptian incursion following the defeat at Eltekeh was remote but, as we know, the rumor was divinely inspired. The Lord of history knows when a whispered word is enough…” [Motyer, p. 280]
“…See Isaiah xviii for an account of Tirhakah.” [Gray & Adams Bible Commentary III, p. 254]
“Tirhakah was one of the most famous conquerors of ancient times…. He was at this time either in close alliance with that country, or more probably in actual possession of Thebais or Upper Egypt. The fact that an Ethiopian dynasty did reign there is attested by the ancient writers and confirmed by still existing monuments.” [Alexander II, p. 56]
“Sennacherib apparently addressed Hezekiah in verbal (10) and written (14) form; attacking the folly of his new-found position of faith (10b), asserting the invincibility of Assyria over both nations (11) and gods (12), and stressing the risk particularly to kings who oppose Assyria (13)…. Thus the ensuing contest becomes a contest between the Lord and the god(s) of Assyria…. In verse 13 Sennacherib introduces a new element in the confrontation. He tries to play on Hezekiah’s instinct for survival as king, but actually he is testing the man of faith in yet another direction. As the Davidic king, Hezekiah is the inheritor of promises. Will he now trust the promises for himself in the face of Assyrian might?” [Motyer, p. 280-281]
- Prayer (37:14-22)
- Offered (37:14-20)
“Contrast this with 37:1-2, where Hezekiah rent his own clothes and asked Isaiah to pray. Now there is no rending of garments and he does his own praying…. He begins by committing all to God (14) and then turns to asking (15-20).” [Motyer, p. 281]
“God knows our necessities before we ask Him, but He delights in our unfolding them to Him with filial confidence.” [Fausset, p. 675]
“Like all true prayer, Hezekiah’s is preoccupied with God: who he is (16); his honor (17); his uniqueness (18-19), and the revelation of his glory to the world (20).” [Motyer, p. 281]
- Answered (37:21-22)
“These two things are causally connected: Because you have prayed…this is the word…(21-22). The oracle which follows (22-35) announces the settlement of the whole problem. Thus the way of believing prayer is the truly practical way of dealing with the harsh realities of the world. What neither armaments (36:9) nor diplomacy (30:1-2) nor money (2 Ki. 18:13-14) could achieve, prayer has done. But what the Lord is about to do he has planned of old (26-29). Here is a mystery of prayer… The Lord performs foreordained purposes in answer to prayer.” [Motyer, p. 282]
- Promise (37:23-38)
- The Lord defied (37:23-25)
“The king of Assyria is represented as boasting of the ease with which he triumphs over all natural obstacles in the pursuance of his plans; such language is blasphemy against Jehovah, the Lord of Nature; although the king himself may be hardly conscious of the sin he is committing.” [Cambridge Bible in Gray & Adams Bible Commentary III, p. 257]
- The Lord acts (37:26-29)
“Nothing could be more sublime in effect than the suddenness with which Jehovah here interrupts the boasting monarch.” [Henderson in Gray & Adams Bible Commentary III, p. 257]
“I have done it, i.e., in all thou hast done thou hast been but an instrument working out My purposes.” [Gray & Adams Bible Commentary III, p. 257]
“All the energy, even violence, belongs to the horse; all the direction, wisdom, guiding touch belongs to the rider. So Assyrian arrogance, brute force, imperialistic ambition etc. are real, morally responsible and culpable, but they are under divine direction in their outworking (54:16f.). The threefold simile of verse 27 exposes how the Assyrians thought of the world and its peoples: they exist for their benefit (plants of the field); they are totally incapable of offering resistance (tender green shoots); and are transient, insubstantial, of no ultimate significance (like grass sprouting on the roof)…. Divine sovereignty (cf. verses 26-27) goes beyond the broad sweep of history to its small print.” [Motyer, p. 284]
iii. The Lord blesses (37:30-32)
“What happens for the land is figurative of what will happen for the people, who will enter a period of security (take root) and prosperity (bear fruit)…. However belatedly, Hezekiah had embraced the way of faith and this would not go unrewarded (cf. 1 Ki. 21:27ff.).” [Motyer, p. 284]
- The Lord protects (37:33-35)
“…By these figures Hezekiah is assured that the threatened siege of Jerusalem shall not even be attempted. Sennacherib never came nearer than he was when he sent the threatening messages.” [Gray & Adams Bible Commentary III, p. 258]
- The Lord triumphs (37:36-38)
“Sennacherib defied the God of Israel, and yet he died in the house of his god who could not protect him.” [Wiersbe, With the Word, p. 474]
“Sennacherib reigned for another twenty years and engaged in further military exploits, but never again in Palestine… He was assassinated in 681…. The Babylonian Chronicle records the assassination of Sennacherib and Esarhaddon’s accession.” [Motyer, p. 284-285]
“Esar-haddon, see Ezra iv.2, reigned from 681-666.” [Gray & Adams Bible Commentary III, p. 259]
- Looking Forward: Babylon (38:1-39:8)
“All this happened before the events of chapters 36 and 37 (v. 6), but Hezekiah knew Assyria was coming.” [Wiersbe, With the Word, p. 474]
“…Hezekiah’s illness (38) becomes the pretext for an embassy from Merodach-Baladan of Babylon (chapter 39). Out of this arises the prediction of Babylonian captivity.” [Motyer, p. 289]
- Hezekiah’s sickness (38:1-22)
- He was ill (38:1-8)
- Sickness (38:1)
“Hezekiah had come of a short-lived family. His father had reigned sixteen years, and had died at thirty-six; his grandfather had also reigned for sixteen years, and had died at forty-one. And now he himself had but entered the fifteenth year of his reign, and was receiving his death-warrant at the age of forty.” [The Speaker’s Bible IV, p. 224]
- Supplication (38:2-6)
“If you are swept off your feet, it is time to get on your knees.” [Frederick Beck in Wiersbe, With the Word, p. 474]
“In lamenting his early death, Hezekiah compares it to pulling down a tent and to material taken off the loom before being completed (v. 12). Like a bird he made a noise in his anguish, but it seemed as it the Lord, like a lion, was intent on mauling him to pieces.
“In the restoration from sickness, he experiences the joy of health and God’s never-failing love. In response to God’s kindness, he vows to walk humbly before God, to praise him, and to declare to the next generation the ‘faithfulness’ of the Lord.” [VanGemeren, p. 498]
“Hezekiah prayed that his life might be lengthened, and his prayer was granted. Manasseh would not have been born if Hezekiah had not lived those extra fifteen years; and it would have been a good thing if Manasseh had never been born. Those sins and iniquities, with which he made Judah to sin with his idols, though they were forgiven, yet filled up the cup of the nation’s perversion from God, and fixed the doom of that apostate people.” [Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit XL, (1894), p. 164]
“Then, ‘in 2 Ki. xx.4 we read that ‘afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court,’ this message came to him. So quickly was the king’s prayer answered.” [Cambridge Bible in Gray & Adams Bible Commentary III, p. 260]
iii. Sign (38:7-8)
“The stairway of Ahaz…recorded the moving shadow of the sun’s passage, and the confirmatory sign attached to the Lord’s promise was that the shadow would retreat ten steps.” [Motyer, p. 292]
- He was healed (38:9-22)
- Meditation (38:9-20)
“In the psalm we find that Hezekiah was fully aware of the peril he had been in: to die under divine wrath (13), without hope (17b) and with sin at that time unforgiven (17c). He also knew how he had been rescued: by prayer (14), the divine response (15ab) and the disposition of the Lord to save (20…).” [Motyer, p. 292]
(A) I prayed (38:9-14)
“Four similes constitute this section: the fragility of life (the tent); its decisive end (the weaver); divine hostility (the lion); and the seeming feebleness of prayer (the swift, thrush and dove).” [Motyer, p. 293]
“There is a Job-like bewilderment in these verses, where Hezekiah’s instinctive resort to God is checked by the thought that his predicament itself is from him (15a). But if this sharpens the problem, it also begins to resolve it, since a single, perfect will is paramount. See below on vs 17-20.” [Kidner, p. 654]
(B) God answered (38:15-17)
“Abruptly the poem swings from prayer to answer. Mere birdsong it may seem in the face of the power of death and the hostile God, but it prevails!… Hezekiah came out of danger so quickly and dramatically that only an act of Gold can account for it; there is no human explanation.” [Motyer, p. 294]
(C) I worshiped (38:18-20)
“Here the fact of God’s love dawns and clarifies, from the first assurance that it was for my benefit, on through the striking phrase (lit.) ‘thou hast loved my soul from the pit’, to the certainty of forgiveness in v 17c…. It is clear from v 17 that Hezekiah had envisaged himself as dying without assurance of the forgiveness of sins, and it is in this context that he views life after death as thankless and joyless ― as indeed it would be. Meanwhile there are positive aspects expressed elsewhere in the OT in a distinct phraseology: e.g. being ‘taken’ by God (e.g. Gn 5:24; 2 Ki. 2:9; Ps. 49:15) and being ‘with’ him (e.g. Ps. 73:23; cf. Pss. 139:18 and 17:15. Cf. in Is. 26:19, ‘live…rise…awake’; and Dn. 12:2.” [Kidner, p. 655] Cf. Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 4:17
- Medication (38:21)
iii. Mistrust (38:22)
“…Hezekiah had a double resting-place for faith (the Lord’s word and the Lord’s act), but still he could not quite feel convinced so he sought the fuller sign.” [Motyer, p. 295]
- Hezekiah’s sin (39:1-8)
“Long before the Babylonians became a world power, Isaiah foretold their rise and their conquest of Jerusalem. When Hezekiah was miraculously delivered from a fatal sickness, the Babylonians sent an embassy to court the goodwill of Hezekiah. Flattered, he foolishly showed the envoys all his treasures. Isaiah clearly foresaw that the cupidity of the Babylonians would be excited by the sight of such treasure and did not hesitate to roundly reprimand his king for such an exhibition of pride and folly.” [Phillips, Exploring the Scriptures, p. 129]
“If Satan cannot succeed as a lion, then he comes as a serpent…” [Wiersbe, With the Word, p. 475]
“The faith of Hezekiah, proof against the heaviest blows, melts at the touch of flattery (notice his delighted account in vs 3-4), and the world claims another victim by its friendship….
“The price of disloyalty is very heavy (5-7), To Hezekiah there was comfort in postponement (8); but not to Isaiah. Evidently he took this burden home with him, and so lived under its weight that when God spoke to him again it was to one who in spirit had already lived long years in Babylon (6-7) and could ‘speak to the heart’ (cf. 40:2) of a generation of exiles yet to be born.” [Kidner, p. 655]
- Committed (39:1-2)
“Was it not a ground for reasonable self-congratulation that he would have so powerful an ally in case of any future Assyrian attack! So he fell away from the simplicity of faith.” [Speaker’s Commentary in Gray & Adams Bible Commentary III, p. 264]
- Confronted (39:3-8)
“Isaiah’s tone is threatening, because he sees in this thing a sin against Jehovah. It was not necessary to specify wherein the offense consisted; king and prophet understood each other perfectly. The reception of an embassy from the sworn enemy of the king of Assyria was in itself an act of rebellion likely to precipitate a conflict which Isaiah strove to avert; and the childish vanity displayed by Hezekiah, his pride in earthly resources, and his readiness to enter into friendly relations with the powers of this world, were tendencies against which Isaiah’s ministry had been a continuous protest. All these tendencies sprang from a single root, the lack of that absolute faith in Jehovah as the all-sufficient guide and protector of the nation…”
[Cambridge Bible in Gray & Adams Bible Commentary III, p. 265]