2 Kings 19

Jerusalem’s Deliverance Foretold (19:1-13)

It was to this God that Hezekiah prayed, the living God (verse 16) whom Sennacherib had compared to idols of wood and stone (verse 18). To this God Hezekiah prayed for deliverance—not primarily for the sake of Judah, but “so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone ... are God” (verse 19). In this prayer, Hezekiah was reflecting the heart desire of all true believers to put the Lord’s honor and interests before their own (see Daniel 9:17-19). When we desire the Lord’s glory above all else, we can be confident He will heed our prayers.

Isaiah Prophesies Sennacherib’s Fall (19:20-37)

(Isaiah 37:21-38)

20-24 Hezekiah did not have to wait long for the answer to his prayer; the prophet Isaiah sent Hezekiah the Lord’s response. In verses 21-24, the Lord speaks against Sennacherib directly. He depicts the Virgin Daughter of Zion (the people of Jerusalem) mocking Sennacherib because of his inability to violate her, to capture her (verse 21); she was under the protection of her Father’s house. Then the Lord repeats Sennacherib’s own proud statements concerning his real and imagined accomplishments (verses 22-23).

25-28 Here the Lord reveals to Sennacherib something he clearly had not considered: Sennacherib had no grounds for boasting at all; it wasn’t he who had accomplished these supposed feats—it was the Lord! “Long ago I ordained it” (verse 25). It was the Lord who had disciplined His people and made them like tender green shoots (verse 26)—unable to resist their enemies; it wasn’t Sennacherib’s power that had brought them low. Indeed, the Lord was now about to bring Sennacherib low. The Lord knew his every move, his every thought; He had heard his insolence. Now the Lord would treat Sennacherib like a captured prisoner and put a hook in his nose and lead him back the way he came (verse 28). Let Sennacherib (and the whole world) know that it is the Lord who rules the nations, not Sennacherib; it is the Lord who sets up kings and deposes them75 (Daniel 2:21).

29-31 Here the Lord gives Hezekiah a sign that would enable him and the people of Jerusalem to see the Lord’s hand in their delivery from Assyria. The sign” concerned three years of harvest (verse 29). There would be no regular harvest for the first year, because Sennacherib had already destroyed it; the people would only be able to eat what grew by itself. Neither would there be a regular harvest the second year, because Sennacherib’s troops would still be in Judah at the time the crops should have been planted. In the third year, however, the people should sow and reap; that year they could expect a good harvest, because the Assyrians would have long been gone. As the people ate of the third harvest, they would know that it was the Lord who had chastened them and then delivered them.

The Lord promised Hezekiah that out of Jerusalem—Mount ZION—there would be a remnant,a band of survivors (verse 31). This concept of the “remnant” is very important throughout the Bible. While it was at times necessary for God to punish His people for their disobedience, He never totally destroyed them; He always preserved a “remnant”—a remnant preserved even to this day (see 1 Kings 19:17-18; Micah 4:6-7; Romans 11:1-5). The preserving of this remnant is onemore sign of God’s faithfulness to His covenant promises.

32-34 Here the Lord (through Isaiah) reveals the outcome of Sennacherib’s march against Jerusalem: he wouldn’t even shoot an arrow into the city (verse 32); instead, he would return by the same way he came. “I will defend this city,” said the Lord, “for my sake and for the sake of David” (verse 34). The Lord would save Jerusalem not primarily to punish Sennacherib for his blasphemy or to reward Hezekiah for his faithfulness; rather, He would save Jerusalem for the sake of His own honor, because that was the place He had chosen as a dwelling for His Name and where He had established a throne for His servant David (see Deuteronomy 12:5,11; 1 Kings 11:13).

35-37 On the very day of Isaiah’s prophecy, as the Assyrians were encamped around Jerusalem, the angel of the LORD 76 put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand Assyrian soldiers77 (verse 35). When Sennacherib learned of it, he returned at once to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria. Some time later, he was assassinated by two of his own sons (verse 37); in this way Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled (see verse 7).

In 2 Chronicles 32:22-23, the writer concludes his account of Hezekiah and Sennacherib by saying that the Lord took care of the people of Jerusalem thereafter, and that Hezekiah himself became highly regarded by all the nations. Sadly, as with so many other good kings, the praise of men led Hezekiah to become proud; only when he repented did the Lord fully remove His wrath from Hezekiah and Jerusalem (see 2 Chronicles 32:25-26).

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