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Hezekiah Consults Isaiah


When King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the L ord. 2And he sent Eliakim, who was in charge of the palace, and Shebna the secretary, and the senior priests, covered with sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. 3They said to him, “Thus says Hezekiah, This day is a day of distress, of rebuke, and of disgrace; children have come to the birth, and there is no strength to bring them forth. 4It may be that the L ord your God heard 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 L ord 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, 6Isaiah said to them, “Say to your master, ‘Thus says the L ord: Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have reviled me. 7I myself will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor, and return to his own land; I will cause him to 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. 9Now the king heard concerning King Tirhakah of Ethiopia, “He has set out to fight against you.” When he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying, 10“Thus shall you speak to King Hezekiah of Judah: Do not let your God on whom you rely deceive you by promising that Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. 11See, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, destroying them utterly. Shall you be delivered? 12Have the gods of the nations delivered them, the nations that my predecessors destroyed, Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the people of Eden who were in Telassar? 13Where 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

14 Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; then Hezekiah went up to the house of the L ord and spread it before the L ord. 15And Hezekiah prayed to the L ord, saying: 16“O L ord of hosts, God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, you are God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. 17Incline your ear, O L ord, and hear; open your eyes, O L ord, and see; hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. 18Truly, O L ord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands, 19and have hurled their gods into the fire, though they were no gods, but the work of human hands—wood and stone—and so they were destroyed. 20So now, O L ord our God, save us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the L ord.”

21 Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying: “Thus says the L ord, the God of Israel: Because you have prayed to me concerning King Sennacherib of Assyria, 22this is the word that the L ord has spoken concerning him:

She despises you, she scorns you—

virgin daughter Zion;

she tosses her head—behind your back,

daughter Jerusalem.



“Whom have you mocked and reviled?

Against whom have you raised your voice

and haughtily lifted your eyes?

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;

I felled its tallest cedars,

its choicest cypresses;

I came to its remotest height,

its densest forest.


I dug wells

and drank waters,

I dried 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;

they have become like plants of the field

and like tender grass,

like grass on the housetops,

blighted before it is grown.



“I know your rising up and your sitting down,

your going out and coming in,

and your raging against me.


Because you have raged against me

and your arrogance has come to my ears,

I will put my hook in your nose

and my bit in your mouth;

I will turn you back on the way

by which you came.


30 “And this shall be the sign for you: This year eat what grows of itself, and in the second year what springs from that; then in the third year sow, reap, plant vineyards, and eat their fruit. 31The surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward; 32for from Jerusalem a remnant shall go out, and from Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the L ord of hosts will do this.

33 “Therefore thus says the L ord concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city, shoot an arrow there, come before it with a shield, or cast up a siege ramp against it. 34By the way that he came, by the same he shall return; he shall not come into this city, says the L ord. 35For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.”


Sennacherib’s Defeat and Death

36 Then the angel of the L ord set out and struck down one hundred eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians; when morning dawned, they were all dead bodies. 37Then King Sennacherib of Assyria left, went home, and lived at Nineveh. 38As he was worshiping in the house of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer killed him with the sword, and they escaped into the land of Ararat. His son Esar-haddon succeeded him.

16. Thou alone art God over all the kingdoms of the earth. Not only does he assert God’s almighty power, but likewise maintains the authority which he exercises over the whole world. And these statements are made by the pious king for the purpose of strengthening himself in the faith which he entertained about the providence of God, by which he governs the world and every part of it. All believers ought above all to believe this, that they may not think that they pray in vain. Nor would the prayer of the king have had so much efficacy if he had only said, “Incline thine ear, O Lord,” or something of that sort, as when he believes that the Lord takes care of his works. He persuades himself that God will undertake that cause. If it belongs to God to rule and govern the whole world, he will not permit this tyrant to act in this insolent manner without restraining his insolence; for Sennacherib claims for himself what belonged to God, and at length would not pass unpunished.

The statement, that all the kingdoms of the earth are under the power and authority of God, applies especially to the present subject. Yet while this title always belongs to God alone, that he “rules over all kingdoms,” Still the Prophet does not deny that kings also, and princes, and magistrates hold their dominion, but so as to be subject to God, and to owe to him all their power and authority. In like manner, when Paul asserts that government belongs to God alone, (1 Timothy 6:15,) he does not overthrow princes and magistrates, but shews that all, how great and powerful soever they may be, depend on God alone, that they may not imagine themselves to be his equals or companions, but may acknowledge him as their Lord and Prince. Thus will kings, therefore, retain their authority, if they keep an intermediate position between God and men, and do not wish to rise higher.

Thou hast made heaven and earth. Hezekiah draws the same inference from creation itself; for it is impossible that God, who is the Creator of heaven and earth, should forsake his work; on the contrary, he governs by his providence the human race, which is the chief part of the world. It would be absurd to confine creation within such narrow boundaries as if it were a proof of a sudden and transitory exercise of the power of God; but we must extend it to perpetual government. Hence it is evident that tyrants who wish to rule at their pleasure rob God of his honor, and therefore are justly punished for their insolence.

O Jehovah of hosts, God of Israel, who dwellest between the Cherubim. Here are other titles employed by Hezekiah for the confirmation of his faith. And, first, by calling him “Jehovah of hosts,” he again extols his power. But when he adds “God of Israel,” he brings him near, and on familiar terms; for it was no ordinary token of love to take that nation under his protection. Such is also the import of “sitting between the cherubim;” as if he had said, “Thou hast here placed thy seat, and promised that thou wilt be the protector of those who call upon thee before the ark of the covenant. Relying on this promise, I flee to thee as my guardian.”

Hezekiah had in view, I have no doubt, the form of the ark, which was surrounded by two cherubim. Others interpret Cherubim to mean angels, as if it were said, that God reigneth in heaven and sitteth among the angels. But this interpretation is unsuitable; for he is said to “sit between the cherubim,” on account of the form of the ark, which was constructed in this manner. (Exodus 25:18.) We know that it was a symbol of the presence of God, though his power was not confined to it; and Hezekiah, by mentioning it, intended to express his firm belief that God was present with him, and had designed to gather a people to himself by spreading, so to speak, his wings over them. There being a wide distance between God and us, Hezekiah embraced that token of adoption. Yet there was nothing gross or earthly in his conceptions of God, as superstitious men would desire to bring him down from heaven, but, satisfied with the promise which he had received, he expresses his firm belief that we do not need to go far to seek the grace of God.

This mode of expression, therefore, deserves our attention, and teaches us, that while we gradually ascend to heaven by the light of the word which leads the way, still, in order to obtain assistance, we must not think of God as absent; for he has chosen his dwelling in the midst of us. Since his majesty far exceeds heaven and earth, we must not limit him within the capacity of our understanding; and yet, as he has revealed himself to us by the word, we may comprehend him in proportion to the small ability and measure of our understanding, not that we may bring him down from his heavenly throne, but that our understandings, which are naturally feeble and sluggish, may approach to him by degrees; for it is proper that we should strive to approach to his loftiness, since he invites us by the Word and sacraments. If we are skillful interpreters, the spiritual knowledge of God will always flourish among us; we shall not give the name of God to stones, or wood, or trees; there will be nothing earthly or gross in our conceptions of him; but the nearer he comes down to us, the more earnestly shall we labor to make a proper use of those aids which he holds out, that our minds may not grovel on the earth; since God accommodates himself to our weakness for no other reason than that the sacraments may serve to us the purpose of ladders, 5252     D’escheles. which superstition abuses for a contrary purpose.

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