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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 19

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-13

Second Kings - Chapter 19

Verbal Exchanges - Verses 1-13

The report from his messengers of the words of Sennacherib’s servants had a distressing effect on King Hezekiah. Like them he rent his clothes and put on sackcloth, the symbol of sorrow and repentance. He then went to the house of the Lord to pray. Meanwhile he sent Eliakim and Shebna to Isaiah to appeal to him to intercede with the Lord for Judah. The elders, dressed in sackcloth, were also sent to Isaiah. They were to carry him a message from the king which began with a characterization of the time as "a day of trouble, rebuke and blasphemy." Judah was in deep trouble, suffering the rebuke of the Lord for her sins, and undergoing blasphemous mockery of their God on the cart of the pagan invaders.

Hezekiah’s proverb is very meaningful, "The children are come to birth, and there is not strength to bang forth." The figure is of a woman in long labor of childbirth. Her baby has come to the moment of birth, and she is too weakened and exhausted to bear it. Judah had defied Sennacherib, built up her resources, placed full confidence in God. Her effort is exhausted, and she cannot do more to resist Sennacherib. King, officers, elders, and prophet must have the strength of the Lord to be delivered. They hope the Lord, having heard the blasphemous reproach of Sennacherib’s men, would reprove them by delivering Jerusalem. for they had said He could not do it. They implored Isaiah.to lift up his prayer to God on their behalf.

Isaiah sent them back with a message of reassurance. They were to tell Hezekiah not to fear the blasphemy of the king of Assyria. The Lord would blow on Sennacherib with His blast, he would hear a rumor which would cause him to return to his own country, and there he would fall by the sword in his own country.

Immediately the Lord’s prediction began to be worked out. When Rab-shakeh got back to Lachish he found Sennacherib had moved on to Libnah, another of the larger Judaean cities a few miles northwest of Lachish. The rumor was that Tirhakah, the king of Ethiopia, was coming to fight against Sennacherib. Therefore, Sennacherib, anxious to secure the capitulation of Jerusalem before the expected arrival of the Ethiopians, sent further threats to Hezekiah. He rightly surmised that Hezekiah would give his God credit for this change of affairs. He reminded the king that all of the countries attacked by the Assyrians had found them irresistible, and had been utterly destroyed. Hezekiah must not believe that his God was about to deliver Judah. Some of these nations were much stronger than Judah, and their gods were supposedly more powerful, yet they had all fallen. Sennacherib names off nine which have fallen to him. To him it is preposterous that Hezekiah thinks he will escape. But read Isaiah’s prophecy of what is about to befall this proud pagan king (Isaiah 28:5-6).

Verses 14-19

Hezekiah Prays - Verses 14-19

Hezekiah read the letter of threats from Sennacherib and promptly treated it as he should have. He carried the matter to the Lord, going up to the temple, spreading it before Him, and praying earnestly for the Lord’s help.

R is a very interesting prayer, and contains points of instruction for one’s prayers today. It began by addressing Him as the exalted God of Israel, who dwells between the cherubim on the mercy seat of the temple’s holy of holies. He is the unique God of all kingdoms of the earth, for He is the Creator of heaven and earth. Next, He is implored as a condescending God, who can bow. down His ear to hear the earnest plea of His lowly creatures, like Hezekiah. He can see and hear the reproach of the blasphemous king of Assyria, and take note of it.

Hezekiah admits the truth of the claims of Sennacherib as to the overwhelming power of his conquering armies. It is true they have destroyed all nations where they have gone and have burned the gods of those nations in the fire. Yet these were no true gods, but the workmanship of men’s hands, fashioned in wood and stone and thus liable to destruction. But Israel’s God is supreme, living, and vengeful against His enemies.

Finally, Hezekiah addresses God as a God of salvation. He prays that God will hear his petition and save Jerusalem from the hands of the Assyrians. There is a worthy reason for this, "that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord God, even thou only." This should be the prayer and earnest desire of all missionary-minded Christians (Acts 8:4; Romans 1:16-17).

Verses 20-34

The Lord Answers - Verses 20-34

The Lord quickly answered the prayer of Hezekiah through the Prophet Isaiah, who sent him word that the Lord had affirmed His hearing of the king. He sent a message to him for Sennacherib. It was one of scorn and ridicule of this blasphemous king who had so belittled the true God. The tables would turn and God’s virgin daughter, the city of Zion (or Jerusalem), would hold him in despite. The young girls of the city would saucily shake their heads at him. For with all his proud boastfulness he would become an object of contempt at last.

The reason? He had not realized whom he blasphemed, against whom he had raised his voice, lifted his eyes, and reproached. Through the envoy he had sent to ridicule and belittle the messengers of Hezekiah he had railed against the Holy One of Israel. This appellation, "Holy One of Israel," was the Lord, the promised Messiah, who would be the Savior of the world. In humiliating Eliakim and his patty he had reproached the One who is the hope of the world, and he must be judged (cf. 1 Timothy 1:20).

The Lord had weighed the boast of Sennacherib about his power and had some information about those claims for him. He claimed to have climbed the great mountains (nations) and cut down the tall cedars (great kings), and to have encamped his armies in their borders. Now he has come into the forest of Carmel (Israel) and will treat it as he has all those before it. He had digged out springs of strange waters (far-flung nations) and drunk from them. He had dried up the rivers of the places he had besieged, or had taken away their material good. But the king of Assyria had forgotten, or ignored, the lessons of history. For the God of Israel, whom he had despised, had long before him dried up seas (the Red Sea) and rivers (Jordan). In ancient times the Lord had devastated proud nations which defied Him (as Egypt and Canaan), and made their fenced cities heaps of ruin. Sennacherib should recall that it was this God he treated so lightly who had accomplished much more marvelous things than he had even imagined to do.

Furthermore the victories of the Assyrian armies were made possible by the Lord’s permission. Because they had forsaken Him they had no power, had been dismayed and confounded, not knowing which way they should turn. Therefore they were as perishable in His judgment as the green grass on a housetop or young grain when the hot sun and wind bears down upon them. But the Lord knows all about the Assyrian, how he has gone out and come in. Sennacherib did not need to tell Him anything. He is now taking note of this wicked king, and will treat him as an aniMal His hook of conquest will be put into the ox’s nose and His bridle of direction in the mouth of the horse, and He will direct him back to his own land in disgrace and humiliation.

The rest of the message is for Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem, from verse 29. The remnant escaped from the invasion of Sennacherib will survive and again thrive in the land. The Lord will cause enough voluntary growth in the fields and vineyards to supply them the first year and again in the second year, when they will also secure seed again, so that in the third year they may sow and reap as in former years. So Judah will again establish roots in the land and bear fruit abroad. The remnant, fled to Jerusalem for safety, will return to their lands. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish His purpose in Israel. These things anticipate prophetically the end of the present age and the conversion of national Israel (see Romans 9:27-28; Romans 11:5).

As for the present status of the city of Jerusalem, none of the boasts of the Assyrians against it will be carried out. Sennacherib will not as much as shoot one arrow into Jerusalem, nor send one shield­-bearer against it, nor throw up any embankment against it. The humiliated king will retrace his steps to Nineveh by the road he came and will not gain access to Jerusalem. God will defend Jerusalem, first, for His own sake, and secondly for the sake of his covenant oath to David.

Verses 35-37

Assyrians Destroyed – Commentary on 2 Kings 19:35-37 AND 2 Chronicles 32:20-22

Again the Chronicles account is more of a summary of the eventful conclusion to Sennacherib’s attempt to capture Jerusalem. It omits the details of the prayers of Isaiah and Hezekiah, saying they were the cause why the Lord sent an angel who cut off the mighty Assyrian army, including captains and leaders. It goes on to relate the return of Sennacherib to his own country where he perished at the hands of his sons, and concludes by stating that thus the Lord saved the king and people of Jerusalem from all their enemies.

The Kings account says that the angel of the Lord smote a hundred eighty-five thousand Assyrian soldiers in one night, so that few arose in the morning. All the mighty host were dead corpses, so few as Isaiah had foretold, "that a child may write them down" (Isaiah 10:19).

It is interesting that secular history admits this great catastrophe which befell the army of Sennacherib, although it does not attribute it to the mighty power of God. Secular history says that a fast moving plague destroyed the army and forced the Assyrian king to discontinue his conquests. Of course the Bible student knows what caused the plague and its stunning results.

Sennacherib returned to his homeland, the Chronicles account says, "with shame of face." He lived on for a time in Nineveh, some chronologists think for many years longer, and finally was assassinated by two of his sons while he worshipped in the temple of his pagan gods. Sennacherib had a mighty demonstration of the awesome power of the God of Judah, whom he blasphemed. That God gave him space to repent, believe, and be saved, and he had not done so. He persisted in worshipping the pagan idols of his nation and suddenly perished in the act (Proverbs 29:1).

These events are a prophetic analogy of the end time things relative to Israel. She will find herself besieged and helpless, attempting to buy off her enemies and failing. At last she will admit that her hope is in the Lord and turn to Him. Then He will save her from the siege of Antichrist’s forces. Many prophecies foretell these events (see Zechariah 12:1-14).

Note these lessons from this passage: 1) In the end all the efforts of men will fail, only that done in the strength of the Lord will avail; 2) it matters not how apparent is the hand of God in affairs, some will never acknowledge it; 3) God’s people should always take their problems to Him in prayer, seeking an answer that brings Him honor and glory; 4) the Lord will soon judge those who scoff at His power and refuse Him; 5) The Lord will not forsake His people, Israel.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 2 Kings 19". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/2-kings-19.html. 1985.
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