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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Isaiah 37

Verses 1-5

ISAIAH - CHAPTER 37

THE HUMILIATION OF THE PROUD ASSYRIAN

1. Having heard the blasphemous threats of the Assyrian, king Hezekiah rent his garments, put on sackcloth (a sign of mourning) and went into the house of the Lord, (vs. 1; Genesis 37:34; Psalms 73:16-17; Psalms 77:13).

2. He also sent representatives (garbed like himself) to Isaiah, the prophet, whom he recognized as God’s representative (and who had warned against trusting in Egypt, cf. Isaiah 20:2-6) - desiring his prayers and counsel, (vs. 2-5).

a. The king is greatly troubled, humiliated and disgraced, (comp. Isaiah 26:16-18).

b. But, his greatest concern seems to be that the Assyrian has defied the living God, (Isaiah 36:15; Isaiah 36:18; Isaiah 36:20).

c. Perhaps, if Isaiah will lift up a prayer in behalf of the remnant of his people, the Lord will hear and rebuke the proud Assyrian who has insulted His holy name, (vs. 4; Isaiah 1:9; Isaiah 10:20-22; comp. Jeremiah 21:1-2).

Verses 6-7

1. Hezekiah must not be afraid because of the blasphemies he has heard "the king’s boys" (Heb) speak against Jehovah, (vs. 6; Isaiah 7:4; Isaiah 35:4).

2. The Lord will send a spirit (angel) that will so disturb the Assyrian as to turn him back to his own land where he will fall by the sword, (vs. 7, 9, 37-38). ,

Verses 8-13

Vs. 8-13: A THREATENING LETTER

1. Conferring with king Sennacherib, at Libnah, the Rabshakeh was turned aside from Jerusalem by word that the king of Ethiopia had come to fight against Assyria, (vs. 8-9).

2. But, he sent messengers to Hezekiah with a threatening letter, (vs. 10-13).

a. He must not permit his God to deceive him into thinking he could escape subjection to the king of Assyria, (vs. 10; Isaiah 36:15).

b. Just see what the kings of Assyria have done to all who opposed them; can Hezekiah foolishly dream of being delivered from a similar humiliation? (vs. 11; Isaiah 10:9-11).

c. Hezekiah must consider all those nations whose gods have been helpless before the great power of his Assyrian fathers, (vs. 12-13).

Verses 14-20

Vs. 14-20: THE LETTER LAID BEFORE THE LORD

1. In a symbolic gesture, Hezekiah took the letter to the temple and spread it out before the Lord, (vs. 14).

2. Then he bowed his heart, in humble worship, before the Lord of hosts - the high and exalted God of Israel who made the earth and all things therein, (vs. 15-16; Exodus 25:22; Psalms 80:13, Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalms 86:8-10; Isaiah 42:5; Isaiah 45:1-2).

3. He asks the Lord to see, hear and consider the words with which Sennacherib has spoken in mockery of the living God, (vs. 17; 2 Chronicles 6:40; Psalms 17:6; Daniel 9:18-19; Psalms 74:22-23).

4. Hezekiah admits that the Assyrians have laid the nations waste and cast their gods into the fire - but only because they were all the works of men’s hands, (vs. 18-19; 2 Kings 15:29; 2 Kings 16:9; 2 Kings 17:6; 2 Kings 17:24; Isaiah 2:8; Isaiah 17:7-8; Psalms 115:5-9. ,

5. Finally, Hezekiah appeals for deliverance - that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that Jehovah (the covenant-God of Israel) alone is truly God, (vs. 20; Isaiah 25:9; Isaiah 33:22; Isaiah 35:4; 1 Kings 18:36-39; Psalms 46:10; Ezekiel 36:22-23).

Verses 21-35

Vs. 21-35: THE LORD’S ANSWER: A PROPHECY AGAINST ASSYRIA

1. Isaiah sends word to king Hezekiah that God has heard and answered his prayer against Sennacherib, (vs. 21).

2. The virgin daughter of Zion has despised, scorned and wagged her head in contempt for the Assyrian who has so presumptuously profaned the name of Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, (vs. 22-23; Psalms 9:13-14; Zephaniah 3:14; Zechariah 2:10; Psalms 22:7; Psalms 109:25; Matthew 27:39).

3. The proud Assyrian has boasted far beyond what he is able to accomplish; he has NEVER been strong! (vs. 24-25; Isaiah 2:11; Isaiah 5:15; Isaiah 5:21; Ezekiel 30:7; Habakkuk 1:12; Isaiah 8:7-8; Isaiah 10:33-34).

4. He has been ignorant of the fact that he was a mere instrument, in the hand of Jehovah, for the accomplishment of His own purpose, (vs. 26-27; Isaiah 40:21; Isaiah 40:28; Psalms 33:11; Proverbs 19:21; Isaiah 14:27; Isaiah 25:1; Isaiah 46:10-11; Isaiah 10:6; Isaiah 40:7-8).

5. Nor has anything, of his attitude or actions, been hidden from the Lord who is about to put a hook in his arrogant nose, and a bridle in his blasphemous mouth, to turn him back to his own land, (vs. 28-29; Psalms 139:1; Isaiah 10:12; Ezekiel 29:4; Ezekiel 38:4).

6. In verses 30-32 the Lord gives a sign and word of encouragement for the remnant of His people; He is still zealous in behalf of His own, (comp. Leviticus 25:5; Leviticus 25:11; Isaiah 4:2; Isaiah 10:20; Isaiah 27; Isaiah 6; cp. Isaiah 9:7; Isaiah 59:17; Joel 2:18; Zechariah 1:14-17).

7. The king of Assyria will not come into Jerusalem, make war against it, or build a mound against it; the Lord will defend the city for His own name’s sake - and for His servant David’s sake, (vs. 33-35; Isaiah 31:5; Isaiah 38:6; Isaiah 43:25; Isaiah 48:9-11).

Verses 36-38

Vs. 36-38: DIVINE VENGEANCE AND THE DEATH OF SENNACHERIB

1. As the Assyrian host slept "the angel of the LORD" himself (an expression that almost always refers to an Old Testament appearance of the Christ) smote their camp, leaving 185,000 corpses, (vs. 36; Isaiah 10:12; Isaiah 10:33-34).

2. Sennacherib was deeply enough impressed by this overthrow that he returned to Nineveh, (vs. 37; Jonah 1:2; Jonah 3:3).

3. Some 20 years later, as he worshipped in the temple of Nisroch, his god, he was slain by two of his own sons, who went into exile, (vs. 38).

4. Another of his sons, Esarhaddon, ascended the throne that was vacated by Sennacherib, and reigned in his stead, (vs. 39; comp. Ezra 4:1-5).

5. Lord Byron’s immortal poem, "The Destruction of Sennacherib", is an inspiring portrayal of Jehovah’s dealing with the proud Assyrian:

The Assyrian came down like the wolf of the fold, And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold; And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea, When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

Like the leaves of the forest when summer is green,

That host with their banners at sunset were seen:

Like the leaves of the forest when autumn hath blown,

That host on the morrow laid withered and strown.’

For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed; And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and forever grew still.

And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide, But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride: And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf, And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.

And there lay the rider distorted and pale, With the dew on his brow and the rust on his mail; And the tents were all silent, the banners alone, The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.

And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail, And the idols were broke in the temple of Baal; And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword, Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!

So, Jerusalem was spared; but the rest of the land of Judah was ravaged. Hezekiah’s bid for freedom (which Isaiah warned against -Isaiah 28:14-29; Isaiah 30:1-5) had brought indescribable and immeasurable suffering. Judah was still not free, but was to remain a vassal of Assyria for years to come.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Isaiah 37". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/isaiah-37.html. 1985.