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CRITICAL NOTES.] Sen. invades Israel (2 Chronicles 32:1-5); H.’s preparations to meet him (2 Chronicles 32:6-8); Sen.’s seductions (2 Chronicles 32:9-15); Sen.’s letter (2 Chronicles 32:16-20); destruction of Assyrian host (2 Chronicles 32:21-26); end and reign of Hez. (2 Chronicles 32:27-33). Cf. parallel account in 2 Kings 18:13; 2 Kings 19:37, and Isaiah 36, 37.
2 Chronicles 32:1-5.—Sen. invades Israel. After, i.e., 14th year of Hez. (2 Kings 18:13). Estab., faithfulness or truth on part of Hez. Sen., Sanherib (Sin-ahi-ir-ba of Assyrian inscriptions), son and successor of Sargon, the successor of Shalmaneser and conqueror of Samaria. Win, break into them. 2 Chronicles 32:2, Purposed to fight, face was for war (cf. ch. 2 Chronicles 20:3; Luke 9:53). 2 Chronicles 32:3. Counsel (cf. 2 Chronicles 30:2). Stop, not wholly, but cover them over (Luther, cover), to hide them and to convey water underground for his own supply in siege (cf. Sir. 48:17). 2 Chronicles 32:4. Brook, Gihon, brook of valley of Ben-hinnom (cf. 2 Chronicles 32:30; 2 Kings 20:21). Kings, mighty men. 2 Chronicles 32:5. Strengthened, made careful inspection of city defences, renewed the masonry, raised projecting machines to the towers, and specially fortified Millo, the lower portion of city.
2 Chronicles 32:6-8.—His preparations. Gathered them in large open space. Comfortably, to their heart, inspiring courage and confidence (2 Chronicles 30:22). 2 Chronicles 32:7. More with us (cf. 2 Kings 6:16). 2 Chronicles 32:8. Arm of flesh, designates human weakness (cf. Isaiah 31:3; Jeremiah 17:5; Psalms 56:5). Fight (1 Samuel 8:20; 1 Samuel 18:17). Rested, leaned.
2 Chronicles 32:9-15.—Sen. seduces the people. After this. Hez.’s submission (2 Kings 18:14-16) omitted and the second expedition given. Lachish approached (cf. 2 Chronicles 25:27). Power, all his sovereignty with him (cf. Isaiah 34:1). Judah (2 Kings 18:27, and 2 Chronicles 32:18). 2 Chronicles 32:10. In siege, in straitness (marg., fortress) (cf. 2 Kings 25:2; Ezekiel 4:7). Jer. not besieged, but in distress and straitened for supplies. 2 Chronicles 32:11. Persuade, urge you to destruction. 2 Chronicles 32:12. (cf. 2 Kings 18:22). One altar. “A more distinct reference to exclusive validity of worship in temple, which had been once more established by Hez.” [Keil]. Misconception of religious reforms natural to a heathen. 2 Chronicles 32:13. Fathers, ancestors. People, mentioned 2 Kings 18:35 (cf. Isaiah 10:8-11; Isaiah 36:20; Isaiah 37:11-13). 2 Chronicles 32:15. No God, in addition to reviling God of Israel, and he adds no god of any nation and kingdom can rescue from him. 2 Chronicles 32:15. Servants, Tartan, Rabsaris, and Rabshakeh the spokesman (2 Kings 18:19-35).
2 Chronicles 32:16-20.—Sen.’s insulting letters. Letter, in plural referring to characters in which written [Murphy], or used as often of a single document [Speak. Com.] (cf. 2 Kings 19:14). Facts co-ordinated in real sequence, not temporal. First speech, then letter, and lastly demand. 2 Chronicles 32:18. Cried, to produce panic. 2 Chronicles 32:19. Against gods (2 Kings 19:18), classifying Jehovah among them. 2 Chronicles 32:20. H.’s prayer given 2 Kings 19:15-19.
2 Chronicles 32:21-23.—Destruction of Assyrian host. Angel (2 Kings 19:35). Mighty men, common soldiers (as 2 Chronicles 17:14) in distinction from leaders and princes. Came forth, his own sons (2 Kings 18:37). 2 Chronicles 32:22. From hand, guarded, sustained (Genesis 47:17), “gave them rest—round about.” 2 Chronicles 32:23. Presents, precious things (2 Chronicles 17:10; 2 Chronicles 20:29).
2 Chronicles 32:24-33.—Remaining history of Hez. Sickness described in full in 2 Kings 20:1-11; and Isaiah 38:0. Sign, going back of shadow on dial. 2 Chronicles 32:25. Lifted up in pride, in display of treasures (2 Kings 20:13). 2 Chronicles 32:26. Wrath, rebuked by Isa., humbled himself (2 Kings 20:17-18). 2 Chronicles 32:27. Riches, personal estates in land and agricultural produce; accumulated treasures as silver and gold (cf. 2 Kings 20:13; Isaiah 39:2), cattle for stalls, &c. 2 Chronicles 32:30. Stopped, upper sources of Gihon. Down, underground. This noticed as a great act of Hez. 2 Chronicles 32:31. Business, interpreters from Babylon, where astronomy was cultivated, greatly interested and sent on embassy. Wonder, i.e., going back of shadow. Try (cf. Deuteronomy 8:2). 2 Chronicles 32:32. Goodness, good deeds (Nehemiah 13:14). Vision, “title given by Isa. to his prophecy (Isaiah 1:1).” Chiefest, highest, an excavation above all other tombs—in same repository, but at higher level—intended by some, others that no room in family sepulchres, and a private tomb constructed for him and successors. Honour, the burning of spices (cf. 2 Chronicles 16:14; 2 Chronicles 21:19).
SENNACHERIB’S ATTEMPT ON JERUSALEM.—2 Chronicles 32:1-26
In the spring or early summer of 701 B.C., S. marched his forces to reduce rebellious vassals to submission. Sidon and Phœnician cities were taken and reduced, and bordering kings rendered homage. He climbed the lofty heights of Lebanon (2 Kings 19:23), and “passed along the banks of the streams, which he drained by his armies, or over which he threw bridges for them to cross” (Isaiah 37:24-25, LXX). He was renowned far and wide as the destroyer. His chief object not Palestine but Egypt, the only rival worthy of his arms. Useless to take Lachish, with the strong fortress of Jerusalem in rear. Each stage of march foreseen, all intervening obstacles swept away. Fenced cities of Judah taken, Zion alone remained. Hezekiah. counselled to submit and pay tribute, was shut up in the city, and determined to resist. The invading army reached the city, “and passed in long defile under the walls. Chariots and horses filled the ravines, scarlet dresses and scarlet shields blazed in the sun, and the veil of the city was torn away. The general, accompanied by high personages, made demands for unconditional surrender” [see Stanley, vol. ii. Jew. Ch.].
I. Sennacherib’s design. “He was purposed to fight against Jerusalem.” By craft he seeks to withdraw the people from allegiance to Hezekiah. (a) He will lead them into danger. “To give over yourselves to die by famine and by thirst” (2 Chronicles 32:11). (b) He has excited divine displeasure by removing high places. Hezekiah’s reforms ridiculed. He could not expect help from Jehovah, the national Guardian or tutelary Deity, for he had forfeited favour by his sacrilegious conduct in demolition of sanctuaries. But Hezekiah designed not to exterminate, only to promote worship of God. (c) His forces will only lead you to ruin (2 Chronicles 32:15). If local gods of those powerful nations could not deliver people from might of Assyria, how improbable, impossible for the god of so small a state to deliver them? A contradiction to his boast in 2 Kings 18:25, and a heathenish view of Jehovah.
2. By blasphemy he misrepresents Jehovah. He is put on a level with other gods, “the gods of the nations.” He is declared impotent to deliver those who trust in him. “So shall not the God of Hez. deliver his people” (2 Chronicles 32:17). “The boastful and blasphemous tone of this caitiff’s speech, which, in the concluding part of it, here reaches its climax. He spoke of Jehovah as a heathen, and as the representative of a despot whose head was turned by his hitherto unbroken course of conquests” (Jam. on 2 Kings 18:33-35).
3. By self-exaltation he becomes insulting. A towering pride exalted him above all authority, human and divine. “Had not Asshur’s deity proved himself, by the capture of Samaria, to be mightier than Israel’s! Only one more evidence of this was needed—the capture of Jerusalem—and then the King of Assyria was undisputed lord of the world” [Speak. Com.].
II. Hezekiah’s preparations to meet this design. “H. responded to the call. By a sustained effort, which gave him a peculiar renown (Sir. 48:17) as a second founder or restorer of the city of David.
1. He stopped the two springs of Siloam, and diverted the waters of the Kedron, which, unlike its present dry state, and unusually even for that time, had been flooding its banks, and in this way the besiegers, he hoped, would be cut off from all water on the barren hills around.
2. He also fortified the walls, and rebuilt the towers, which had probably not been repaired on the north side since the assault of Joash, King of Israel, and completed the armoury and outworks of the castle or fortress of Milo.
3. He assembled the people in the great square or open place before the city gate, and there, with his officers, nobles, and guards, addressed them in a spirit which, combined with his active preparations, reminds us of the like combination in the well-known speech of Cromwell. ‘And the people rested on the words of H., King of Judah.’ Well might any nation repose on one to whom even now the world may turn as a signal of what is meant by faith, as distinct from fanaticism” [Stanley].
III. Sennacherib’s failure to accomplish his design. Measures of Rab. entirely ineffectual. Troops at his disposal not sufficient to enforce submission. He was obliged to report to his royal master unsuccessful mission. His second demand unavailing. H. spread defiant letter before Jehovah, who intervened to fulfil his word and answer prayer. “The skilled strategy of the Assyrian will avail him no more; his past career has been in accordance with the purposes of Providence, but his appointed bound has at length been reached. Hope still remains for the’ remnant’ of Judah. ‘By the way that he come, by the same shall he return, and unto this city he shall not come, saith Jehovah.’ That night the long series of Isaiah’s predictions received its fulfilment—the flower of the Assyrian army was cut off and the Assyrian monarch ‘heard the rumour’ which impelled his return to his own land” [Driver on Isaiah]. He “decamped, departed, returned, remained at Nineveh” (Isaiah 37:37-38), Worshipping without attendants, the once triumphant conqueror in humiliation sought the help of his own special god, but was slain by his own sons.
“The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold “
[Byron’s Heb. Melody]
SENNACHERIB’S LETTER.—2 Chronicles 32:17-20
Hez.’s letter different in form from our letters. Assyrians did not use paper or even skins, but wrote on clay. It is very likely the letter was a tablet of terra-cotta. I. “Went up into the house of the Lord” (cf. 2 Kings 19:14). Where so likely to find God as in his house? Notice how he speaks of God dwelling between the cherubim. Perhaps he had heard how Sen. sat on his throne between winged bulls and lions; but he heard Isaiah tell of seeing the Lord surrounded by winged intelligences. God has only to speak to his winged messenger and the angel goes to crush the foes of his people. This was a model prayer, not going all round the world, but fastening on the thing wanted, and asking for that. If our prayers were more like telegrams we should have speedier answers. II. Was the letter ever answered? Yes, Jehovah answered it himself. We know what the result was, and how soon the bolt of vengeance struck down the proud blasphemer. III. There is a postscript to God’s answer. “It came to pass that night.… they were all dead corpses.” Suppose we read in the newspaper to-morrow, “Sudden death of 185,000 soldiers!” What a stir it would make! What a sight the camp must have been next morning! There has been considerable discussion as to the cause of the destruction of so large an army, and it is generally understood now to have been the simoon. Cambyses, King of the Medes, lost fifty thousand men by one of these dreadful winds. But whether the wind was a messenger or an angel, it matters not. God willed it, and nature hastened to do his bidding [T. Champness, “New Coins, &c.”].
ASSAULTS ON CHRISTIAN FAITH.—2 Chronicles 32:9-15
The Rabshakeh’s plausible speech and Jerusalem’s faith, greatly distressed by him, are typical. Still as men hang moodily over the bulwarks of Zion, doubtful whether life is worth living within the narrow limits which religion prescribes, or righteousness worth fighting for with such privations and hope deferred, comes upon them some elegant and plausible temptation, loudly calling to give the whole thing up. Disregarding the official evidences and arguments that push forward to parley, it speaks home in practical tones to men’s real selves—their appetites and selfishness. “You are foolish fellows,” it says, “to confine yourselves to such narrowness of life and self-denial! The fall of your faith is only a matter of time; other creeds have gone, yours must follow, and why fight the world for the sake of an idea, or from the habits of discipline? Such things only starve the human spirit; and the world is so generous, so free to every one, so tolerant of each enjoying his own, unhampered by authority or religion” [G. A. Smith, Bk. of Isa.]. Notice—
I. The unwarrantable assumption of unbelief. Rab.’s address a type of modern criticism, the forces of culture and unbelief, with lofty pretentions, patronising airs, and deceitful promises, designed to shake confidence in religion, create confusion in Christian communities, and seduce from Christ.
1. In displays of immense self-confidence. Hezekiah never styled a king. Rab.’s master was destined to conquer. This an occasion for self-glorification. Jerusalem’s defenders underrated. The city to be captured by clever speeches. More in Christianity than human wisdom and power. It can never be hindered, destroyed by craft, worldly policy, or worldly Wisdom
2. It seeks to undermine religious faith. Honouring and commending and then trampling it under foot. God only on a level with idols. Christianity only one form among many. Faith is held in risks and ignoble sacrifice. Your system has had its day, is becoming effete, and its decay only a matter of time. Predictions which have been, and may again be falsified.
3. It offers false liberty. “Make a treaty with me, and come out to me, and eat every one of his vine, and every one of his fig tree, &c.” (Isaiah 36:12). “A subtle assault upon the companionship, discipline, and patriotism of the common soldiers by the promises of a selfish, sensuous equality and individualism.” An independent easy life offered to men who throw off allegiance to God, and restraints of Christian faith. But no philosopher, sceptic, or unbeliever can ensure freedom from starvation in unbelief, and captivity in the tolerance of the world.
II. The defence of faith. “If faith be held simply as the silent garrison of Jerusalem held it, faith in a Lord God of righteousness, who has given us a conscience to serve him, and has spoken to us in plain explanation of this by those whom we can see, understand, and trust, not only by an Isaiah, but by a Jesus, then neither mere cleverness nor the ability to promise comfort can avail against our faith” [Smith, Bk. of Isa.].
1. Their representations are false. Zion is not endangered. Our God is greater than all other gods, worthy of trust and service. Liberty and satisfaction not given in unbelief, enemies themselves being witness. Our religion not likely to decay, has recuperative power, and is destined to triumph over all. What faith makes such heroes and philanthropists, gives such happiness in life, such hope in death?
2. Faith in God is reasonable. He is omnipotent, supreme Ruler, and ever present with his people. His word is fulfilled by his providence. No home, no freedom away from him. Unbelief is exile. In his palace, obedient to his law, and standing by his people will be found our security and peace. Well might Isaiah exclaim on the morning of the night of destruction to the Assyrian army, “Jehovah is our Judge; Jehovah is our Lawgiver; Jehovah is our King: He saveth us.”
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
2 Chronicles 32:6-8. Hez.’s Exhortation.
1. Numbers no guarantee of success. “All the multitude with him” availed not. “Not by might, nor by power, &c.”
2. Worldly policy and shrewdness will not ensure success. These combined in largest measure have failed thousands of times.
3. Unlimited resources of all kinds—men, money, or influence—will not give success against right and God. All “an arm of flesh,” and what “an arm of flesh “multiplied a million times when measured with the single arm of omnipotence!
4. God alone can give victory. “With us is the Lord our God.” “The import of ‘Immanuel;’ by which name Christ now began to be known amongst them” [Trapp]. God (a) greater than numbers, “more with us than with him;” (b) pledged to help, “to help us and to fight our battles.” Hence be more anxious about the justice of your cause and God’s presence to help it on, than its popularity and favourable circumstances. Exercise confidence in God and speak comfortably to those in his service. He that “feareth the fury of the oppressor forgetteth the Lord his Maker.”
2 Chronicles 32:9. In demand of Sen. he seems—
1. Unchecked by moral obligation. Would not be satisfied with payment of tribute from Hez. “He hath broken the covenant.”
2. Unchecked by fear of military defences, “despised cities.”
3. Unchecked by respect for human life, “regardeth not men” (Isaiah 33:8). “Sen., like Napoleon in that terrible Russian expedition of 1812, had essayed a task he was unable to complete. The Assyrians had no conception of benefiting or civilising the nations which they conquered; their activity was a purely destructive one; their only motive was ambition and lust of dominion. And now in pursuing the same objectless career they were meditating the extermination of a nation whose preservation was vital to the future of humanity. The Assyrian, though he knows it not, is an instrument in the hand of Providence; he has a mission to execute by the limits of which his pretensions must be bounded” [Driver].
2 Chronicles 32:10-15. Wherein your trust? A most important question for all.
1. Hez. trusted to Egypt; a bruised reed, slender and easily broken. Weakened by Saragon, Egypt failed to help. Resolutions of amendment, self-righteousness, and vague hopes of God’s mercy broken reeds.
2. God the only ground of trust. Well when sinners are roused by this question. Wisdom to trust in God, for he can and will deliver.
3. The test of this trust, “If ye say unto me, &c.” (2 Chronicles 32:22). “Thus he thinks to beat them off all their holds that he may bring them to the bent of his bow. Satan doth the like, ‘whom resist steadfast in the faith’ ” [Trapp].
I. What accusations here made:
(1) that Hez. had forfeited their allegiance and God’s protection by his reforms (2 Chronicles 32:12);
(2) that Hez.’s God only like other gods, and could not deliver him. II. What scenes of desolation here pictured. Nations conquered, gods in captivity at Nineveh, and everywhere turned into a desert. III. What assumptions of pride, power, and profanity.
2 Chronicles 32:20. The Wonderful Prayer Meeting. Its purpose. Its attendants (Isa. and Hez., “Where two or three”). Its grand results. “The issue was as momentous as any that have been determined by the ‘decisive battles of the world.’ It was a crisis as grave as when Persia threatened to intercept the rising civilisation of Greece, or Vandal and Moor to destroy the Christianity of Europe” [Driver’s Isa.].
THE WONDERFUL DELIVERANCE.—2 Chronicles 32:16-20
I. Judah’s helpless condition. City surrounded. Sen. determined. Egypt driven back. The crisis real. Sen.’s boast true. Resistance desperate and chances of escape hopeless. To all human appearance fate of city and inhabitants sealed.
II. The concerted prayer. The prophet and the king bending together in prayer! In estimation of the world this a sign of weakness, the refuge of cowardice. But confidence not misplaced in this critical period. United, concerted prayer secures deliverance. “If two of you shall agree, &c.” (Matthew 18:19). Illus. from O. T. history, life of Luther, and history of Christian Church.
III. God’s signal interposition. “Man’s extremity” became “God’s opportunity.” In a single night miraculous deliverance came—the night in which Isaiah’s predictions came to pass. “The rumour was heard” which compelled Sen.’s hasty retreat. Whether the stroke which fell upon the Assyrian army was due to natural causes (Herodotus) or supernatural interposition it was a fact, “a coincidence which no political forecast could have anticipated, no estimate of probabilities calculated.” “At eventide, behold terror! before morning it is not.”
IV. The marvellous effect of this interposition. “Remember that it had been foretold by Jehovah’s word, and achieved, despite all human probability, by Jehovah’s own arm, we shall understand the enormous spiritual impression which it left upon Israel.
1. The religion of the one supreme God, supreme in might, because supreme in righteousness, received a most emphatic historical vindication, a signal and glorious triumph. No other god for the present had any chance in Judah. Idolatry discredited, not by the political victory of a faction, nor by the destructive genius of a nation, but by an evident act of Providence to which no human aid had been contributory. It was nothing less than the baptism of Israel in spiritual religion, the grace of which was never wholly undone” [Smith’s Isa.].
2. Hez. was honoured before nations (2 Chronicles 32:23). “From surrounding nations tribute poured in as to an awful avenger” [Stanley]. Precious things laid in abundance at the feet of Judah’s king, who was magnified as the favourite and special care of Heaven. God’s help will turn enemies into friends and gain for us honour and influence.
3. But the effect not confined to the times and country of Hezekiah. The Egyptian general, Tirhakah, advancing from the south, as well as Hez. in Jerusalem, heard the results with joy. Three centuries afterwards, the Psalmist’s exulting language (Psalms 76:0) was repeated by Egyptian priests. The Maccabees were sustained by the recollection of Sen.’s fall in their struggle against Antiochus (1Ma. 7:41), and in the churches of Moscow the exultation over the event is still read on the anniversary of the retreat of the French from Russia (cf. Stanley, Jew. Ch., vol. ii.). “One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.”
HEZEKIAH’S SICKNESS AND RECOVERY.—2 Chronicles 32:24-25
The illness and miraculous recovery, the fall and repentance of Hezekiah, given very briefly here, more fully in 2 Kings 20:0. Learn—
I. The great Contrasts in the events of life. In the palace a sick man, a dying king. By his side quietly stood the faithful prophet who had delivered the prophetic message, “Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die and not live.” In the public crisis, there had been excitement, intense anxiety, and great joy at deliverance. The question personal, “thine house,” not national. Hezekiah needs protection as well as his kingdom from God. An air of deep solemnity in the sick-bed of Hezekiah striking and peculiar. “No sickness in Jewish annals so pathetically recorded,” says Stanley.
II. The suddenness with which these events happen. At one time in the midst of victory and joy, at another “at the gates of the grave.” Now in the sanctuary with head “lifted up above his enemies round about,” then laid prostrate and the angel of death ready to cut him down! “Man knoweth not his time” of success or failure, of life or death. “As fishes taken in an evil net, and birds caught in a snare, so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them” (Ecclesiastes 9:12).
III. The distress with which they are often attended. In the sickness of Asa, Jehoram, and Uzziah we see divine visitations, in that of Hezekiah national calamity.
1. It was distressing. Grieved to part with life because promise of a long and prosperous one would not be fulfilled if cut off. He spoke of upright deeds faithfully done as conditions to promise made to David. He wept at having no children to succeed him. The dark and silent world close at hand, in which he would no longer see and praise God. His thread of life about to be severed; from morning to night and from night to morning he wasted away.
2. It was hopeless. The cry of a dying lion, the plaintive murmur of a wounded doe, only sounds heard in sick-chamber. There seemed no hope whatever of recovery, “Thou shalt die and not live.”
IV. The wonderful deliverance which God can grant. The disease, of a mortal kind and malignant character, would prove fatal unless the healing power of God should interpose.
1. Deliverance given through prayer. Not like Ahab, Hezekiah prayed unto the Lord, “turned his face to the wall” (2 Kings 20:3), to conceal fervency of devotion from attendants, looking in direction of temple, or in solemn meditation. The prayer of this righteous man availed much. “Afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, Turn again, and tell Hezekiah, … I have heard thy prayer, seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee,” &c. (2 Kings 20:4-7). A cluster of figs, an Eastern remedy, applied to the king’s tumour and instant relief ensued.
2. Deliverance with miraculous signs. Recovery so unlooked for that Hezekiah, like Ahaz, asked for some token to confirm belief in the prophet’s word. Sign specified granted to him. Shadow of the sun went back upon the dial of Ahaz ten degrees. Fifteen years were added to his life. In three days he appeared in the temple, and “the almost funeral dirge of his sick-chamber was then blended with the praise of triumphant thanks-giving with which he returns to the living world of joyous human voices and sounding music, rejoicing in the Living Source of all life, and looking forward to the hope of transmitting the truth to children yet unborn” [Stanley].
HEZEKIAH’S TEST AND FAILURE.—2 Chronicles 32:25-26; 2 Chronicles 32:31
Soon after Hezekiah’s recovery an embassy from Babylon sent to Jerusalem, to ascertain the internal resources of the country, to inquire as sages into the astronomical wonder with which Hezekiah’s restoration was connected, to form an alliance with him, or to join in general homage of surrounding nations. Whatever the object of the visit, it was famous in the city and a moral test to the king.
I. Hezekiah’s sins. “His heart was lifted up” in vanity and ingratitude.
1. By vain display of his treasures. Flattered by the honour, Hezekiah showed the ambassadors his precious things, regalia, hereditary treasures belonging to the crown; his armoury and warlike stores; and “there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah showed them not.”
2. By motives of worldly policy. All this display evidently that the deputies might be more induced to prize his friendship and treat him as an ally on equal terms.
3. By utter forgetfulness of God. “Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done to him.” Not a word said for God who had so signally blessed him to foreigners. All about his own house and kingdom. God displeased, his will opposed to all coquetting with foreign powers; the prophet predicts a darker prospect. Those treasures carefully accumulated would become the prey of a new power. Babylon had solicited friendship and would end by enforcing slavery. We can never pay our debt, but should ever acknowledge it. “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards me?”
II. Hezekiah’s humiliation. “Hezekiah humbled himself.” Isaiah’s searching questions and awful predictions not without effect. King and city mourned as guilty together. Respite was granted and divine judgment not executed during his lifetime. “So that the wrath of the Lord come not upon them in the days of Hezekiah.”
TESTS OF MORAL CHARACTER.—2 Chronicles 32:31
God looks more narrowly into our ways than the world or the church—will purify us and fit for service by trial—never rests satisfied with a well-ordered kingdom, or well-ordered house, but seeks to set up a loftier standard in a well-ordered heart and upright life.
I. Moral tests in their means. Wealth and worldly prosperity; domestic happiness and numerous offspring; sickness, popularity; great victories and heavy afflictions; suspension of grace and withdrawment of comfort. Tests applied to Abraham, Job, and Peter.
II. Moral tests in their design. “To try him that he might know all that was in his heart.” “Lord, show me myself,” was the prayer of one. Satan tempts to sin; God tries men to make them conscious of real self; to discover qualities of heart and character. Self-knowledge often partial, part not all known; always needful and always difficult to attain; only acquired in the school of God, by peculiar discipline. “God left him.”
III. Moral tests in their results. Sometimes virtues and worth confirmed and purified; failure in Hezekiah’s case. From which learn—
1. The insufficiency of man. Hezekiah more than mortal if he could stand. Highly commended, much to encourage and rejoice in past deeds; aided by clear teaching of prophet, yet fell from simplicity of faith. When left of God the strongest falls.
2. The need of divine interposition. This failure the proof that the blessings which were to come to all nations could not be realised through any king, priest, or prophet, not even through the dispensation itself. Not by progressive amelioration under Mosaic law. Tendencies in man’s soul which could not be thus eradicated; increasing sin, signal failures pressing on the world which could not be removed. In Judæa and in Gentile nations “all flesh grass,” fading away beneath “the burning heat” (James 1:11) of divine justice.
3. The glory of God’s mercy. A “righteous servant shall justify many.” God’s displeasure removed in Christ. A higher order of things introduced, and God magnified for his abundant goodness!
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
2 Chronicles 32:20. Hez.’s prayer in 2 Kings 19:15-19; but no distinct mention of Isa. Hez. asked him to pray (2 Chronicles 32:4). In affliction personal prayer needed. Good to got others to join. Two better than one. Isaiah here performs the function of minister, sick visitor, and physician. Signs given to Hez. In life God accounted him righteous, and gave him (a) a good conscience, (b) success in work, best proofs of divine favour. In sickness a special sign in answer to prayer, and in which Hez. read a moral lesson.
2 Chronicles 32:27-31. Hez.’s wealth.
1. How he secured it.
2. What he did with it.
3. What influence it had upon him. “In all time of our wealth, good Lord deliver us.”
2 Chronicles 32:32-33. Hez.’s death and burial.
1. His death appointed. Though life prolonged, yet its length decreed. None exempt. Death ends joys, sorrows, and probation. Preparation the solemn duty of all.
2. His burial a national honour. Funeral marked with unusual respect. Royal tribe of Judah and whole population of Jerusalem present, and a marked epoch in royal interments.
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 32
2 Chronicles 32:1-2. War. We possess in duplicate, on the Taylor cylinder, found at Nineveh in 1830, and now in the British Museum, and on the Bull-inscription of Kouyunjik, Sennacherib’s own account of the stages of his campaign [Driver’s Isa.].
2 Chronicles 32:6-8. Courageous. Leonidas, at the Straits of Thermopylæ, was not afraid with 400 men to oppose Xerxes, the invader of Greece, at the head of a million. William Tell, with a handful of adherents, boldly resisted the Austrian multitude and repulsed it.
“Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful.”
2 Chronicles 32:10. Trust. The practice of Egypt was to pretend friendship, to hold out hopes of support, and then to fail in time of need [Speak. Com.].
2 Chronicles 32:18. Jews’ speech. Hez.’s representatives desire Rab. to speak in Aramaic, the language of commerce, and probably of diplomacy in the East. But his aim is to produce an impression upon the multitude, and he insists on using Hebrew. His speech breathes the spirit which pervades all the representations of Assyrian power.
2 Chronicles 32:21. Cut off. The deliverance was complete and final. The Assyrian king at once returned, and, according to Jewish tradition, wrecked his vengeance on the Israelite exiles whom he found in Mesopotamia (Tob. 1:18). He was the last of the great Assyrian conquerors. No Assyrian host again ever crossed Jordan. Within a few years from that time the Assyrian power suddenly vanished from the earth [Stanley].
2 Chronicles 32:25. Rendered not. Ingratitude is an insensibility of kindness received without any endeavour to acknowledge or repay it. It is too base to return a kindness and too proud to regard it [South].
“A grateful mind
By owing owes not, but still pays, at once
Indebted and discharged” [Milton].
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 32". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13