This chapter relates the effect Rab-shakeh's blasphemy had upon the mind of Hezekiah, when it was reported to him. He sends to desire an interest in the prayers of the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah's answer. Sennacherib sends a renewed message of insolence to Hezekiah. The king goes up into the house of the Lord, lays it before the Lord, and prayeth. The Lord, by his servant Isaiah, comforts him, and sends an angel to the destruction of the Assyrians. Sennacherib is slain by his sons.
2 Kings 19:1
If the Reader will turn to the parallel history of this memorable event, as it is rehearsed, in 2 Chronicles 32:1-8 he will there find that Hezekiah has been consulting with an arm of flesh, and taking counsel with his princes, how to counteract the stratagem of the king of Assyria. But here we find the pious king got back to the right path of duty, and of safety. He is here beautifully represented as going to the Lord. Reader! mark it down. If we begin with the Lord, and his strength, and his Arm, which is Jesus, then the Lord will bless instruments to our deliverance, and safety. But if, like Hezekiah, we first begin in the flesh, it is a mercy if the Lord strips us of all our hopes, in order to show us where our strength lies. Sweetly dearest Lord, dost thou teach our poor nature these precious things. Isaiah 27:5.
Nothing can be more interesting than this view of Hezekiah and his court. He sends his servants to seek an interest in the prayers of the prophet. But he goes himself to the Lord. Ministers, faithful ministers may be helpful with their prayers, and those of the church; but the poor soul hastens away himself also to Jesus. There is another great beauty in the subject of the prayer desired. Lift up thy prayer for the remnant that are left. Ten tribes of Jacob were already in captivity, and Judah was in imminent danger. Reader! such is the church of Jesus. A remnant according to grace. Oh! for fervent, earnest, Jacob-like wrestling with our God in prayer, for the remnant of the Lord's heritage now! Why, Lord, should thine heritage be put to confusion?
Observe how gracious the Lord is. No sooner do his people call, but the Lord answers! And the Lord not only promises deliverance to his servant, but destruction to his enemy. Oh! for grace to see and believe this sure event, as it concerns salvation by Jesus! His church shall not only be blessed with everlasting joy; but the accursed enemy shall be condemned in everlasting ruin. So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord: but let them that love thee be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might. Judges 5:31.
The Lord was pleased to cause a little pause in the proud attempts of Sennacherib and his general, by diverting his attention elsewhere, both for the more complete destruction of this idolatrous prince, and for the better exercise of his servant's faith. Very gracious are the Lord's dealings with his people upon these occasions, could we but exercise faith always in the view of them: but alas! we lose the enjoyment of a thousand mercies, for want of eying them in this point of view.
The same blasphemy is made use of by the master, as by the servant. It only riseth a little higher. He charges God with deceiving Hezekiah and bids him beware of it. Whereas Rab-shakeh only begged Hezekiah not to deceive himself. Reader! to what a desperate state of horrible impiety is the mind of men capable of being carried! Is it not enough to make one tremble, when we consider that all men are alike by nature Oh! dearest Lord Jesus! what do I owe thee, thou dear Lord, and what is the everlasting love I ought to pay thee for thy distinguishing grace!
See, Reader, see how sweet and precious the blessed effects of grace! And, Lord, so do thou cause me to do by all the letters, and threats, and messages, and temptations of the devil, and all his party. Give me grace and wisdom to copy Hezekiah; to spread the whole before thee. Never to send answers in my own way. Never to combat in my own strength. But oh! let me fly to thee, thou blessed Jesus; do thou undertake for me; thou shalt answer for me, O Lord my God. Reader! let me beg of you to remark the sweetness, and strength of Hezekiah's prayer. He prays for deliverance because the Lord's honor was concerned in it; God's faithfulness and covenant promises. Like another Joshua; What wilt thou do (saith he) for thy great name, O Lord God, if Israel turn their backs upon their enemies? See Joshua 7:8-9. As if he had said, it matters not what becomes of us, if our death and our destruction w ere all the consequences of the triumph of the foe. But it is of the highest importance that the faithfulness of a Covenant God, and his honor be taken care of, in his promises to his people, that they be not destroyed by the enemy. Reader! think of this statement of the argument whenever the enemy oppresseth you, as it concerns God's faithfulness in Christ. Oh! what a volume, of the most unanswerable arguments in prayer doth that one pleading in Jesus afford, when we come before the high throne in the name and righteousness of the Lord Jesus. The grace, the word, the faithfulness, the promise, the oath of the Father; and the blood and righteousness, and covenant salvation of Jesus: What poor soul can go with these pleas to a mercy seat, and go in vain!
What a multitude of most rich and precious things appear in these verses. Observe, Reader! how long an answer the Lord returns to a short prayer. God is not only more ready to hear than we to pray; but will infinitely out-go all our desires, and our expectations. The Lord, in this answer, graciously condescends to explain the causes why bad men are permitted to exercise a temporary triumph; and in a most beautiful representation, as the daughter of Zion, describes how his people shall sooner or later laugh all her enemies to scorn. Observe, moreover, that what this proud, insolent tyrant directed, in his threats, against Hezekiah, the Lord took to himself. Sweet thought! Jesus considers the attack of all his people in this point of view. Who toucheth you, toucheth the apple of his eye. Is not this enough at all times to support and bear up under the trials of his people. But what I would have the Reader particularly to notice in this answer of the Lord is, that he here decidedly shows, that the actions of men, however undesigned on their part, are all under his appointment, and direction. The deceiver and the deceived are his. Although they mean not so, neither did their heart intend it; yet are they carrying on all God's designs, and doing the very thing which they intend not to do, but which the Lord appoints for his ultimate glory, the joy of his people, and the ruin of his enemies. What illustrious instances do the scriptures afford in proof of this. When the sons of Jacob sold Joseph, how little did they intend Joseph's glory, and their own preservation from famine. When Haman envied Mordecai, and went forth to his destruction, how little did he see the gallows he was building thereby for himself? Nay, above all these, and every other instance that can ever be thought of; when the Jews nailed our adorable Jesus to the cross, how far distant from their thoughts was it, that this cross would be for the everlasting salvation of the sinner. Reader! pause over these things, and look up at all times with the most awakened attention to that Sovereign Hand who ruleth among the armies of heaven, and the inhabitants of the earth! And how very gracious was the answer of the Lord to the prayer of Hezekiah, as it concerned the deliverance of Jerusalem! How unpromising, indeed, were the things the Lord had assured Hezekiah! The siege had made a famine: The Lord promiseth plenty. How shall it be produced? Not by planting and by sowing; but the earth shall bring forth of itself. But this is not all. Out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant! By what means? Jerusalem is now closely blockaded! The king of Assyria will raze the walls of Jerusalem, he declares. No, saith Jehovah, so far from razing the walls, he shall not shoot a single arrow! Here was room for the exercise of faith. And no doubt Hezekiah found it so. But observe, Reader, the cause of all these promised mercies. Not for Hezekiah's righteousness; nor for the peoples worth and obedience: But for the Lord's own sake in the covenant promises; and for his servant David's sake, to whom he had promised his sure mercies. But oh! how infinitely heightened, and increasingly precious doth this history appear, read through the medium of gospel mercies, and secured to believers in the covenant faithfulness of God the Father, and the blood and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. The church of Christ, like Jerusalem, is closely besieged day by day. The enemy saith I will pursue: I will overtake. I will divide the spoil. My lust shall be gratified upon her. Hitherto, saith the Lord, shalt thou come, and no further. No weapon formed against the church of Jesus shall prosper. The church is the gift of the Father, the purchase of Christ, and the object of the Spirit's favor forever. God will defend it, and it shall be a praise in the earth, the perfection of beauty in Jesus throughout all ages!
We have here not only the fulfillment of God's promises in the salvation of his people; but the pouring out of his anger in the destruction of his enemies. Sennacherib himself, though saved, was only saved to have a more painful destruction. His own children shall be his executioners; and he shall die unpitied, even by those who from the ties of nature ought to have loved him. Some have thought that the 76th Psalm was composed upon this occasion. If so, it is strongly expressed in token of the divine love to his people. And what a blessed issue to the troubles of Hezekiah and his people. But, Reader! think what a glorious display will that be, and what a final issue to all the afflictions of the church of Jesus, when he shall come with all his holy angels to be glorified in his saints, and to punish with swift destruction the enemies of his church from his presence forever. All nations shall wail because of him, while his people shall shout with holy joy, crying out, Even so, come Lord Jesus. Revelation 1:7.
READER! in the opening of this chapter we take part with Hezekiah in his affliction, and feel the commiseration of the believer in the view of his sorrows, and desolate circumstances. Behold him in the close of it, and how doth the faithful soul rejoice in the Lord's deliverance of him out of all. And is it not, dearest Jesus, in all the circumstances of thy people. Without thee, and beheld, only as they are in themselves, what poor, defenseless, oppressed, persecuted creatures are they, bent down under the hand of every foe. But when Jesus appears in their cause, oh! how precious is it to behold their strength in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
What an awful character is this impious monster, this Assyrian monarch! And yet what is he more than all the haters of God, and his people. Satan reigns in their hearts; they are scoffers, despisers, blasphemers, sworn foes to God and his Christ. And their name is legion, for they are many.
Blessed Jesus! how sweet is it to be taught of thee! How precious thy salvation! How great thy mercy in gathering sinners from the service of Satan to thy kingdom. Lord! grant that, like Hezekiah, trouble may lead my heart to thee; in all my afflictions to cast my burden upon the Lord, who hath promised, to sustain me. I would spread all before thee, O Lord, and wait in faith thy deliverance, for thou art my strength, and my song, and art become my salvation.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Kings 19". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany