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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Isaiah 37

 

 

Verses 1-38

Isaiah 37:3. This is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy. What moral idea can we form of a conqueror? A man hailed, adored, and applauded by the world. History is full of his fame, and monuments are loaded with his glory. His ambition is without bounds: “he saith, I will cut off nations not a few.” And what idea must he have of the loss of his own army; the finest men of his nation, and fully equipped for war. Assuredly, he calculates the lives of men as merchants count their gold. And perishing in war, like Sennacherib and Rabshakeh, how must he live with the countless myriads of souls which he sent to the shades below? To say nothing of the anger of an avenging God, all the anguish which murdered multitudes can inflict on the spirit of a culprit, will await him in the shades of death. If the blasphemy of those men let loose on earth, and the reins launched to every lawless passion, horrified good men; what must the recoil of that blasphemy be among the damned?

When Isaiah saw the storm coming, for the seers had enlightened eyes, he blew the trumpet like a watchman, and cried, “He is come to Ajath, he is advanced to Migron. At Michmash he has laid up his carriages; they have crossed the river, they have encamped at Geba. Ramah, the soul of Gibeah, is fled. Lift up thy voice, oh daughter of Gallim; cause it to be heard to Laish. Oh poor Anathoth! Madmenah is removed. The inhabitants of Gebim assemble for flight.” Isaiah 10:28-31.

Isaiah 37:4. It may be the Lord thy God will hear the words of Rabshakeh. King Hezekiah took a wise course; he spread the letter of Sennacherib before the Lord, and pleaded the promises of divine protection. A fine example for us to follow. This was better than reliance on the bruised reed of Egypt.

Isaiah 37:25. I have digged, and drunk [strange] waters. 2 Kings 19:24. In the sandy deserts, the cattle can smell water underground, and will thrust their noses into the sands. John Campbell’s Travels in South Africa. In like cases, the Assyrian armies must have dug wide pits, and obtained supplies of water.

Isaiah 37:29. I will put my hook in thy nose, as rings are put in the nose of camels, bears, buffaloes, and unruly bulls.

Isaiah 37:36. Then the angel of the Lord went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand. Who would set the thorns and the briars in battle against Omnipotence? This stroke of the arm of heaven is six times recorded in the sacred writings; in the books of Kings and Chronicles as above; and three times in the Apocrypha. It is recorded by Herodotus, the father of Grecian history, in his second book.—Euterpe. The stalking pride of atheism can find no footing here. This Angel, according to the prophet Hosea, was Jehovah; the Angel, as in Genesis 22:16; Genesis 32:30. Isaiah 63:7; Isaiah 63:16. His words are,

To the house of Judah I will be tenderly merciful,

And I will save them by Jehovah their God:

And I will not save them by the bow,

Nor by the sword, nor by battle;

By horses, nor by horsemen.—Hosea 1:7.

Lowth’s Version.

Isaiah 37:38. Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword. In this war, God’s sword had two edges. It smote the nations of the west, and the Assyrians after they had wickedly done his strange work. Sennacherib, the greatest offender, received the most distinguished punishment. He who set Jehovah at defiance was deceived by his gods! He who thought to burn the temple of the Lord, perished in his own temple! His sins pursued him to the last retreats of conscience, and mercy spurned him from her bar.

REFLECTIONS.

What a day of trouble to Judah! What a day of anguish to Hezekiah and his ministers! They had heard Rabshakeh class JEHOVAH with the gods of the gentiles, and set him at defiance; and yet no fire went forth from the Lord to consume, nor did the earth open her mouth to swallow him up. They saw all Asia from Armenia to India in his power, while Jerusalem only and a few small cities dared to resist. It seemed for the time as though the age of the furies was come, and that heaven had granted permission for the powers of darkness to reign on earth.

When we are unable to stem the torrent of wickedness, let us keep silence, and weep for what we hear. Thus good Hezekiah and his ministers rent their robes for the blasphemy they had heard, and with fasting and prayer sought the salvation of God. Happy for Judah in this day of trouble that the idols had been recently destroyed; happy that there was a prophet, and a synagogue of righteous men in Jerusalem; and happy that there was a king whose heart was inclined to seek the Lord, and to consult his prophets.

Promises and encouragements from the Lord, and especially in the day of trouble, are doubly precious, and should be embraced by faith. So Hezekiah, more encouraged by the prophet’s declaration, than intimidated by Rabshakeh’s blasphemy, went into the temple and spread this letter before his God. He acknowledged the presence of the Lord, dwelling between the cherubims; he magnified him above all the gods, and besought him to save in the evil day.

God sends a speedy answer to the prayer which is offered up in faith and piety. Besides the interior sweetness conveyed to the soul of the weeping king, Isaiah was inspired to console him with a message of triumph. The calamity being public, God was pleased thus to compose the public mind. The whole character of the answer is a retort of pious scorn. It is the vaunting of a mortal confounded by the boasting of a God. While this vain king was swelled to heaven with the pride of trampling on nations, and burning their gods, the Lord reproaches him with impious ignorance in not knowing that nations have withered as the grass; and he assures him, that he would now put a ring in his nose as an unruly camel, and lead him back most disgracefully to Nineveh, where he should receive, not the homage of a divinity, but the punishment of an execrated tyrant. And farther, that heaven made so little an account of his boasting, as not to allow him to shoot one feeble arrow against the bulwarks of Jerusalem. How happy is the nation which seeks its protection under the wings of the sanctuary! And God was faithful to his word. Sennacherib, hearing that Tirhakah, king of Ethiopia, was approaching, raised the siege of Libnah, and advanced with his whole army against Jerusalem; and the first night he sat down before the city, behold, the angel of the Lord, who for Israel’s sake had slain the firstborn of Egypt, once more stretched forth his hand, and slew that very night one hundred and eighty five thousand of his army. What a stroke was this from the hand of the Lord! Are these the men who have half swept the earth of its inhabitants? Now they are slaughtered in turn. Are these the men who have plundered the nations, and forced Hezekiah to spoil the temple for gold? Behold they have brought back the fruit of their wickedness, and been compelled to disgorge it at the Lord’s feet. Are these the men who compared JEHOVAH to the gods of the gentiles, and said he could not defend his city? Behold, he bids an angel touch their flesh, and in the morning they are all dead corpses. There is but a remnant spared to tell the nations of the east the terrors of his name. See the notes on 2 Chronicles 32.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Isaiah 37:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/isaiah-37.html. 1835.

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Sunday, May 26th, 2019
the <>Sixth Sunday after Easter
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