2 Kings 19
The Utter Defeat of Sennacherib
Hezekiah Inquires of Isaiah (1-4)
When Hezekiah had his leaders give their report of all Rabshakeh, Sennacherib's chief of staff, he immediately donned burlap and went into the temple in utter humility (1). While he was at the temple praying, he sent his leaders who had been on the wall receiving Sennacherib's message to Isaiah the prophet for counsel. They went to Isaiah all dressed in rags used for sacking grain (2) and told him about the insults and disgraces which had been hurled at the city and particularly at Hezekiah by Sennacherib's messengers.
Hezekiah's messengers then compared the city and Hezekiah to a woman who needed to give birth to a child but had no strength to push the child out into life (3). Hezekiah then asked the messengers if it was possible to pray and ask the Lord to listen to Sennacherib's words and judge him and his words as one who was challenging the very authority and honor of Yahweh (4).
Isaiah's Message to Hezekiah (5-7)
Isaiah sent word back to Hezekiah telling him not to worry, nor to be distracted by Sennacherib's irreverence. Yahweh was going to have the king called home and there he would be assassinated.
Rabshakeh Returns to Sennacherib with News that Jerusalem Will Not Surrender (8-13)
The messenger Sennacherib sent to Jerusalem returned to Sennacherib in Lachish to give him the news that Jerusalem had not surrendered. Sennacherib had taken Lachish and was on to Libnah and so Rabshakeh, Sennacherib's messenger had to chase him down at Libnah. While at Libnah, Sennacherib received word that an Ethiopian army was coming to engage him in battle, so he was going to need to leave the Palestinian campaign. Before he left to engage the attack, Sennacherib sent another message to Hezekiah seeking one last time to threaten him into surrender before his departure (9). Sennacherib reminded Hezekiah that no city had withstood Assyrian advances but were destroyed and Isarel would be no different. He urged Hezekiah not to trust in Yahweh and His false prophets who gave him hope that Jerusalem would not be captured (10-11). Sennacherib listed off some of his victories in a list of rhetorical questions (12-13). It was as if Sennacherib was the devil himself to Judah (Isaiah 14:12-14).
Hezekiah Prays (14-19)
Hezekiah went into the temple and prayed a prayer of need, asking God to listen to his prayer with great sensitivity.
a) Hezekiah laid Sennacherib's letter before Yahweh (14).
b) Hezekiah prayed to Yahweh the Creator Who was enthroned above all other kingdoms of the earth.
c) Hezekiah called upon Yahweh to bend His heart and ears toward his prayer and open his eyes and listen and look at Sennacherib's letter as words of rebellion against the true King of all Kingdoms (15-16).
d) Hezekiah then admitted the might of Sennacherib's army was strong enough to defeat other nations and the gods of other nations.
e) Hezekiah then made a distinction between other gods and Israel's Yahweh. The other gods were birthed in human imagination and shaped by human hands; Yahweh was not created but was the Lord of all creation (18).
f) Hezekiah then asked the Lord to rescue Judah so the entire earth would know Yahweh alone as God (19).
Isaiah's Prophesy to Sennacherib (20-24)
Isaiah told Hezekiah he had heard his prayer about Sennacherib and Yahweh had several things to say. In this prophecy we see how God moves against nations and how He controls the events and ruling power of the world in ways that cannot be seen. It is Yahweh Who defeats the Day Star—those who assume they are gods to the oppression of others (Isaiah 14:12-15).
1) He assures Sennacherib that it is Jerusalem who will ultimately be doing the defying and ridiculing (21).
2) He asked Sennacherib some rhetorical questions about who he was insulting, making it clear that it was Yahweh's holy son Israel who was being mocked. Sennacherib was insulting the kingdom of God which sported many chariots, a kingdom which had conquered the most unconquerable kingdoms, the kingdom which had explored the deepest and tallest forest without ever being lost, the kingdom which had found wells when others were dry or already taken, and finally he told the Assyrian king that a mere foot stomp He was able to stop the great Nile River (22-24).
3) He asked Sennacherib if he misunderstood how the world worked. It was Yahweh Who planned long ago how everything was going to turn out. It was Yahweh Who planned what fortified cities would become a heap of ruins because He decided to remove their power from them. It was Yahweh Who could use fear or lust or distraction to ruin economies and bring great empire armies to their knees.
Great kingdoms to Yahweh are essentially grass to be trampled if He so desires or grass to be wasted in a drought. The might of Yahweh's kingdom is not something anything anyone of intelligence should ever consider insulting (25-26).
4) He informed Sennacherib that Yahweh was omniscient and knew His address and was aware of how Sennacherib had ridiculed Yahweh (27).
5) He then told Sennacherib He would treat him like he had treated other nations he had captured—like a servant animal, making him return home on the same road he had used to come into Palestine (28).
Isaiah's Prophecy to Hezekiah (29-31)
Hezekiah was given two signs so he could be certain Isaiah was prophesying the word of Yahweh.
1) Judah had not been able to plant their fields because Sennacherib had invaded in the spring so Yahweh promised there would be plenty to eat from what the ground produced naturally, without plowing and sowing, enough to get them through to the next harvest. The next year they again would not need to sow their seed but there would be plenty to eat again. The third year they would take the seed they had stored from the first and second year and sow it and would harvest plenty to eat (29).
2) Those who were in Jerusalem during the ravages of the siege and were present when Sennacherib had offered them deportation in exchange for their lives would put down roots and would prosper and flourish in miraculous ways in the lands Sennacherib wanted to drive them out of. They would spread out and once again become strong but it would be Yahweh's passionate love working through His powerful army which would accomplish it (30-31).
Isaiah's Prophecy About the King of Assyria (32-34)
Sennacherib's army would never enter Jerusalem; the army would not even get an arrow off at the city. Sennacherib's army would not march around the city, nor build siege works around her. Sennacherib would go home like a whipped pup having never once set his foot inside Jerusalem (32-33). The Lord was going to do what He was going to do because of the promise he made to David about his sons if they would humble themselves and pray and follow Him they would remain in Jerusalem (1 Kings 8:25). So Yahweh committed to personally defend the city (34).
Sennacherib's Army Decimated (35-37)
On the very night of Isaiah's prophecy, an angel of the Lord entered the camp of the Assyrians and killed 185,000 troops. The next morning when Sennacherib's awoke, they found dead soldiers who were not sick and not slain, just dead (35). So devastating was the loss that Sennacherib went home to Nineveh and never left again (36). Without this one defeat, certainly Assyria would have taken Judah away captive as they did Israel. Without a king like Hezekiah who sought the Lord, Judah would have certainly come to the same end as Israel.
Some twenty years later, Sennacherib was worshiping in the temple of Nisroch and was assassinated by his own son (37) to fulfill Isaiah's prophecy concerning how he would die (19:7).