How did Hezekiah respond to the report of the Assyrian’s intimidating message?
When Hezekiah received the report of the Assyrian’s message, he “tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth and entered the house of the Lord” (Isaiah 37:1 and 2 Kings 19:1). He also sent messengers to Isaiah the prophet (Isaiah 37:2 and 2 Kings 19:2) to inform him of the situation and to ask him to “offer a prayer for the remnant that is left” (Isaiah 37:3-4 and 2 Kings 19:4).
When the messengers presented their mournful message to Isaiah, they received a hopeful message from the prophet. Isaiah instructed the messengers to tell Hezekiah not to fear because of the Assyrian’s message. He stated that the Lord would intervene by causing Sennacherib to hear a rumor that would cause him to return to his own land where he would “fall by the sword” (Isaiah 37:6-7 and 2 Kings 19:6-7).
Practical Consideration: We should set a good example in times of trouble.
People take notice of how we handle both our troubles and triumphs. All eyes were on the king when the nation of Judah found itself in trouble. Hezekiah went into the house of the Lord and sent for God’s prophet when he encountered trouble. He set a proper example for the people of Judah by taking his troubles to the Lord. We too, should turn to the Lord in our times of trouble. We should also seek counsel from godly individuals even as Hezekiah sought counsel from Isaiah. We should set a good example for others in our times of trouble by taking our burdens to the Lord.
Practical Consideration: We should ask for the prayers of others when we find ourselves in the midst of troubles and trials.
Hezekiah asked Isaiah to pray for the nation because of the threats of the Assyrians. We too, should ask others to pray for us and with us as we deal with the troubles and trials of life. Someone commented, “Every praying agency we can set in operation is a positive gain.”
How did Sennacherib respond when he learned that his plan of intimidation failed?
When Rabshakeh departed from Jerusalem, he found Sennacherib “fighting against Libnah” (Isaiah 37:8 and 2 Kings 19:8). Sennacherib heard a rumor that Tirhakah king of Cush (Ethiopia) was coming up to fight against him (Isaiah 37:9 and 2 Kings 19:9). He then sent a letter (2 Chronicles 32:17) by messengers to Hezekiah informing him once again of the futility of trusting in the Lord for deliverance. Sennacherib even offered his military victories as indication that no god or army was able to stand before the Assyrians. With such a record Hezekiah should surrender or be prepared to meet the same fate (Isaiah 37:10-13 and 2 Kings 19:9-13).
What did Hezekiah do when he received Sennacherib’s letter?
Hezekiah read the letter and then went into the house of the Lord “and spread it out before the Lord” (Isaiah 37:14 and 2 Kings 19:14). He acknowledged the sovereignty of God (Isaiah 37:15-16 and 2 Kings 19:15) and insolence of Sennacherib (Isaiah 37:17; 2 Kings 19:16; 2 Chronicles 32:19). While he affirmed the Assyrian’s victories over other nations, he attributed those victories to the fact that the gods of those defeated nations were no gods at all, but merely the work of men’s hands (Isaiah 37:18-19 and 2 Kings 19:15-18).
He then asked the Lord to deliver Judah from the boastful Assyrians “that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that Thou alone, O Lord, art God” (Isaiah 37:20 and 2 Kings 19:19). The prophet Isaiah acknowledged that God had indeed heard Hezekiah’s prayer (Isaiah 37:21; 2 Kings 19:20; 2 Chronicles 32:20) and would grant Judah deliverance from the arrogant Sennacherib (Isaiah 37:22-29 and 2 Kings 19:21-28). God promised that Sennacherib would not so much as shoot an arrow against Jerusalem (Isaiah 37:33 and 2 Kings 19:32) but would return home (Isaiah 37:34 and 2 Kings 19:33). The Lord promised that He Himself would defend the city of Jerusalem for His sake and that of His servant David (Isaiah 37:35 and 2 Kings 19:34).
Practical Consideration: Our heart is more important than our words in prayer.
We do not always know how to pray as we should. We sometimes find ourselves without words to express our concerns and anguish in prayer. That is why we must remember that God is not so much concerned with our words in prayer or with the length of our prayers. In the words of Bunyan, “In prayer it is better to have a heart without words, than words without a heart.” The recorded prayers of Hezekiah are brief, but from an earnest and sincere heart. As a result, God heard Hezekiah’s prayers.
Practical Consideration: We should cast all our cares upon God.
God invites us to cast our cares upon Him because He cares for us (see Psalm 55:22 and 1 Peter 5:7). When Hezekiah received Sennacherib’s arrogant and intimidating letter he did not respond in kind. Instead he took the letter into the house of the Lord and spread it out before Him. He allowed God the opportunity to answer the letter. We too, should take our concerns before the Lord in prayer “that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
What caused Sennacherib to return home?
During the night “the angel of the Lord went out, and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians” (Isaiah 37:36; 2 Kings 19:35; 2 Chronicles 32:21). This loss caused Sennacherib to return to Nineveh (Isaiah 37:37 and 2 Kings 19:36) where sometime later (perhaps twenty years) his own sons assassinated him “as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god” (Isaiah 37:38; 2 Kings 19:37; 2 Chronicles 32:21). Esarhaddon, his son, succeeded him (2 Kings 19:37).