And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the LORD.
I. Let us weigh this piece of satanic advice: "Let not thy God, in whom thou trustest, deceive thee." It is a very dangerous temptation for three reasons. (1) Because it appeals to the natural pride of the heart. There is a universal instinct which makes a man abhor the idea of being deceived. There is something in the very idea which rouses all the pride that lies latent in every heart. To take a man's confidence, to receive all the secret thoughts of his heart, to allow him to confide everything to you, then cold-bloodedly to turn round and leave him in the lurch, having led him on by fair promises, is so cruel an act in its nature, that I marvel not that by a universal instinct every man shudders at the mere supposition of being so treated. (2) There is no disguising the fact that if God did deceive us we are in a hopeless plight, and therefore there is force in the temptation. (3) The methods of God's government being beyond our comprehension, sometimes appear to incline towards the tempter's suggestion,—from appearances one might say, "God is going to leave us in the lurch."
II. Let us turn round and tear the advice up. (1) We may tear it up because it comes too late. If God be a deceiver we are already so thoroughly deceived, and have been so for years, that it is rather late in the day to come and advise us not to be. (2) We may tear it up, because if God deceive us we may be quite certain that there is nobody else that would not. From all we know of our God, His holiness, His righteousness, and His faithfulness, if He can deceive us, then are we quite certain that there are none to be trusted. (3) There is not one atom of evidence to support the libel. Search the world through, and see if you can find a man who will deliberately say, "I have tried God, I have trusted Him, and He has deceived me." (4) There is overwhelming evidence to refute it. Never yet did man trust his God and be put to shame. Heaven and earth and hell declare that Jehovah never hath deceived and never can deceive.
A. G. Brown, Penny Pulpit, No. 1131.
References: Isaiah 37:22.—Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 203. Isaiah 37:30.—S. Baring-Gould, Village Preaching for a Year, vol. ii., Appendix, No. 1.
Isaiah 37:31The Christian Church a continuation of the Jewish. Consider one or two difficulties which at first may be felt in receiving this view of God's dealings with His Church, which in itself is most simple and satisfactory.
I. It may be said that the prophecies have not been, and never will be, fulfilled in the letter, because they contain expressions and statements which do not admit, or certainly have not, a literal meaning. This objection is surely not well grounded, for it stands to reason that the use of figures in a composition is not enough to make it figurative as a whole. We constantly use figures of speech whenever we speak; yet who will say on that account that the main course of our conversation is not to be taken literally? Of course there are in the Prophets figurative words, and sentences, too, because they write poetically; but even this does not make the tenour of their language figurative, any more than occasional similes show an heroic poem to be an extended allegory. Why should we find it a difficulty that Israel does not mean simply the Israelites, but the chosen people, wherever they are, in all ages; and that Jerusalem should be used as a name for the body politic, or state or government of the chosen people, in which the power lies, and from which action proceeds?
II. But it may be asked, whether it is possible to consider the Christian Church, which is so different from the Jewish, a continuation of it, or to maintain that what was promised to the Jewish was fulfilled in substance in the Christian? (1) The chosen people had gone through many vicissitudes, many transformations before the resolution which followed on the coming of the promised Saviour, and which was the greatest of all. It is no objection, rather it gives countenance to the notion of the identity of the Jewish Church with the Christian, that it is so different from it, for the Jewish Church was at various eras very different from itself; and worms of the earth at length gain wings, yet are the same; and man dies in corruption and rises incorrupt, yet without losing his original body. (2) The sacred writers show themselves quite aware of this peculiarity in the mode in which God's purposes are carried on from age to age. They are frequent in speaking of a "remnant" as alone inheriting the promises. The word "remnant," so constantly used in Scripture, is the token of the identity of the Church in the mind of her Divine Creator, before and after the coming of Christ.
J. H. Newman, Sermons on Subjects of the Day, p. 180.
Reference: 37—E. H. Plumptre, Expositor, 2nd series, vol. iv., p. 450.
And he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests covered with sackcloth, unto Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz.
And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy: for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth.
It may be the LORD thy God will hear the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God, and will reprove the words which the LORD thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that is left.
So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah.
And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say unto your master, Thus saith the LORD, Be not afraid of the words that thou hast heard, wherewith the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me.
Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.
So Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah: for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish.
And he heard say concerning Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, He is come forth to make war with thee. And when he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying,
Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying, Let not thy God, in whom thou trustest, deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.
Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands by destroying them utterly; and shalt thou be delivered?
Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed, as Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden which were in Telassar?
Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arphad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah?
And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up unto the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD.
And Hezekiah prayed unto the LORD, saying,
O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: thou hast made heaven and earth.
Incline thine ear, O LORD, and hear; open thine eyes, O LORD, and see: and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent to reproach the living God.
Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations, and their countries,
And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them.
Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD, even thou only.
Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent unto Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Whereas thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria:
This is the word which the LORD hath spoken concerning him; The virgin, the daughter of Zion, hath despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee.
Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel.
By thy servants hast thou reproached the Lord, and hast said, By the multitude of my chariots am I come up to the height of the mountains, to the sides of Lebanon; and I will cut down the tall cedars thereof, and the choice fir trees thereof: and I will enter into the height of his border, and the forest of his Carmel.
I have digged, and drunk water; and with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of the besieged places.
Hast thou not heard long ago, how I have done it; and of ancient times, that I have formed it? now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste defenced cities into ruinous heaps.
Therefore their inhabitants were of small power, they were dismayed and confounded: they were as the grass of the field, and as the green herb, as the grass on the housetops, and as corn blasted before it be grown up.
But I know thy abode, and thy going out, and thy coming in, and thy rage against me.
Because thy rage against me, and thy tumult, is come up into mine ears, therefore will I put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest.
And this shall be a sign unto thee, Ye shall eat this year such as groweth of itself; and the second year that which springeth of the same: and in the third year sow ye, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruit thereof.
And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward:
For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of the LORD of hosts shall do this.
Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shields, nor cast a bank against it.
By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the LORD.
For I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake.
Then the angel of the LORD went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.
So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.
And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Armenia: and Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead.