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2 Kings 19:8-19 – Hezekiah and Sennacherib – Part 4

  1. What do we learn from the Rabshakeh? (2 Kings 19:8-13)

    What does it say?

    When the Rabshakeh returned to Lachish, Sennacherib had left to fight against Libnah. The king had heard that the Ethiopian king wanted to war against him. So, the Rabshakeh sent a message to Hezekiah to keep him frightened. He told Hezekiah to not let God deceive him into thinking Jerusalem would escape them. To underscore his point, he reminded Hezekiah of all the countries that had been defeated by Assyrian despite their gods.

    What does it mean?

    He knew that the threat didn’t look very bad at the moment (8-9).

    After his earlier speech outside the city walls, the Rabshakeh had been very persuasive. His words had caused Hezekiah and the people to be afraid. But now that Sennacherib and the army were needed elsewhere, the threat didn’t seem as bad. Without a large army surrounding the city, Hezekiah and the people might not think his threats were real.

    He knew that Hezekiah might think that God had delivered him (10).

    Somehow, the Rabshakeh knew that Hezekiah was trusting in the Lord. The Rabshakeh had already spoken about Hezekiah removing the high places, so he knew somethings about his religious devotion. But he also knew that when his army left the area, Hezekiah might give the credit to the Lord. He didn’t want that to happen. He wanted Hezekiah to be afraid.

    He knew that history was on his side (11-13).

    In his mind, all gods were the same. None of them had been able to stop the kings of Assyria over the years. Note that the Assyrian empire “existed as an independent state for a period of approximately 19 centuries.”1 History was on his side as so many countries had fallen under the Assyrian sword. So his words were a very effective way to communicate fear to Hezekiah and the people under his care.

    How does it apply?

    Those who do not believe in the Lord can be very persuasive in their arguments. They can point out the failings of the Christian church over the years. They can point out the hypocrisy and moral failures of major Christian leaders or people they know. But they miss a very important point: God is in charge and has never failed. He is good when all others have failed. When circumstances or experiences tempt you to doubt God’s goodness, always remember that He is perfect, all-powerful, all-wise, sovereign, and good. When everyone else has failed you, God will still be the One you can trust.

  2. What do we learn from Hezekiah? (2 Kings 19:14-19)

    What does it say?

    The letter written by the Rabshakeh was delivered to Hezekiah. After reading it, the king took the letter to the house of God and prayed. He acknowledged who God is—the God who dwelt in the temple and who was the only God over all kingdoms. He then asked God to hear him and look at how Sennacherib’s words had brought reproach on God’s name. He acknowledged that the Assyrians had destroyed the other nations and their idols. They could do this because, unlike the one, true God, they were man-made gods. He then asked the Lord to save them from the Assyrians to show all other kingdoms that He is the only God.

    What does it mean?

    He knew that the Lord is the only true God (15).

    Hezekiah knew God personally and that made a difference. He knew that God had promised to live with them. He knew that only God was sovereign over all nations. He knew that God had created everything. Since the Lord was the Creator, Sovereign, and personal God of Judah, Hezekiah knew that the Rabshakeh was wrong.

    He knew that God had been compared to idols (16-18).

    Hezekiah was aware of the Rabshakeh’s false comparison between the one, true God and the idols who had fallen under the Assyrian kings. The Rabshakeh had spoken the truth about these other nations. Their gods had not been able to deliver them from the Assyrians. But Hezekiah knew that God was not just another of these man-made idols.

    He knew that God could show the world the truth (19).

    How could these false statements by the Rabshakeh be shown to be false all over the world? Hezekiah asked the Lord to save Jerusalem from King Sennacherib to that all the world would know that He is the only true God. God had showed His might over the years by giving victories to young David over Goliath or the Israelites over Egypt. Hezekiah knew that God could show the Assyrians the truth very effectively by saving him and his kingdom from them.

    How does it apply?

    When you know and love the Lord, your concern should be for His reputation as well as His help. Notice that Hezekiah didn’t just ask God to save them from the Assyrians. He asked God to save them from the Assyrians so that the world would know the truth about God. I think that we have to remember this. If we love the Lord, let us seek to defend His reputation from false statements. The world needs to know who God is—all that He is.

Footnotes

1 “The Assyrians”

Bibliography

Constable, Thomas L., “2 Kings” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1989.

“The Assyrians” as viewed at https://courses.lumenlearning.com/suny-hccc-worldcivilization/chapter/the-assyrians on 1/3/2024.