XIX Hezekiah sends to Isaiah to desire his prayers, ver. 1-5. And receives from him an answer of peace, ver. 6, 7. Sennacherib sends a threatening letter to Hezekiah, ver. 8-13 Who recommends his case to God, ver. 14-19. God by Isaiah sends him a comfortable message, ver. 20-34. The army of the Assyrians is destroyed, ver. 35-37
Verse 1. Rent his cloaths, &c. - Great men must not think it any disparagement to them, to sympathize with the injured honour of the great God.
Verse 3. The children - We are like a poor travailing woman in great extremity, having no strength left to help herself, and to bring forth her infant into the world. We have attempted to deliver ourselves from the Assyrian yoke; and had carried on that work to some maturity, and as we thought, brought it to the birth; but now we have no might to finish. We have begun an happy reformation, and are hindered by this insolent Assyrian, from bringing it to perfection.
Verse 4. For the remnant - For Judah, which is but a remnant, now the ten tribes are gone: for Jerusalem, which is but a remnant, now the defensed cities of Judah are taken.
Verse 8. Returned - To the king, to give him an account of the treaty; leaving behind him the army under the other commanders.
Verse 15. O Lord God of Israel, &c. - He calls him the God of Israel, because Israel was his peculiar people; but yet the God of the whole earth, not as Sennacherib fancied, the God of Israel only. Let them say what they will, thou art sovereign Lord, the God of gods, even thou alone: Universal Lord of all the kingdoms of the earth; and rightful Lord; for thou hast made heaven and earth. Being creator of all, by an incontestable title thou art owner and ruler of all.
Verse 16. Him - Rabshakeh: he would not do him the honour to name him.
Verse 21. Virgin - So he calls Zion, or Jerusalem; because she was pure in good measure from that gross idolatry wherewith other people were defiled, which is called spiritual whoredom: and to signify, that God would defend her from the rape which Sennacherib intended to commit upon her with no less care than parents do their virgin daughters from those who seek to force and deflower them.
Verse 23. Mountains - I have brought up my very chariots to those mountains which were thought inaccessible by my army. Lebanon - An high hill, famous for cedars and fir-trees. Cut down - I will cut down the trees that hinder my march, and plane the way for my numerous army and chariots. Lodgings - Those cities (which he calls lodgings in way of contempt) which are in his utmost borders. I am come into the land of Canaan at one border, Lebanon, and I resolve to march on to the other border, and so destroy the wholecountry, from one border to the other. Carmel - The forest of mount Carmel, which may seem to be another inaccessible place, like Lebanon.
Verse 24. Strange waters - Such as were never discovered by others. Dried up - And as I can furnish my army with waterdigged out of the earth; so I can deprive my enemies of their water, and can dry up their rivers, and that with the sole of my feet; with the march of my vast and numerous army, who will easily do this, either by marching through them, and each carrying away part with them: or by making new channels, and driving the waters of the river into them.
Verse 25. Hast thou not, &c. - Hast thou not long since learned, that which some of thy philosophers could teach thee; that there is a supreme and powerful God, by whose decree and providence all these wars and calamities were sent, and ordered; whose mere instrument thou art, so that thou hast no cause for these vain boastings? This work is mine, not thine. I have, &c. - I have so disposed of things by my providence, that thou shouldest be a great and victorious prince, and that thou shouldest be so successful as thou hast hitherto been, first against the kingdom of Israel, and now against Judah.
Verse 26. Therefore - Because I had armed thee with my commission and strength, and taken away their spirit and courage.
Verse 27. I know - Though thou dost not know me, yet I throughly know thee, and all thy designs and actions, all thy secret contrivances in the place of thy abode, in thy own kingdom and court; and the execution of thy designs abroad, what thou intendest in thy going out, and with what farther thoughts thou comest in, or returnest to thy own land.
Verse 29. A sign - Of the certain accomplishment of the promises here made: that God will not only preserve the city from his present fury, but also, bless his people with a durable prosperity, ver. 30, 31. The third year - This was an excellent sign; especially, considering the waste and havock which the Assyrians had made in the land; and that the Jews had been forced to retire into their strong hold, and consequently to neglect their tilling, and sowing, and reaping; and yet this year they should have sufficient provision from those fruits of the earth which the Assyrians left; and the second year, which was the year of release, in which they might neither sow, nor reap, from such fruits as the earth brought forth of its own accord; and so in the third year. And eat - You shall not sow, and another reap, as lately you did; but you shall enjoy the fruit of your own labours.
Verse 30. The remnant, &c. - They shall be well fixt and provided for themselves, and then do good to others.
Verse 31. Go forth - That handful of Jews who were now gathered together, and shut up in Jerusalem, shall go out of their several habitations, and by my singular blessing increase exceedingly. The zeal - Although when you reflect upon yourselves, and consider either your present fewness, and weakness, or your great unworthiness, this may seem too great a blessing for you to expect; yet God will do it from the zeal which he hath, both for his own name, and for the good of his undeserving people.
Verse 32. He shall not - The army sent with Rabshaketh did not form a close siege against it, but only disposed themselves so as to block it up at some distance; possibly waiting 'till the king of Assyria had taken Libnah and Lachish, (which they presumed he would speedily do.)
Verse 35. Angel - Such an angel as destroyed the first-born of Egypt. Arose - The few that were left alive: all their companions were dead.
Verse 36. So Sennacherib, &c. - The manner of the expression intimates the great disorder and distraction of mind he was in.
Verse 37. Was worshipping, &c. - The God of Israel had done enough to convince him, that he was the only true God. Yet he persists in his idolatry. Justly then is his blood mingled with his sacrifices, who will not be convinced by so dear-bought a demonstration, of his folly in worshipping idols.