Study Notes

2Kings 18:1-19:37


Although we read in chapter 17 of Israel being carted off in the Assyrian captivity, the writer backs up a few years to direct our attention to happenings in the southern kingdom of Judah.

18:1-3 Hezekiah The King

Three years after Ho-SHAY-ah, the son of Ay-LAW began to rule over the northern kingdom of Israel, Hezekiah became king of Judah. His parents were King Ahaz and Ab-EE (short for Ab-ee-YAW, according to 2Chronicles 29:1). Ahaz, you may recall from chapter 16, was the guy who commanded that the temple be rearranged to accommodate his new altar - an imitation of the one he'd seen up in Damascus.

Ahaz had been wicked, but somehow his son grew up to have a heart for the Lord. He was more like his ancestor David than his father Ahaz.

18:4 Nehushtan Destroyed

Finally, after many kings refused to get rid of the high places where the false gods were worshiped, Hezekiah took a stand and destroyed them. The idols were demolished, and the poles were cut down. The writer of Kings mentions a specific idol that was destroyed as well: Nehushtan. You are probably very familiar with this idol, though you may not be aware that you are.

Remember that back in the book of Numbers, the Israelites were in the wilderness, having come out of slavery in Egypt. We read that,

Num. 21:4-9 ...the people became impatient because of the journey. And the people spoke against God and Moses, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food." And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. So the people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned, because we have spoken against the LORD and you; intercede with the LORD, that He may remove the serpents from us." And Moses interceded for the people. Then the LORD said to Moses, "Make a fiery {serpent,} and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he shall live." And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.

Jesus referred to this event when He made the famous John 3:16 statement:

John 3:14-16 "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

He was pointing to the typology of this history. You see, the serpent is a picture of sin in the Bible. And bronze is the metal that is equated to judgment. A standard was the wooden pole with the cross-piece to hold the flags of the tribes of Israel. So what Moses did was create a picture of sin judged by being hung on a cross, and all who looked to it were saved.

Just as the serpent was lifted up, Jesus was lifted up. He became sin for us, sin being judged on the cross. And all who look to Him for salvation are delivered.

But a problem arose. Even after the fiery serpents were gone, the people kept the bronze serpent. After all, something this amazing you just don't throw away. The people looked to it an remembered what God had done with it. But as the generations passed, the people just looked to it. Eventually, it became an idol.

The same thing has happened to Jesus. Over the years, people have stopped looking to what He has done, and instead just look to the image. Instead of trusting in the person and work of Christ for salvation, millions look to the image of the crucifix - the statue of Jesus on the cross, and expect that it is this which will deliver them.

Hezekiah broke the image to pieces. We too need to break the image of Christ that people have formulated. We need to direct them back to the person and work of Christ on the cross, and away from the images and icons of Him.

18:5-8 Trusted, Clung, Obeyed

Hezekiah's heart was for the Lord. He trusted in God, clung to God, followed God, and kept God's commandments.

He brought revival to the land of Judah by holding the priests accountable for walking with the Lord, by repairing the temple, offering sacrifices and bringing back the music and singing of worship. He even sent messages to the other tribes, inviting them back to worship at the temple. You can read about all these reforms in detail in 2Chronicles 29 to 31.

Because of this, God prospered Him. Prosperity is a promise to those who walk closely to the Lord. The psalmist wrote,

Ps. 1:1-3 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree {firmly} planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.

Now, prosperity does not always mean health and wealth. It can be success in ministry, it can be blessings of the Lord in circumstances rather than finances. It can be God working problematic difficulties to your benefit. As Paul wrote,

Rom. 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to {His} purpose.

Although Paul did not always enjoy health and wealth, he always prospered because his heart was towards the Lord. Hezekiah prospered by winning victories in battles against his enemies.

18:9-12 The Assyrian Captivity

The writer of Kings reminds us of what we learned in chapter 17, that Israel was carried off into captivity by the Assyrians. Because of their unrepentant sin, they were judged by God through the Assyrians, being exiled to Khal-AKH and on the Khaw-BORE, the river of Go-ZAWN, and in the cities of the Medes.

18:13-16 Hezekiah Is Attacked

Several years later, the Assyrians under a new king, Sennacherib, came after Judah. Hezekiah sent a message to him at Law-KEESH, apologizing for the rebellion and offering to pay whatever tax and tribute Sennacherib required. The gold and silver that the Assyrian king insisted upon was paid for by emptying the king's treasuries as well as the temple. He even had to cut the gold from the temple doors to make the payment.

This goes to show us that even the godliest of men have seasons of stumbling. Fortunately, Hezekiah's weakness is not permanent, because of his relationship with the Lord.

18:17-18 Message To Jerusalem

Sennacherib sent Tar-TAWN, Rab-saw-REECE, and Rab-shaw-KAY from Law-KEESH to Jerusalem to deliver a message to Hezekiah. They went with a huge army.

El-yaw-KAEEM, the son of Khil-kee-YAW, was Hezekiah's chief of staff. He and Sheb-NAW the scribe, and Yo-AWKH came out to hear what message these Assyrians brought.

18:19-25 Rabshakeh's Warning

Rab-shaw-KAY tells the three men to tell the king that he is in major trouble. Egypt will not help them. And isn't God mad at them for tearing down all of his altars? (Rab-shaw-KAY obviously thought that Hezekiah had grieved the god of the land by doing this. But in fact it had been pleasing to the Lord.)

Rab-shaw-KAY gives the message that Hezekiah had better make a deal with Sennacherib or be destroyed. He actually makes the claim that God has told him to attack Jerusalem.

18:26-35 Keep It Down

El-yaw-KAEEM, the son of Khil-kee-YAW, Sheb-NAW and Yo-AWKH asked Rab-shaw-KAY to switch to the Aramaic language, so that the people who had gathered on the wall of Jerusalem would not understand what was being said. But Rab-shaw-KAY instead shouted to them all in their language that they were doomed if they did not surrender. He said that there was no hope for them to trust in Hezekiah or the Lord.

Rab-shaw-KAY promised the Judeans that if they surrendered, he would bring them into a wonderful new land. Resistance, he said, was futile. After all, the gods of the nations that the Assyrians had conquered had not helped them, had they? Kham-AWTH, Ar-PAWD, Sef-ar-VAH-yim, Hay-NAH and Iv-VAW had all fallen to the Assyrian army. Even Samaria, who claimed to worship the same God as Judah had been taken into exile.

18:36 Do Not Answer Him

Even with all of these accusations, lies, and threats, the people did not respond. They had been commanded by Hezekiah not to answer. What a great way to deal with threats, lies, and accusations!

The proverb says,

Prov. 11:12 ...a man of understanding keeps silent.

We have that example in Jesus. When He was being falsely accused,

Isa. 53:7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.

When you don't know what to say, it is always less regrettable to say nothing than to have to explain why you said what you did. The proverb also says,

Prov. 17:28 Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; When he closes his lips, he is {counted} prudent.

The people of Judah just kept quiet when Rab-shaw-KAY made these threats and accusations.

18:37-19:2 Hezekiah Sends To Isaiah

The three guys came back to Hezekiah and told him what had been said. They tore their clothes to demonstrate the grief and duress they were experiencing. The king did the same. And then, he went to the house of the Lord.

This is the best place to turn in times of trouble - the house of the Lord. When I'm down, nothing brings me up like coming to the house of God. When I'm looking for answers, I always find them when I come to meet with the Lord and His people.

The result of his time in the house of the Lord was to send some of the men to see Isaiah, the son of Aw-MOHTS. This is the prophet Isaiah who wrote the book of Isaiah found in your Bible.

19:3-5 The Message Given To Isaiah

The messengers tell Isaiah that they are in trouble. They ask him to pray to the Lord.

19:6-7 Isaiah's Reassurance

Isaiah tells the messengers to pass the message to Hezekiah not to worry. He prophesies that Sennacherib will go home because of a rumor and be killed there.

19:8-13 Rabshakeh's Message To Hezekiah

Sennacherib did hear a rumor - one that said the king of Cush, Teer-HAW-kaw was coming to fight. So he left Lib-NAW and went home.

But to maintain the fear over Judah, he sent a letter threatening that he was coming to attack. He repeated the rationale that other nations' gods hadn't saved them, and neither would theirs. He said,

2Kgs. 19:12-13 "Did the gods of those nations which my fathers destroyed deliver them, even Go-ZAWN and Kaw-RAWN and REH-tsef and the sons of Eden who were in Tel-as-SAR? Where is the king of Kham-AWTH, the king of Ar-PAWD, the king of the city of Sef-ar-VAH-yim, and of Hay-NAH and Iv-VAW?"

In essence, the letter said, "I'm not through with you yet Hezekiah. Just you wait!"

19:14-19 Spreading It Out Before The Lord

You can see Hezekiah's maturity in the Lord here. When he received the letter, he went to the temple, spread the letter out before the Lord, and prayed.

Saints, when will we learn that this is the answer in every difficulty? Are you dealing with threats? Spread them out before the Lord and pray. Are you facing difficulties? Lay them before the Lord and pray. Are you encountering opposition? Put it before the Lord and pray. So many times we suffer through the sleepless nights, the upset stomachs, and the high blood pressure over things we have no control over, instead of spreading them before the Lord and praying.

19:20-34 Isaiah's Prophecy

The Lord let Isaiah know that because Hezekiah prayed, he would be delivered. He then prophesied a railing judgment against Sennacherib for his reproach and blasphemies. And, he said, not even a single arrow shall be shot into the city.

19:35 An Angelic Assassin

God's deliverance in the situation was miraculous. He sent a single angel into the camp of the Assyrians, who killed 185,000 of them in the night. Angels are not creatures to be messed with!

19:36-37 Sennacherib Is Killed

In fulfillment of Isaiah's prophesy, Sennacherib had returned home because of a rumor. Then, while he was worshipping in the temple of the false god Nis-ROKE, Ad-ram-MEH-lek and Shar-EH-tser killed him. Who were these guys? Some ancient Bible texts say that they were his sons. However, when they killed him, they left town, and Sennacherib's son Ay-SAR Chad-DOHN became king of Assyria.

Next time, we will see the continuation of Hezekiah's rein over Judah.

Go to next study

Go to previous study