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GOD'S MESSAGE TO HEZEKIAH.
From 2 Kings, Chap. xix.
THEN Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD GOD of Israel, That which thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard.
This is the word that 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 messengers thou hast reproached the LORD, and hast said, With the multitude of my chariots I am come up to the height of the mountains, to the sides of Lebanon, and will cut down the tall cedar-trees thereof, and the choice fir-trees thereof: and I will enter into the lodgings of his borders, and into the forest of his Carmel.
I have digged and drunk strange waters, and with the sole of my feet have I dried all the rivers of 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 fenced cities into ruinous heaps.
Therefore the 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 house-tops, 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 I will 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 things as grow of themselves, and in the second year that which springeth of the same; and in the third year sow ye and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruits thereof.
And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall yet 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 shield, 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.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
The prayer which Hezekiah had offered up, was so perfectly agreeable to the Divine will, and so suitable to his own character, as captain of the LORD's inheritance, that the prophet Isaiah was commissioned to comfort him immediately, with an assurance of the LORD's approbation and protection.
How awful was the message sent to the king of As
syria. We may suppose that it was publicly delivered, so that Rab-shakeh and the other generals, with their army, heard it. The latter part of the prediction was calculated to inspire fresh spirits into the people of Judah, who, without doubt, were in great consternation on account of the formidable army by which they were besieged.
THE ASSYRIANS SMITTEN.
From 2 Kings, Chap. xix.
AND it came te pass that night that the angel of the LORD went out and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when the people of Judah arose early in the morning, behold, their enemies 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 Essarhaddon his son reigned in his stead.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
The Divine promises made by the mouth of Isaiah were soon fulfilled. It seems that Sennacherib shortly followed his letter, and was preparing to attack Jerusalem; but before the Assyrians could have time to commit any hostilities, the greatest part of their army was miraculously smitten.
* I have taken the liberty of changing the expression here according to the obvious meaning of the text.
"From this wonderful defeat of the mighty Assyrian army, we may learn, that as the LORD stills, at his pleasure, the raging of the sea, and the noise of the waves ; in like manner he stills the raging of the people. When the passions of men are most inflamed, and their designs just ripe for bursting into execution, often by some unexpected interposition, he calls upon the world to observe, that there is ONE higher than the highest upon earth, who can frustrate their devices in a moment, and command the earth to be still before him. Proud fleets, destined to carry destruction to neighbouring kingdoms, may cover the ocean; He blows with his wind, and they are scattered. Mighty armies may go forth to the field in all the glory of human strength, but the issues of battle are with Him. He gives to some slight event the power of deciding the fate of nations. A thousand unseen ministers stand by to be the instruments of His power, in humbling the pride, and checking the efforts of the wrath of man; as in the instance of haughty Sennacherib, and that boasted tempest of his wrath, which he threatened to pour on all the Jewish nation. It was allowed to prevail against the Israelites, as a punishment for their incorrigible wickedness, and was employed as an instrument of discipline and correction to the king and people of Judah, in order to produce in them proper reflections upon their duty, and their past errors; as they wisely considered it in this light, and humbled themselves before the LORD, he graciously* restrained the remainder of Sennacherib's wrath; and made it the mean of advancing the temporal prosperity of his faithful people, and of confirming the truth of his holy religion and his almighty power."
Psalm lxxvi. 10.
"Let this history, therefore, lead us to a religious contemplation of the hand of GoD, in all the transactions of the world. Let us not censure Providence, on account of any seeming disorders and evils which at present take place: the plans of Divine wisdom are too large and comprehensive to be discerned by us in all their extent; and where we see only by parts, we must frequently be at a loss in judging of the whole. The way of GoD is in the sea, and liis path in the great waters; His footsteps are not known*. But although thou sayest thou canst not see Him, yet judgment is before Him; therefore trust thou in Him. Whatever distresses we suffer from the wrath of man, we have ground to believe that they befall us not in vain. Let us then study to gain the protection and favour of the ALMIGHTY. If He be for us, who or what can be against us? Let us pursue the measures which He has appointed for obtaining His grace, by faith, repentance, and a holy life, and we shall have no reason to be afraid of any evil tidings: our hearts will be fixed, trusting in the LORD; and we need not fear what man can do unto us."
These Reflections which are taken from a Sermon of an eminent Divine ‡, are particularly suitable to the present times, when we are threatened with invasion and destruction by a proud and haughty foe, who hath already been sent by the ALMIGHTY, though he thinketh not so, to destroy nations not a few.
*Psalm lxxvii. 19.
t Job. xxxv. 14.
END OF THE THIRD VOLUME.
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