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Read Isaiah 36

Sennacherib Threatens Jerusalem

36 In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign, Sennacherib king of Assyria attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. Then the king of Assyria sent his field commander with a large army from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. When the commander stopped at the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Launderer’s Field, Eliakim son of Hilkiah the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary, and Joah son of Asaph the recorder went out to him.

The field commander said to them, “Tell Hezekiah:

“‘This is what the great king, the king of Assyria, says: On what are you basing this confidence of yours? You say you have counsel and might for war—but you speak only empty words. On whom are you depending, that you rebel against me? Look, I know you are depending on Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff, which pierces the hand of anyone who leans on it! Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who depend on him. But if you say to me, “We are depending on the Lord our God”—isn’t he the one whose high places and altars Hezekiah removed, saying to Judah and Jerusalem, “You must worship before this altar”?

“‘Come now, make a bargain with my master, the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses—if you can put riders on them! How then can you repulse one officer of the least of my master’s officials, even though you are depending on Egypt for chariots and horsemen? 10 Furthermore, have I come to attack and destroy this land without the Lord? The Lord himself told me to march against this country and destroy it.’”

11 Then Eliakim, Shebna and Joah said to the field commander, “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, since we understand it. Don’t speak to us in Hebrew in the hearing of the people on the wall.”

12 But the commander replied, “Was it only to your master and you that my master sent me to say these things, and not to the people sitting on the wall—who, like you, will have to eat their own excrement and drink their own urine?”

13 Then the commander stood and called out in Hebrew, “Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria! 14 This is what the king says: Do not let Hezekiah deceive you. He cannot deliver you! 15 Do not let Hezekiah persuade you to trust in the Lord when he says, ‘The Lord will surely deliver us; this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’

16 “Do not listen to Hezekiah. This is what the king of Assyria says: Make peace with me and come out to me. Then each of you will eat fruit from your own vine and fig tree and drink water from your own cistern, 17 until I come and take you to a land like your own—a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards.

18 “Do not let Hezekiah mislead you when he says, ‘The Lord will deliver us.’ Have the gods of any nations ever delivered their lands from the hand of the king of Assyria? 19 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Have they rescued Samaria from my hand? 20 Who of all the gods of these countries have been able to save their lands from me? How then can the Lord deliver Jerusalem from my hand?”

21 But the people remained silent and said nothing in reply, because the king had commanded, “Do not answer him.”

22 Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary and Joah son of Asaph the recorder went to Hezekiah, with their clothes torn, and told him what the field commander had said.

Go Deeper

Still celebrating the victorious defeat of fortified cities in Judah, the Assyrian field commander arrives at Jerusalem to threaten and mock the faithful beliefs of God’s people. He speaks directly to the people’s anxiety assuring them hope will not come from their Lord. He speaks to their longings for security, profanes the Lord, and claims the king of Assyria is their only hope.

He calls out, “On what are you basing this confidence of yours?” (Isaiah 36:4). 

The world asks us this question every day. The enemy feeds us lies from all directions, aiming to soften the truths we know of God, His character, and His intentions for us. Original sin came from temptation by the tongue of the enemy who fed lies to soften the truths God told Adam and Eve. The adversary of God’s faithful people seeks to do it here in Isaiah 36. Our enemy seeks to do it to us every day!

A common sequence of life is 1) we face hardship, 2) we doubt, 3) we pray, 4) we pursue, 5) God exceeds our expectations. We can remove much of the pain of this sequence by memorizing and dwelling on the qualities and care of the God who delivers us. How we spend our time and what we think about matters. 

We can focus on what is wrong or worrisome, or we can spend time dwelling on how God has been good to us personally. What if we thought about what we take for granted, for provision so constant we never worry about it? What if we wrote down everything God provides without us even asking and looked at that list every day? What if we began a list of all the things that are good in our lives and remember “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…” (James 1:17). What if we gave thanks for these gifts every day? Growing in gratefulness has never made a person’s life worse. I Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”


  1. Do you trust in God even when it feels like the enemy is winning?
  2. Where in your life could you trust God more?
  3. What would need to happen for you to develop a deeper trust in God? 

Pray This

God, reveal to me why I should trust You. Show me how You’re being good to me and those that I love. Help me to be found faithful in all circumstances. Help me to bless others above myself and to conform to Your desires for me without withholding. I love You. Help me to love You more every moment and to share You with others. Amen

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4 thoughts on “Isaiah 36”

  1. We see a classic case of bullying, taunting, and the demoralizing of Judah by an Assyrian enemy. He spews slivers of truth interlaced with an abundance of lies. King Hezekiah of Judah is called out for aligning with Egypt for assistance, failing to trust that God would protect Jerusalem. Every moment we are at a vulnerable crossroad where either we lean into the word of God or are deceived by the lies of the enemy. When faced with an impossible situation are we wearing the full armor of God to defeat the enemy or standing confused and defenseless? Ephesians 6:11 instructs us to “Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the devil.” This includes truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the word of God, and persistent prayer. Let’s suit up and walk confidently into this day fully depending on God’s strength and not our own.

  2. I read this statement today, we as a people need to learn that faith is living without scheming. God’s great purpose in the life of faith is to build godly character. So Hezekiah had led the nation in a great reformation and the people were following God and not their idols when “boom” another battle. God’s promises are sure but we must claim them by faith so God can do His part. 2 Corinthians 5:7 for we walk by faith, not by sight.

    God thank You for desiring You in every single thing of my life!! Thank You for guiding me to the most important and doing what is best to build Your Kingdom in Jesus name amen

  3. Proverbs 26:4-5 – Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes. The self-confident fool thinks too highly of himself and his opinions, and he shares them freely.
    You read by the silence of the other party who is the wise one here v21. As Ella pointed out the tactics used by the Assyrian commander to undermine their trust and faith in God, we can easily predict who will prevail. This haughty arrogance makes me cringe to the core—threatening, bringing up Hezekiah’s mistakes to earn the trust of the people, the unfair speaking in another language—no wonder they left tearing their clothes bc of the words brought against God. These are the kind of people I have a hard time working under, or try to avoid at all cost.
    2 Kings 18:5 Hezekiah trusted in the Lord….v7 And the Lord was with him…He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.

  4. Wow. This is trash talk of the worst kind.

    Remember what we were told when we were kids? “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”


    Words are painful. Words are powerful. Words can be used to discourage, demoralize and defeat. The first assault in the battle for Jerusalem is waged with WORDS.

    Sennacherib‘s field commander launches into a cleverly-worded speech strategically designed to persuade God’s people to 1) doubt their leaders, 2) defect to the enemy, and 3) ultimately and most importantly, desert GOD.

    I’m reminded—again—how essential it is I “think about what I think about.” If I don’t take my thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5), my adversary stands to capture me.

    Our enemy is engaged in an ongoing, relentless battle for our minds and hearts—and words are HIS favorite weapon. The only way to win this battle is to stand firm on the mighty Word of God.

    “Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.”
    -Proverbs 4:23

    “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
    -2 Corinthians 10:5

    “Whenever my busy thoughts were out of control, the soothing comfort of your presence calmed me down and overwhelmed me with delight.”
    -Psalm 94:19

    Note: I found Guzik’s Commentary on this chapter very helpful in reaching these reflections; I highly recommend it:

    To God be the glory!

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