OUR LORD WHO CAN DEFEND HIS PEOPLE AGAINST FORMIDABLE FOES
Isaiah chapter 36 verse 13 says this;
Then the commander stood and called out in Hebrew, “Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria!
Assyria had undertaken a military campaign against her neighbours and had successfully conquered them and now, having captured all the towns of Judah, was at Jerusalem to take control over Judah's capital city.
King Hezekiah had refused to capitulate to Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, so Sennacherib sent his field commander to try to talk Hezekiah into surrendering.
As the commander approached the city, Hezekiah sent out three emissaries to meet him.
The commander, speaking to the emissaries, was genuinely perplexed by the stance that Hezekiah was taking against Assyria. He could not see any resource that Hezekiah had that could possibly save him from the might of the Assyrian army.
He said to Judah's emmisaries that if Hezekiah was depending on Egypt, he should know that Egypt was an unreliable ally and would let him down like they had many others before.
The commander also asked, if Hezekiah was depending on the Lord their God to save them, was it not Hezekiah himself who took down all the high places and altars that belonged to him? How then could they call to the Lord and entreat Him to save them?
These statements were the first volley in the psychological war against the people of Jerusalem. Simply put, the commander told the people of Jerusalem these things: "Your ally is weak and will not come to help you" and "Your God has abandoned you for removing His altars and He will not save you".
The commander's understanding of what happened regarding the high places and altars in Israel under King Hezekiah was incorrect but his words would no doubt have had a disconcerting effect on those who did not know what Hezekiah's fight against the high places and altars in Israel was about.
The phychological assault being carried out in the hearing of the people of Jerusalem, continued:
The commander highlighted how pitiful the strength of Jerusalem was. He said, "Make a bargain with Assyria. We will provide you with two thousand horses so that you can try to fight us together with your ally Egypt but even with our help, you could not even defeat our most junior officer".
The commander then changed tactics by saying; "I am not attacking Jerusalem on my own volition. Your Lord is the one who commanded me to march against you and destroy your nation".
The emmisaries, sensing how much these words were damaging the morale of the people of Jerusalem tried to persuade the commander to speak in Aramaic so that the Hebrew-speaking citizens could not understand what he was saying.
The commander refused and pressed further by addressing the people of Jerusalem who were sitting on the walls of the city listening to the conversation.
"Do not listen to your king Hezekiah for he is decieving you. Hezekiah cannot save you".
The commander then promised the people of Jerusalem that if they made peace with him and stopped resisting him, he would grant them the benefits described in Isaiah chapter 36 verse 16 - 17;
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, 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.
This promise made by the commander of the Assyrian army sounds surprisingly like the promise made by Lord to the people of Israel in Micah chapter 4 verse 4 that goes like this;
But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it.
This sounds like the scriptures that they were familiar with were being used against them to convince them that the Assyrian king had the same intention for them as their own God.
Finally, the commander held up the irresistable power of the Assyrian army as the reason to surrender. He told all the people who were listening that the gods of all the other nations whom the Assyrians had conquered were unable to help their people in the same way that the God of the people of Judah would be unable to help them against the Assyrians.
The people remained silent in response to this speech by the commander as Hezekiah had directed them.
Then the three emmisaries returned to report to Hezekiah with their clothes torn as a sign of their distress.
The Lord had been blasphemed by Assyria's field commander who was speaking on behalf of King Sennacherib and the Lord took a decision to fight on behalf of Judah and the Assyrian 185,000 man army was obliterated to a man overnight and Sennacherib escaped back to the city of Nineveh where he was ultimately killed by his own sons.
No matter what words are spoken against us to discourage and demoralize us, we must remember the power of the Lord that supersedes any power assembled by kings and princes.