Isaiah 37:20
Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD, even thou only.
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37:1-38 This chapter is the same as 2Ki 19That all the kingdoms of the earth may know - Since he has been able to subdue all others; and since Judea alone, the land under the protection of Yahweh, would be saved, all the nations would know that it could not be by the power of an idol. The desire of Hezckiah, therefore, was not primarily that of his own personal safely or the safety of his kingdom. It was that Yahweh might vindicate his great and holy name from reproach, and that the world might know that he was the only true God. A supreme regard to the glory of God influenced this pious monarch in his prayers, and we have here a beautiful model of the object which we should have in view when we come before God. It is not primarily that we may be saved; it is not, as the leading motive, that our friends or that the world may be saved; it is that the name of God may be honored. This motive of prayer is one that is with great frequency presented in the Bible (compare Isaiah 42:8; Isaiah 43:10, Isaiah 43:13, Isaiah 43:25; Deuteronomy 32:39; Psalm 46:10; Psalm 83:18; Nehemiah 9:6; Daniel 9:18-19).

Perhaps there could have been furnished no more striking proof that Yahweh was the true God, than would be by the defeat of Sennacherib. No other nation had been able to resist the Assyrian arms. The great power of that empire was now concentrated in the single army of Sennacherib. He was coming with great confidence of success. He was approaching the city devoted to Yahweh - the city where the temple was, and the city and people that were everywhere understood to be under his protection. The affairs of the world had arrived at a crisis; and the time had come wheu the great Yahweh could strike a blow which would be felt on all nations, and carry the terror of his name, and the report of his power throughout the earth. Perhaps this was one of the main motives of the destruction of that mighty army. God intended that his power should be felt, and that monarchs and people that arrayed themselves against him, and blasphemed him, should have a striking demonstration that be was God, and that none of the devices of his enemies could succeed.

20. The strongest argument to plead before God in prayer, the honor of God (Ex 32:12-14; Ps 83:18; Da 9:18, 19). No text from Poole on this verse.

Now therefore, O Lord our God, save us from his hand,.... The hand of the king of Assyria. The Lord had promised that he would and Hezekiah believed he would; but he knew that for this he would be inquired of by him, and he pleads covenant interest, in him, and entreats for salvation upon that account, as well as for the reason following:

that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord, even thou only; by doing that which other gods could not do; they could not save the nations that worshipped them from the hand of the Assyrians; if therefore the God of Israel saved his people from them, this would be a proof to all the world that he is God and there is none besides him.

Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that {n} all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD, even thou only.

(n) He declares for what cause he prayed, that they might be glorified by it through all the world.

20. Therefore let Jehovah shew, in this crisis of religion, that He alone possesses true Godhead.

that thou art the Lord, even thou only] Lit. “that thou art Jehovah alone,” cf. Deuteronomy 6:4. But the easier, and perhaps the original, reading is given by 2 Kings “that thou Jehovah art God alone” (see Isaiah 37:16).

Verse 20. - Save us... that all the kingdoms... may know, etc. God's true servants desire deliverance and triumph over enemies, not alone for their own sakes, not even for the sake of the country or people whose fate is bound up with their own, but for the glory of God, that his honour may be vindicated in the sight of the world at large. It is a large part of the satisfaction of Moses at the passage of the Red Sea, that "the peoples would hear... the dukes of Edom be amazed... the mighty men of Moab tremble," etc. (Exodus 15:14, 15). David would have his foes "consumed" in order that they might know that "God ruled in Jacob, and unto the cads of the earth" (Psalm 59:13), and again, in order "that men may know that thou, whose Name alone is Jehovah, art the Most High over all the earth" (Psalm 83:18). It has been well said that "the object of all the judgments which the true prophet desires is to bring all nations into subjection to God." Isaiah 37:20This intimidating message, which declared the God of Israel to be utterly powerless, was conveyed by the messengers of Sennacherib in the form of a latter. "And Hizkiyahu took the letter out of the hand of the messengers, and read it (K. read them), and went up to the house of Jehovah; and Hizkiyahu spread it before Jehovah." Sephârı̄m (the sheets) is equivalent to the letter (not a letter in duplo), like literae (cf., grammata). ויּקראהוּ (changed by K. into m- ') is construed according to the singular idea. Thenius regards this spreading out of the letter as a naivetי; and Gesenius even goes so far as to speak of the praying machines of the Buddhists. But it was simply prayer without words - an act of prayer, which afterwards passed into vocal prayer. "And Hizkiyahu prayed to (K. before) Jehovah, saying (K. and said), Jehovah of hosts (K. omits tsebhâ'ōth), God of Israel, enthroned upon the cherubim, Thou, yea Thou alone, art God of all the kingdoms of the earth; Thou, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth. Incline Thine ear, Jehovah, and hear וּשׁמע, various reading in both texts וּשׁמע)! Open Thine eyes (K. with Yod of the plural), Jehovah, and see; and hear the (K. all the) words of Sennacherib, which he hath sent (K. with which he hath sent him, i.e., Rabshakeh) to despise the living God! Truly, O Jehovah, the kings of Asshur have laid waste all lands, and their land (K. the nations and their land), and have put (venâthōn, K. venâthenū) their gods into the fire: for they were not gods, only the work of men's hands, wood and stone; therefore they have destroyed them. And now, Jehovah our God, help us (K. adds pray) out of his hand, and all the kingdoms of the earth may know that Thou Jehovah (K. Jehovah Elohim) art it alone." On כּרבים (no doubt the same word as γρυπές, though not fabulous beings like these, but a symbolical representation of heavenly beings), see my Genesis, p. 626; and on yōshēbh hakkerubhı̄m (enthroned on the cherubim), see at Psalm 18:11 and Psalm 80:2. הוּא in אתּה־הוּא is an emphatic repetition, that is to say a strengthening, of the subject, like Isaiah 43:25; Isaiah 51:12; 2 Samuel 7:28; Jeremiah 49:12; Psalm 44:5; Nehemiah 9:6-7; Ezra 5:11 : tu ille (not tu es ille, Ges. 121, 2) equals tu, nullus alius. Such passages as Isaiah 41:4, where הוּא is the predicate, do not belong here. עין is not a singular (like עיני in Psalm 32:8, where the lxx have עיני), but a defective plural, as we should expect after pâqach. On the other hand, the reading shelâchō ("hath sent him"), which cannot refer to debhârı̄m (the words), but only to the person bringing the written message, is to be rejected. Moreover, Knobel cannot help giving up his preference for the reading venâthōn (compare Genesis 41:43; Ges. 131, 4a); just as, on the other hand, we cannot help regarding the reading ואת־ארצם את־כּל־הארצות as a mistake, when compared with the reading of the book of Kings. Abravanel explains the passage thus: "The Assyrians have devastated the lands, and their own land" (cf., Isaiah 14:20), of which we may find examples in the list of victories given above; compare also Beth-arbel in Hosea 10:14, if this is Irbil on the Tigris, from which Alexander's second battle in Persia, which was really fought at Gaugamela, derived its name. But how does this tally with the fact that they threw the gods of these lands - that is to say, of their own land also (for אלהיהם could not possibly refer to הארצות, to the exclusion of ארצם) - into the fire? If we read haggōyı̄m (the nations), we get rid both of the reference to their own land, which is certainly purposeless here, and also of the otherwise inevitable conclusion that they burned the gods of their own country. The reading הארצות appears to have arisen from the fact, that after the verb החריב the lands appeared to follow more naturally as the object, than the tribes themselves (compare, however, Isaiah 60:12). The train of thought is the following: The Assyrians have certainly destroyed nations and their gods, because these gods were nothing but the works of men: do Thou then help us, O Jehovah, that the world may see that Thou alone art it, viz., God ('Elōhı̄m, as K. adds, although, according to the accents, Jehovah Elohim are connected together, as in the books of Samuel and Chronicles, and very frequently in the mouth of David: see Symbolae in Psalmos, pp. 15, 16).
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