The life and story of Hezekiah and how he overcame powerful words that were spoken against him and Jerusalem is one of the most extraordinary stories in the Bible. This powerful story is found three times in the Old Testament. It is rare for a story to be found in the Old Testament this many times. This story reveals the war of words. We can glean so much from this story and see the attack of words and see God’s solution to overcoming the attack.
Let’s look at the beginning of Hezekiah’s reign from the book of 2 Kings.
2 Kings 18:2-7 (KJV)
2 Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Abi, the daughter of Zachariah. 3 And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father did. 4 He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan. 5 He trusted in the Lord God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. 6 For he clave to the Lord, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the Lord commanded Moses. 7 And the Lord was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went forth: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not.
Hezekiah was 25 years old when he began to reign, and he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord. He started his reign by removing high places, breaking images, and cutting down groves. He even destroyed the brazen serpent that Moses made because the children of Israel were burning incense to it. Hezekiah trusted the Lord God of Israel. He clave to the Lord and departed not from following the Lord but kept the commandments. Because of this, God was with him, and he prospered wherever he went.
He even had success in his battle against the Philistines, and he also rebelled against the King of Assyria.
2 Kings 18:8 (KJV)
8 He smote the Philistines, even unto Gaza, and the borders thereof, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city.
Hezekiah went on to restore Temple worship and repaired the doors to the Temple. He also gathered the priests and the Levites and told them to sanctify themselves and to sanctify the house of the Lord. Hezekiah made a covenant with the Lord so His wrath would be turned away from them. The wrath of God was upon them for turning away from the Lord prior to Hezekiah becoming King. Hezekiah made atonement for their sins against God by offering great sacrifices to God. He restored worship back to God. He even observed Passover and restored the tithe in Judah. Things were going great for King Hezekiah, and God was prospering him.
2 Chronicles 31:20-21 (KJV)
20 And thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah, and wrought that which was good and right and truth before the Lord his God. 21 And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered.
At this time, the children of Israel were divided. You had Israel representing ten tribes and Judah, which was made up of two tribes. Israel had greatly sinned against the Lord and did not follow Him. Because of this, great wrath was upon them, and God had most of the ten tribes of Israel carried away by the Assyrians. At first, Hezekiah gave money to the Assyrians but then later rebelled against them.
Now begins the war of words between Sennacherib (The King of Assyria), Hezekiah, and God Almighty. Sennacherib entered Judah and started encamping against their cities. This started in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah’s reign. He also purposed to fight against the Hoy City of Jerusalem. Hezekiah took counsel and stopped the water, which was without the city of Jerusalem. He rerouted all of the water to flow through Jerusalem; The City of David. This is called Hezekiah’s tunnel, in which the water is channeled within the ancient City of David and still flows to this very day. Hezekiah prepared to go to war with Sennacherib, the King of Assyria.
What happens next and how God deals with this wicked king is impressive. This story should send chills down the spine of any king who would come against God’s people when they’re in right standing with Him. So let’s explore this amazing story together and find the secrets behind Hezekiah’s war of words.
Sennacherib first sent some of his servants and Rabshakeh to Jerusalem to speak to them while he was laying siege to another city. Let’s read what this wicked servant said to the people of Jerusalem.
Isaiah 36:3-10 (KJV)
3 Then came forth unto him Eliakim, Hilkiah’s son, which was over the house, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, Asaph’s son, the recorder. 4 And Rabshakeh said unto them, Say ye now to Hezekiah, Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this wherein thou trustest? 5 I say, sayest thou, (but they are but vain words) I have counsel and strength for war: now on whom dost thou trust, that thou rebellest against me? 6 Lo, thou trustest in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt; whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him. 7 But if thou say to me, We trust in the Lord our God: is it not he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away, and said to Judah and to Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar? 8 Now therefore give pledges, I pray thee, to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them. 9 How then wilt thou turn away the face of one captain of the least of my master’s servants, and put thy trust on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? 10 And am I now come up without the Lord against this land to destroy it? the Lord said unto me, Go up against this land, and destroy it.
Rabshakeh first started by saying King Hezekiah’s words were vain to say he has counsel and strength for war. This wicked servant was sent to discourage the people of Judah with his words. Hezekiah’s leaders asked Rabshakeh to speak in the Syrian language, not in Hebrew, but they refused. Let’s see why they refused.
Isaiah 36:11-17 (KJV)
11 Then said Eliakim and Shebna and Joah unto Rabshakeh, Speak, I pray thee, unto thy servants in the Syrian language; for we understand it: and speak not to us in the Jews’ language, in the ears of the people that are on the wall. 12 But Rabshakeh said, Hath my master sent me to thy master and to thee to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men that sit upon the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you? 13 Then Rabshakeh stood, and cried with a loud voice in the Jews’ language, and said, Hear ye the words of the great king, the king of Assyria. 14 Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for he shall not be able to deliver you. 15 Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, The Lord will surely deliver us: this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria. 16 Hearken not to Hezekiah: for thus saith the king of Assyria, Make an agreement with me by a present, and come out to me: and eat ye every one of his vine, and every one of his fig tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his own cistern; 17 Until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards.
He then speaks against the God of Israel and tries to compare Him to other gods.
Isaiah 36:18-22 (KJV)
18 Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, the Lord will deliver us. Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? 19 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arphad? where are the gods of Sepharvaim? and have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? 20 Who are they among all the gods of these lands, that have delivered their land out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand? 21 But they held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king’s commandment was, saying, Answer him not. 22 Then came Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, that was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, the son of Asaph, the recorder, to Hezekiah with their clothes rent, and told him the words of Rabshakeh.
Hezekiah told his people not to say a word; which is very important when being attacked not to say the wrong thing. When Hezekiah heard everything, he said that he rented his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord. This evil messenger was sent to speak words that would discourage and cause the people of God not to want to fight but to surrender.
Hezekiah, however, had a secret weapon, and that was the prophet, Isaiah. The prophet Isaiah was no one to mess with. Isaiah was transported into heaven and saw the Lord high and lifted up. He also had his lips cleansed from the heavenly altar of God. He was a prophet sent by God with the words of God in his mouth. Remember, all of the words of a true prophet had to come to pass. Isaiah’s words had power and authority. He spoke for God and was one of the most powerful prophets Israel had seen and written one of the most profound books in the Bible.
Isaiah 6:1-8 (KJV)
1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. 4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. 6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: 7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. 8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
God sent the prophet Isaiah with God’s Word on his lips. Because of this, King Hezekiah sent word to Isaiah the prophet and wanted him to pray for his people. Moreover, Hezekiah wanted to know if the Lord would hear the words of Rabshakeh and reprove them or not.
Isaiah 37:2-5 (KJV)
2 And he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests covered with sackcloth, unto Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz. 3 And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy: for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth. 4 It may be the Lord thy God will hear the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God, and will reprove the words which the Lord thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that is left. 5 So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah.
Isaiah, in response, had a word from the Lord sent to King Hezekiah.
Isaiah 37:6-8 (KJV)
6 And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say unto your master, Thus saith the Lord, Be not afraid of the words that thou hast heard, wherewith the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. 7 Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land. 8 So Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah: for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish.
God told Hezekiah not to be afraid of Rabshakeh’s words and what he heard. God was going to send a blast upon Sennacherib and send him back to his own land and cause him to die by his own sword in his own land. Rabshakeh returns to find the king fighting against Libnah. While they were gone, they sent a letter to Hezekiah with more threats and told him not to trust God. Let’s look at what he wrote in the scriptures.
Isaiah 37:10-14 (KJV)
10 Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying, Let not thy God, in whom thou trustest, deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. 11 Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands by destroying them utterly; and shalt thou be delivered? 12 Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed, as Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden which were in Telassar? 13 Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arphad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah? 14 And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up unto the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord.
Hezekiah went in faith and prayed before God. He spread that letter out and talked to God about it. He acknowledged that they had defeated the other nations and cast their gods into the fire. He prayed and asked God to save them so all the kingdoms of the Earth may know that He was the only Lord. Hezekiah turned to the Lord and prayed words of faith. God is impressed when we have faith in Him in our biggest battles.
Isaiah 37:15-20 (KJV)
15 And Hezekiah prayed unto the Lord, saying, 16 O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: thou hast made heaven and earth. 17 Incline thine ear, O Lord, and hear; open thine eyes, O Lord, and see: and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent to reproach the living God. 18 Of a truth, Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations, and their countries, 19 And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them. 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.
Hezekiah was in a war of words with the King of Assyria. Hezekiah’s word and prayer were against King Sennacherib’s words and letter. Hezekiah wanted to know what God had to say. What was God’s word going to do, because God’s word is the final word? God did have something to say, and He spoke His word through the prophet Isaiah again. Let’s see what God had to say.
Isaiah 37:21-35 (KJV)
21 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent unto Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Whereas thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria: 22 This is the word which 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. 23 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. 24 By thy servants hast thou reproached the Lord, and hast said, By the multitude of my chariots am I come up to the height of the mountains, to the sides of Lebanon; and I will cut down the tall cedars thereof, and the choice fir trees thereof: and I will enter into the height of his border, and the forest of his Carmel. 25 I have digged, and drunk water; and with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of the besieged places. 26 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 defenced cities into ruinous heaps. 27 Therefore their 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 housetops, and as corn blasted before it be grown up. 28 But I know thy abode, and thy going out, and thy coming in, and thy rage against me. 29 Because thy rage against me, and thy tumult, is come up into mine ears, therefore will I 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. 30 And this shall be a sign unto thee, Ye shall eat this year such as groweth of itself; and the second year that which springeth of the same: and in the third year sow ye, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruit thereof. 31 And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward: 32 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. 33 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 shields, nor cast a bank against it. 34 By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the Lord. 35 For I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.
The prophetic word of God flowed out of the lips of the prophet Isaiah, and King Sennacherib’s fate was doomed. God’s word spoken through the mouth of Isaiah prevailed. What happened next should make any enemy of God think twice before they speak against the Lord and His people. God sent only one of His angels into the camp of Sennacherib, and this angel singlehandedly killed 185,000 of Sennacherib’s army. This defeat was so humiliating that he had to leave and go back to his home country with his tail between his legs.
Isaiah 37:36-37 (KJV)
36 Then the angel of the Lord went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. 37 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.
God’s spoken word through the prophetic mouth of Isaiah prevailed. Hezekiah won the war of words through the help of God Almighty. Sennacherib ended up dying a humiliating death at the hands of two of his sons while he was worshipping one of his false gods. He still hadn’t learned his lesson.
Isaiah 37:38 (KJV)
38 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 Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead.
This story is a perfect example of the war of words. Many people have their own war of words they are fighting. Maybe a doctor has spoken a word of death over you or one of your loved ones. Or, perhaps, you had a letter or email sent to you by a bill collector. It could be you are dealing with nasty letters from lawyers or a phone call with a bad report. Whatever battle of words you find yourself in, God is right there and ready to speak His Word into your situation. God’s word is final and rules over all words. Once God declares His word of victory over your life, you will prevail against any word of destruction the devil has spoken concerning you. No weapon formed against you will prosper, and you will condemn every tongue that rises against you in judgment.
Isaiah 54:17 (KJV)
17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.
The question that needs to be answered is, would Hezekiah have won the battle if Isaiah the prophet had not been there prophesying the word of the Lord. The answer is a resounding NO! Someone has to have more powerful words and speak the word of the Lord for you to get the victory. We will be covering the power of prophecy later on in this book. You cannot underestimate the power of prophesy when it comes to the war of words. To win the battle of your words, you have to get the prophetic word of God spoken into your situation to win the victory. Or the word of God has to be coming out of your mouth.