Introduction: A preacher told the story about a man who wanted to be
sure he ended it all. Carrying a rope and a gun the man crawled out
on a branch over a deep river. He tied one end of the rope around
the branch and the other around his neck. At the instant he jumped
off the branch, he planned to shoot himself in the head. He figured
that if the bullet didn’t work, the rope would. If the rope broke,
he would drown. Sort of a triple back-up system.
Our study this week is about the prayers of Hezekiah. Hezekiah did
not want to kill himself – he desperately wanted to live. But he
could sympathize with the man on the branch. We will discover that
Hezekiah faced a triple threat. Not only was he faced with losing
his life work as king, he was in danger of getting himself and a lot
of other people killed by enemy soldiers. Then he found out that if
the soldiers didn’t get him, he would die of a terrible disease.
Let’s jump into our study!
- Problem One
- Read Isaiah 36:1. Hezekiah was the King of Judah at this
time. If you were king, what would you be thinking about
now? (The fortified cities were best able to defend
themselves. Hezekiah has now lost his best cities. The
war is going very poorly.)
- Read Isaiah 36:2-6. The enemy comes right up to
Jerusalem. What does this mean? (Jerusalem was the capital
of Judah. It meant the enemy had control of all of the
country except the capital city!)
- Do you agree with what the Assyrian field commander
says in verse 5a — that Hezekiah is full of hot air
when he says he can win?
- Notice verse 6. Consider the way the field commander
talks! Leaning on a splintered stick – that is a
graphic word picture. Do you know what the commander
is talking about? (There is a children’s song about a
lady who swallowed a fly, and then kept swallowing
different animals (frog, snake, pig)to catch the
animal she just swallowed. The kings of Judah were
just like this lady! If you read 2 Kings 16 you will
learn that Hezekiah’s father, Ahaz, made an alliance
with the Assyrians. He did that to chase off the King
of Aram. The problem was he then started paying
tribute to Assyria. Hezekiah, against God’s will (see
Isaiah 31:1-3), entered into an alliance with Egypt
to chase off the Assyrians! How much better for Ahaz
and Hezekiah to have turned to the Lord for help!)
- When you are in trouble, do you depend on other
people rather than God?
- Do those other people sometimes feel like
a “splintered stick?”
- Do sometimes need to get help to save you
from what you thought would help you?
- Let’s get back to our story in Isaiah and hear what the
Assyrian field commander has to say. Read Isaiah 36:10-11.
Do you think verse 10 is true? Did God send the
Assyrians? Is it possible – seeing that Hezekiah seems to
be relying on Egypt instead of God?
- Why do you think the leaders wanted the commander to
speak in a different language that the common people
did not speak?
- Of what were they afraid?
- Read Isaiah 36:12. Why did the field commander want to use
the language of the people?
- Let’s read his message to the people. Read Isaiah 36:13-18. Now do you think God sent the Assyrians?
- If you were one of the people living in Jerusalem,
what would you think? Would you trust that God would
- Was the commander telling the truth in verse 18?
Did Isaiah 36:1 tell the people something? (The
other gods had not beaten the Assyrians. Worse,
Judah’s God had not prevented them from
defeating all the fortified cities. This was a
- On what did the commander hope the people of
Jerusalem would depend? (He was hoping they
would depend on what they saw, rather than their
faith in God.)
- What is the commander saying in verses 16-17? (They
were going to relocate the people of Jerusalem! They
would take them into exile.)
- If you were Hezekiah, what would you be thinking?
Remember you made this alliance with Egypt against
- What Solution?
- Read Isaiah 36:22-37:2. Does Hezekiah turn to Egypt for
help? To whom does he turn? (The God of heaven. He goes
to the temple and sends for Isaiah, God’s prophet.)
- Read Isaiah 37:9-11. Sennacherib is the king of Assyria.
He hears that the king of Egypt (Cush) is moving to attack
him. Do you think that Egypt is coming to Hezekiah’s
- If you were Hezekiah, and you heard that Egypt was on
the move to attack the Assyrians, what would be your
response? Would you think that God sent the
Egyptians to save you? Would you decide you no
longer needed supernatural help to get out of this
crisis? (Read Isaiah 37:14. Hezekiah turns to God.)
- Do you turn to God when things seem impossible,
but then turn back to other sources of help when
they seem to be sufficient to handle the
- Hezekiah’s Prayer
- Read Isaiah 37:15-16. How does Hezekiah start his prayer?
Have we seen this pattern before? (This is the same
element that we studied three weeks ago in Hannah’s prayer
( 1 Samuel 2:2), last week in Solomon’s prayer (2
Chronicles 6:14) and in Jesus’ model prayer( Matthew 6:9-10). This is the praise element of prayer. Not thanking
God for what He has done for us, but praising God for who
He is. We see again and again that this is the way to
start our prayers!)
- Read Isaiah 37:17-20. What kind of prayer is this? Does
Hezekiah assume that God heard the words of the Assyrian
field commander? (Hezekiah is having a frank discussion
with God. He assumes God heard how the field commander
insulted Him. He admits what the commander said is true
for other gods, but challenges the God of Heaven to reveal
who He is!)
- Is this a proper way to pray? Should we challenge
God? (Moses did this. When God became angry with His
people, and would consider destroying them, Moses
would challenge Him to consider His reputation. How
would it look if He took his people out to the
wilderness and then killed them all? See, for
example, Exodus 32:11-12.)
- God’s Solution
- God gives two messages to Hezekiah through His prophet,
Isaiah. Read Isaiah 37:6-7.
- Was God offended by the words of the field commander?
- What are God’s first words to Hezekiah? (Verse 6: do
not be afraid.)
- Is that God’s message to you in time of trouble
when you turn to Him?
- What does God say is going to happen to Sennacherib?
(A “certain report” is going to cause him to return
home – where he will be killed!)
- Read Isaiah 37:21-22. Why does God say He is answering
Hezekiah? (Because Hezekiah turned to God. How important
it is for us to turn to God with our problems.)
- Who is the Virgin Daughter of Zion? (Did you notice
how verse 22 repeats the same idea? The Virgin
Daughter of Zion is the same as the Daughter of
Jerusalem. This refers to the people of Jerusalem.
Barnes’ Notes tells us that the form of writing here
(parallelism) shows that this is written as a poem.)
- Why do you think it is written in poem form? (God
intended that the people would remember and repeat
what He said when they were threatened in the
- What does the Virgin daughter say about the threat of
the Assyrians? What kind of body language does she
use? (She mocks them and tosses her head.)
- Is this true? (Certainly not when Hezekiah first
came to God! The good news is that the most
frightful problems can become nothing through
the intervention of God. The question is, will
you turn to Him first in times of trouble?)
- Read Isaiah 37:24-26. I asked before about God hearing
the field commander. What do these verses say about God
hearing it? What do these verses suggest about God
knowing what is going on in our lives before we pray?
- Since God knew about this insult, was it necessary
for Hezekiah to bring it to Him? (Yes! Verse 26
suggests that the whole sequence of events was
intended by God to turn the people to Him.)
- What do you think about God allowing problems to
come to us to lead us back to Him?
- Can you put verse 26 into today’s language? (You
think this was your idea Sennacherib? You think this
was done by your power? I (God) planned the whole
thing a long time ago!)
- Does Sennacherib believe this is true? (Do you
remember what the field commander said in Isaiah
36:10? He told Judah that their God sent them. The
Assyrians believed it – they just did not understand
who was in charge.)
- Read Isaiah 37:28-29. Have you ever had someone say, “I
know where you live.” How did it make you feel? What is
God saying to Sennacherib in verse 28? (I know where you
live. More than that, I know where you go. More than that,
you will go back by the same way you came!)
- Who does verse 29 say is in charge of the problems in
our lives? (King Sennacherib is the problem, and God
is in charge like a hook in the nose or a bridle in
- Read Isaiah 37:33-37. Did the people have to fight
Sennacherib? How was his army defeated?
- What lesson do you find in this for dealing with day
to day problems?
- Read Isaiah 37:38 and compare it with 37:7. What had God
predicted about Sennacherib and his army? Did both
predictions come true?
- More Trouble
- Read Isaiah 38:1. What other problem does Hezekiah face?
Our lesson (Monday) says that Hezekiah was 39 years old. I
had no idea!
- This verse starts out “In those days.” Tell me how
you would feel if you were threatened with being
murdered by the Assyrians and at the same time you
found out you had a terminal disease?
- How would you feel if God said He would save you
from one threat to your life but not the other?
- Read Isaiah 38:2-3. What kind of prayer is this? (Hezekiah
says he doesn’t deserve this!)
- Do you agree with Hezekiah? (He was one of the most
faithful kings of Judah.)
- Is this a prayer approach we should adopt? (Isaiah
64:6 tells us all our righteous acts are as filthy
rags before God. I do not suggest this approach.)
- Read Isaiah 38:4-6. Friend, God is the solution to all of
our problems! Will you seek Him first?
- Next week: The Prayer of Intercession: Daniel