Here it comes. Sennacharib is crouching at their door. He is as proud, arrogant, and boastful as a man can be and his plan is to scare them out of their skin! He sends Rabshakeh as his messenger to taunt and terrify them, to make them fear the mighty power of Sennacharib and to doubt the almighty power of their God.
Rabshakeh scoffs at Hezekiah as though he were a bumbling idiot. He refers to their good king's confidence and counsel as merely "empty words." He laughs at the hope they had placed in Egypt the now "crushed reed." He scoffs at their trust in the LORD. Is not this Satan's greatest ploy against the children of God? If he can drive us to doubt our God then he can do with us as he pleases. Our hope and security and protection are in Him and if our confidence in His divine promises and protection fail then we are greatly to be pitied!
Notice the sneaky trick of temptation that Sennacharib has Rabshakeh hold forth and learn from it, for this same temptation is dangled before us daily. "Do not listen to Hezekiah...make your peace with me and come out to me, and eat each of his vine and each of his fig tree and drink each of the waters of his own cistern, until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards" (vs 16-17).
"When Satan would tempt men from trusting in God, he does so by insinuating that in yielding to him they may better their condition. When the world and the flesh say to us, 'make an agreement with us, submit to our dominion and come into our interests, and you shall eat every one of his own vine,' they do but deceive us, promising liberty when they would lead us into the basest captivity and slavery." (Matthew Henry)
O people of God - the one we must not listen to is Satan and his minions even when they are disguised as our best friends! The Serpent fooled Adam and Eve in the garden by his promise of bettering their condition and look what happened? We are all worse off for the choice they made!
"Beware lest Hezekiah misleads you, saying, 'The LORD will deliver us.' Has any one of the gods of the nations delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? (vs 18-19).
Here again is the attempt to sew the seeds of doubt where our God is concerned. This time he tosses the God of Israel in the pot with all the gods of all the nations. "Nothing can be more absurd in itself, nor a greater affront to the true and living God, than to compare Him with the gods of the heathen. They are nothing, He is the great I AM. They are the creature's of men's fancy and the works of men's hands; He is the Creator of all things!" (Henry). There is no comparison!
How do they respond to these temptational musings? "But they were silent and answered him not a word; for the king's commandment was, 'Do not answer him.'" Clearly there are times to speak and clearly there are times to be silent. Hezekiah's command to his people was "do not answer a fool according to his folly" (Pr 26:4). God had already promised, through the prophet Isaiah, that he would deal with Sennacharib. "For the LORD has a day of vengeance, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion" (34:8). Now was the time to trust themselves to His care. He would be both His and their avenger. May we trust ourselves to His care and His recompense as well.
I pray that our God would grant each of us the strength to flee from temptation. We need to see the promises of sin for what they truly are and for what they truly do. Its pleasant promises are false and they will deceive us to an eternal misery.
May God increase our faith and our trust in Him during those times when His enemies seek to tear Him down in our estimations. May He enable us to remain silent in those moments when no words are the best words.
Praying for a firm faith and a quiet tongue,