Unveiling Divine Promises: A Commentary on Isaiah Chapter 36

In the realm of biblical exegesis, few chapters evoke as much intrigue, humility, and passion as the 36th chapter of the Book of Isaiah. This profound piece of prophetic literature, written centuries ago, still resonates powerfully today, challenging believers’ faith and illuminating God’s steadfast character. With a spirit of reverence and a lens of theological enquiry, let us embark on this reflective exploration of Isaiah 36, aspiring to glean wisdom from the Word of God as proclaimed through His servant, Isaiah.

In the ensuing sections, we will examine key verses and their corresponding themes, relating these ancient truths to our contemporary Christian journey. Far from being simply a historical account, the Book of Isaiah remains a vibrant spiritual guide, its timeless narratives demonstrating God’s irrevocable promises and His enduring love for His people.

Key Takeaways

  • Recognizing the Power of Rhetoric
  • Trusting in God’s Deliverance
  • The Role of Spiritual Discernment
  • God’s Sovereignty amidst Human Arrogance
  • Standing firm in the face of Spiritual warfare
Unveiling Divine Promises: A Commentary on Isaiah Chapter 36

Recognizing the Power of Rhetoric

In Isaiah 36, we encounter Rabshakeh, a representative of King Sennacherib of Assyria, as he employs a strategy of psychological warfare against the people of Jerusalem. As Christians, we can learn much from his tactics, and we must be vigilant not to be swayed by the eloquent speeches and deceptive arguments of the world.

And the Rabshakeh said to them, ‘Say now to Hezekiah, “Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: ‘What confidence is this in which you trust?’” (Isaiah 36:4, NKJV). The intention of Rabshakeh’s rhetoric was to create doubt and fear among the Israelites, undermining their trust in God. Much like the enemy today, his words were manipulative, aimed at steering God’s people away from their faith.

Rabshakeh’s language and tactics are not unlike those employed by the secular world, which often seeks to belittle our faith, casting it as naive or irrational. We must hold fast to the Word of God, treating it as the final authority, even in the face of compelling arguments or charismatic speakers. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17, NKJV).

Trusting in God’s Deliverance

In the face of intimidation and threats, Hezekiah’s people were ordered to respond with silence. This is a powerful demonstration of reliance on the Lord. “But they held their peace and answered him not a word; for the king’s commandment was, ‘Do not answer him’” (Isaiah 36:21, NKJV).

In our own lives, we may face trials that seem overwhelming, where human wisdom and strength fall short. However, we should take solace in the fact that our God is a delivering God, and He often works in silence, in ways beyond our comprehension. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV).

Much like the Israelites, we should remain silent in the face of accusations and rely on God for our deliverance. In the words of Exodus 14:14, “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace” (NKJV).

The Role of Spiritual Discernment

The ability to discern the truth from a lie is a valuable skill in our spiritual journey. This chapter of Isaiah reinforces the importance of discernment, as it documents the verbal warfare against the Israelites, threatening to weaken their faith.

Rabshakeh attempted to convince the people that their belief in God’s deliverance was futile. “Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, ‘The Lord will deliver us.’ Has any one of the gods of the nations delivered its land from the hand of the king of Assyria?” (Isaiah 36:18, NKJV). Here, Rabshakeh tries to equate the One True God to the powerless gods of other nations, a deceitful tactic meant to cause confusion and despair.

Just as the people of Jerusalem needed discernment to separate the lies from the truth, we too, need spiritual discernment in today’s world, filled with competing ideologies and philosophies. We must lean on the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth, as Jesus promised in John 16:13, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth” (NKJV).

God’s Sovereignty amidst Human Arrogance

A critical theme that emerges from Isaiah 36 is the interplay of human arrogance and divine sovereignty. Rabshakeh’s boastful speech serves as a stark reminder of humanity’s inclination toward pride and overconfidence, and the limits of such hubris.

But if you say to me, ‘We trust in the Lord our God,’ is it not He whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away, and said to Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar’?”” (Isaiah 36:7, NKJV). Rabshakeh’s question was a deliberate attempt to mislead and create discord, using Hezekiah’s religious reforms against him. He tried to portray the removal of high places as an offense to God, while in reality, it was a measure taken to purify worship practices.

This arrogance stands in sharp contrast to the divine sovereignty of our God, who stands supreme over the affairs of men. This chapter reminds us that human plans and boasts can never thwart the divine plan of God. As the Psalmist declares, “The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect” (Psalm 33:10, NKJV).

Standing Firm in the Face of Spiritual Warfare

Isaiah 36 also provides a glimpse into the spiritual warfare that believers face. The psychological attack launched by Rabshakeh against the people of Jerusalem can be seen as an analogy of the spiritual attacks Christians face today.

Nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord will surely deliver us; this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria’” (Isaiah 36:15, NKJV). Through these words, Rabshakeh sought to sow seeds of doubt, discouraging the people from trusting God’s promises of deliverance.

Similarly, we might face situations that challenge our faith or attempt to discourage us from trusting in God’s promises. Ephesians 6:12 reminds us, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (NKJV). Therefore, let us put on the full armor of God to stand firm in our faith amidst spiritual warfare.

The Assurance of Divine Protection

Despite Rabshakeh’s best attempts to undermine the faith of the Israelites, we know from further scripture that the Assyrian army did not overtake Jerusalem. This chapter foreshadows God’s impending protection, hinting at the divine intervention to come.

“Then Eliakim, Shebna and Joah said to the Rabshakeh, ‘Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it; do not speak to us in Hebrew in the hearing of the people who are on the wall’” (Isaiah 36:11, NKJV). This plea reveals an underlying confidence in the divine protection and deliverance of God, as these leaders aim to mitigate the psychological impact of Rabshakeh’s threats on the people.

The Imperative of Faithful Leadership

The role of Hezekiah’s officials, Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah, cannot be overlooked in this narrative. Their commitment to their king and their people, and their determination to shield them from the fear-inciting words of Rabshakeh underscore the value of faithful leadership.

“And Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn, and they told him the words of the Rabshakeh” (Isaiah 36:22, NKJV). Despite the powerful psychological onslaught, these men stayed true to their roles, revealing the details to their king while demonstrating their anguish through the tearing of their clothes, an ancient sign of distress and grief.

In our churches, communities, and families today, there’s a strong need for such leaders – those who are willing to bear the burden of others, faithfully stewarding their roles despite challenges. As Paul writes to Timothy, “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2, NKJV).

Embracing a Prophetic Perspective

The Book of Isaiah is prophetic in nature, filled with revelations of future events. While chapter 36 offers an historical account, it also serves as a reminder of the importance of discerning the prophetic undertones present in our life circumstances.

Rabshakeh’s confrontation, while aimed at disheartening the Israelites, ultimately served a greater purpose in God’s grand design. It provided an opportunity for God to display His might, sovereignty, and faithfulness to His people. This encourages us to adopt a prophetic perspective, understanding that God can use even our trials and tribulations for a greater purpose. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, NKJV).


As we conclude this exploration of Isaiah 36, it becomes clear that the chapters of this prophetic book are not merely ancient tales, but vibrant, relevant narratives that speak to our contemporary Christian journey. They demonstrate God’s irrevocable promises, His enduring love for His people, and His unrivaled sovereignty over the affairs of mankind.

In our journey as Christians, we often face challenges that test our faith and trust in God. The Assyrian confrontation in Isaiah 36 reminds us of the spiritual warfare that we face daily. However, the enduring message of this chapter is one of hope, resilience, and divine intervention.

Ultimately, Isaiah 36 calls us to remain firm in our faith, discerning in our understanding, and resilient in our spiritual warfare, assured of the divine protection that stems from our unwavering trust in the living God. May this knowledge embolden us as we navigate our Christian journey, confident that our faith rests not on the transient promises of this world, but on the eternal, unchanging Word of our sovereign God.

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