2 Kings 19
Well, this is certainly a drama-filled chapter in the Bible! Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, has gone around the region, conquering everyone and everything in sight (including Israel!), and now, he was sitting on Jerusalem’s doorstep with 185,000 soldiers, ready to capture Judah as well.
Now, I’m a linguist with a penchant for sarcasm, so I have always enjoyed good "trash talk." And this chapter didn’t disappoint! Did you catch the bravado? First, it’s the king of Assyria who puffs up his feathers in a message to Hezekiah: "Don’t let that god that you think so much of keep stringing you along with the line, 'Jerusalem will never fall to the king of Assyria.' That’s a barefaced lie. You know the track record of the kings of Assyria—country after country laid waste, devastated. And what makes you think you’ll be an exception? Take a good look at these wasted nations, destroyed by my ancestors; did their gods do them any good? Look at Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, the people of Eden at Tel Assar. Ruins. And what’s left of the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of Sepharvaim, of Hena, of Ivvah? Bones." (vs 10-13)
Ooooh. Talk about throwing down the gauntlet. This guy was pretty sure of himself. And after defeating all those other nations (and nations’ gods), Sennacherib was confident that Jerusalem would be his. Adding to his confidence must have been the fact that he had defeated Israel—who supposedly served the same god as Hezekiah and his people.
But God had a response for Sennacherib’s challenge. And I was quite amused to see that God is also fluent in the language of trash talk: "Virgin Daughter Zion despises you and mocks you. Daughter Jerusalem tosses her head as you flee." (vs 21) Woah. What could be more feeble and fragile in this male-dominated culture than a girl? And a virgin girl at that?! Yet what God is saying to the king is, You’re so weak that virgin girls laugh at you and toss their pretty little heads while you run away.
The divine dressing-down then continues for several verses, ending with this: "Now I will put a hook in your nose, a bit in your mouth, then I will send you back to where you came from." (vs 28) That may sound sort of strange to us—the whole hook in the nose and bit in the mouth thing—but this is exactly what the Assyrians did to their prisoners! When they captured people, they humiliated them by piercing them. And now the Lord says that He’s going to give Sennacherib a little taste of his own medicine.
Still, all bravado aside, the residents of Jerusalem appear to be in an impossible situation. They are totally surrounded by an army of such magnitude that they have little hope of survival. From a practical perspective, their goose is cooked. But God doesn’t subscribe to the "practical perspective." He has His own perspective, and He is able to deliver the impossible.
Just when we’re looking at the impossible—wondering how we’re going to be able to fight hard enough or smart enough—God says, "How about if I just put the whole army to sleep? They won’t even wake up in the morning!" Not only can God talk the talk, but He has the goods to back it up. So no matter how impossible the situation looks to you, don’t sweat it. God specializes in delivering the impossible!