In 2 Kings, chapter 18 verses 19-21, we see the Assyrians surround Judah’s King Hezekiah and Jerusalem, and the Rabshakeh [in Hebrew a “field commander,” but the Assyrian title could have meant “chief cupbearer or spokesman”] has been taunting them regarding their trust in Pharaoh’s staff, calling it a “splintered reed,” that will eventually pierce them. Interestingly, the word for stalk/staff is the same mentioned by David in Psalm 23, when he says that God’s staff is the one that brings comfort. Hezekiah has already invested his resources to pay off Sennacherib with the gold of the temple’s doors and pillars [2 Kings 18:16] and had sought an alliance with Egypt. Hezekiah was a righteous king and did what was right, but even the ungodly noticed that his trust was in help from Egypt even while saying they trusted in the Lord God. The prophet Isaiah also rebukes this in Isaiah 30.
Isaiah warns that this alliance with Egypt is ungodly and against God’s will [Is. 30:1], and that taking refuge in Egypt’s shadow would be Judah’s disgrace [vs. 3]. This is in direct contrast to David’s declaration in Psalm 91 that dwelling in the secret place of the Most High abides under God’s shadow, hidden from enemies. God had previously warned His people that they were not to turn back to Egypt for any reason. He warned their kings should not even buy horses from them [Deut. 17:16]. Isaiah warns them against thinking that they are going to flee this danger on horses [Is. 30:16], explaining they would be overtaken despite their best efforts. Why? Because even Egypt’s best would only enslave them, even if to another master.
The Rabshakeh would continue to mock any trust they would place in the Lord [2 Kings 18:22]. The taunts of the Rabshakeh were words of compromise. “So now make a bargain with my master” [18:23]. He spends an entire chapter scoffing anyone who would listen to godly leadership to trust God, insisting that they “Make peace with me and surrender to me” [18:31]. And that is always the goal of any siege, to force surrender to the enemy’s plans, so God’s purpose is not fulfilled in you.
In these uncertain times, when we feel besieged by this plague, our fleshly response is to take comfort in the place of our bondage, where we take control by creating alliances with ungodliness, trusting in what we should not. Perhaps it is in our abilities, our savings accounts, looking to our addictions for comfort. This is the danger of trusting in Egypt. It cannot and will not ever deliver us, but only enslave us further spiritually. When we look to any other source besides the Lord God, we have dethroned Him in our lives and made ourselves god, trusting in our own resources. That’s not to say God doesn’t use science, government, and our resources for our good, but we don’t trust in them, we trust in the Name of the Lord our God.
The people in 2 Kings 18, were given an edict not to even respond to the mocker. Even as we hear the report of the enemy, so does the Lord. He hears every word of blaspheme, and as we are silent, He moves on our behalf. Even as the Rabshakeh scoffed, saying that God’s people were being deceived [2 Kings 19:10], the leadership were in prayer, seeking God’s council [19:14-19], spreading out the need before the Lord. God responds, Sennacherib fleas, and Judah is delivered. Praise the Lord! Though besieged, there is hope for us in the Lord!
Isaiah states, “For the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel has said, ‘You will be delivered by returning and resting; your strength will lie in quiet confidence'” [Is. 30:15]. If we return in repentance, if we will rest in God, if we will quietly wait upon the Lord, trusting in Him, we will be delivered! Isaiah explains that even when we attempt to do things our way, the Lord “is waiting to show you mercy, and is rising up to show you compassion, for the LORD is a just God. Happy are all who wait patiently for Him” [30:16-18].
Oh – Egypt never showed up. Not once. Self is so unreliable. Our former crutches will never uphold us. Only God. This is the danger of trusting in Egypt. It is a mirage that drives us further into the desert, provoking us to surrender our trust in the Lord, and our faith has become nothing more than lip-service. The Word of the Lord is to return and wait quietly. He is waiting to bestow upon us His mercy, for He is the God who “bandages His people’s injuries and heals the wounds He inflicted” [Is. 30:26b].