"Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent unto Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Whereas thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria: This is the word which the LORD hath spoken concerning him; The virgin, the daughter of Zion, hath despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee. Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel. By thy servants hast thou reproached the Lord, and hast said, By the multitude of my chariots am I come up to the height of the mountains, to the sides of Lebanon; and I will cut down the tall cedars thereof, and the choice fir trees thereof: and I will enter into the height of his border, and the forest of his Carmel. I have digged, and drunk water; and with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of the besieged places."
Sennacherib's quarrel was not with men but with God Almighty. The virgin daughter is symbolic of Jerusalem which is loved and guarded by the Lord. The city of Christ's future kingdom is under the watchful eye of God. The Lord desires her peace, and He commands His people to pray for her peace. "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee (Psalm 122:6)." Lasting peace will come to Jerusalem when her citizens accept the righteousness of the Messiah.
Lebanon's cedars and Carmel's forest represent the strength and beauty of the land. Sennacherib's invasion of these regions prompted him to become arrogant against God. The Lord paints a picture of the Assyrian army digging wells for their water supplies and stopping the watercourses of the cities which they had besieged so as to drive the inhabitants to thirst. All of these actions had moved Sennacherib further down the road of human pride.
"Hast thou not heard long ago, how I have done it; and of ancient times, that I have formed it? now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste defenced cities into ruinous heaps. Therefore their inhabitants were of small power, they were dismayed and confounded: they were as the grass of the field, and as the green herb, as the grass on the housetops, and as corn blasted before it be grown up. But I know thy abode, and thy going out, and thy coming in, and thy rage against me. Because thy rage against me, and thy tumult, is come up into mine ears, therefore will I put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest." (Isaiah 37:26-29)
God displays His omniscience by informing Sennacherib of His guiding hand in the affairs of the Assyrians. The water of the wells which Assyria had dug was placed there by God. All things were created and formed by God. The king's power was great in the eyes of men, but in the eyes of God, Sennacherib was "altogether vanity (Psalm 39:5)."
Assyria was at Jerusalem's doorstep because God had permitted her to be there. The Lord was punishing and purging His people because of their idolatrous ways. Their disregard for His Law and their contempt for the wisdom of Isaiah's ministry could not go unpunished. Man has no strength beyond what God allows. The most sophisticated weaponry and the most skilled allies could not deliver the Lord's people whose power God had crippled.
The Lord informed Sennacherib that He was well acquainted with every move of the king. Nothing is hidden from God's eyes. The consequences of Sennacherib's attitude and actions would find him out. A ring is placed through a bull's nose to make him manageable. Likewise, the bridle is used to control the strength of the horse. As the power of these animals is subjugated by the handler, Sennacherib's might would be harnessed by the hand of God.