This Far, and No Farther
“But I know where you stay and when you come and go and how you rage against me” —2 Kings 19:27, NIV.
Nothing more descriptive came to mind as I read this verse in its context that the famous poem by Lord Byron. The King of Assyria assumed that all he was, all he had, everything he was certain he could accomplish, was his to boast about and his to take. In Isaiah’s message from God to a besieged King Hezekiah in Jerusalem, the prophet writes the future of this pagan invader in the sand, draws a line, and says: “This far and no farther.”
For those who belong to the Lord and are besieged by any enemy, the message rings down through history: “Do not fear, the Lord will let him go so far and no farther.” There are those forces that seek to shatter the believer, to reduce him, or her, to broken fragments. God only bends his children; he never breaks them, and he will not permit even those forces that he has permitted to be unleashed, to go beyond what he has commanded.
Sennacherib found that out the hard way.
THE DESTRUCTION OF SENNACHERIB
The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.
Like the leaves of the forest when summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.
For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and forever grew still!
And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride;
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.
And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail:
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpets unblown.
And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!
George Gordon Noel Byron, Lord Byron (1788-1824)