How to Respond to a Trash Talker (or 6 Ways Satan Tries to Attack You and How to Defend Yourself)
Today’s passage is 2 Kings 18:17-35. In this passage we read of all the ways Assyria’s field commander tries to intimidate Hezekiah’s Israelite troops. At the same time I believe through this passage we can learn 6 ways that our enemy, Satan, tries to erode our confidence and soften us up for a defeat. The quicker you can identify these 6 ways that Satan will try to attack you, the quicker you can defeat him in Jesus’ name. Let’s go!
2 Kings 18:20 (NIV) 20 You say you have strategy and military strength–but you speak only empty words. On whom are you depending, that you rebel against me?
On verses 20-21: The field commander was correct to say that Israel had very little strategy and military strength left (v20). The field commander was also correct to say that Egypt would not be a reliable partner to depend on (v21). But contrary to the field commander’s final conclusion, Israel was not without hope. Israel still had something far more important than strategy and military strength and someone far greater than Egypt: Israel had the Lord.
What can we learn from this? Here’s the first of Satan’s strategies: Satan loves to erode your confidence by pointing out everything that you lack, and tempting you to forget every advantage that you have. Whenever Satan tries to get you to focus on everything you lack, choose an attitude of gratitude and focus on the blessings that you have.
2 Kings 18:22 (NIV) 22 And if you say to me, “We are depending on the LORD our God”–isn’t he the one whose high places and altars Hezekiah removed, saying to Judah and Jerusalem, “You must worship before this altar in Jerusalem”?
On verse 22: The field commander then tries to erode the Israelites’ confidence in the Lord, but here he only shows that he neither realizes what Hezekiah was doing nor understands what pleases the Lord. The field commander assumes that Hezekiah’s removing of the high places and altars was offensive and displeasing to the Lord, when in fact the Lord, who commanded that idols and idolatry be removed, could not be more pleased with how Hezekiah had taken practical steps to remove those idolatrous high places and altars from the land of Judah.
What can we learn from this? Here’s the second of Satan’s strategies: Satan likes is to give you a false idea of who God is, making God seem different from what the Bible describes Him to be. When in doubt, always go back to what Scripture says about who God is.
2 Kings 18:25 (NIV) 25 Furthermore, have I come to attack and destroy this place without word from the LORD? The LORD himself told me to march against this country and destroy it.'”
On verse 23-25: After again focusing on how little the Israelites have (v23) and how unreliable their ally Egypt is (v24), the field commander then claims that it is the Lord who told him to march against Judah and destroy it (v25).
Here the field commander is just getting cocky. After all the field commander always takes his orders from his supreme commander, who in turn takes his orders from the king. So there is no way the Assyrian army would come and attack Judah on the basis that a middle ranked subordinate officer like the field commander “has a word from the Lord”. The field commander here is out right lying.
What’s the lesson here? Here’s the third of Satan’s strategies: The enemy loves to put words in God’s mouth which God didn’t actually say. As Jesus says, the enemy is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). To combat this, you need to know the word of God well so that, like Jesus, each time you’re tempted you can fight back with the truth of God’s Word (see Matthew 4:1-11).
2 Kings 18:26-30 (NIV) 26 Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, and Shebna and Joah said to the field commander, “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, since we understand it. Don’t speak to us in Hebrew in the hearing of the people on the wall.” 27 But the commander replied, “Was it only to your master and you that my master sent me to say these things, and not to the men sitting on the wall–who, like you, will have to eat their own filth and drink their own urine?” 28 Then the commander stood and called out in Hebrew: “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! 29 This is what the king says: Do not let Hezekiah deceive you. He cannot deliver you from my hand. 30 Do not let Hezekiah persuade you to trust in the LORD when he says, ‘The LORD will surely deliver us; this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’
On verses 26-30: Not wanting their fellow Israelite soldier to be discouraged by the field commander’s words, Hezekiah’s officials ask Assyria’s field commander to speak to them in Aramaic as opposed to speaking in the Hebrew language which all the Israelite soldiers could understand (v26). But the field commander takes that opportunity to shout in Hebrew directly to the Israelite soldiers, all with the goal of discouraging them and shaking their trust in their own king Hezekiah (v27-30).
What’s the lesson here? Here’s the fourth strategy of Satan: Knowing that there is strength in numbers and power in unity, the enemy will try to break down trust and unity between God’s people. That includes creating distrust between a husband and a wife, between parents and children, between brothers and sisters, and between a godly leader and those who serve under him. So whenever you’re tempted to see your spouse, that friend, that leader, or that person as the enemy, remember who the real enemy is: it’s Satan, not that person.
2 Kings 18:31-32 (NIV) 31 “Do not listen to Hezekiah. This is what the king of Assyria says: Make peace with me and come out to me. Then every one of you will eat from his own vine and fig tree and drink water from his own cistern, 32 until I come and take you to a land like your own, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey. Choose life and not death! “Do not listen to Hezekiah, for he is misleading you when he says, ‘The LORD will deliver us.’
On verses 31-32: The field commander tries to make an offer to the Israelites that is more attractive than any promise that Hezekiah has given to them. He promises that if the Israelites surrender to Assyria they will be taken to another land with comparable abundance and prosperity, where every soldier would eat under his own vine and drink from his own cistern (v31-32). This is in direct contradiction to what he said moments again when he said that those same men would “have to eat their own filth and drink their own urine” (v27).
What’s the lesson here? A fifth strategy of the enemy: the enemy loves to bait you with false promises, making you think the grass is always greener on sin’s side. But the problem is that whenever Satan makes any promise to you, you will always find a contradiction if you look carefully. Analyze what the enemy is trying to tell you and ask, “Where is the lie or contradiction in what the enemy is saying?”
2 Kings 18:33-35 (NIV) 33 Has the god of any nation ever delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? 34 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah? Have they rescued Samaria from my hand? 35 Who of all the gods of these countries has been able to save his land from me? How then can the LORD deliver Jerusalem from my hand?”
On verses 33-35: Here the field commander tries to further shake the Israelites’ confidence in the Lord by showing how other nations trusted in their gods and were still defeated by Assyria.
What’s the lesson here? A sixth strategy of the enemy: The enemy loves to compare you to others and make you think, “You’re nothing special. You’re just like every other loser.” As part of this, the enemy loves to minimize your God, making you doubt how different your God is from any other gods that are worshiped in the world. To defend yourself against such attacks,always remember that you are valuable, special and unique in God’s eyes, and that there is no one who comes close to being like Jesus. Jesus alone is the King of kings.
2 Kings 18:36 (NIV) 36 But the people remained silent and said nothing in reply, because the king had commanded, “Do not answer him.”
On verses 36-37: Anticipating the trash talk that would be coming from the field commander’s mouth, King Hezekiah wisely tells his troops in advance not to answer or argue with the field commander, but to remain silent (v36) and instead to report what he says back to Hezekiah.
What can we learn from this? Trash talkers tend to be high on intimidation but low in substance. In other words, they’re great at sounding big and scary, but when you break down what they’re actually saying, what they say doesn’t make much sense. So when you’re dealing with someone who is simply trying to scare you and intimidate you, sometimes the best response is no response, and the most effective thing you can do is ignore them and run to your king. His name is Jesus. When you run to your King, He will help you decipher the lies and tactics that the enemy is using, and help you to come up with a wise and effective counterattack.
Holy Spirit, thank You for using this passage to show me 6 ways that the enemy tries to attack me. May I be alert against the enemy’s tactics and stand firm against him in Jesus’ name. May I not bow down to that trash talker, but run to my truth-telling King. Thank You that in Jesus I have all the power, wisdom and authority I need to stand up against the enemy and not be defeated by him. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!