Passage: Ah, Assyria, the rod of my anger; the staff in their hands is my fury! Against a godless nation I send him, and against the people of my wrath I command him, to take spoil and seize plunder, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. But he does not so intend, and his heart does not so think; but it is in his heart to destroy, and to cut off nations not a few; for he says: "Are not my commanders all kings? Is not Calno like Carchemish? Is not Hamath like Arpad? Is not Samaria like Damascus? As my hand has reached to the kingdoms of the idols, whose carved images were greater than those of Jerusalem and Samaria, shall I not do to Jerusalem and her idols as I have done to Samaria and her images?"
When the Lord has finished all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, He will punish the speech of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes. For he says: "By my strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding: I remove the boundaries of peoples, and plunder their treasures; like a bull I bring down those who sit on thrones. My hand has found like a nest the wealth of the peoples; and as one gathers eggs that have been forsaken, so I have gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved a wing or opened the mouth or chirped."
Journal: Calno, Carchemish, Hamath, Arpad, Samaria, and Damascus are cities in either Israel or Syria that had fallen to Assyrian aggression. Samaria was the capital of Israel and Damascus was (and is) the capital of Syria. Assyria is warning Jerusalem (the capital of Judah) that it will be next. (". . . shall I not do to Jerusalem and her idols as I have done to Samaria and her images?") Two things come to mind here -- 1) Assyria is arrogant and boastful; and 2) Judah is viewed no differently than Syria and Israel; that is, a pagan nation with "idols" to worship.
As to pompous Assyria, the following passages highlight its pride -- "For he [the king of Assyria] says: 'By my strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding: I remove the boundaries of peoples, and plunder their treasures; like a bull I bring down those who sit on thrones.'" The irony here is that Assyria is no more than a staff or a rod or a club or a switch (or, in my house growing up, a thick wooden paddle). ("Ah, Assyria, the rod of my anger; the staff in their hands is my fury! Against a godless nation I send him . . .") It is the hand of God that is disciplining His children. He could have used any method for His purpose and, by His sovereign will, He chose to use Assyria. Arrogance is never a God honoring attitude, and pride was the downfall of Lucifer (Satan). So it is with the followers of Satan, as they follow their pride to the gates of Hell. Even this downward journey of the arrogant reveals the great glory of God.
A child of God cannot look and act like a child of Satan. Judah had become like Israel, which had become like Syria, which looked like Assyria. You get the picture, and the depiction is one of complete rebellion. Yet, God had a remnant in Judah in mind, a small smattering of people that would remain true to their God. It is for His children that He raised the rod of Assyrian discipline in His hand. It was a rod of wrath for the rebellious, and it was the rod of instruction for the faithful. It is for His children that He ultimately countered arrogance with humility. The humility of a sovereign God taking on human flesh. A humility that saved His children, His remnant, from their downward journey. A humility that the darkened heart of the king of Assyria could not comprehend. He was self absorbed. He was serving the king of kings, and he knew it not.