In this section of the book of Isaiah, the most interesting verses to me were in 22:15-25. Barry Webb provides the following commentary….
Both men named here were court officials under Hezekiah. In Shebna in particular the passage gives a concrete example of the faithlessness for which the people as a whole are condemned in verses 1-14. Verses 15-19 predict his fll, and verses 20-25 his replacement by Eliakim.
The contrast between the two men could not be more sharply drawn.
Self-regarding (his tomb, Servant of the Lord (20)
his chariots) (16, 18) Father to the people (21)
Like a ball (unstable) (18) Like a peg (stable,
Disgrace (18) Honour (23)
Deposed by the Lord (19) Fixed in a firm place by
the Lord (23)
Eliakim is the very antithesis of Shebna, an ideal leader called and established by the Lord. Verses 24 and 25, therefore, come as something of a surprise. Eliakim’s family are apparently not made of the same stuff as he is. They take advantage of his high position to better themselves and in so doing bring about his ruin. The peg gives way under the strain. Eliakim is destroyed from below.
In the end, then, it is not just the Shebnas of Jerusalem that will bring it down, but the common people as well. What is presented in general terms in verse 1-14 is particularized in verses 15-25, but the message is the same. The failure of the people of Jerusalem to rely upon the Lord will bring both them and their leaders to ruin.
By the time of Sennacherib’s invasion of Judah in 701 Eliakim had already become chief minister and Shebna had been demoted to the position of secretary. This is a far cry, to be sure, from the disgrace and exile predicted in verses 17-18, but these may have followed later. Nothing is known, apart from what we have here, about the circumstances of Shebna’s death.
The most interesting verse to me in this section is the promise to Eliakim in 22:22….
I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and no one shall shut; he shall shut, and no one shall open.
Apparently, Eliakim was given the power of the keys in Hezekiah’s palace. He was in charge of opening the door of the palace to certain visitors and closing it to others.
This verse is taken upon the lips of Jesus in Revelation 3:7 and given new meaning….
These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.
Jesus is the one who determines entrance into the most important palace anywhere: the kingdom of God. If we want to enter into God’s presence, then we must come through Jesus (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).