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Bible Commentaries

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary
2 Kings 10

 

 

Verse 16

A GOOD LESSON FROM A BAD KING

‘See my zeal for the Lord.’

2 Kings 10:16

I. The zeal of Jehu! How badly our own efforts after social or personal righteousness compare with it!—Put over against it our slackness, our indifference, our inertia, our negligence, in the face of great and crying wrongs, of indefensible and monstrous scandals, of serious and increasing evils. Is there not only too much in the general life about us which calls for the fiery energy, the drastic vigour, which were manifested—although accompanied by acts of unpardonable criminality—by Jehu? There is always the peril of doing too little, of taking shelter behind the plea that things will right themselves if only they are given time, of persuading ourselves that the circumstances look worse than they really are. Take the awful curses of our modern English civilisation—intoxication, gambling, vice—or the long-standing, grievous injustices which oppress many of our fellow-creatures—bad housing, overwork, insufficient wages—can they be met, ought we to attempt to meet them, with any policy other than one of uncompromising resolve?

‘What peace’ ought there to be, so far as we are concerned, towards the miseries and bestialities of debauchery, towards black crimes of lust and passion and brutality, towards the state of the streets and squares of our great towns, towards proffered opportunities to self-degradation, towards flaunted temptations to shame and ruin and life-long self-reproach? To ‘what peace,’ or even to what armistice, are we entitled to consent, so long as there is the widespread continuance of one or other of the forms of gross, indisputable, obvious, fatal wickedness? ‘What peace’ is possible—is other than unblessed and unhallowed—with ‘the principalities,’ with ‘the powers,’ with ‘the world-rulers of this darkness’?

II. The zeal of Jehu! Is it a quality that dominates our own inner lives?—What is the measure of its influence upon our struggles with our personal infirmities and faults—with ‘the sin which doth so easily beset us’? What amount of effort do we put forth to conquer and exterminate disgraceful and unworthy characteristics? Do we make any real and determined attack upon the baser side of ourselves, or do we come to terms with it, and leave it more or less undisturbed? Our Saviour spoke so strongly about the necessity for persistent, untiring endeavour. He has told us so emphatically that it is possible for men to miss everlasting happiness through not taking enough pains over the attainment of it. His teaching is echoed by the Apostle to the Gentiles. Their tone is heard in the well-known lines of a modern poet—

And the sin I impute to each frustrate ghost

Is—the unlit lamp and the ungirt loin.

What are our aims, our hopes, our ideals? Are we defiled by any of ‘the works of the flesh’?—what an appalling enumeration it is! Is our heart as some Jezreel where a foul worship reigns? If so, we need—ah! how sorely—to deal with ourselves in the power and spirit of Jehu.

III. ‘Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord.’—What is the form that such an invitation would take in the mouths of some of us? ‘Come and see the wretched stuff which I read. Come and hear the worthless trash which I discuss. Come and learn the contemptible trivialities which occupy my thoughts. Come and be introduced to indelicacies and improprieties. Come and have your mind stained and defiled. Come and realise what it is to be devoid of religious feeling, to be without noble motives, to be unswayed by honourable ambitions, to be frivolous, self-seeking, cunning, avaricious, worldly, unheavenly.’ ‘Come … and see’! What would our lives look like, if they were opened to public scrutiny? But to Him ‘all desires’ are ‘known, and from’ Him ‘no secrets are hid.’ While there is yet time, let true ‘zeal’ for Christ’s ‘kingdom and His righteousness’ do its work in us.

—Rev. the Hon. W. E. Bowen.

Illustrations

(1) ‘Only they see not God, I know,

Nor all that chivalry of His,

The soldier-saints who, row and row,

Burn upward each to his point of bliss—

Since, the end of life being manifest,

He had burned his way thro’ the world to this.’

(2) ‘The words placed by Shakespeare in the mouth of Macbeth have been applied to Jehu—

I am in blood,

Stept in so far, that should I wade no more,

Returning were as tedious as go o’er.’

(3) ‘Such self-deceit and selfishness as Jehu’s are much less excusable in us than they were in him; for not only are God’s requirements more plainly set forth to us, so that we are wholly without excuse if we take up with any such partial obedience as Jehu attempted, but we have the blessed example of One Who never pleased Himself, but in all circumstances considered simply what was His Father’s will.’


Verse 31

JEHU THE HEEDLESS—A CHARACTER STUDY

‘Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart: for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin.’

2 Kings 10:31

Was Jehu, then, a hypocrite? Was all his zeal for the Lord false and affected? Any one who said so would quite miss the point of Jehu’s character and the moral of his history. It is because there is so great a mixture of good and evil in his deeds, because there is so much in his character that deserves to be imitated while there is also, at the same time, a deadly flaw in it which mars its beauty, that his history is worthy of particular study.

I. Notice, first, that in the double mission which Jehu was called to perform—the destruction of the house of Ahab and of the worship of Baal—there was no self-denial necessary on his part.—The duty to which he was called was not one which violently crossed any propensity, or stood in the way of any selfish feeling. His words to Jehonadab, ‘Come and see my zeal for the Lord,’ are a key to the state of Jehu’s mind when he set himself to reform the religion; his zeal was to be the prominent object to be looked at; the awful spectacle of God’s people revolted from the worship of Jerusalem, the painful duty of slaughtering thousands of the followers of Baal was to be as nothing compared with the spectacle exhibited to Jehonadab by Jehu’s zeal.

II. Jehu’s zeal burnt brightly, and scorched up everything before it, as long as it was fanned by the excitement of self-interest and a naturally stormy temperament; but the whole heart was not in it; it was ‘zeal for God when it answers my purpose,’ not ‘zeal for God, cost me what it may.’ He was a man who would serve God as long as by so doing he could serve himself. The truth which Jehu did not see, and which we ought to see, is that God, if He be served at all, should be served with all our heart, and soul, and strength; that our service must be complete and free, as from those who feel that all they can do must fall infinitely short of a perfect worship of the infinite God.

—Bishop Harvey Goodwin.

Illustration

‘Jehu’s dealings with the house of Omri, which are commended in 2 Kings, were denounced in the eighth century b.c. by Hosea: “yet a little while and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu”—and the denunciation, it may be, faithfully reflects not only the prophetic, but the popular verdict upon the character and career of this monarch. It is idle to suggest in his defence that the end justified the means. There can be but one judgment upon his treachery, his remorselessness, his bloodthirsty violence, his murderous ferocity. His qualities are, with one exception, in utter contrast to those of the true servants of God. And yet he possesses a single characteristic which connects him with the highest ministry. This savage, barbarous fighter—who was checked by no considerations of mercy or pity, who never allowed himself to be turned aside from his purpose, who was willing to purchase success at any cost—was thorough, up to his lights. His ideals were incomplete; but, as far as they went, they dominated his policy. And it is this one consideration which renders him, in any acceptable sense of the phrase, a biblical hero.’

 


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Bibliography Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 2 Kings 10:4". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/2-kings-10.html. 1876.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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