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Bible Commentaries

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary
2 Kings 18

 

 

Verse 4

HEZEKIAH’S REFORMS

‘He removed the high places.’

2 Kings 18:4

It is a mark of Hezekiah’s breadth of mind that he sought to unite the kingdoms in their worship. We read in Chronicles of his attempt to draw Israel and Judah together for a Passover. And though much ridicule was poured upon him, yet that Passover was actually held, amid such scenes of enthusiastie zeal as even Jerusalem had rarely witnessed.

I. The first lesson we are taught is how a good son may come from a bad home.—That home must have been a very den of vileness which had a man like Ahaz at the head of it. There were many worthless kings on David’s throne, but there were few if any who were worse than Ahaz, and Ahaz was Hezekiah’s father. There had been kings distinguished for their courage, though they were sadly wanting in their piety; but Ahaz was as far from being brave as he was from being a worshipper of God—and it was under the control of such a father, and within the influence of such a home, that Hezekiah ripened to his manhood. Eli had been a holy man, yet his two sons were terribly degraded. Ahaz was one of the wickedest of men, yet his son was a bright example of true goodness. From which we learn that you do not explain everything by harping on the one word environment, for sometimes, into the good olive tree, there is grafted that which would be wild by nature. Let us never forget what Hezekiah had to contend with in his youth. He was not encircled with examples such as make goodness beautiful. And it adds to our admiration of the man, and of the noble stand he made for God and righteousness, to think how little he owed to these sweet influences which have had such quiet power in moulding us. If it was possible for this boy to be good, then it is possible for every boy to be good. There is no excuse to think they would be better, had they been born and bred in different homes. The grace of God can save and keep so mightily, even within a home like that of Ahaz, that the child shall be sheltered in the evil day, and grow into the strength of Hezekiah.

II. We ought to note how Hezekiah gave to spiritual things the foremost place.—We read in Chronicles how in the first year of his reign he set about the renovation of the Temple. There was a vast deal lying to be done, and Hezekiah was not the man to shirk it. There was an army to reorganise, and an emptied treasury to fill again. Yet the first concern of the king was not the taxes, nor was it the re-creating of his forces; his first concern was the worship of Jehovah and the honour that was due unto His name. It is always the mark of a great and noble mind that it sees things in their relative proportions. Greatness can seize the things that really matter, however they be obscured to other eyes. And this is one sign of Hezekiah’s greatness that, with so many matters clamouring for attention, he should have given his first and freshest thought to what concerned the worship of Jehovah. Are there not multitudes who place religion among the things they will see to by and by? Some day they fully intend to be religious, but meantime they are otherwise engaged. There is no more tragical mistake than that—none more certain to issue in disaster—none that more surely brings the life to ruin by inverting the true order of its interests. ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you.’ That was the course which Hezekiah took, and for him it was most literally true. Nor will it prove itself less true for us, with tasks to do that are quite commonplace, and battles to fight of which no one ever hears.

III. We learn that good things may become a snare.—We read that Hezekiah ground to powder the Brazen Serpent of the wilderness. What sacred memories clustered round that emblem! It was one of the most precious relics of the past. It had been fashioned by Moses when the people were dying, and in a look at it there had been life. But this very sacredness became its peril, for the people had begun to worship it, and had grown to regard it with an awe and reverence that were the just prerogatives of God. It was for that reason that Hezekiah destroyed it. It was very precious, yet it was doing harm. Better that it should be ground to powder, than prove a stumbling-block to any little ones. Was it not actions such as this that Jesus thought of, when He said, ‘If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out: for it is better that one member should perish than that the whole body should be cast into hell?’

Illustrations

(1) ‘The worship of relics has in all ages been a favourite form of superstition and idolatry. Men have sought in old bones, in locks of hair, in the fancied blood of martyrs, and a thousand other sources, the blessings which they can find only in God.’

(2) ‘By that act of the reforming Hezekiah, recorded in the Word of God, we are taught to endure nothing in religion but what God has appointed. If ever there was a case where respect for relics could have been sanctioned, it was in regard to that symbol or type of Christ which Hezekiah destroyed. But no! it had become a snare, and must perish; it was put in God’s place, and inexorable destruction was therefore its doom.’


Verse 20

THE ONLY SURE HOPE

‘On whom dost thou trust?’

2 Kings 18:20

The Christian conflict as keen as great Assyria and little Judæa. Worldly materialism: infidel thought against the besieged servants of Christ. Arrogant words of Rabshakeh craftily to catch the timid and irresolute. Easy terms: distorted facts. Some Rabshakeh asks the Christian, ‘Whom do you trust?’

I. Is it self?—He says, ‘You haven’t counsel or strength.’ Quite true, my resources poor: I am like the city in grip of armies: alone, I must give way.

II. Is it friends?—He says, ‘Your friends will fail you.’ As Egypt or the countries powerless against the Assyrians, your friends useless. True! My friends—ties with the pure, the respect worthy, or noble, are not my reliance.

III. Is it your religion? says the Rabshakeh, with shafts loosing confidence in God. He is displeased with you. Your worship is faulty. You are divided amongst yourselves. ‘We are confessing our wrong. Our Lord is loving us still. His promises sure to the humble.’

IV. On whom do you trust?—Only in our Saviour God.

Rev. F. S. Legg.

 


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Bibliography Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 2 Kings 18:4". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/2-kings-18.html. 1876.

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