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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

2 Kings 16

Verses 1-20

Lowering the Sea

2 Kings 16:17

'King Ahaz... took down the sea.' The reference is to the enormous and superb laver which was situate in the temple, and was intended for the cleansing of the priests.

I. We have not lowered the sea! No. But we have Frustrated the Divine Plan. That plan we may not have spoiled utterly, thanks to restraining grace, but we have frustrated it in detail. True, Ahaz did not frustrate God's plan as a whole. He 'took down the sea from off the brazen oxen that were under it, and put it upon a pavement of stones'. He put it out of its right relations.

Have we not frustrated the Divine plan? Look at the material world. Is it today as God designed it? Commerce is not today as divinely instituted. We have dealt similarly with the home. A similar remark applies to the Church. And is not this conspicuously applicable to our individuality?

II. We have Maimed Good and Useful Things.

Ahaz did not destroy the sea. He, however, sadly interfered with its utility. If, as many think, the water flowed from the sea through the mouths of the brazen oxen, then by placing it on a pavement of stones Ahaz rendered it wellnigh ineffective. Man ever and again maims what is good and useful in its operation. Thus the Bible has often been treated. Its supernatural elements have been discounted. The Sabbath is subjected to a similar process. Its claims are slighted, if not ridiculed. Worship is maimed. Rather than an inspiration to service, it is too often a selfish luxury. Society is not exempted from spoliative influences. Worse than all else, many of us have maimed our souls. We have inflicted deadly injury on our characters; we have made havoc of our inmost self.

III. We have Undone the Religious Work of the Past. What skilled and arduous labour did that brazen sea represent! Consummate artistry it was. The men of the religious past laboured long and severely, with toil of heart and brain and hands. 'And ye are entered into their labours,' the Apostle adds. To undo the religious work of the past, in ourselves or in the community, is to cramp the religious work of the future.

IV. We have Treated Sacred Things Irreverently. Ahaz laid hands on the brazen sea of the temple as if it had been a thing of naught. Remember that golden saying in 'Cymbeline,' 'Reverence is the angel of the world'.

V. We have Sinned Through Craven Fear. Those who have studied King Ahaz to our profit tell us that in all probability it was under the shadow of miserable fear he did this deed of wickedness. 'He feared' is the explanation of many a crime and many a sin.

VI. We have Preferred Self to God. The explanation of King Ahaz's sacrilege which some give us is that he wantonly robbed God's temple of this splendid sea, in order to place it in one of his idolhouses, or in order to make use of it in his palace. King Ahaz represents us all. We love self supremely unless Divine grace has changed our nature. 'Self-will is the last enemy to be subdued,' said Madame Guyon.

VII. We have Caused Others to Sin. Ahaz led a priest of God astray. 'Urijah the priest' was his trusty henchman. It is bad enough to sin alone, but to associate others in our ill-doing is criminal in degree.

VIII. We have Broken the Commandment of God. God had enjoined that the brazen sea be fashioned. And more God had given commandment that it be placed on the brazen oxen. All our failure and all our misery springs from our disobedience to God.

Dinsdale T. Young, The Crimson Book, p. 252.

References. XVII. 6-18. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture 2 Kings from chap. viii., p. 33. XVII. 15. C. Silvester Home, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxix. 1906, p. 235. XVII. 23-41. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. li. No. 2928. XVII. 25, 33, 34. Ibid. vol. li. No. 2929. XVII. 33. J. Addison Alexander, The Gospel of Jesus Christ, p. 395. H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, Sunday Sermonettes for a Year, p. 159. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture 2 Kings from chap. viii., etc., p. 40. XVII. 41. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxvii. No. 1622. XVIII. 1. H. P. Liddon, Penny Pulpit, No. 544.

Hezekiah and the Brazen Serpent

Ancient and Modern Idolatry

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 2 Kings 16". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/2-kings-16.html. 1910.