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Thursday, September 28th, 2023
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 1

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-18

2 Kings 1:2 . Go, enquire of Baal-zebub, whether I shall recover. בעל זבוב Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron. The LXX read Βααλ μυιαν , the lord of flies, because they swarmed about his bloody temple; but the Philistines called him Baalshemin, lord of heaven. Dr. Lightfoot gives another name of this idol, from the rabbins. Baal-zebul; that is, lord of dung or dunghill. In politer language, lord of idols or idolatry. They regard Satan as presiding over the gentile temples, and uttering the oracles of those places. Augustine fully admits that demons, by their superior knowledge of the state of the atmosphere, did deliver oracles concerning rain, and some other events.

2 Kings 1:9 . Thou man of God come down. This captain was sent by the advice of Jezebel, who wished to feast her eyes with the blood of the prince of prophets. Imbibing the spirit of the court, the captain calls him a man of God by way of contempt; and he instantly received the punishment of his sin, as did those who afterwards mocked Elisha. The second captain, and his guard of fifty men, coming in the same spirit, received the same punishment. But the third, humbled under the mighty hand of God, begged his life. A soldier must never fight against Omnipotence.

2 Kings 1:10 . If I be a man of God, then let fire come down. If the Lord saved the Hebrews from Pharaoh by water, why might he not save the life of the only surviving prophet by fire?


When Adam rebelled against his Creator in paradise, the beasts of the earth, as though influenced by high example, rebelled against him. So it was with the house of Ahab, and the king of Moab. After a grievous offence against God, there is often a present, and also a remote, but heavier affliction which follows.

Ahaziah, succeeding his father, walked in all the idolatrous practices of his father and mother, and in all the sins of Jeroboam. Therefore while he was young, and promising himself a happy reign, God, in compassion to his people, permitted him to receive a mortal stroke by a fall from an upper window. How often is danger near when we think ourselves the most secure. What sinner is safe, unprotected by the blood of the everlasting covenant.

This prince, arrested by an invisible hand, discovered a most superstitious mind, and a glaring infidelity of heart against the Lord. In his own gods he had no faith, and in the God of Israel he had no hope; he sent to Baalzebub to know whether he should recover. What an insult to all his idols, and to all his prophets. What a provocation to the Lord!

When this man sought a vestige of hope, while in his sins, the Lord confirmed his despair. Elijah, with the divine message, intercepted the embassy on the road, and not a little reproached them with the folly of their errand, seeing the marvels which had been accorded to the seed of Abraham for a thousand years, that they should think there was no God in Israel; and sent them back with a positive declaration from the Lord, that their master should not recover. The king’s suspense therefore was short. His embassy recited the facts, and so described the prophet that the person of Elijah was recognized. And now, behold that guilty and desponding countenance. See those baleful and rolling eyes. He must die, and he seems determined not to die. The anguish of his soul makes him a terror to himself, and to all his domestics. Conceiving their life to be in danger, they tremble, and seek their safety in flight. His prophets, conscious of being obnoxious, dare not approach; and his physicians, embarrassed and afraid, do it only with the forced promises of a positive recovery, while their looks sufficiently contradict all they say. Oh that the wicked, the infidel, the proud would learn wisdom from the numerous and instructive cases which all ages afford of the consummate misery of certain characters in the last moments of desponding life.

But the most lamentable disposition was the enmity of this prince against the prophet Elijah. Yet what harm had this prophet done to the dying king? Nay, what persecutions had he not suffered from the family, because he had told them the truth? Yet if Ahaziah must die; if on God he can inflict no revenge, he will at least be avenged on Elijah. He protests that this prophet shall be among the number which lament his fall. He instantly dispatches a military escort to bring him in chains to Samaria. Oh how terrible for this man to die in war and open contest with Omnipotence! Wicked kings are often surrounded with wicked servants. The captain of this escort, full of his master’s spirit, found Elijah contemplating the works of God from an elevated rock in Carmel. Come down, said he, thou man of God. I am come to convince thee that thou art a blind prophet, and unable to foresee thy own destruction. Elijah, finding his mission discredited by this profane man, after so many signal works, proved it yet again by his destruction. He commanded a sheet of the electric fluid to descend and consume both him and his men. A second captain came in the same spirit, and received the same punishment. The third, seeing the visitations of God, prostrated to beg his life, and offered the prophet a safe protection. Being admonished by an angel, Elijah went to the hardened king, not indeed to comfort him, but to clench the nail of his former denunciation. Thus God in some notorious cases permits the church to use her mysterious power of punishment. Acts 5:5. 1 Corinthians 5:5. St. Paul had power to come with a rod; and he delivered two blasphemers over to Satan. If the church of God, after long praying for the conversion of an oppressor, should be led by the Spirit to pray for his destruction, I would not for the whole world be in his situation.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Kings 1". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/2-kings-1.html. 1835.
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