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2 Kings 8:8 . Take a present. See on 1 Kings 14:3.
2 Kings 8:10 . Thou mayest certainly recover. Aye, say as you all do, both physicians and courtiers. Cry aloud, for Baal is a god. This was said in irony, to rebuke their cruel politeness. The Lord hath showed me that he shall surely die. The rabbins say that לא is written for לו . The Romans had a law that it was death to announce the decease of the emperor, except by the senate! But a rhetorician was applauded for doing it by a figure, called circumlocution. He said that Cæsar’s servants had done that in their master’s absence which they would have done, if he had been dead.
2 Kings 8:11 . He settled his countenance stedfastly and the man of God wept. He saw the character of Hazael’s conquests, having the gift of “discerning spirits.” This man’s consecration operated as the sop to Judas, first to destroy others, by which he destroyed himself. With the oil, the mania of conquest seized his soul. He magnified his commission against Israel, invaded Philistia, and Jerusalem opened her gates on his return. The Ammonites also were subdued. Then God, who in anger made him king, in anger cast his rod away.
2 Kings 8:13 . Thou shalt be king. These things are certainly set down in due order of time, though the Lord had commanded Jehu and Hazael to be anointed long before. Ahab’s repentance had obtained the reprieve, as recorded in 1 Kings 21:29.
2 Kings 8:15 . Hazael took a thick cloth, wetted in water, to stop the breath of the king. He was a regicide: he began his reign with murder, and waded through seas of blood, till he reached the dark shores of hades: the scourge of God to a guilty people, as Tamerlane used to say of himself.
2 Kings 8:20 . Edom revolted, and thus the prediction of Isaac was fulfilled. Genesis 27:40.
2 Kings 8:26 . Two and twenty years old. This reading is followed by the Jews; and that in 2 Chronicles 22:2, is thought to be an error. Athaliah the daughter of Omri. She was the daughter of Ahab, but children were called the sons and daughters of their more distinguished ancestors; as Jethro, Hobab, and Raguel, are called the fathers of Moses’ wife.
When a child is afflicted, the parent seems to forget all his other children, that he may care solely for that which is sick. So it is with our heavenly Father; he is peculiarly present with his people in the water, in the fire, and in every time of danger. He removed the faithful out of Judea, before the Romans brought the uttermost vengeance on the land; and he inspired St. Peter to write and comfort them when scattered abroad. On the same protecting principle he now removed this most valuable woman to eat bread in Philistia, while Israel had short harvests, a seven years’ famine. Why should a good man ever despair in the day of tribulation? When God is pleased to sift a nation as wheat, it is morally, and in his esteem, of far greater importance than the temporal inconvenience of his people; and especially as that inconvenience is rendered subservient to their greater purity, and more extensive usefulness.
As there was a care in sending this widow and her orphan away, so there was an equal care over her return. Elisha had most prudently dismissed Gehazi, after his flagrant falsehoods and crimes; but from the good spirit he was now in, it would seem he had profited by the tremendous strokes of the rod, for he spoke well of his master in Samaria. So it providentially happened that he was engaged in reciting to the king the great piety, the glorious ministry, and the stupendous miracles of his master, when the Shunemite returned to claim her land, which had been seized on some political pretense. God is truly the widow’s husband, and the orphan’s friend. This favourable incident, in a moment of family crisis, strongly marks his unceasing care over his church and people.
Elisha was not only in great celebrity in his own country, but in the kingdom of Damascus, and consequently in all the neighbouring states. Hence Benhadad, the greatest enemy of Israel, having heard during the sickness that the prophet approached his capital, sent Hazael with a present to consult him concerning his recovery. His conscience told him that his idol Rimmon was no god. Rimmon was deaf to prayer, and devoid of pity to the king. How strange that the gentile nations, who derived from the Jews a considerable knowledge of the true God, should nevertheless be so grossly carried away with the worship of idols.
We see on some occasions that the presents and the humiliations of certain wicked men are totally unavailing. Elisha came not to comfort the king, but to execute the sentence which God had long pronounced against him. 1 Kings 19:0. He came to designate Hazael to the throne, that the house of Benhadad might receive its punishment for a long series of vexatious and unprovoked wars against Israel. He allowed him, as God allows of all evil, if he were so resolved, to tell the king that he might certainly recover; for it really seems to have been a crime punishable with death to tell kings that they should die! Hazael, learning the true pleasure of heaven concerning his master, was overjoyed, and had not patience to wait a few days, but cruelly suffocated him. He who had murdered myriads, spending his whole life in bloody wars, must himself drink the bitter cup, and die by the hands of him whom he had raised to dignity.
We learn farther, that wicked men have not unfrequently too high an opinion of their own virtue. When the man of God told Hazael of the cruelties he would exercise on the children of Israel, he replied, Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this? And who would think that a man distinguished by good sense, would be guilty of so many follies? Who would think that a man distinguished by so many acts of benevolence, would now and then be guilty of so many exactions and unfair advantages in trade? And who would think a man distinguished by so much modesty and politeness, would on certain occasions be guilty of so much intemperance and lawless desire? Nay, he himself, recoiling at the crime, would say with Hazael, Is thy servant a dog that he should do this horrid thing? But it is the day of temptation which makes manifest the heart. Knowing therefore the depravity of our nature, let us seek a new heart and the image of God.
We have here a farther account of the degeneracy of David’s line by intermarrying with Ahab’s house, and by living as that apostate family. Continuing still in their iniquities, we must expect to see repeated strokes of divine vengeance, and in a way which hardly any two kingdoms ever knew before. So it must ever be with wicked men, yea with all the families and nations which forget God.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany