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Wednesday, September 27th, 2023
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 1

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Verse 1


As noted in the introduction to the first book of the Kings, the first book of the Kings and the second book of the Kings in the Hebrew Old Testament are one book. That both books form one book is clear from the transition from the first book of the Kings to the second book of the Kings. The second book of the Kings begins with the mention of the death of Ahab, of which the author of the two books Kings reports in the last chapter of the first book of the Kings (1 Kings 22:29-Matthew :). However, with this the first book of the Kings does not close. There follows a short report of the kingship of Jehoshaphat over Judah, probably because of his relationship with Ahab and Ahab’s son. After that some more announcements are made about Ahaziah, who succeeds his father Ahab as a king over Israel. That ends the first book of the Kings.

A plausible reason for a separation in the histories in one great book of Kings may be that it would otherwise should become too large a book. It is more difficult to give a plausible reason for making that separation as it has been done. As a possible reason it has been suggested that the separation was done the way it was done with the one great book of Samuel. 2 Samuel begins with the mention of the death of Saul and the second book of the Kings begins with the mention of the death of Ahab.

The description of the course of the histories in the second book of the Kings is done in a way that is somewhat comparable to the way in which the writer presents the course of the histories in the first book of the Kings to us. The first book of the Kings begins with the blessing and wisdom of Solomon and ends with the follies of the kings of the northern tribes kingdom. The history of the ten tribes realm begins with Jeroboam, the ‘trendsetter’ for all the succeeding kings of that realm, and ends with Ahab, the king who completely apostatized from God.

The beginning of the second book of the Kings is essentially a record of the grace of God by Elisha for an apostate nation. Despite this grace, the people slide completely away from God. The second book of the Kings ends with the deportation of the ten tribes by the king of Assyria and the deportation of the two tribes by the king of Babylon.

Moab Rebels Against Israel

After the death of Ahab, Moab rebels against Israel. Moab is indebted, but uses the change of power to withdraw from the power of Ahab’s successor. As a result, a large part of the income of the king of Israel is lost (2 Kings 3:4). The purpose of mentioning this fact is probably to indicate that God’s discipline is also felt politically and economically. If a king of God’s people turns away from God, it is also at the expense of his power over the enemies of God’s people.

Verse 2

Ahaziah Wants to Consult an Idol

The way Ahaziah follows (1 Kings 22:52-2 Thessalonians :) brings God’s discipline upon him. He falls out of the window and has to keep the bed. The fact that Ahaziah falls down from his upper chamber is opposite the way that Elijah is going, a way that is going higher and higher. In this chapter Elijah sits on a mountain and in the next chapter he is taken up into heaven.

Often the sickbed is the place where a person is given the opportunity to reflect on his way, an opportunity which God likes to use to point people to Himself. With Ahaziah things are different. His sickbed makes it clear on whom he places his hope. He turns to “the god of Ekron”. Ekron is a city of the Philistines.

Ahaziah sends messengers abroad, to the Philistines, to consult one of their gods, Baal-zebub, which means ‘lord of the flies’. He resorts to the demons to ask them how his illness will go. Ahaziah does not even ask whether the idol wants to heal him. He wants to know how he is going to end up. He asks for a prediction of the future. This is in direct contradiction with what God has said in His Word; this behavior is an abomination to Him (Deuteronomy 18:10-2 Kings :).

A lot of people are working today in Ahaziah’s way to satisfy their curiosity about the future. They do not resort to God’s Word, but seek salvation with soothsayers, horoscopes and other occult means. All these occult occupations are extremely dangerous. People who do this surrender to devilish powers.

Ahaziah’s action is an enormous insult to the LORD. Ahaziah completely ignores God. One of the worst things a person can do to another is to ignore him completely. This insult is suffered by God from the side of the leader of His people.

Verses 3-4

The Word of the LORD for Ahaziah

The LORD sends both in His indignation and in His faithfulness Elijah to the messengers with a word for Ahaziah. This way Ahaziah gets an answer sooner than he expects. Elijah must tell Ahaziah how the LORD sees his future. The messengers must convey the message. That message is the penetrating question: “Is it because there is no God in Israel …? That is the question that should bring Ahaziah to repentance.

The Lord also wants, through all kinds of events that happen to us, always point out that He is there. He wants us to know that we can go to Him with everything. This also means that we should not set our expectations on people or gods to know how things will go.

Isaiah also once spoke to the people in a way similar to what we hear here of Elijah (Isaiah 8:19-Song of Solomon :). In the days of Isaiah, the people resorted to spiritistic mediums, instead of accepting the signs and messages that God gives. Whoever does not believe in the Word of God seeks advice and help from other sources.

The LORD reproaches the people for this by asking two questions. The answer to these questions is contained in the question: “Should not a people consult their God? [Should they consult] the dead on behalf of the living?” (Isaiah 8:19). These are questions that correspond to the question that Ahaziah is asked. Instead of consulting the living God, the dead idols are consulted, but behind those dead idols are evil spirits (1 Corinthians 10:19-Proverbs :).

Verses 5-8

Ahaziah Recognizes Elijah

The messengers report on what Elijah has told them. It seems that they are not even aware that they have met Elijah. They talk about “a man”. Ahaziah then asks what he looked like. They can describe that man. From the description, Ahaziah draws the correct conclusion that it is Elijah. He did not forget Elijah.

Elijah’s clothing makes him a unique apparition. His clothes characterize him. He has a service of simplicity and therefore of strength. The clothes he wears carry that message, as it were. He does not walk in soft clothes, like the distinguished people (Matthew 11:8). John the baptist is also characterized by the simplicity of his clothing and the simplicity of his food (Matthew 3:4).

Can people also see from our attitude and behavior that we are not part of a world lying “in [the power of] the evil one” (1 John 5:19)? Can they see that within a Christianity where everything is determined by man’s thinking, we do not allow ourselves to be carried away by this thinking? Can God use us to give a clear testimony of Him, that He is there?

Verses 9-16

Ahaziah Wants to Capture Elijah

Ahaziah no longer has to go to the god of Ekron. He now knows where he stands with his illness. His sickbed will be his deathbed. Instead of accepting this and bowing before God, Ahaziah wants to kill Elijah. He believes in idolatrous superstition that he would break the curse – for that is how he sees Elijah’s announcement – if he eliminates Elijah. He only looks at the instrument and not at God. He sends a captain of fifty with his fifty to Elijah to bring him to him.

The captain finds Elijah, who sits lonely on top of the hill. Elijah sits there in peace and quiet. He is on a hilltop, the right place for a man of God. It speaks symbolically of his separation from a godless environment and of being close to God. The captain speaks to him as “man of God”. In doing so, he acknowledges who Elijah is. However, he does not bow down for him, but orders him to go with him by command of the king to eliminate.

Like the third captain, he could have bowed down and approached Elijah with the respect that suited him toward Elijah as a man of God. However, this is not the case with him. The captain is a guilty man and so are his men. They could all have listened to the message of the man of God and had to resist Ahaziah in his wicked mission.

Elijah’s response to the command of the captain consists of fire that he lets come down from heaven. The two times Elijah lets come down fire from heaven are the last acts of his service among the people. It is characteristic of its entire service, which is a service of judgment. In a way his service on the Carmel was lived without result, because the national revival that seemed to come on the Carmel did not take place. Then there was also fire from heaven. But that fire came down to the innocent sacrifice. Now the fire comes on people of God’s people, but a people who in their leader have completely surrendered themselves to the Baal.

Two of the disciples of the Lord Jesus also once want to let come down fire from heaven. They ask the Lord for permission to do so (Luke 9:54). However, it is not a good question. The Lord Jesus forbids them, for His service is not a service of judgment, but of grace (Luke 9:55-Titus :). It is, during His life on earth, not yet the day of revenge, it is not yet the time for the exercise of judgment. That time will come. In the future, men will appear who let fire come out of their mouths to consume their enemies (Revelation 11:5).

Apparently Ahaziah doesn’t mind that fifty-one people of his army have been killed by God’s fire. He remains unrepentant. Once again he sends a captain with his fifty. This man acts in the spirit of his predecessor and his king. He also calls Elijah “man of God”, but he also lacks the corresponding reverence due to the man of God. He orders Elijah to come with him even more strongly than his predecessor. In the words “come down quickly” it is said that he sees Elijah as a troublesome, opposing child. That ‘child’ has already said ‘no’ once, but he shouldn’t dare to do it again with him.

The man has not let himself been warned by the judgment of his predecessor. The same judgment strikes him. As the captain has ordered more strongly, the description of the judgment is also stronger. Now there is not only talk of “fire came down from heaven” (2 Kings 1:10), but of “the fire of God came down from heaven” (2 Kings 1:12).

Ahaziah remains unrepentant even after the death of the second captain with his fifty. He sends a third captain with his fifty. This man shows a different mind. We see him bowing down before Elijah on his knees out of due respect for the man of God. He acknowledges the justice of judgment over his two predecessors. He realizes that only grace can save him and his fifties and appeals to that. Elijah receives a word from the LORD to go with this captain and not let the fire come down on him and his fifty.

When Elijah comes to Ahaziah, he has nothing else to say to him on behalf of the LORD but what Ahaziah already knew by what Elijah said to the messengers. God does not change His thoughts about a man if that man does not change his thoughts about Him.

Verses 17-18

Death of Ahaziah

With Ahaziah, after all that has happened, there is no sign of repentance. He dies in his sins. Ahaziah dies “according to the word of the LORD which Elijah had spoken”. It testifies of the truth that God does not change His word. It also bears witness to the faithfulness of Elijah who spoke this word and no other word. This is also an important indication for us: we only must speak God’s Word.

Because Ahaziah has no son, his brother Jehoram becomes king in his place.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 2 Kings 1". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/2-kings-1.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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