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Elijah Prophesies Ahaziah's Death
v. 1. Then Moab rebelled against Israel, after having been tributary since the time of David, 2 Samuel 8:2, after the death of Ahab. The success of the Syrians, not only in regaining their independence, but in administering a severe defeat to the forces of Israel, had probably encouraged the Moabites to take this step.
v. 2. And Ahaziah fell down through a lattice in his upper chamber that was in Samaria, through a latticed window-opening such as were common in the Orient, and was sick, being severely injured by his fall. And he sent messengers, and said unto them, Go, enquire of Baal-zebub (Fly-god), the god of Ekron, the northernmost of the five Philistine city-states, whether I shall recover of this disease. So Ahaziah, probably at the advice of his wicked mother Jezebel, turned to the heathen idol for information and help, just as people in our days reject the truth of Scripture, but eagerly believe every form of superstition.
v. 3. But the Angel of the Lord, the son of God as He revealed himself in the Old Testament, said to Elijah the Tishbite, who was still active in his prophetic office, Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria and say unto them, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel that ye go to enquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? It was a sharp question of earnest reproof for this new evidence of wickedness in the king.
v. 4. Now, therefore, thus saith the Lord, as a punishment upon the king for this new exhibition of idolatry, Thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die. And Elijah departed, namely, to carry out the command of the Lord.
v. 5. And when the messengers turned back unto him, the king of Israel, he, knowing that they could not have made the trip to Ekron in this short time, said unto them, Why are ye now turned back?
v. 6. And they said unto him, There came a man up to meet us, a man unknown to the messengers, and said unto us, Go, turn again unto the king that sent you, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel that thou sendest to enquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? The blame which was placed upon them all by the prophet they now lay upon the king alone. Therefore thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die.
v. 7. And he said unto them, What manner of man was he which came up to meet you, literally, "What was the manner," the peculiarity, "of the man," what special mark of distinction did you note in his dress or bearing, and told you these words?
v. 8. And they answered him, He was an hairy man, wearing a rough garment of camel's hair, and girt with a girdle of leather, instead of the customary one of linen or cotton, about his loins. His entire dress and appearance thus proclaimed the preacher of repentance, reproving the luxury of the people of his days. And he said, It is Elijah the Tishbite, he recognized him at once from the description given. The position of preachers of repentance is not a pleasant occupation, but they are needed in every age of the world's existence, especially also in these last days of sore distress.
The Punishment of Ahaziah's Servants and his Death
v. 9. Then the king sent unto him, Elijah, a captain of fifty with his fifty, some act of violence being intended. And he, the captain, went up to him; and, behold, he sat on the top of an hill, where he lived. And he spake unto him, in a tone and form of harsh command, Thou man of God, the king hath said, Come down. It was not a respectful address, but a haughty, contemptuous, and scoffing insult.
v. 10. And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven and consume thee and thy fifty. This has been transcribed as follows: "If I be a man of God, as thou sayest, but dost not think, then I am not bound to obey the king, but God, nor am I subject to his power, but to God's, who will make thee know that He judges in the earth. " And there came down fire from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.
v. 11. Again, also, he sent unto him another captain of fifty with his fifty, he persisted in his stubborn willfulness. And he answered and said unto him, sharing the king's contempt for the prophet, as the first captain had, O man of God, thus hath the king said, Come down quickly. His command was even more peremptory than that of the first messenger.
v. 12. And Elijah answered and said unto them, If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume thee and thy fifty. And the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty. In either case the men were guilty of a deliberate mockery of the prophetical office in the person of Elijah, and therefore of the Lord Himself, hence the quick and terrible punishment, similar to those which are occasionally meted out by the Lord in our day, and which the infidels vainly try to explain away.
v. 13. And he, the king, still determined to carry out his will, sent again a captain of the third fifty with his fifty. And the third captain of fifty went up, but in an entirely different spirit, so far as his own person was concerned, and came and fell on his knees before Elijah, and besought him, and said unto him, with all humility, O man of God, I pray thee, let my life and the life of these fifty, thy servants, be precious in thy sight, namely, by not calling down God's punishment upon them.
v. 14. Behold, there came fire down from heaven and burned up the two captains of the former fifties with their fifties; therefore let my life now be precious in thy sight. He acknowledged the righteous punishment of God and begged to be spared.
v. 15. And the Angel of the Lord, the same who had directed him to deliver the message to the king's ambassadors,
v. 3. said unto Elijah, Go down with him; be not afraid of him, that is, of the king. And he arose and went down with him unto the king.
v. 16. And he, without giving Ahaziah an opportunity to heap maledictions upon him, said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Forasmuch as thou hast sent messengers to enquire of Baalzebub, the god of Ekron, is it not because there is no God in Israel to enquire of His Word, this being the standard to which all appeals should be made at all times? Therefore thou shalt not come down off that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die.
v. 17. So he died according to the word of the Lord which Elijah had spoken. And Jehoram, his brother, reigned in his stead, in the second year of Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, who was probably made coregent by his father at the time when the latter joined in the campaign against the Syrians with Ahab, because he had no son.
v. 18. Now, the rest of the acts of Ahaziah which he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? The story of Elijah's punishment of the blasphemous captains and their bands is referred to in the New Testament, Luke 9:54 ff. As God had a great deal of patience with the godless kings of Israel, so He, in the New Testament, much prefers using His mercy; for it is His purpose to seek and to save lost sinners. Nevertheless, when men persist in rejecting and blaspheming Christ and His salvation, they must expect the well-earned damnation to come upon them.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 2 Kings 1". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Epiphany