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This Chapter opens with relating a circumstance of sin in the conduct of Ahaziah. Elijah is commissioned to send an awful message to him. The king, in consequence, commands the prophet to appear before him. His messengers are destroyed. Ahaziah dieth, and Jehoram succeeds him in the kingdom.
2 Kings 1:1
The rebellion of Moab is a rod in God's hand to correct his people. Blessed are those corrections which lead our souls to bear the rod and who hath appointed it. Micah 6:9 .
Reader! to what a wretched state was Israel reduced, in consequence of their idolatry! It is almost incredible to conceive how the mind of any man could ever be so degenerate as to fancy a dumb idol could speak. The name of this dunghill god is remarkable. The devil himself is called Beel-zebub. And this god of Ekron is Baal-zebub. Baal is the well known name of lord: and Zebub signifies a fly. But wherefore Ekron's image was so named, it is difficult to form an opinion. Are not the doctrines of charms, and omens, and what is called fortune telling, and the like superstitions, similar to the consulting this dunghill idol? I wish many who call themselves Christians, would learn the wickedness, as well as folly of such conduct. How lovely the prophet Elijah appears in his open reproof. Oh! for faithfulness in all the servants o f Jesus!
It is somewhat remarkable that the prophet Elijah, and John the Baptist, should have been as much alike in dress as they were in their commission. Our dear Lord pointed to John as the Elias of the gospel. If ye will receive it, (said Christ) this is Elias which was for to come. Matthew 11:14 . Observe the alarms of a guilty conscience in the case of Ahaziah. His own fears interpreted to him that this must be the servant of the Lord, whose religion he had despised. Like his father, he knew that no prophet of the Lord could prophecy good concerning him, but evil. See 1 Kings 22:8 .
This is a most interesting passage. Observe the rage and folly of the king, in sending to seize upon the prophet. Did he hope to alter the sentence by destroying the prophet? Could he indeed conceive so desperate a thing, as to think that the Lord's servants would be unprotected in the Lord's cause? But if the king was a wicked fool, how much greater this captain of his, with his fifty men! It is plain, he either did not believe him to be a man of God, or if he did, that he treated both him and his God with equal contempt. But what are we to think of Elijah? The apostle tells us that he was a man of like passions with ourselves: James 5:17 . Reader! mark in the circumstances of God's best servants, how much all men need grace to subdue their angry passions. In making this observation, however, let it be remembered, that it is not made with a view to condemn the prophet, in the destruction of the captain with his fifty. Perhaps the awful example here made by their death was needful. And indeed, in the Lord's answering by fire and consuming them, it is plain that it was so. Elijah, therefore, did not exercise this authority given him, for himself or his own safety, but for the glory of the Lord. But what I particularly wish the Reader to observe with me in this history is, how different the servant is from the Lord. When the disciples of Jesus desired permission to do as Elias had done, to a village of the Samaritans, how sweetly did our Lord rebuke them: Ye know not (said Christ) what manner of spirit ye are of. Luke 9:53-42.9.56 . Oh! thou dearest Jesus! how lovely dost thou appear? And how precious is it, to see thee in thy gracious features of character, in that thou wert truly holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. Hebrews 7:26 . Reader! behold in the awful death of this captain and his fifty, how jealous the Lord is of his honour! See also, what interest the Lord's servants have in the court of heaven? And observe, moreover, how careful the Lord is of his people. Take heed that ye offend not one of these little ones. Matthew 18:10; Matthew 18:10 .
Had not this wretched captain with his fifty, heard what had taken place? If the king was hardened and bound with the blindness of iniquity! was it needful that he should follow him to his ruin? This man exceeded in presumption, if possible, the former. For he had not only the awful example of his ruin before his face, but his demand on Elijah is more impious. He not only demanded him to come down, but to come down quickly.
How lovely doth this third captain appear, in thus intreating for mercy! He comes to Elijah because it was the king's command! But he comes to sue for favor. Reader! when the sinner, humbled under a sense of sin, and conscious of his undeservings, comes to the Lord God of the prophet's son, Elijah's Master; and throws himself upon the free bounty and sovereign grace of Jesus; oh! how we feel interested in his cause? He must succeed! Jesus waits to be gracious. He will save; that is, he will be Jesus. How beautifully the prophet describes this: Zephaniah 3:17 .
We are not told who this angel was. But may we not conjecture? When we recollect how much our Almighty Jesus, who is expressly called the angel of the covenant, delighted to manifest himself, in those early ages of his church, as if thereby, he meant to teach the faithful, that he longed for the fulness of time to come, when he would openly tabernacle among them; and when we consider, that this Angel of Jehovah's presence saved them, and in his love, and in his pity he redeemed them, and bare them, and carried them all the days of old: I confess I am inclined to imagine that I see Jesus, in all such sweet moments of communion with his servants. Isaiah 63:9 .
Oh! how faithful is the prophet, when the Lord God of the prophets strengthens him! And, oh! how timid is the sinner, when the hand of God is upon him! Behold, Reader! the sure end of the ungodly: he shall not, be cannot stand in the judgment; nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. The way of the ungodly shalt perish. Psalms 1:5-19.1.6 .
BEHOLD , my soul, awfully behold, in the sad example of Ahaziah and his captains of fifty, with their fifties, how sin hardens the heart, and renders men ripe for punishment! See in them thine own picture by nature; and, but for grace, how justly the features would be marked still. To what a desperate length should I have run, had not the mercy of my God interposed, and stopped me in my daring career! Enlisted under the banner of sin and Satan; wearing his livery, and equipped with his armour, bow readily in those days of unregeneracy, should I have contended with his faithful servants, and from ignorance, malice, and deceitful lusts, have dared to oppose all that was gracious. Blessed Jesus! at what expense of love, of grace, of mercy, and of blood, hast thou re deemed me, and made the deadly weapons of opposition fall from my hands.
To whom but thee, thou Holy One of Israel, who hast made our peace in the blood, of thy cross, shall I ascribe this great salvation? Yes! blessed Jesus! thou, and thou alone, as thy Father's precious gift to poor sinners, art the sole deliverer of the captive; for thou hast indeed taken away the captives from the mighty, and the prey of the terrible thou hast delivered. And now, Lord! what is the language of my heart, but like the poor submissive suppliant at the foot of Elijah, I would say to thee, as he did to the prophet; let my life, I beseech thee, be precious in thy sight. Oh! Jesus! thou Man of God, thou Man at God's right-hand, who art fellow to the Lord of Hosts; again I say, as he did, let my life be precious in thy sight! Haste then, cone down quickly, O Lord, and let my soul live before thee. So shall I live to thy glory while here below, and to thy redeeming praise when thou shalt take me to thyself above.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Kings 1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany