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Thursday, July 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 10

Kelly Commentary on Books of the BibleKelly Commentary

Verses 1-36

But of this dreadful work all was not over, for Ahab had seventy sons (2 Kings 10:1-36). It seemed utterly beyond the scope of man's thought that such a family could fall seventy sons. Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria. Jehu has to deal with them, and he was just the man to do it without a feeling. So he sent to the elders of Samaria. Jezebel had written a letter to the elders on another errand to dispossess Naboth of his inheritance. Most solemnly does God judge the deed now. Jehu writes a letter to the elders of Samaria that there might be a complete extermination of the seed of Ahab. "As soon as this letter cometh to you, seeing your master's sons are with you, and there are with you chariots and horses, a fenced city also, and armour, look even out the best and the meetest of your master's sons, and set him on his father's throne, and fight for your master's house. But they were exceedingly afraid, and said, Behold, two kings stood not before him: how then shall we stand?" So he wrote a letter the second time, and now his full and true meaning became evident. "If ye be mine, and if ye will hearken unto my voice, take ye the heads of the men your master's sons, and come to me to Jezreel by tomorrow this time."

The deed was done. "It came to pass when the letter came to them, that they took the king's sons and slew seventy persons, and put their heads in baskets, and sent them to Jezreel." And there they were found, and Jehu goes to vindicate the bloody deed. "It came to pass in the morning that he went out and stood, and said to all the people, Ye be righteous; behold, I conspired against my master and slew him, but who slew all these? Know now that there shall fall unto the earth nothing of the word of Jehovah which Jehovah spake concerning the house of Ahab; for Jehovah hath done that which he spake by his servant Elijah. So Jehu slew all that remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, and all his great men, and his kinsfolks, and his priests, until he left him none remaining." Thus the word of the Lord was most fully accomplished.

But Jehu was in the spirit of this unsparing vengeance, and as he goes there meets him the brethren of Ahaziah king of Judah. They, too, were not a few. When he asked who they were, they answered, "We are the brethren of Ahaziah, and we go down to salute the children of the king and the children of the queen." How solemnly the hand of God was stretched out! Their father, brother of the king, had gone down with the king, and he had met his doom there. Now his brethren of the same seed royal had gone down to that house evil communications corrupting good manners. They had "gone down to salute the children of the king and the children of the queen. And he said, Take them alive. And they took them alive and slew them at the pit of the shearing-house, even two and forty men." How plainly was the hand of God stretched out in judgment. "Neither left he any of them."

We see him next with Jehonadab, the son of Rechab. There was a certain measure of companionship between the two men, for Jehonadab was stern, according to his own principles, and Jehu, too, was carrying out in his way the work that he had been raised up of God for. But there was more than this in the mind of Jehu. It was not only the feeling of the need of judgment in the royal houses, but there was a worse evil against the name of Jehovah in Israel the worship of Baal. To this, then, he applies his skill. He proposes a grand feast of all the worshippers of Baal, gives himself out as if he were the patron of the worship, calls for all the worshippers and priests of Baal, and in the most careful manner looks that there shall be none of the worshippers of Jehovah among them. Accordingly all were gathered together into the same building, their hearts as elated as the hearts of those that clave to Jehovah must have fallen and sunk within them that one so bloodthirsty and so determined was the apparent patron of Baal, and the enemy of Jehovah. But here, at least, Jehu could keep his own counsel. And Jehu brings into the house his soldiers, his captains, and men of war, and they smote them with the edge of the sword. "And they brought forth the images out of the house of Baal, and burned them. And they brake down the image of Baal, and brake down the house of Baal, and made it a draught house unto this day. Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel."

So far although it might have seemed to be, and no doubt was, a most fearful evil the utter dishonour of God which Jehu had laid his hands upon, still we see how little the heart of the man was according to God. "Howbeit, from the sins which Jeroboam the son of Nebat who made Israel to sin, Jehu departed not from after them, to wit, the golden calves that were in Bethel, and that were in Dan." There was a plague spot, and every unregenerate and unrenewed man manifests it. He that cares for the will of God will not care for this part of His will to the disparagement of that. And this is just exactly what the apostle James says so truly, that the man that fails in one point is guilty of all, because, if there were a conscience towards God, that one point would have its value. James is not speaking of a failure. He is not speaking of a person who, desiring to do the will of God, breaks down through carelessness or levity. That alas! is the portion of every soul who is off his guard. What James speaks of is wilfulness and evil wilfulness, though it may be only shown in one particular way. But such is not a soul that is born of God. No man that is born of God will give himself up deliberately and wilfully to sin, even though it may be in the least thing. He may have to mourn, he may have to be ashamed, he may have to judge himself and hate himself, but that very thing shows that it is not a thing done deliberately and systematically, and without conscience. On the contrary, where he fails he grieves over his failure before God.

Now James describes nothing of this kind, but the plain, positive and uncared-for infraction of the law of God. Here we see it in Jehu. Whatever might be the zeal of Jehu against the guilty king of Israel, the guilty king of Judah, and the worship of Baal, there was a reserve, there was an inner chamber of the heart that was not reached yet, and there was an idol there, and that idol was that old idolatry the calves of gold. The reason is plain. Jehu cared for himself and not for God, and the golden calves were a political religion which it suited the policy of the ten tribes to maintain; for had the ten tribes had no calves of gold they had returned to the allegiance of Jehovah in Jerusalem. It was the grand means of having another centre, for had Jerusalem been the one centre for the ten tribes, as well as for the two, the twelve tribes of Israel had united, and had they united in worship of God they had united under the same king. But in order to make the breach, therefore, distinct and wide, and widening, between the two kingdoms, Jeroboam, the founder of the kingdom of Israel, Jeroboam the son of Nebat, had devised this most crafty scheme. In order to make a kingdom he must make a religion, for if there be the dissolution of a common bond so important as religion, and if men's minds are divided in religion, you cannot count upon them in politics. That is just one of the great causes of political weakness in the present state of the world, for there is no such thing as cohesion, and consequently all political foundations are breaking in every land and tongue. So it was seen that it must be then. Jeroboam began this, and Jehu had no intention of giving it up. He dearly loved the kingdom; he dearly loved his place. He loved it better than God the man not born of God. Hence, therefore, whatever might be his apparent zeal, it had its limits. Nay, further, it utterly failed, for the worship of the calves was still maintained by Jehu. Unbelief is never consistent. Faith may fail, but still faith desires consistency. Faith cannot be happy without consistency. Jehu had no conscience about it. Jehu took no care to walk in the law of the Jehovah God of Israel with all his heart, for he departed not from the sin of Jeroboam which made Israel to sin.

The consequence was that Jehovah pronounces upon him. His comparative fidelity would be met by God, and to the fourth generation there should sit upon the throne of Israel kings of Jehu's house. Israel had a short lived tenure given to it, but out of that tenure Jehu's house was to command for four generations. So God accomplished. But there was to be no real permanent line, for Jehu had shown no real conscience towards God. How different from David! David's heart was to build Jehovah a house, Jehovah must take the first place: Jehovah would build David a house. He would give it to David's son to build Him a house. Thus it was then that God laid the foundation in that very thing of a permanent line of Judah not of Israel.

But we have here a remarkable instance of God's government. The fidelity of Jehu, as far as it went, brought him a measure of blessing in this world from God. Even a bad man, if faithful in certain things, may be owned by God, and God will never allow Himself to be the debtor of any man. Therefore if the faithfulness be only for the world, in the world the man will be paid. Jehu had no thought for eternity. In these days, then, Jehovah began to cut Israel short. It was plain that there could not be a blessing a real true blessing. Jehu still pursuing the road of Jeroboam made it impossible; and this accordingly is the way in which his reign closes.

Bibliographical Information
Kelly, William. "Commentary on 2 Kings 10". Kelly Commentary on Books of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/wkc/2-kings-10.html. 1860-1890.
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