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Bible Commentaries

Kelly Commentary on Books of the Bible

2 Kings 9

Verses 1-37

We now enter upon the solemn stroke of judgment which it pleased God to execute at this time; first, within Israel, and at the hands either of men raised up in their midst, or from without, until at last it pleased God to sweep away the ten tribes from the land of their inheritance. An evil time may be one when God is pleased in His government to employ the rough instrument; and this is one principle of God's ways in His government that we do well to consider. God's employment of a man is by no means the seal of God's approval of his person. We see it in the case before us. Jehu was a man in whom God had no complacency, nor could He have. For there is one feature that belongs to the family of faith, without which there is no communion with God. This is shown from the very beginning of life in the soul, and that is, repentance toward God. And Jehu had not this. Whatever might be his zeal, and whatever, too, the righteousness, to a certain extent, of his action according to the sovereign will of God, he had no brokenness of spirit. He had never measured himself in the presence of God, and repentance is distinguished by this above all others, that whereas faith may be the perception of the truth, as no doubt it is, still it is not a mere mental one; for the door of all blessing to the soul is the conscience, and the Spirit of God awakening the conscience. Unless light enter by that door it cannot be trusted, and the way in which the entrance of the light acts is not merely to give the perception of God's character in a way in which it has never been seen before, but it always shows itself in dealing with the soul of him that sees God.

Hence, you never can separate real faith from real repentance; and as the one is the eye open to see God as revealed in His own Son in a way in which He was never seen before I am speaking now, of course, of the full Christian knowledge of God; the principle is the same all through, but still I use it now as applicable to our own souls I say that as faith is the eye that is open by the Holy Ghost to see God revealing Himself in Christ, so, along with that, the eye sees, spiritually, what it cannot naturally. It sees within as well as without; it sees backward as well as forward. It sees, not only the object of faith which God has presented, but, along with that, it invariably sees ourselves; and this is very often the way in which you will detect a faith that is not of God, because it is quite within the capacity of the human spirit to take a great deal of truth, and a person may be zealous for the truth, too orthodox after a sort as the apostle Paul speaks in the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans of the unrighteousness of them that hold the truth in unrighteousness. And the word is particularly emphatic. It is not merely those that hold the truth loosely; they may be very tenacious, they may be exceedingly keen for points of dogma. And this is supposed in that place. It is persons that hold firm and fast the truth, but what is the good of it if it is held in unrighteousness? Hence, therefore, they come under a more than ordinary judgment of God. Unrighteousness anywhere is evil, but specially where the truth is held ever so fast in unrighteousness is it abomination. And, sorrowful to say, so it is always where the testimony of God is found. It was so in Israel, for they had the truth in a way that the Gentiles had not; and Christendom now has the truth in a way in which Israel had not. Hence, therefore, the apostle brings in the word as a most solemn warning, not merely as descriptive of what was already a past thing, but a solemn hint of that which was coming to pass.

Now Jehu was one of those. He had a perception of the truth to a certain extent. He had a horror of Baal, but he had no true care for God, and he proved it by this, that he had no brokenness of spirit, no conscience, therefore, towards God as to his own faith. Quick as lightning to see the failures of others and to judge them, particularly where their judgment would be for his own interest, Jehu drove furiously through all the Baal worship of Israel. This is the man that God was pleased to use for His execution of judgment in that day. Far different was the spirit of Elisha, but Elisha would accomplish the purposes of God, and therefore directs the young man, the prophet, to take the oil, for doubtless there might have been a hesitation. God gave spiritual judgment, if to any man, to His prophets, and there may well, therefore, have been hesitation both on the part of Elisha to send, and to the young man to be sent, upon such an errand. But there is one thing which answers all questions the will of God. God does all things wisely, all things righteously; and there is a suitability, too, when we come to think of the matter, that so very unlovely an instrument should be employed for so unlovely a work. Jehu, at any rate, is singled out and has his bloody commission entrusted to him. He was to deal with the whole house of Ahab; he was to cut off every male, he was to make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. He was to deal even with Jezebel, so that the dogs should eat of her in Jezreel, and there should be none to bury her. We shall see how punctually all was fulfilled according to the word of God.

Jehu then comes forth, and the captains asked in astonishment what had he to do with that "mad fellow" (2 Kings 9:11) a word we do well to consider for so a prophet appeared! a true prophet of Jehovah! This was his appearance to the eye of the men of the world a mad fellow. The world was just the same in Israel that it was afterwards in the days of the apostles, who were set forth, as the apostle so touchingly says, alas, as the off-scouring of all men! So they were regarded then. And, beloved friends, bear with me if I remind every one that is here, so, more or less, the scorn and contempt of the world must be just in proportion to our entrance into the mind of God now. Be not deceived. I admit that there will be a change, but that change has not yet come. The world is the same unchanged world now the circumstances, no doubt, varied. The texture, the colour of them may be changed a little, but the material is the same the real condition and relation to God just the same as before. I speak not of outward privileges, they are incomparably greater; I speak of the inner heart of the world. It is no better; if possible, worse. No doubt there will be a change, but that bright day is reserved for Jesus. He that suffered must have the glory. Till then we must be content to suffer with Christ.

We see the spirit of it in this prophet; in the contemptuous expression "of these captains about a messenger of God. Jehu answers, "Ye know the man and his communication." They were well known outwardly; how little inwardly! They said, "It is false; tell us now." He tells it plainly out. Jehu was not a man to keep a secret. "Then they hasted, and took every man his garment, and put it under him on the top of the stairs, and blew with trumpets, saying, Jehu is king." The very men that despised the prophet were well disposed to act upon the prophecy. Such is the spirit of man. The reason is evident: it suited their ambition, and, further, it made what even they could not but feel in conscience for man has a conscience whatever may be the wickedness of his life and they were well aware that what was now going on, both in Judah and in Israel, was utterly contrary to God. Although they had no feeling for God's glory, they could have contempt for false appearances, and, also, their spirit rose against the unrighteousness which was now enthroned in the throne doubly enthroned.

So then they at once proclaim Jehu king at the word even of him that they had just branded as "that mad fellow." And Jehu begins to act then against his master: he had now God's authority for it. The God that had raised up the king was perfectly entitled to cast him down. Jehu, therefore, was thoroughly right in acting upon the anointing of the prophet. And it is remarkable that Jehu is the only one of these many successors that, one after another, overturned the kingdom in Israel the only one that was anointed. In Judah the anointing was sanctioned of the Lord, no doubt, and we have no reason to suppose that it was not always acted upon, but not so in Israel. In Jehu's case it was. Jehu required this extraordinary act of the prophet to enable him to go forward, and to give him confidence, as well as other people about him. God was pleased so to invest him.

So king Joram was now returning to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds which the Syrians had given him, and Jehu at once proposes to pay a visit to his master. "So Jehu rode in a chariot, and went to Jezreel; for Joram lay there." At this very time, sad to say, the king of Judah was there too, and here we find a very solemn fact in God's government that if one who ought to be on the side of righteousness swerves from it into an unholy alliance with evil, he suffers according to the character of the evil he joins, and not of the righteousness that he may have previously possessed. This seems very hard, and there are many that cannot understand that God could deal so with those that have a measure of righteousness; but the truth is, the more we examine the principle the more we see how just it is. A sin is a sin whoever commits it, but whose sin is the greatest? Surely sin in a christian is worse than sin in an ordinary man who has no Christianity. Sin is always measured by the privilege of him who commits it, and consequently in Israel God Himself showed these differences. The sin of the priest that was anointed had a totally different character from that of one of the people; and the sin of a ruler was not at all to be met in the same way as the sin of one of the common people. So God, in His own people, showed that there were these differences; but even when you leave the people of God it is just the same.

Now the king of Judah then, who ought to have been as the lamp of God in the darkness of that night the king of Judah had chosen an evil association, for alas! the holy seed was polluted, and there was an alliance that boded evil that was now formed by the royal house. The king of Judah was in the company of the king of Israel. God permitted that they should be found together when the solemn moment came for judgment. The judgment must be shared by those who had sinned together. It was not only, therefore, Joram for whom, properly speaking, the blow was intended; it was not only upon him that it fell, but upon the king of Judah also.

The very same thing is true in the church of God. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. It is not merely that each particle requires to be leavened, but that that which contains the leaven is pronounced upon by God. Doubtless, if the leaven is allowed to work its way it will actually corrupt the whole lump; but God acts, and so should Christians according to the principle of the thing, and not merely the bare fact which comes out before the world. So we find in the most serious matters. Take the lady, even, in the Second Epistle of John she was responsible for the people she received. She might say that she was only a woman, and who was she to judge. Was it not a woman's place to be very unobtrusive? Yes, but it is a woman's place to be true, and, if she ought to be true to anybody, true to Christ above all. If she, therefore, received those who brought not the doctrine of Christ, her orthodoxy would be no shield. She is warned by the apostle that she became a partaker of their evil deeds. She may not have received the doctrine; it is not supposed that she had received the doctrine in that case she would have shared their guilt. But she shared the punishment because she chose to identify the name of the Lord in her person with those that were His enemies. Thus you see this great principle is found true in every part of the word of God, though it comes out most stringently in the New Testament, and most of all where it is a question of Christ, and not merely an ordinary evil thing. Now this is most righteous, because of all evils none so bad as that which touches Christ Christ, the spring of all that is good the only means of deliverance. When His name is made a cover for evil, and for that which destroys, how great is that darkness!

Jehu then rides on, and as they come, a watchman spies them; and after a little while, although messenger after messenger is sent without returning, it seems evident that it must be Jehu. His driving betrayed him. So the kings at last became disturbed, and Joram, wounded as he was, said, "Make ready," and he "and Ahaziah, king of Judah, went out, each in his chariot, and they went out against Jehu, and met him in the portion of Naboth the Jezreelite. And it came to pass, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, Is it peace, Jehu?" He had his qualms. Well he might. "And he answered, What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many? And Joram turned his hands and fled, and said to Ahaziah, There is treachery, O Ahaziah. And Jehu drew a bow with his full strength, and smote Jehoram between his arms, and the arrow went out at his heart, and he sank down in his chariot." But it did not end there, for while Jehu told his captain to take him up and cast him in the field of Naboth the Jezreelite, according to the word of Jehovah, judgment did not fail to overtake Ahaziah as he fled. Jehu followed after him and said, "Smite him also in his chariot," and so he too dies at Megiddo. But this is not all. There remained a worse end for the one whose craft and violence had wrought such evil in Israel Jezebel. She painted her face, she fled to her old artifices; but they were all vain to preserve her. The hour of her judgment was at hand. "And as Jehu entered in at the gate, she said, Had Zimri peace who slew his master?" But Jehu was not to be alarmed or turned away from the dread commission that God had given him. And he lifted up his face to the window and asked who was on his side, and when the eunuchs showed themselves he commanded them to throw her down, and her blood, as it is said, was sprinkled on the wall and on the horses, and he trod her under foot.

What is remarkable, too, is this. The will of man has but little to do with the accomplishment of the word of God, for Jehu, now in the fulness of his power, relents somewhat towards this wicked woman Jezebel; and although he does say, "Go, see now this cursed woman, and bury her, for she is a king's daughter" well, what had God said? The prophet had said, "The dogs shall eat Jezebel in the portion of Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her." Jehu had heard that word only a short time before, and he evidently showed that his intention was to fulfil his commission exactly; but how little man, good or bad, carries out the word of God. Now, apparently, the old sense of respect for one that was a queen a king's daughter rises in his mind, and he says, "Bury her, for she is a king's daughter." But the word of God had spoken its own command before. And they went to bury her. Their purpose was to obey him. In vain. They found no more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands. Wherefore they came again and told him, and he, convinced how mighty was the word of the Lord, said, "This is the word of Jehovah which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the portion of Jezreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel; and the carcase of Jezebel shall be as dung upon the face of the field in the portion of Jezreel; so that they shall not say, This is Jezebel." Thus had God accomplished it, and the blood of Naboth was avenged of the Lord most sternly. And the field was dearly bought, and wrested from the family. Had Naboth been slain? Had his sons failed to inherit? The king was slain too, and there is blood. So with the woman, the queen, who had stirred up her husband the king, and, further, the king's son. In every part sin meets its punishment.

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Bibliographical Information
Kelly, William. "Commentary on 2 Kings 9". Kelly Commentary on Books of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/wkc/2-kings-9.html. 1860-1890.