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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
2 Kings 8

 

 

Verses 1-29

THE SHUNAMITE AGAIN

(vv.1-6)

The Shunamite woman is typical of the godly remnant of Israel. She had learned the grace of God in giving new life (ch.4:17) and further in resurrection power (ch.4:32-37). Now she is to learn His grace in sustaining her in time of famine and in restoring all her possessions. Elisha tells her to leave and go wherever she may find a place, because the Lord had called for a seven year famine. This reminds us of the seven year tribulation that is to come specially upon Israel, though affecting all the world.

The nation Israel will suffer dreadfully at that time, but the godly remnant are pictured in the woman of Revelation 12:1-17. "The woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent (Revelation 12:14). The Lord Jesus, in Matthew 24:15-18 warns the disciples concerning that time, to flee from their homes in Israel.

This woman of Shunem must have been widowed by the time Elisha spoke to her, for he told her to take her household. If her husband had been living, Elisha would have addressed him. She took her household and stayed in the land of the Philistines seven years. At the end of that time she returned, but her property had evidently been appropriated by the government, so that she went to appeal to the king for her property.

The Lord ordered matters in such a way that the king was talking with Gehazi, who had been the servant of Elisha, but was now a leper (v.4). It may seem strange that the king would talk with a leper, but he was curious to know about the miracles in Elisha's life, There is no indication that these miraculous things had any vital effect in turning Jehoram to the Lord, but like so many people, he liked to be entertained by spectacular things. Herod hoped to see some miracle done by the Lord Jesus (Luke 23:8), but he had only contempt for Him personally.

However, as Gehazi was telling the king about the miracle by which Elisha restored the son of the woman of Shunem to life, the woman herself appeared. Gehazi then told the king that this was the woman of whom he spoke (v.5). Of course the king asked the woman about it and she confirmed the truth of that incident. It was the Lord Who had ordered things in this way, thus having such effect upon the king that he willingly commanded that all the woman's property should be restored to her as well as all the proceeds of the land for the seven years she had been absent.

This is a lovely picture of the completeness of the restoration of blessing to the remnant of Israel at the beginning of the millennium. She was blessed beyond all she had asked, just as believers today are told that our Lord is able to do "exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20).

BEN HADAD AND HAZAEL

(vv.7-15)

The Lord had cold Elijah to go to Damascus and anoint Hazael to be king over Syria (1Kings19:15), but Elijah did not do this, nor did he anoint Jehu as king of Israel, as he was told. This was done by one of the sons of the prophets in 2Kings9:6. But now Elisha went to Damascus, certainly led by the Lord to do so. The king of Syria, Ben Hadad, was sick, and when told the man of God had come there, he sent his army commander with a present to ask Elisha if he would recover of his disease (vv.1-2). When it became a matter of possibly involving death, he knew it was no use appealing to his idols.

The present Hazael brought was amazing, - 40 camel-loads of every good thing of Syria! We are not told that Elisha accepted this, and in fact we may be sure he did not. Hazael then presented Ben Hadad's question, would he recover of this disease (v.9).

Elisha told him to tell Ben Hadad that he would recover. However, he added, "The Lord has shown me that he will really die" (v.10). Under normal circumstances he would recover, but Elisha knew the treachery of Hazael and looked him straight in the eyes till he was ashamed; "and the man of God wept" (v.11). When Hazael asked why he wept, Elisha answered that he knew the evil that Hazael would do to the children of Israel, setting their strongholds on fire, killing their young men, dashing their children to death and ripping open their pregnant women (v.12). Hazael protested, was he a dog to act so wickedly? But a dog would not do those things: he was much worse than a dog. "Elisha answered, The Lord has shown me that you will become king over Syria" (v.13).

Hazael returned to Ben Hadad with the message that he would recover. Of course Hazael knew he was acting in gross wickedness when he privately smothered Ben Hadad to death by a thick cloth soaked in water (v.15), but we can easily imagine how he would rationalise his action. He would feel safe in doing what he did, for had the prophet not said that Ben Hadad would die and Hazael would reign in his place? Also the king was sick and who would suspect he had not died of his sickness?

THE BRIEF REIGN OF JEHORAM IN JUDAH

(vv.16-24)

Joram, the son of Ahab, had reigned in Israel five years when Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat took the throne of Judah. Instead of following his father's faith, he followed his father's bad example in identifying himself with evil men. He reigned only 8 years. His father had shown friendship with Ahab, and Jehoram married Ahab's daughter Athaliah, a woman as wicked as her mother Jezebel (v.18). In spite of this evil in Judah, the Lord refrained from destroying it, for the sake of His promise to David that He would sustain the kingdom through David's sons (v.19).

In Jehoram's days Edom revolted from the authority of Judah and made a king over themselves (v.20). Jehoshaphat had at least kept Edom under control, but not so Jehoram. By faithfully walking with God we shall be able to keep the flesh under control, but when faith wavers, the flesh will soon assert itself in wilful evil.

Jehoram (also called Joram) made an attempt to subdue Edom again (v.2), taking all his chariots with him and attacking by night, but his own troops fled. Edom was too strong, just as the flesh is too strong for mere human energy. Thus Judah regained no authority over Edom to the day of the writing of this report. Libnah also revolted at that time. Libnah means "whiteness," so that we are taught by this that Judah lost control of moral purity at the time they lost control of the flesh. This will always be true. If we do not keep the flesh in subjection, we shall not possess moral purity.

Joram (or Jehoram) died without regaining what he had lost, though he was buried among the kings in Jerusalem (v.24).

AHAZIAH'S VERY BRIEF REIGN

(vv.24-29)

Ahaziah, son of Jehoram, took the throne of Judah when his father died (v.25). His age was only 22 years, and he reigned only one year in Jerusalem. His mother, Athaliah, had come from Israel, not Judah, and Ahaziah followed the wicked ways of his mother and her parents (v.27).

He allied himself with Joram, king of Israel, to fight against Hazael, king of Syria. In that battle Joram was wounded and returned to Jezreel to recover from his wounds (v.28). Ahaziah was so friendly with him that he went down to visit him. But Chapter 9 shows us that God was intervening with some serious results for these two kings.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/2-kings-8.html. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, December 13th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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