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Sermon Bible Commentary
2 Kings 10



Verse 15

2 Kings 10:15

There is all the difference in the world between the ways in which the answer to this question is spoken; and there is only one way, only one meaning, in which it can be spoken honestly, as before God, from the ground of the heart.

I. There is, for instance, the careless, indifferent, frivolous answer, the answer of those who have hitherto resisted the grace of God, and who, finding that they can sin as yet with but little sorrow, neither know nor really care what religion means. "Is my heart right? Yes, I suppose so. If I am not particularly good, I am not particularly bad," and so on. Such an answer means nothing, or worse than nothing. In your "Yes" God reads "No." In your "My heart is right" He reads that it is "deceitful above all things and desperately wicked."

II. Take another answer, not, like the last, wholly hollow and insincere, but too impulsive, too confident. "Is thine heart right?" "Yes," another will say. "I do sincerely dislike what is bad, and I despise myself for the weakness with which I yielded to it. And I mean to be quite different now." This answer involves, not merely a weak wish, but a strong desire; not only a strong desire, but a resolute effort; not only even a resolute effort, but an intense and absorbing passion. A weak resolve, a half-resolve, a mere verbal resolve, a resolve made in your own strength—of what use is it? There is a deep-sighted proverb which says, "Hell is paved with good intentions."

III. "Is thine heart right?" Take one more answer. Some may answer carelessly, some presumptuously, but will not many answer in a deeper, humbler, sincerer, more serious spirit? "Though my life has not been always right," you will say, "yet I hope, I trust, that my heart is right. It is not hard. My own strength is weakness, my own righteousness is utter sin, but I lift up mine eyes unto the hills, whence cometh my help." "Make me to do the thing that pleaseth Thee, for Thou art my God. Let Thy loving Spirit lead me into the land of uprightness."

F. W. Farrar, In the Days of thy Youth, p. 179.

References: 2 Kings 10:15.—S. Baring-Gould, One Hundred Sermon Sketches, p. 161. 2 Kings 10:15, 2 Kings 10:16.—A. Edersheim, Elisha the Prophet, p. 298.

Verse 16

2 Kings 10:16

Jehu, the founder of the fifth dynasty of the kings of Israel, interests us partly by his career and achievements, but much more by the problem of his character. His first achievement was the destruction of the entire family of Ahab; his second was the destruction of the worship of Baal, which had been imported from Phoenicia.

Let us endeavour to form a religious estimate of the worth of Jehu's zeal.

I. What is zeal? It is conviction in a practical and working form. It is the business side of love, whether of God or of man. It is shown in desire to promote the love of God, the worship of God, the praise of God, wherever this is possible. Zeal has also an eye to everything that runs counter to God's will and to His glory. It rebukes vice and combats error.

II. If zeal is not especially a Jewish virtue, the form which it took in Jehu's case was eminently Jewish. It expressed itself in a fearful destruction of human life. Jehu's zeal may have been a zeal for the Lord, notwithstanding the slaughter to which it led. We must in justice distinguish between the absolute standard of right and that relative standard which was present to the mind of Jehu; and if we do this, we may well venture to think that this act in itself was not for a man in his age and circumstances incompatible with a true zeal for the Lord.

III. But there are features in Jehu's zeal—two especially—which seem to show that it cannot have been so genuine and healthy as we could wish. It was spoiled (1) by ostentation. Jehu desired Jehonadab to come and see what he could do for the Lord. His zeal for the Lord was dashed by a zeal for his own credit and reputation. (2) By inconsistency, not the inconsistency of weakness, but the inconsistency of want of principle. "He departed not from the sins of Jeroboam" (that is, from the established calf-worship), "which made Israel to sin."

IV. The lessons which Jehu's career teaches us are: (1) Great results are constantly achieved by God through the means of very imperfect instruments. (2) Jehu teaches us the risk of attempting to carry out public works of a religious or moral character without some previous discipline of the heart and life.

H. P. Liddon, Penny Pulpit, No. 1123.

References: 2 Kings 10:16.—C. J. Vaughan, Lessons of Life and Godliness, p. 222; T. Chamberlain, Sermons for Sundays, Festivals, and Fasts, 2nd series, vol. iii., p. 134; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. ix., p. 87; J. Edmunds, Sixty Sermons, p. 343; T. Kelly, Pulpit Trees, p. 328; E. Monro, Practical Sermons on the Old Testament, vol. ii., pp. 235, 251.

Jehu is not in any sense an interesting person. He was an energetic and bold man, prompt in action, determined and thorough-going, unfeeling and unscrupulous, well fitted for his particular work—a work of judgment upon those who had sinned beyond mercy. His fault was that, while he had a real zeal, he had no true obedience. He is handed down to us, not as an example, but rather as a warning, while upon his tomb we read the condemning inscription, "Zeal without consistency; zeal without obedience; zeal without love."

I. Zeal is the same word as fervour. In its forcible original meaning, it is the bubbling up of the boiling spirit; the opposite of an impassive, cold-hearted indifference; the outburst of the generous indignation which cannot bear to see right trampled under foot by might; the overflowing of gratitude, devotion, and love to God. The zeal of Jehu was of a lower order than this. Yet even Jehu may reprove. We show our zeal chiefly by the infliction of arbitrary punishments upon offenders, not against the moral law of God, but against the moral law of the world. Such zeal is commonly divorced and dissevered from obedience.

II. We may apply to ourselves, in the way of counsel, a warning from the unfavourable part of the character before us. Jehu had a zeal for God, but Jehu nevertheless took no heed to walk in God's law with all his heart. (1) "Took no heed." To the heedlessness of human nature most of our sins may be traced up. (2) "With all his heart." The fault in our service is that the heart is not right with God. Christian zeal, like Christian faith, worketh by love.

C. J. Vaughan, Contemporary Pulpit, vol. ii., p. 171.

Reference: 2 Kings 10:18, 2 Kings 10:19.—E. Thring, Uppingham Sermons, vol. i., p. 413.

Verse 31

2 Kings 10:31

Was Jehu then a hypocrite? Was all his zeal for the Lord false and affected? Any one who said so would quite miss the point of Jehu's character and the moral of his history. It is because there is so great a mixture of good and evil in his deeds, because there is so much in his character that deserves to be imitated while there is also, at the same time, a deadly flaw in it, which mars its beauty, that his history is worthy of particular study.

I. Notice, first, that in the double mission which Jehu was called to perform—the destruction of the house of Ahab and of the worship of Baal—there was no self-denial necessary on his part. The duty to which he was called was not one which violently crossed any propensity, or stood in the way of any selfish feeling. His words to Jehonadab, "Come and see my zeal for the Lord," are a key to the state of Jehu's mind when he set himself to reform the religion; his zeal was to be the prominent object to be looked at; the awful spectacle of God's people revolted from the worship of Jerusalem, the painful duty of slaughtering thousands of the followers of Baal, was to be as nothing compared with the spectacle exhibited to Jehonadab by Jehu's zeal.

II. Jehu's zeal burnt brightly, and scorched up everything before it, as long as it was fanned by the excitement of self-interest and a naturally stormy temperament; but the whole heart was not in it; it was "zeal for God when it answers my purpose," not "zeal for God, cost me what it may." He was a man who would serve God as long as by so doing he could serve himself. The truth which Jehu did not see, and which we ought to see, is that God, if He be served at all, should be served with all our heart, and soul, and strength; that our service must be complete and free, as from those who feel that all they can do must fall infinitely short of a perfect worship of the infinite God.

Bishop Harvey Goodwin, Parish Sermons, 3rd series, p. 48.

References: 2 Kings 10:31.—E. C. Wickham, Wellington College Sermons, p. 174; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xii., No. 685. 2Ki 10—Parker, Fountain, April 26th, 1877. 2 Kings 11:10.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvii., No. 972. 2Ki 11—Parker, vol. viii., p. 217. 2 Kings 12:2.—D. Moore, Penny Pulpit, No. 3101. 2 Kings 13:14.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. vi., p. 113. 2 Kings 13:14-19.—A. Edersheim, Elisha the Prophet, p. 309. 2 Kings 13:14-21.—J. R. Macduff, Sunsets on the Hebrew Mountains, p. 163, and Good Words, 1861, p. 527. 2 Kings 13:14-22.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. i., p. 164.


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Bibliography Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on 2 Kings 10:4". "Sermon Bible Commentary".

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Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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