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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae
2 Kings 8

 

 

Verse 12

DISCOURSE: 370

ELISHA PREDICTS THE ATROCIOUS ACTS OF HAZAEL

2 Kings 8:12. And Hazael said, Why weepeth my lord? And he answered, Because I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel.

TO reconcile Divine foreknowledge with the contingency of human events is a difficulty, which probably will never be solved in this present state of our existence. Yet, if it cannot be explained, it may be illustrated in some measure, and in such a way as to afford considerable satisfaction to the mind. In the history of which our text is a part, there is a circumstance which reflects some light upon it. Benhadad, king of Syria, was ill; and, hearing that Elisha was come into his county, he sent his servant Hazael, with very large and munificent presents, to inquire whether he should recover of his disease. The question being asked by Hazael, Elisha told him, that his master “might certainly recover;” but yet “should surely die [Note: ver. 10.].” Here we see the termination of the disorder doubtful in one view, but certain in another: he might recover, because his constitution was strong enough to withstand the disorder; but he should not recover, because God foresaw that a measure would be resorted to, which would render the disorder fatal. Thus it is also with our spiritual maladies: they may, with the use of God’s appointed remedies, be healed; but God knows infallibly whether we shall make use of those remedies, and, consequently, sees already what the event will be: in his eyes, it is as certain as if it had already taken place; but his view of it does not at all affect its contingency with respect to us.

Not intending to prosecute this subject any farther, we merely glance at it, as introductory to that on which the issue of the king’s disorder turned. There was in the heart of Hazael a root of evil, which would induce him to destroy the king, in order to gain possession of his throne: and that root springing up, would bring forth such terrible fruits, as could not be contemplated without the most pungent sorrow. This the prophet saw, and deeply lamented; insomuch, that Hazael, astonished at the fixedness of the prophet’s countenance, and at the tears which he shed, asked him with great emotion, “Why weepeth my lord?” The prophet told him, that he wept at the prospect of the horrible cruelties, which, however incapable of committing them he might now think himself, he would certainly ere long commit.

This is the point to which we would now call your attention: and it is well calculated to shew us,

I. How unconscious we are of our own depravity—

Hazael could not conceive it possible that the prophet’s predictions respecting him should ever be fulfilled —

[Doubtless the predicted evils were very terrible [Note: ver. 12.]: nor do we wonder that Hazael should ask so pointedly, “Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing [Note: This is supposed by some to mean, ‘How can so insignificant a creature as I am, do such great things?’ But the common interpretation seems the more natural, more especially as the situation he occupied under Benhadad rendered the performance of such things not so very impracticable, if he should ever be disposed to do them.]?” But he was a stranger to his own heart, and ignorant of the effect which a change of circumstances may produce in our dispositions and conduct — — — The event soon verified all that the prophet had spoken concerning him: for, immediately on his return to his master, he gave a false report of the prophet’s answer, and (probably under a pretence of using the best means for his recovery) adopted a measure, which he had reason to expect would speedily put a period to his existence. Having by these means succeeded to the throne, he soon waged war with Israel, and committed all those shocking cruelties, at the very mention of which he had once shrunk back with horror [Note: ver. 15 and 2 Kings 13:3; 2 Kings 13:7.].]

Thus also do we question the representations which God gives respecting us—

[These are doubtless very humiliating, both in the Old Testament and the New [Note: Jeremiah 17:9; Ecclesiastes 9:3; Genesis 6:5; Romans 3:10-19; Romans 8:7.] — — — And we are ready to account them libels upon human nature. If we have been moral and sober hitherto, we have no conception that we could ever be induced to “run to the same excess of riot” as others have done. But may we not all find in ourselves the seeds of those iniquities, which in others have obtained their full growth? Have we not seen too, in many instances, that persons who once thought themselves as superior to temptation as we now do, have sunk into the grossest habits of vice, and astonished the world with their iniquities? We can know but little of ourselves, if we have not learned to ascribe to God alone whatever difference there may be found between us and others [Note: 1 Corinthians 4:7.].]

Let us learn then from the prophet,

II. What ought to he the frame of our minds in relation to it—

If we have not been left by God to perpetrate the more heinous crimes to which we have been tempted, still it will be proper for us to consider what our frame should be,

1. In reference to our depravity, so far as we have discovered it—

[Elisha wept at the contemplation of the future crimes of Hazael: and should not we weep at the evils of our own hearts, yea at the evils which we have actually committed? Verily, the best of us have done enough to humble us in the dust, and to make us weep with the deepest self-abasement. Let us look back and think of our past conduct towards God as our Sovereign, towards Jesus as our Redeemer, and towards the Holy Spirit, who has been striving with us all our days — — — Is here no cause for tears? If Prophets and Apostles wept so bitterly for others who kept not God’s law, should not we for ourselves [Note: Psalms 119:136; Jeremiah 13:17; Romans 9:1-3; Philippians 3:18.]? Yes, the best of us, as well as the worst, needs to “go on his way weeping,” and can only hope to “reap in joy,” when he shall have humbly “sown in tears”— — —]

2. In reference to that which is yet hid from our eyes—

[Much, very much, there is in us, which we have never yet seen: either we have never been brought into situations to call it forth, or God has mercifully withheld us from perpetrating all that was in our hearts. But our hearts are altogether corrupt; and therefore we should tremble, yea and “work out our salvation with fear and trembling,” even to our latest hour: “we should not be high-minded, but fear;” “watching continually and praying, that we may not enter into temptation.” The confidence of Peter, as well as that of Hazael, may be a lesson to us. To God then must we look to “keep us by his power,” even to Him who alone “can keep us from falling, and present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.”]

That we may yet further improve this subject, let us learn,

1. To be thankful for God’s grace—

[What is the reason that we have not been as vile as the most abandoned of mankind? Are we made of any better materials than they? or have we in ourselves any more strength than they? No: we owe it entirely to the distinguishing grace of God. It is He who has “hedged up our way,” and even in many instances “built a wall against us,” that we might not fall into those temptations which would have utterly overwhelmed us: “He kept us, though we knew him not;” and “by his grace alone we are what we are.” O let us adore and magnify him for all his goodness towards us; and when we see others wallowing in iniquity, remember who alone has made us to differ from them!]

2. To be submissive to his providence—

[It may be that God has been pleased to disappoint us in some things which we have set our heart upon; and we have been grieved and vexed at the dispensation. But how little do we know what would have been the effect of success! Perhaps the attainment of our wishes would have operated as Hazael’s advancement did on him, and we should have long before this time have been even monsters in iniquity. At all events we have reason to believe that what we have lost was only like thick clay, which would have impeded us greatly in our Christian course. Perhaps God has seen fit to lay upon us some heavy affliction. Are we sure it was not necessary to lead us to deeper views of our own corruption, and to a more entire dependence on the Lord Jesus? We may be sure at least that our afflictions have been sent, as the pruning-knife, to lop off our luxuriant branches, and to make us more fruitful in the fruits of righteousness to God’s praise and glory.]

3. To pant after his glory—

[It is in heaven alone that we shall be free from sin. Whilst we are in the body, we are exposed to the assaults of that roaring lion, that seeketh to devour us. True it is, we have God’s promises to trust unto; but true it is also that we have wicked and deceitful hearts; and if we had attained as much as ever the Apostle Paul did, we must still, like him, “keep under our body, and bring it into subjection, lest by any means, after having preached to others, we should be cast away ourselves.” Let us then “look for, and haste unto, the coming of the day of Christ,” even that blessed day, when all sin shall be purged from our hearts, and “all tears be wiped from our eyes.”]

 


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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 2 Kings 8:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/2-kings-8.html. 1832.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, December 16th, 2019
the Third Week of Advent
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