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Bible Commentaries

The Biblical Illustrator
2 Kings 21

 

 

Verses 1-16

2 Kings 21:1-16

Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign.

Manasseh

The narratives of the Old Testament are not to be read as mere matters of history, but as records of the providential dispensations of God in the concerns of mankind, and as fraught with lessons of the most valuable moral and religious instruction. In this light we are to consider the account handed down to us of Manasseh. King of Judah. An uninspired historian could only have informed us of his evil life, his affliction, his repentance, his restoration to prosperity, and his subsequent good conduct; but the sacred writer exhibits to us the manner in which the hand of God was visible throughout these events. It was not a matter of chance that Manasseh fell into adversity; for it was a scourge expressly sent upon him for his transgressions: nor was it by chance that he was restored to his kingdom, but by the unseen interposition of the all-wise Disposer of events, and in consequence of his deep humiliation and humble prayer. It is thus that the Scriptures teach us maxims of heavenly wisdom, not only in their direct exhortations and promises, but in the narratives which they record, all being written so as to display the conduct of God towards His creatures; His wisdom and righteousness, His justice and His mercy, His anger against the transgressor, His favour to the humble penitent, His infinite patience and forbearance towards all. We see embodied in actual facts our own circumstances, our sins and our mercies; what we have to hope or to fear; what our Creator requires of us; how He will act towards us. The chief particulars are the aggravated transgressions of Manasseh; the consequent affliction which befell him; his repentance in his affliction; his deliverance from it, and his future obedience to God.

1. The chapter before us details the transgressions of Manasseh. His sins were of a very heinous character, and were committed under circumstances which greatly aggravated their enormity. The narrative mentions several particulars, which show the fearful extent of his offences.

2. To consider the affliction which in consequence befell him. Happy was it for him that he was not suffered to proceed in his iniquities unchecked. Sorrow, we are told, springs not out of the ground: it does not occur by chance, or without meaning. All affliction is the consequence of sin; and it is well when our troubles in this life are made the instruments of leading us to God, that we may not suffer that eternal punishment which our iniquities merit in the world to come. In the case of Manasseh, the hand of God was clearly visible in His punishment. It is said that the Lord brought upon him and his people--for both he and his people had sinned--the host of the king of Assyria, and they took Manasseh, among the thorns; that is, in some thicket to which he had retreated for safety; and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. A greater temporal calamity than this could scarcely befall a man like Manasseh.

3. Our text notices his repentance in his affliction. His captivity gave him leisure for serious reflection; and by the blessing of God he was led to avail himself of it. Multitudes of persons never begin to think of their sins, or their need of salvation, till the hour of pain or sickness, of bereavement or death. Thus Manasseh in his prosperity had forgotten his Creator; but in his adversity he could find no other refuge. His false gods could not assist him; and therefore, like the prodigal son, his only refuge was to turn to the merciful Father whom he had forsaken.

4. We are told of his deliverance from his affliction. The Lord, it is said, heard his supplication, and brought him back again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. The following verses allude to his future prosperity; for, by the dispensation under which Manasseh lived, it pleased the Almighty often to bestow temporal blessings as a mark of his special mercy; and as the afflictions which first led Manasseh to repentance and prayer had been of a worldly kind, so, when it pleased God to restore him to his favour, he gave him also worldly blessings, life and liberty, and a successful issue in the affairs of his kingdom. But far above all these outward blessings was the forgiveness of his sins. Worldly prosperity may be either a benefit or a curse to its possessor; but to be pardoned and justified--this is indeed a blessing of unspeakable value, and should constrain us with earnest gratitude to devote ourselves to the service of our God and Saviour. This leads us to remark,

5. The subsequent obedience of Manasseh. The narrative is brief; but it particularly mentions his future obedience to God, and his zeal for his glory. His heart being renewed, his course of life changed with it. It is said, that he now “knew that the Lord He was God.” He had discovered this both in His power to afflict him and in His power to restore him; and now, knowing Him to be the only true God, he resolved to worship Him as such. He had repented, and he brought forth fruits meet for repentance. Much was forgiven him, and he loved much. First, he turned from his former sins; for “he took away the strange gods and the idol out of the house of, the Lord”: not only this, but he began to practise his long neglected duties; he repaired the altar of the Lord, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings, and thank-offerings, and commanded his people to serve the Lord God of Israel. As his transgressions had been public, he wished his contrition for them to be equally so; and as he had led others astray by his authority and example, he was now urgent to bring them back to the right path. To follow his example in this respect is the most important application which we can make. We have not indeed shed blood, or literally sacrificed to idols, as he did; neither have we had any inducement to do so, or the opportunity of doing so. But, on the other hand, we have not been exposed to the temptations which he must have met with, left defenceless at the early age of twelve years, amidst the seductions of the world, as a sovereign prince, with every facility for the indulgence of his will and his passions, and meeting perhaps with few to control, and many to foster his evil propensities. But shall we therefore say that, according to our circumstances and temptations, we have not also grievously offended God? Let us then earnestly seek this inestimable blessing; let us neither slight it on the one hand nor despair of obtaining it on the other. It is to be obtained, if only we seek it, and seek it aright, and seek it before the opportunity for procuring it is for ever lost. (Christian Observer.)

Saints made only of unfavourable material

At a crowded meeting in Edinburgh, one Sunday night, Professor Drummond stood on the platform with a letter in his hand. That letter, he said, had come to him from a young man then in the meeting, who, knowing Drummond was to speak that night, had written his history in the hope that some word of Christian counsel might be spoken which would give him hope. The letter was from a medical student who had been piously trained, but had been drawn down to drunkenness and vice. He feared he had fallen too low ever to rise. Did Professor Drummond think there was any hope for such a man? For answer the professor said, “As I walked through the city this morning I noticed a cloud like a pure white bank of snow resting over the slums. Whence came it? The great sun had sent down its beams into the city slums, and the beams had gone among the puddles and drawn out of them what they sought, and had taken it aloft and purified it; and there it was resting above the city, a cloud as white as snow. And God can make His saints out of material equally unfavourable. He can make a white cloud out of a puddle. What Christ did for Mary Magdalene He could and would do for any one who went to Him for help now.”


Verses 1-16

2 Kings 21:1-16

Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign.

Manasseh

The narratives of the Old Testament are not to be read as mere matters of history, but as records of the providential dispensations of God in the concerns of mankind, and as fraught with lessons of the most valuable moral and religious instruction. In this light we are to consider the account handed down to us of Manasseh. King of Judah. An uninspired historian could only have informed us of his evil life, his affliction, his repentance, his restoration to prosperity, and his subsequent good conduct; but the sacred writer exhibits to us the manner in which the hand of God was visible throughout these events. It was not a matter of chance that Manasseh fell into adversity; for it was a scourge expressly sent upon him for his transgressions: nor was it by chance that he was restored to his kingdom, but by the unseen interposition of the all-wise Disposer of events, and in consequence of his deep humiliation and humble prayer. It is thus that the Scriptures teach us maxims of heavenly wisdom, not only in their direct exhortations and promises, but in the narratives which they record, all being written so as to display the conduct of God towards His creatures; His wisdom and righteousness, His justice and His mercy, His anger against the transgressor, His favour to the humble penitent, His infinite patience and forbearance towards all. We see embodied in actual facts our own circumstances, our sins and our mercies; what we have to hope or to fear; what our Creator requires of us; how He will act towards us. The chief particulars are the aggravated transgressions of Manasseh; the consequent affliction which befell him; his repentance in his affliction; his deliverance from it, and his future obedience to God.

1. The chapter before us details the transgressions of Manasseh. His sins were of a very heinous character, and were committed under circumstances which greatly aggravated their enormity. The narrative mentions several particulars, which show the fearful extent of his offences.

2. To consider the affliction which in consequence befell him. Happy was it for him that he was not suffered to proceed in his iniquities unchecked. Sorrow, we are told, springs not out of the ground: it does not occur by chance, or without meaning. All affliction is the consequence of sin; and it is well when our troubles in this life are made the instruments of leading us to God, that we may not suffer that eternal punishment which our iniquities merit in the world to come. In the case of Manasseh, the hand of God was clearly visible in His punishment. It is said that the Lord brought upon him and his people--for both he and his people had sinned--the host of the king of Assyria, and they took Manasseh, among the thorns; that is, in some thicket to which he had retreated for safety; and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. A greater temporal calamity than this could scarcely befall a man like Manasseh.

3. Our text notices his repentance in his affliction. His captivity gave him leisure for serious reflection; and by the blessing of God he was led to avail himself of it. Multitudes of persons never begin to think of their sins, or their need of salvation, till the hour of pain or sickness, of bereavement or death. Thus Manasseh in his prosperity had forgotten his Creator; but in his adversity he could find no other refuge. His false gods could not assist him; and therefore, like the prodigal son, his only refuge was to turn to the merciful Father whom he had forsaken.

4. We are told of his deliverance from his affliction. The Lord, it is said, heard his supplication, and brought him back again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. The following verses allude to his future prosperity; for, by the dispensation under which Manasseh lived, it pleased the Almighty often to bestow temporal blessings as a mark of his special mercy; and as the afflictions which first led Manasseh to repentance and prayer had been of a worldly kind, so, when it pleased God to restore him to his favour, he gave him also worldly blessings, life and liberty, and a successful issue in the affairs of his kingdom. But far above all these outward blessings was the forgiveness of his sins. Worldly prosperity may be either a benefit or a curse to its possessor; but to be pardoned and justified--this is indeed a blessing of unspeakable value, and should constrain us with earnest gratitude to devote ourselves to the service of our God and Saviour. This leads us to remark,

5. The subsequent obedience of Manasseh. The narrative is brief; but it particularly mentions his future obedience to God, and his zeal for his glory. His heart being renewed, his course of life changed with it. It is said, that he now “knew that the Lord He was God.” He had discovered this both in His power to afflict him and in His power to restore him; and now, knowing Him to be the only true God, he resolved to worship Him as such. He had repented, and he brought forth fruits meet for repentance. Much was forgiven him, and he loved much. First, he turned from his former sins; for “he took away the strange gods and the idol out of the house of, the Lord”: not only this, but he began to practise his long neglected duties; he repaired the altar of the Lord, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings, and thank-offerings, and commanded his people to serve the Lord God of Israel. As his transgressions had been public, he wished his contrition for them to be equally so; and as he had led others astray by his authority and example, he was now urgent to bring them back to the right path. To follow his example in this respect is the most important application which we can make. We have not indeed shed blood, or literally sacrificed to idols, as he did; neither have we had any inducement to do so, or the opportunity of doing so. But, on the other hand, we have not been exposed to the temptations which he must have met with, left defenceless at the early age of twelve years, amidst the seductions of the world, as a sovereign prince, with every facility for the indulgence of his will and his passions, and meeting perhaps with few to control, and many to foster his evil propensities. But shall we therefore say that, according to our circumstances and temptations, we have not also grievously offended God? Let us then earnestly seek this inestimable blessing; let us neither slight it on the one hand nor despair of obtaining it on the other. It is to be obtained, if only we seek it, and seek it aright, and seek it before the opportunity for procuring it is for ever lost. (Christian Observer.)

Saints made only of unfavourable material

At a crowded meeting in Edinburgh, one Sunday night, Professor Drummond stood on the platform with a letter in his hand. That letter, he said, had come to him from a young man then in the meeting, who, knowing Drummond was to speak that night, had written his history in the hope that some word of Christian counsel might be spoken which would give him hope. The letter was from a medical student who had been piously trained, but had been drawn down to drunkenness and vice. He feared he had fallen too low ever to rise. Did Professor Drummond think there was any hope for such a man? For answer the professor said, “As I walked through the city this morning I noticed a cloud like a pure white bank of snow resting over the slums. Whence came it? The great sun had sent down its beams into the city slums, and the beams had gone among the puddles and drawn out of them what they sought, and had taken it aloft and purified it; and there it was resting above the city, a cloud as white as snow. And God can make His saints out of material equally unfavourable. He can make a white cloud out of a puddle. What Christ did for Mary Magdalene He could and would do for any one who went to Him for help now.”


Verses 19-26

2 Kings 21:19-26

Amon was twenty and two years old when he began to reign.

Amon

The brief reign of Amon is only a sort of unimportant and miserable annex to that of his father. As he was twenty-two years old when he began to reign, he must have witnessed the repentance and reforming zeal of his father, if, in spite of all difficulties, we assume that narrative to be historical. In that ease, however, the young man was wholly untouched by the latter phase of Manasseh’s life, and flung himself headlong into the career of the king’s earlier idolatries. “He walked in all the ways that his father walked in, and served the idols that his father served, and worshipped them”--which was the more extraordinary if Manasseh’s last acts had been to dethrone and destroy these strange gods. He even “multiplied trespass,” so that in his son’s reign we find every form of abomination as triumphant as though Manasseh had never attempted to check the tide of evil. We know nothing more of Amon. Apparently he only reigned two years. He is the only Jewish king who bears the name of a foreign--an Egyptian--deity. For pictures of the state of things in this reign we may look to the prophets Zephaniah and Jeremiah, and they are forced to use the darkest colours. (Dexter Farrar.)


Verses 19-26

2 Kings 21:19-26

Amon was twenty and two years old when he began to reign.

Amon

The brief reign of Amon is only a sort of unimportant and miserable annex to that of his father. As he was twenty-two years old when he began to reign, he must have witnessed the repentance and reforming zeal of his father, if, in spite of all difficulties, we assume that narrative to be historical. In that ease, however, the young man was wholly untouched by the latter phase of Manasseh’s life, and flung himself headlong into the career of the king’s earlier idolatries. “He walked in all the ways that his father walked in, and served the idols that his father served, and worshipped them”--which was the more extraordinary if Manasseh’s last acts had been to dethrone and destroy these strange gods. He even “multiplied trespass,” so that in his son’s reign we find every form of abomination as triumphant as though Manasseh had never attempted to check the tide of evil. We know nothing more of Amon. Apparently he only reigned two years. He is the only Jewish king who bears the name of a foreign--an Egyptian--deity. For pictures of the state of things in this reign we may look to the prophets Zephaniah and Jeremiah, and they are forced to use the darkest colours. (Dexter Farrar.)

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "2 Kings 21:4". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/2-kings-21.html. 1905-1909. New York.

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Sunday, December 8th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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