Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Kings 3:15

But now bring me a minstrel." And it came about, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Armies;   Moabites;   Prophets;   Thompson Chain Reference - Jehoshaphat;   Music;   Musicians;   Players on Instruments;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Music;   Prophets;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Mesha;   Music;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Elisha;   Moab;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Hand, Right Hand;   Prophet, Prophetess, Prophecy;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Elisha;   Jehoram;   Jehoshaphat;   Minstrel;   Moabite Stone;   Music;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Dibon;   Hand;   Minstrel;   Music;   Prophet;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Ecstasy;   Elisha;   Inquire of God;   Kings, 1 and 2;   Kir-Hareseth;   Mahol;   Mesha;   Oracles;   Power;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Edom, Edomites;   Elisha;   Holy Spirit;   Jehoshaphat;   Medeba;   Mesha;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Joram, Jehoram;   Mesha ;   Minstrel;   Moab, Moabites ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Kirharaseth;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Armor;   Arms;   Jehoshaphat;   Mesha;   Moab;   Samaria;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Eli'sha;   Minstrel;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Kingdom of Israel;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - David;   Elisha;   Hand;   Mad;   Music;   Prophecy;   Revelation;   Saul;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Anger;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Bring me a minstrel - A person who played on the harp. The rabbins, and many Christians, suppose that Elisha's mind was considerably irritated and grieved by the bad behavior of the young men at Beth-el, and their tragical end, and by the presence of the idolatrous king of Israel; and therefore called for Divine psalmody, that it might calm his spirits, and render him more susceptible of the prophetic influence. To be able to discern the voice of God, and the operation of his hand, it is necessary that the mind be calm, and the passions all in harmony, under the direction of reason; that reason may be under the influence of the Divine Spirit.

The hand of the Lord came upon him - The playing of the harper had the desired effect; his mind was calmed, and the power of God descended upon him. This effect of music was generally acknowledged in every civilized nation. Cicero, in his Tusculan Questions, lib. iv., says, that "the Pythagoreans were accustomed to calm their minds, and soothe their passions, by singing and playing upon the harp." Pythagoraei mentes suas a cogitationum intentione cantu fidibusque ad tranquillitatem traducebant. I have spoken elsewhere of the heathen priests who endeavored to imitate the true prophets, and were as actually filled with the devil as the others were with the true God. The former were thrown into violent agitations and contortions by the influence of the demons which possessed them, while the latter were in a state of the utmost serenity and composure.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:15". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-kings-3.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Music seems to have been a regular accompaniment of prophecy in the “schools of the prophets” (marginal reference), and an occasional accompaniment of it elsewhere Exodus 15:20.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:15". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/2-kings-3.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

But now bring me a minstrel,.... A piper, a man that knows how to play upon the harp, as the Targum; according to Procopius Gazaeus, this was one of the Levites he ordered to be fetched, who was used to the spiritual melody of David, and could play on musical instruments as he directed. This he did to allay his passion, and compose his spirits, ruffled at the sight of Jehoram, and to fit him to receive prophetic inspiration, which sometimes came upon the Lord's prophets when thus employed, see 1 Samuel 10:5. Some thinkF8Weemse's Christ. Synagog. l. 1. c. 6. sect. 4. p. 143. the music the prophet called for is that sort the Greeks call "harmony", which is the gravest and saddest, and settles the affections:

and it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him; the spirit of prophecy, as the Targum, which came by the power of God, and as a gift from his hand.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:15". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-kings-3.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel l played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him.

(l) He sang songs to God's glory, and so stirred up the prophets heart to prophecy.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:15". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/2-kings-3.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

bring me a minstrel — The effect of music in soothing the mind is much regarded in the East; and it appears that the ancient prophets, before entering their work, commonly resorted to it, as a preparative, by praise and prayer, to their receiving the prophetic afflatus.

the hand of the Lord — a phrase significantly implying that the gift of prophecy was not a natural or inherent gift, but conferred by the power and grace of God.

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/2-kings-3.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him.

Minstrel — One that can sing and play upon a musical instrument. This he requires, that his mind which had been disturbed at the sight of wicked Jehoram, might be composed, and that he might be excited to more fervent prayer whereby he was prepared to receive the prophetic inspiration. Those that desire communion with God must keep their spirits quiet and serene. All hurry of spirit, and all turbulent passions, make us unfit for divine visitations.

The hand, … — The spirit of prophecy, so called, to note that it was no natural nor acquired virtue inherent in him; but a singular gift of God, given to whom and when he pleased.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:15". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/2-kings-3.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 Kings 3:15 But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him.

Ver. 15. But now bring me a minstrel,] Heb., One that striketh with his hand upon a musical instrument. A Levite, likely, he meant, that played and sung some psalm of David. Such a one the prophet here calleth for, to dispel his grief, say some Hebrew doctors, for the loss of Elijah; from whose translation, till the then present occasion, the spirit of prophecy, say the same authors, rested not upon him. To compose his spirits, say some, much moved with indignation at Jehoram; for which purpose also the Pythagoreans, every night when they went to bed, played on an instrument. (a) And Plato in his laws attributeth the same virtue to music. But besides this, the prophet’s mind might hereby be raised up to an expectation of God communicating himself. The way to be filled with the Spirit is to edify ourselves by psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs. Hence we sing before sermon, &c.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:15". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-kings-3.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

2 Kings 3:15

On this occasion Elisha was ruffled or heated; and he felt that he was in no fit frame to receive Divine communications and impressions. The angry heart shuts out the gracious Spirit of God. So the prophet felt he must be soothed, and he called for a minstrel to play before him. The gentle strains calmed nerves and heart, soul and spirit, and he was able to receive God's message and explain it to others.

I. This story teaches us that it is fit we seek by natural means to soothe and calm ourselves into a favourable mood to welcome the influence of that Spirit without whom we can neither pray nor praise aright. There is no natural means like music.

II. The text teaches that we should try to have all natural surroundings favourable to us, so that we may start fair when we seek to rise to what is above mere nature. "Music," says the most influential American preacher, "is the preacher's prime minister." It is the function of music to begin at the point where the sermon ends. "Music takes up and renders substantial the same truths which may have been expressed dogmatically." The grandest music is essentially sacred; it is an expression of faith and hope; it is vitally prayer and praise in every pure and upward-looking human spirit.

A. K. H. B., The Graver Thoughts of a Country Parson, 3rd series, p. 16.


References: 2 Kings 3:15.—Bishop Woodford, Sermons on Subjects from the Old Testament, p. 92; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxvii., No. 1612. 2 Kings 3:16.—Congregationalist, vol. iv., p. 332. 2 Kings 3:16, 2 Kings 3:17.—S. Cox, The Bird's Nest, p. 47; J. M. Neale, Sermons for the Church Year, vol. ii., p. 41; Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 137. 2 Kings 3:16-18.—Ibid., Sermons, vol. xiii., No. 747. 2Ki 3—Parker, vol. viii., p. 101. 2 Kings 4:1-7.—Ibid., Fountain, March 15th, 1877; J. M. Neale, Sermons in Sackville College, vol. iii., p. 69; A. Edersheim, Elisha the Prophet, p. 81. 2 Kings 4:1-8.—H. Macmillan, Two Worlds are Ours. p. 253.



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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:15". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/2-kings-3.html.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

2 Kings 3:15. Bring me a minstrel See on 1 Samuel 10:5; 1 Samuel 16:14 and Joh. Mulleri, Eliseus, ad Musices sonum Propheta.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:15". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/2-kings-3.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

A minstrel; one that can sing and play upon a musical instrument. This he requires, that his mind, which had been disturbed and inflamed with holy anger at the sight of wicked Jehoram, might be composed, and cheered, and united within itself, and that he might be excited to the more fervent prayer to God, and joyfully praising him; whereby he was prepared to receive the prophetical inspiration. For although prophecy be the gift of God, yet men might do something either to hinder or further the reception of it; for which cause Paul bids Christians study to get the gift of prophecy, 1 Corinthians 14:1. And for this very end the colleges of the prophets were erected, wherein the sons of the prophets did use divers means to procure this gift, which also they did sometimes receive, as we see 2 Kings 2:3,5; and, amongst other means, they used instruments of music to exhilarate their spirits, &c., 1 Samuel 10:5. Of the great power of music upon the affections, See Poole "1 Samuel 16:16".

The hand of the Lord, i.e. the Spirit of prophecy; so called, to note that it was not from Elisha’s temper of body or mind; that it was no natural nor acquired virtue inherent in him; but a singular gift of God, given to whom and when he pleased. This phrase is used also Ezekiel 1:3 3:14,22 8:1.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:15". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/2-kings-3.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

15.Bring me a minstrel — The power of music to quell the passions, to tranquillize the mind, and to bring the soul into a devotional frame, is no strange fact. See note on 1 Samuel 16:16. The prophets of the schools carried with them instruments of music to aid them in their prophesying, (1 Samuel 10:5;) and here Elisha, whose spirit was ruffled by the presence of the idolatrous Jehoram, calls to his aid the sound of music, that its soft tones may bring his soul into harmony with the inner world of spiritual vision.

The hand of the Lord came upon him — The expression often occurs in Ezekiel to denote the imparting of Divine energy, which qualified the prophet for his holy work.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:15". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-kings-3.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

2 Kings 3:15. Now bring me a minstrel — One that can sing and play well upon an instrument of music. This he requires, that his mind, which had been disturbed at the sight of idolatrous Jehoram, might be composed, and that he might be excited to more fervent prayer, and thereby be prepared to receive the prophetic inspiration. See on 1 Samuel 10:5; 1 Samuel 16:16. Those that desire communion with God, must keep their spirits quiet and serene. All hurry of spirits, and all turbulent passions, make us unfit for divine visitations. The hand of the Lord came upon him — The spirit of prophecy, so called, to note that it was no natural or acquired virtue inherent in him, but a singular gift of God, given to whom and when he pleased.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:15". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/2-kings-3.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Minstrel. The priests and Levites, who officiated in the temple, accompanied the army. Eliseus wants no profane music, (Calmet) but, by this request, shews his respect for the true religion, (Haydock) and by sounding forth the divine praises, in some of David's psalms, wishes to obtain of God the favour which was desired. (Theodoret) (Menochius) --- He had felt some emotion at the sight of Joram, and was sensible that God required a calm. (Calmet) --- He dwells not in a violent wind, &c., 3 Kings xix 11. (Haydock) --- The surprising effects of ancient music to calm the passions are well attested, 1 Kings xvi. 17. By this means St. Francis was raised to the contemplation of heavenly things; and St. Augustine says of himself: "How I wept when I heard thy hymns and canticles, being greatly moved at the delightful harmony of thy church:" suavesonantis Ecclesiæ tuæ vocibus commotus acriter. (Conf. ix. 6. de C. xiv. 24.) --- Upon him, so that he experienced that enthusiasm which shewed that he was actuated by the divine spirit, to speak with all the authority requisite. The pagans strove to imitate the true prophets, but the difference was very evident; no less than the spirit with which they were filled; the former were agitated in a furious manner; the latter were composed and majestic. (Calmet)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:15". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-kings-3.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

minstrel = harper. From Hebrew. nagan, to harp.

hand. Figure of speech Prosopopoeia (App-6). But some codices, with Aramaean, read "the Spirit".

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:15". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/2-kings-3.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him.

Bring me a minstrel. The effect of music in soothing the mind is much regarded in the East; and it appears that the ancient prophets, before entering on their work, commonly resorted to it as a preparative, by praise and prayer, and sometimes by ascetic exercises, to their receiving the prophetic afflatus (see as to the condition of the prophets when about to deliver their prophecies, Hengstenberg, 'Christology,' 1:, p. 294; Henderson, 'On Inspiration,' p. 19). The mind of Elisha was in all probability agitated and vexed by the scene that was enacted around him; and he desired something to soothe and tranquillize his passions. "A minstrel" [ m

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/2-kings-3.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(15) Bring me a minstrel.—Mĕnaggçn—i.e., a harper, player on a stringed instrument (nĕgînâh). Elisha called for music as a natural means of calming his perturbed spirit (2 Kings 3:13-14). Composure and serenity of soul were essential, if the prophet was to hear the voice of God within. Cicero tells us that the Pythagoreans were wont to tranquillise their minds after the strain of thought with’ harp music and singing (Tusc. Iv. 2). (Comp. 1 Samuel 10:5; 1 Chronicles 25:1, Note.) The incident is a striking mark of the historical truth of the narrative.

And it came to pass.—Perfect with weak waw: a later idiom. (Comp. 1 Samuel 17:48.)

The hand of the Lord came upon him.—Targum and some MSS., “the Spirit of the Lord;” but comp. 1 Kings 18:46.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:15". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-kings-3.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him.
bring me
This was evidently intended to soothe and tranquillize the prophet's mind, which had been agitated and discomposed with holy indignation by the presence of the idolatrous king, and the recollection of his abomination. The soothing influence of music is generally acknowledged in every civilized nation.
1 Samuel 10:5; 16:23; 18:10; 1 Chronicles 25:2,3; Ephesians 5:18,19
the hand
1 Kings 18:46; Ezekiel 1:3; 3:14,22; 8:1; Acts 11:21
Reciprocal: 1 Samuel 16:16 - play;  2 Samuel 6:5 - David;  2 Kings 4:13 - to the king;  1 Chronicles 13:8 - David;  1 Chronicles 25:1 - prophesy;  Hosea 9:8 - with

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Kings 3:15". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-kings-3.html.