2 Kings 13:1-9
Contemporary Prophets: Elisha, Jonah.
“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.”—Proverbs 29:2
“In the three and twentieth year of Joash the son of Ahaziah king of Judah, Jehoahaz the son of Jehu began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned seventeen years. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, and followed the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin; he departed not therefrom.” There is no variation from the same sorrowful formula usually used in describing the moral conduct of these Israelitish kings: “He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.” His ways may not have appeared sinful in the sight of his fellows; but God, who “seeth not as man seeth,” pronounced it “evil,” and sent upon him and his subjects the chastisement their wicked idolatry deserved.
“And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and He delivered them into the hand of Hazael king of Syria, and into the hand of Ben-hadad the son of Hazael, all their days.” Hazael’s conquest of the kingdom had begun in the days of Jehu, Jehoahaz’ father: “In those days the Lord began to cut Israel short: and Hazael smote them in all the coasts of Israel; from Jordan eastward, all the land of Gilead, the Gadites, and the Reubenites, and the Manassites, from Aroer, which is by the river Arnon, even Gilead and Bashan” (2 Kings 10:32, 33). Jehu, though so “swift to shed blood” in the beginning of his reign, was more slow to take the sword in defence of the land and people of God toward its close. Men of this class are seldom really “good soldiers.” They may be exceedingly active in obtaining the position they love and covet, while very careless about the true interests of the people of God. There is no hint of his having made the slightest attempt to resist these inroads of the king of Syria in his dominion. He probably remained timorously passive at Samaria while the encroachments on God’s territory were being made. The Black Obelisk records that he (“Jahua”) sent gold and silver to Shalmaneser I. at this time, probably to invoke the Assyrian’s aid against Hazael. Certainly valor was not characteristic of Jehu. Impetuosity is not courage, nor must we mistake enthusiasm for the earnestness of conviction. To boast when putting on the harness is an easy matter; the wise will wait until the time to put it off (1 Kings 20:11); and then the truly wise will glory only in the Lord.
“And Jehoahaz besought the Lord, and the Lord harkened unto him: for He saw the oppression of Israel, because the king of Syria oppressed them. And the Lord gave Israel a saviour, so that they went out from under the hand of the Syrians: and the children of Israel dwelt in their tents, as beforetime. Nevertheless they departed not from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, who made Israel to sin, but walked therein: and there remained the grove (Asherah, N. Tr.) also in Samaria.” In this parenthetic paragraph we see how Elisha’s prophecy of Hazael’s pitiless oppression of the children of Israel was fulfilled (2 Kings 8:12). Well might the man of God, who so dearly loved Israel, weep as before him stood the destined perpetrator of these cruelties against his people—God even thus seeking to turn them back to repentance from their idolatries. This bitter chastisement appears to have had a salutary effect upon Jehoahaz, for he “besought Jehovah.” When the “goodness” of God fails to bring men to repentance, His “severity “is required, and used. See Ps. 78:34; Hos. 5:15. “Accordingly God accepted of his repentance,” Josephus says; “and being desirous rather to admonish those that might repent, than to determine that they should be utterly destroyed, He granted them deliverance from war and dangers. So the country having obtained peace, returned to its former condition, and flourished as before” (Ant. ix. 8, § 5). This restoration to prosperity began under Joash son of Jehoahaz, and culminated during the reign of his grandson Jeroboam II.21 So prayer is frequently answered after the petitioner has passed away. Let none say, then, like the wicked of old, in reference to God, “What profit should we have, if we pray unto Him?” (Job 21:15.)22 What profit? Ah, true prayer is always heard at the Throne: “Whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him” (1 John 5:15).
“Hazael king of Syria oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz” (2 Kings 13:22). There was no respite until Joash’s day. This must have been a test to Jehoahaz’ faith, if his repentance was really the result of “godly sorrow” for his and the nation’s sins. But when has faith, untried, ever flourished? Stagger not, then, nor stumble, beloved fellow-believer, at “the trial of your faith.” God “harkened” to Jehoahaz, though he died with Hazael busy at his work of devastation in his realm. “Neither did he leave of the people to Jehoahaz but fifty horsemen, and ten chariots, and ten thousand footmen; for the king of Syria had destroyed them, and had made them like the dust by threshing.” See Amos 1:3.
“Now the rest of the acts of Jehoahaz, and all that he did, and his might, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? And Jehoahaz slept with his fathers; and they buried him in Samaria: and Joash his son reigned in his stead.”
21 A temporary deliverance may have been granted as 2 Kings 13:4, 5, seems to imply; and the reason of being only temporary given in the 6th verse: “Nevertheless they departed not from the sins of the house of Jeroboam” etc.—[Ed.
22 The very need of the creature, even though unintelligent, is like a prayer—an appeal to God:” Who provideth for the raven his food? when his young ones cry unto God” (Job. 38:41).—[Ed.