Now Elisha the prophet summoned one of the sons of the prophets and said to him, "Tuck your cloak under your belt, take this flask of oil, and go to Ramoth-gilead.
I. SIN, NOT REPENTED OF, MUST BE PUNISHED. This is a law of nature. It is a fact of history. It is the very essence of morality. It is the very essence of justice. It is at the basis of social order in a nation. It is at the basis of the moral government of the universe. Those who transgress the law of nations, those who transgress the laws of honesty or of morality, those who take away the life, or the property, or the character of others, must be made to suffer for it. This is necessary, that justice may be vindicated. It is necessary, in order that property and person and character may be safe. It is necessary, in order that other evil-doers may be deterred from crime. Even under our own national law, we feel that there is something wrong when an evil-doer escapes. We feel that it has a bad effect upon the community when crime goes unpunished. Now, what is sin in the Bible sense? Sin is the transgression of the Law. It is a transgression of a far higher law than the law of nations, of that law on which the well-being of all nations depends - the eternal Law of God. The Law of God is at the foundation of all true well-being and happiness in every nation and in every age. "This do, and thou shalt live." "The commandment is holy, and just, and good." It is, therefore, in the interests of every nation, it is in the interests, not of one generation of men merely, but of those who shall come after them, that those who transgress the Divine Law should suffer for it. Every violation of a Divine law must be followed by its corresponding punishment. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Look at your own lives in the light of this great truth. Are there any sins in your lives unrepented of? Then be assured that the punishment, if it has not yet come, awaits you. Sins against God, against God's Law, against God's sabbath; sins against our fellow-man - sins of unfair dealing, sins of evil-speaking, or other and grosser sins; every one of these, if not repented of, is sure to bring its corresponding punishment. "Be sure your sin will find you out."
II. PUNISHMENT MAY BE DELAYED, BUT IT IS NONE THE LESS SURE. There is an old Irish proverb, "The vengeance of God is slow, but sure." We have many illustrations of that in history. It was long after Jezebel's great crime before her punishment overtook her. When the Israelites were journeying through the wilderness, the Amalekites treated them with great treachery and cruelty, falling upon them in the rear, and when they were faint and weary. It was not until four hundred years afterwards that the sentence against Amalek was executed but it was executed at last. We may kill our enemies, we may seek to destroy all traces of our crime, but we can never destroy the memory and the guilt of it by any acts of ours. Charles IX. of France was led, by the importunity of another Jezebel, Mary de Medicis, to kill Admiral Coligny, who was the great leader of the French Protestants. For a long time he refused, but at last he consented in the memorable words, "Assassinate Admiral Coligny, but leave not a Huguenot alive in France to reproach me." That was the origin of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew. Having killed Coligny, he did not want any of his friends to remain to bear witness against him. How anxious men are to destroy all traces of their crime! And yet how vain all such efforts are! There is One whose eye sees every act of human life. We may escape the judgment of men, but we cannot escape the judgment of God. If not here, then certainly hereafter, every sin, not repented of, will receive its due reward. "For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it he good or had."
III. THERE IS OFTEN A RESEMBLANCE BETWEEN THE PLACE AND MANNER OF THE SIN AND THE PLACE AND MANNER OF THE PUNISHMENT.
1. It was at Naboth's vineyard that the great sin of Ahab's house had been committed. There, too, at Naboth's vineyard, Jehoram, Ahab's son, was slain. It was outside the walls of Jezreel that the dogs licked the blood of Naboth. There, too, the dogs licked the blood and ate the flesh of Jezebel his murderess. It would seem as if this was part of the Divine Law of retribution. One reason for it would appear to be that it fixes unmistakably the connection between the sin and its punishment. Robe Spierre, the famous French revolutionist, literally choked the river Seine with the heads of those whom he sent to the guillotine. But the day came when the death-tumbrel containing himself was trundled along the streets of Paris to the selfsame fatal axe, amid the shouts and execrations of the multitude. Cardinal Beaten condemned to death George Wishart, one of the first of the Scottish Reformers, and watched him burning at the stake, while he himself reclined on rich cushions on the walls of his castle at St. Andrew's. Three months afterwards the cardinal himself was put to death, and his dead body was hung by a sheet from the very battlements whence he had looked at the execution of Wishart. There is something more than accident in such things. There is the vivid impression intended to be made on people's minds, that "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap"
2. The same is true of the resemblance between the manner of the sin and the manner of the punishment. Jezebel's murder of Naboth was treacherous and ignominious. She herself was put to death in a treacherous and ignominious way. "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." Jacob cruelly deceived his aged father Isaac when he was blind and feeble. What a pointed retribution it was when he was afterwards cruelly deceived by his own sons in their statements about Joseph! Haman was hanged on the gallows which he had made for Mordecai. One of the most terrible instances of this truth, that as we have treated others we shall be treated ourselves, is the case of Charles IX. of France, referred to above. He consented to the Massacre of St. Bartholomew. He caused the streets of Paris to run with the blood of the Huguenots. He died at the age of twenty-four: and what a death! French historians of the highest order say that he was in such agony of remorse that he literally sweated blood. The blood that oozed from his own body caused him to think of those whose blood he had so freely shed, and he cried out in his last hours about the massacre of the Huguenots. Horrible! Yes; but there is a deep and solemn truth underlying all this. It is a truth that should have practical result upon every life. "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again" If your sin is public, most likely your punishment will be public. Men who commit commercial frauds - that is, sins against public confidence and trust - they ought to suffer, and they do suffer, public exposure. If your sin is secret, your punishment will also most likely be secret. They who sin against the laws of health suffer in an impaired constitution. They who sin by speaking evil about others most likely will have many to speak evil about themselves. Standing there by Naboth's vineyard, and thinking of the envy, covetousness, and murder, of which it reminds us, and their terrible consequences, let us hear the blood of Nabeth and the blood of Naboth's house crying to us from the ground, "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." Such, then, is the Divine law of retribution. But God, who is just, is also merciful. He willeth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from his wickedness, and live. We have looked at the way of his justice. Let us look also at the way of his mercy. It is the way of the cross. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." If you reject God's mercy, there is only the other alternative-God's retributive justice. - C.H.I.
Elisha came to Damascus.
Homilist.We have here —
I. A DYING KING.
1. This dying king was very anxious. "Shall I recover of this disease?" This was the question he wanted Elisha to answer. Not, you may be sure, in the negative. Knowing some of the wonders that Elisha had performed, he in all likelihood imagined he would exert his miraculous power on his behalf, and restore him to life. All men more or less fear death, kings perhaps more than others. If ungodly, they have more to lose and nothing to gain. Observe,
2. His anxiety prompted him to do strange things.(1) It was strange for him to ask a favour from the man whose death he had ravenously sought. What a change is this! Dying hours reverse our judgments, revolutionise our feelings, bring the lofty down.(2) It was strange for him to ask a favour of a man whose religion he hated. Ben-hadad was an idolater.(3) It was strange for him to make costly presents to a poor lonely man. What is the wealth, the grandeur, the crown, the sceptre of the mightiest monarch to him when he feels himself dying? He will barter all away for a few short hours of life. We have here —
II. A PATRIOTIC PROPHET. "And Elisha said unto him, Go, say unto him (Ben-hadad), Thou mayest certainly recover: howbeit the Lord hath showed me that he shall surely die." "There was no contradiction in this message. The first part was properly the answer, to Ben-hadad's inquiry. The second part was intended for Hazael, who, like an artful and ambitious courtier, reported only as much of the prophet's statement as suited his own views." We have here —
III. A SELF-IGNORANT COURTIER. "And Hazael said, But what, is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing?" The conduct of this man as here recorded suggests two general remarks.
1. The germs of evil may exist in the mind of a wicked man, of which he is utterly unconscious.
2. By the force of circumstances these germs become developed in all their enormity.
PeopleAhab, Ahaziah, Ahijah, Aram, Baasha, David, Elijah, Elisha, Hazael, Jehoram, Jehoshaphat, Jehu, Jeroboam, Jezebel, Jezreel, Joram, Naboth, Nebat, Nimshi, Syrians, Zimri
PlacesBeth-haggan, Gur, Ibleam, Jerusalem, Jezreel, Megiddo, Ramoth-gilead, Syria
TopicsBelt, Bottle, Box, Cloak, Company, Elisha, Eli'sha, Flask, Gilead, Gird, Journey, Loins, Oil, Prophet, Prophets, Ramoth, Ramothgilead, Ramoth-gilead, Ready, Sons, Summoned, Tuck, Vial, Waist
Outline1. Elisha sends a young prophet with instructions to anoint Jehu at Ramoth Gilead
4. The prophet having done his message, flees
11. Jehu, being made king by the soldiers, kills Joram in the field of Naboth
27. Ahaziah is slain at Gur, and buried at Jerusalem
30. Proud Jezebel is thrown down out of a window, and eaten by dogs.
Dictionary of Bible Themes2 Kings 9:1
The book of Kings is strikingly unlike any modern historical narrative. Its comparative brevity, its curious perspective, and-with some brilliant exceptions--its relative monotony, are obvious to the most cursory perusal, and to understand these things is, in large measure, to understand the book. It covers a period of no less than four centuries. Beginning with the death of David and the accession of Solomon (1 Kings i., ii.) it traverses his reign with considerable fulness (1 Kings iii.-xi.), …
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament
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