2 Kings 9:1-14
And Elisha the prophet called one of the children of the prophets, and said to him, Gird up your loins…
The word of the Lord to Elijah, that Jehu should be anointed king (1 Kings 19:16), was now to be fulfilled. The delay in the fulfillment is perhaps to be attributed to Ahab's repentance (1 Kings 21:29). God bore long with this wicked house, and did not cut it off till the cup of its iniquity was full. The execution of God's threatenings may be long postponed, but, like his promises, his threatenings never fail in the end to be fulfilled (2 Peter 3:9).
I. THE MESSENGER DESPATCHED.
1. He was sent by Elisha. On Elisha had fallen the mantle of Elijah, and to him belonged the task of executing Elijah's unfulfilled commissions. We must distinguish throughout this history between the motives which actuated Jehu in his conspiracy against Ahab, and the providential purpose which, as God's instrument, he was raised up to fulfill. That is to be read from the standpoint of the prophet. Israel was a people called into existence for the purpose of being a witness for the true God amidst surrounding heathenism. It owed its existence and possession of the land of Canaan to Jehovah. From him it had received its polity; to him it was bound in solemn covenant; the fundamental laws of its constitution required undivided allegiance to him. The penalties which would follow from disobedience were but a counterpart of the blessings which would flow from obedience. The first great sin of the nation was in the setting up of the calves under Jeroboam. For adherence to this unlawful form of worship two dynasties had already perished (ver. 9). But with the accession of the house of Omri a new development in evil took place (1 Kings 16:31, 32). The worship of the Phoenician Baal was introduced; God's prophets were relentlessly persecuted, and, under the influence of Jezebel, the moving spirit of three reigns corruption had spread far and near throughout the realm, and had penetrated even to Judah. Jehoram at first showed a better spirit (2 Kings 3:2), but he must afterwards have yielded to the superior influence of his mother, for Baal-worship was restored, and had the prestige of court example (ver. 22; 2 Kings 10:21). Under these circumstances, it was folly to hesitate, if Israel was to be saved. "Here the question of the justifiableness of rebellion against a legitimate dynasty, or of revolution in the ordinary sense of the word, cannot arise. The course of the house of Ahab was a rebellion against all law, human and Divine, in Israel" (Bahr). Even in ordinary earthly states, the right of revolution when religion, liberty, morality, and national honor can be saved by no other means, is universally conceded. But revolution here was not left to dubious human wisdom. The initiative was taken by Jehovah himself, acting through his prophet, and express Divine sanction was given to the overthrow of Ahab's house.
2. His responsible commission. The person chosen by Elisha to convey God's call to Jehu, and anoint him king, was one of the sons of the prophets. The anointing was to be in secret; hence the choice of a deputy. No value attaches to the tradition that the messenger was the future Prophet Jonah. Of his personality we know nothing more than is here told. He was an obscure individual, yet he set in motion a train of events of the most tragic significance. A child's hand may suffice to explode a mine. This messenger Elisha ordered to take a flask of the holy oil, and go to Ramoth-Gilead, where Jehu was. When he found the son of Nimshi, he was to retire with him into the innermost apartment, and anoint him King of Israel in the name of Jehovah, then he was to "open the door, and flee, and tarry not."
3. The spirit in which he was to execute it. It was a clear, unmistakable, but terribly serious and important message this prophetic disciple was entusted with; and it is instructive to notice the manner in which he was directed to perform his task. "Gird up thy loins," etc., said Elisha. He was to prepare at once for action; he was to make no delay on his errand; he was faithfully to execute the commands given to him; when his work was done, he was directly to leave the spot. In God's service there is to be no lingering, or looking back, or turning from side to side, or dallying on the field of duty. The powers of body and soul are to be braced up for the doing of the "one thing" given us to do. "Girding up the loins of your mind," says an apostle (1 Peter 1:13). Promptitude, speed, fidelity, stepping where the command of God stops, - these are invaluable qualities for doing God's work.
II. JEHU ANOINTED.
1. The messenger's arrival. Jehoram had returned to Jezreel to be healed of wounds received from the Syrians, and Jehu was at this time in command of the army at Ramoth-Gilead. The city itself had previously fallen into the hands of the Israelites. When the messenger arrived, he found the captains of the host sitting together in some house or court, and he at once addressed Jehu with the words, "I have an errand to thee, O captain." Jehu put the question, "Unto which of all us?" and the answer was, "To thee, O captain." The call of God may come to us at unexpected times and in surprising ways. It may come through others, or its voice may be heard in providence. There are general calls which God gives "to us all," and there are special calls to the individual. In whatever way the call of God is made known to us, we do well to give attentive heed to it.
2. The act of anointing. Jehu's anointing was to take place secretly. The messenger was to take him into an "inner chamber," and there make known his errand. We are reminded that it is generally in silence and secrecy that God gives men their summons to their peculiar life work. No time was wasted. The young man, trembling, excited, no doubt, at the thought of the perilous deed he was performing, and at the awful nature of the message he had to deliver, had no sooner got Jehu in private than he poured the oil from his flask upon his head, and said, "Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I have anointed thee king over the people of the Lord, even over Israel." There is involved in this brief announcement the truths:
(1) That royal authority is from God. He sets up kings and puts down kings (Daniel 2:21). Those only who rule by his sanction and with his favor are legitimate rulers.
(2) Israel was a people of the Lord. Only God, therefore, had the right to appoint its rulers, and to determine the limits within which royal power should, be exercised. It was by their setting at naught of all the limits of a theocratic constitution that Ahab and his house had forfeited the throne.
(3) Jehu was made king by the direct act of God. God had taken the kingdom from Ahab's house and given it to him. It followed however, that if he, in turn, departed from God's commandments, he would incur the same fate.
3. The terrible charge. The prophet next declared to Jehu the terrible duty imposed upon him as the executor of God's judgments. It was certainly work from which any man might shrink, though to Jehu it does not seem to have been repugnant, as paving his own way to the throne We notice:
(1) The ground of the judgment: "That I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets," etc. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints" (Psalm 116:15). Whoso touches them, touches him (Acts 9:4). He will not allow the least injury done to them to pass unavenged (Matthew 18:6).
(2) The range of the judgment: "The whole house of Ahab" - king, queen-mother, the royal household, every one, great and small, having in him the accursed blood. It was a root-and-branch extermination that was decreed.
(3) The terribleness of the judgment. Dreadful as this execution was, it was in accordance with the ideas of the time. In some sense it was a necessary concomitant of such a revolution as Jehu was about to bring about. From the Divine side it was justified as an act of vengeance against a wicked house. Ahab's house did not fall without warning, for it had already the doom of Jeroboam's and Baasha's dynasties to warn it from evil courses. Special signs of the Divine wrath were to attend the end of Jezebel, the prime instigator of Ahab's wickedness. It was foretold that the dogs would eat Jezebel in the portion of Jezreel, and there would be none to bury her. How fearful a thing it is, as shown by these examples, to fall into the hands of a living God (Hebrews 10:31)! Great persecutors have often met a terrible end.
III. JEHU PROCLAIMED.
1. Jehu and his captains. The whole circumstances of the prophet's visit had been so strange, his appearance had been so wild, and his calling out of Jehu for a private interview so remarkable, that the captains who had witnessed the scene were naturally much astonished. Their first question, accordingly, when Jehu reappeared among them, himself somewhat agitated, and his hair streaming with the oil which had been poured upon it, was "Is it peace? Wherefore came this mad fellow to thee?" Men under any spiritual excitement seem "mad fellows" to profane minds (Hosea 9:7; Acts 26:24; 2 Corinthians 5:13); but there may have been something in this messenger's disheveled appearance - the result of his haste - his eager, hasty manner, and the strange fire that burned in his eye, which gave them the impression of one not altogether accountable for his actions. His hasty flight at the end of the interview would add to their surprise. Jehu, in reply, sought to evade explanation. His words, "Ye know the man, and his communication," mean either, "You have taken a right estimate of him as a madman, and therefore need not concern yourself with what he said;" or, "You are yourselves at the bottom of this trick, and know very well wherefore he came" The latter is, perhaps, the better sense, and may indicate that Jehu wished to sound his companions before going further. Their eager, "It is false; tell us now," shows how greatly their curiosity was aroused. Jehu thereupon told them frankly what had happened.
2. Jehu proclaimed king. The response on the part of the captains was immediate. Jehu must already have been a general favorite, or the proposal to make him king would not have met with such easy acceptance. As with one accord, the captains threw off their upper garments, spread them on the stairs, made Jehu mount above them, and, blowing the trumpets, forthwith proclaimed him king. Would that when God comes declaring to men the anointing and exaltation of "another King, even Jesus," his words found as ready a response! - J.O.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Elisha the prophet called one of the children of the prophets, and said unto him, Gird up thy loins, and take this box of oil in thine hand, and go to Ramothgilead: