2 Kings 13:1-2. 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.
“Seventeen years” — that is a long time in which to do mischief. Seventeen years of reigning over a people, influencing them all for mischief, turning them aside from God, and doing his utmost to erase the name of Jehovah from the hearts of the people. Remember, this Jehoahaz was the son of John, who had been called to the front because of the sins of the house of Ahab. Though Jehu was brought forward to be a reformer, yet he and his race were as bad as those who were cast out. What a sad thing this is, when those who are planted where the cumber-ground tree used to be become just as barren as the one that has been out down, or are only fruitful in sour fruit! See here the force of evil example. It was many years since Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, had set up the calves at Bethel and Dan; yet here is another king walking in his footsteps. You cannot tell, if you leave a bad example behind, how your children, and your grandchildren to distant generations, may follow your evil footsteps. Bad examples are very vital; they live on age after age; and influence others long after the first transgressor is dead. The thought that we may be ruining those who are yet unborn, should keep us back from sin. Notice also, at the end of the second verse, “He departed not therefrom.” There is a final perseverance in sin; some men seem to prove it: “He departed not therefrom.” He was warned against it; he was chastened for it; but “he departed not therefrom,” If men hold on in sin, how much more ought the people of God to hold on in righteousness! Whatever happens to you when you are once in the good old way, may it be said of you, “He departed not therefrom.” If all other men should turn aside, yet let that be said of you, “He departed not therefrom.” But, if you are in the wrong road, may the Lord cause you to turn from it, and to turn to himself at once! If you depart not from evil, you must depart from God.
2 Kings 13:3. 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.
God’s people cannot sin without coming under chastisement. Remember this word of the Lord, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” If you become church-members, and yet live unholy lives, you come under a special discipline, a discipline which I plainly see to be going on in the Church of God even to this day. “For this cause,” said Paul of the church in Corinth, “many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” No doubt God does send many rods to his rebellious family. He is not one of those fathers who “spare the rod, and spoil the child.” Hazael and Benhadad were both wicked men; yet God used them as rods to chastise his sinning people.
2 Kings 13:4. And Jehoahaz besought the LORD, and the LORD hearkened unto him
Bad as he was, he knew the hand that smote him, and he besought Jehovah. What a wonder it is that God does hear the prayers of even wicked men! I have heard it said, sometimes, that “the prayer of the wicked is an abomination unto God.” There is no such passage as that in the Scripture. It is “the sacrifice of the wicked” that is “abomination to the Lord.” Even when a wicked man cries unto God, and even if his prayer be not a spiritual and acceptable prayer, yet God may hear it in a measure, as he did in this case. Sometimes that hearing of prayer leads men to repentance; and they then pray better prayers, and receive greater blessings.
2 Kings 13:4. For he saw the oppression of Israel, because the king of Syria oppressed them.
God cannot bear to see the sorrows of his own people. Even when he himself is laying on the rod, if his child cries, it goes to his heart. Remember what he did to Pharaoh when he heard the sighing and crying of his people in Egypt. There is nothing more powerful with a father’s heart than the tears of his child; and God heard the prayers of this bad man because “He saw the oppression of Israel, because the king of Syria oppressed them.”
2 Kings 13:5. (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.
The Lord gave them deliverance from the cruel fetters of the Syrians. They had been so tormented, so plundered, so oppressed in every way, that God had pity upon them, and gave them peace.
2 Kings 13:6. Nevertheless they departed not from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, who made Israel sin, but walked therein: and there remained the grove also in Samaria.)
Israel’s repentance was only half-hearted; they repented because they suffered. They repented because of the suffering rather than because of the sin. They went back to the sin after they escaped from the sorrow. Oh, be not so, my hearer! If God has chastened thee on account of sin, let thine be a thorough repentance. Go to God with hatred of thy sin; for until thou dost get rid of sin, thy being rid of sorrow will be a small blessing.
2 Kings 13:7. 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.
God helped them and delivered them; but they were brought very, very low. If God’s people sin, their deliverance will cost them dearly. Israel was once a great and powerful nation; their armies went forth in vast hosts; but now they have only the remnant of an army.
2 Kings 13:8. 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?
They were not worth writing in the Scriptures. We have very slender records concerning Jehoahaz; but quite enough for such a wicked man.
2 Kings 13:9-11. And Jehoahaz slept with his fathers; and they buried him in Samaria: and Joash his son reigned in his stead. In the thirty and seventh year of Joash king of Judah began Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned sixteen years. And he did that which was evil in, the sight of the LORD
One sinner was followed by another. This young man must have seen the mischief that his father’s idolatry brought on the people; but he went on in the same evil way. Oh, you sons of godly parents, you ought to follow your fathers’ footsteps, for these wicked sons of wicked men followed their fathers’ evil example! Oh, that there were an inclination in all the children of the godly to be like their parents, for there is evidently a tendency in the heart of the children of the ungodly to be like their sires!
2 Kings 13:11. He departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin: but he walked therein.
I repeat what I said before, what a mischievous thing is one evil example! When a man makes another sin, the other who sins is guilty, and the man who makes him sin is a sharer in his guilt. Here is Jeroboam, dead for years, and yet, he keeps on sinning. I may say of him, “He, being dead, yet sinneth.” His sin goes on burning like a fire; and surely the punishment continues if the sin continues. As long as souls exist, sin will exist; you cannot stop it. Sin will repeat itself again and again, and multiply in its repetition spreading among thousands perhaps yet unborn. Oh, what an evil thing is sin! Prove to me that sin ever ceases to operate, and you might give me some thought that the punishment will cease; but that can never be; and, as long as sin continues to poison, God will continue to punish.
2 Kings 13:12-13. And the rest of the acts of Joash, and all that he did, and his might wherewith he fought against Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? And Joash slept with, his fathers; and Jeroboam sat upon his throne: and Joash, was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel.
Now, here is a story about this Joash which is preserved to us.
2 Kings 13:14. Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died.
An old man, probably in his ninetieth year; he had served his generation well. We read nothing of him for five and forty years; he seems to have been in comparative seclusion; perhaps in his old age he had been neglected and forgotten, as many a man of God has been who once stood in the front rank. Elisha has fallen mortally sick at last, and he is about to go home.
2 Kings 13:14. And Joash the king of Israel came down unto him,
This is one good thing that Joash did. He remembered that it was through Elijah and Elisha that the men of his house, the house of Jehu, had been put upon the throne; and when he heard that Elisha was dying, something like compunction crossed his heart, and he “came down unto him.”
2 Kings 13:14. And wept over his face,
As Bishop Hall says, he gave him some drops of warm water; and if a cup of cold water, given to a prophet, shall not be without its reward, so neither shall those tender tears be without their reward.
2 Kings 13:14. And said, O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.
Elisha must have opened his eyes when he heard those words, for he recollected that those were nearly the last words that he said to Elijah when his master was taken up to heaven. Perhaps the king had heard that; and, with a kind of delicate thoughtfulness, he applied the words to this grand old man, who was now about to die. He was to Israel chariot and horsemen, for it was by his means that Israel had been delivered.
2 Kings 13:15-16. And Elisha said unto him, Take bow and arrows. And he took unto him bow and arrows. And he said to the king of Israel, Put thine hand upon the bow. And he put his hand upon it; and Elisha put his hands upon the king’s hands.
Not because he could lend much strength, for he was an old man; but because this signified that God would be with the king, that the power which dwelt in the prophet’s God would come through the prophet’s hands to help the king.
2 Kings 13:17. And he said, Open the window eastward.
They had no glass windows in those days, you know; but they threw back the iron bars that made the shutter, and opened the window eastward.
2 Kings 13:17. And he opened it. Then Elisha said, Shoot. And he shot. And he said, The arrow of the LORD’S deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria: for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou have consumed them.
It was usual, in the East, when war was proclaimed, to do it by shooting an arrow towards the enemy’s country; and this brave old man, soon about to breathe out his life, had strengthened the king in the great weakness of the Israelitish state to proclaim war once more against Syria.
2 Kings 13:18. And he said, Take the arrows. And he took them.
I suppose, a quiver full.
2 Kings 13:18. And he said unto the king of Israel, Smite upon the ground.
“Shoot the arrows out of the window, and let them strike into the ground, and stick there.”
2 Kings 13:18-19. And he smote thrice, and stayed. And the man of God was wroth with him,
Elisha was angry, but he did not sin. He loved the people, and he was grieved to think that the king was so slack and slothful.
2 Kings 13:19-20. And said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shall smite Syria but thrice. And Elisha died, and they buried him.
God has different ways of taking his people home. Some go on a sudden, whirled away, as Elijah was. This prophet died gently, worn out with age; but there is something very beautiful about his death. A king weeps over his aged face. He has the pleasure, though it was mingled with pain, of helping to deliver his people; and, after his death, God bore full witness to him.
2 Kings 13:20-21. And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year. And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.
Thus God gave Elisha power, even after death, and certainly set the divine seal upon his message. It was as great a glory to him to give life to the dead as it was to Elijah to pass to heaven without dying at all.
2 Kings 13:22-23. But Hazael king of Syria oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz. And the LORD was gracious unto them, and had compassion on them, and had respect unto them, because of his covenant
Ah, that is what always lies at the bottom of God’s mercy, “his covenant.” Oh, that grand word “covenant”! Some think very little of it, few preach much about it; but this is the very foundation of mercy. This is “the deep that lieth under”, out of which all the wells of grace spring up.
2 Kings 13:23. With Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, neither cast he them from his presence as yet.
He would not do it till he was fully driven to it, till provocation upon provocation should wear out his patience,
2 Kings 13:24-25. So Hazael king of Syria died; and Benhadad his son reigned in, his stead. And Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz took again out of the hand of Benhadad the son of Hazael the cities, which he had taken out of the hand of Jehoahaz his father by war. Three times did Joash beat him, and recovered the cities of Israel.
He shot three arrows, and now it came to pass that three times did Joash beat Benhadad, and recover the cities of Israel. Oh, that he had beaten the king of Syria six times, and set Israel completely free from its enemy!