Read 2 Kings 6:24 – 31
· V. 25 – We kinda understand inflation; but what’s the word for this? In the history of redemption, there have been desperate times. Remember, O Lord, the pains of our fathers, especially the sufferings of our Lord, and act for your name now.
· V. 27 – The king has sunk into a deep cynicism. He means something like – if God’s not supplying wheat or wine, what could I possibly offer you? So, the king has been deeply humbled, but as v. 31 reveals, it’s not the productive kind of humility.
· V.V. 28, 29 – Please go back and look at the warning of Deuteronomy 28: 52-57. When God says things can get really bad, believe Him.
· V. 30 – what was seen under the king’s robe. What do you think: why are we given this little detail?
· V. 31 – Here, a classic proverb comes to mind: When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the LORD. (19:3)….or the LORD’s messenger!
Read 2 Kings 6:32-7:20
· V. 32 – That Elisha bars the messenger from easily entering seems to be an act not of fear but of performative disdain. See John the Baptist for other examples of the same. Or our Lord Himself: Tell [Herod] that fox…
· V. 33 – The messenger still is able to unburden himself of the king’s message, which is basically, God’s not working out for me…I’m trying something else. (Plus, this sackcloth makes me look fat – ok, that part I made up.)
· V. 7:2 – Just as the word of God conveys terrible things that beggar the imagination, so sometimes it speaks good news that seems too Pollyanna-ish. “The first thing that must strike a non-Christian about the Christian faith is that it obviously presumes far too much. It is too good to be true.” – Hans Urs von Balthasar
· Last week we heard of the foe being tricked by what they saw (3:22, 23). And now, another foe, duped by what they thought they heard. Is this application a stretch: we walk by faith and not by our senses ? ?
· VV. 9, 13 – The lepers and the servants are the surprising messengers of grace, even as the king can’t leave behind his cynicism. Does this account make you think of “jars of clay” (2 Corinthians 4:7)?
· VV. 17-20 – A large (the text gives quite a bit of space to this) shadow is cast over what should have been a scene of unmitigated joy. The lesson for the people of God is to not doubt God’s word, even when it seems too good to be true.
Read 2 King 8: 1-6
· We get to spend a little more time with one of my favorite biblical characters, the Shunammite woman. Remember her (4:8ff)?
· God uses partnerships in the gospel to lead and supply for His people in ways that include the very practical. (Mark 10:29, 30). There really is a enduring camaraderie that occurs while working with others for the Lord.
· V. 4 – We’re confused that Gehazi shows up again, since the last time we encountered him, leprosy was spreading over his body. The probable solution to this mystery is that the book of Kings isn’t strictly chronological; the author arranges stories to advance theological lessons.
· Did you catch on to the incredible timing – seven years after she’s left, the woman shows up to the king at the exact moment when he’s “happening” to be asking Gehazi for some inside scoops on Elisha and Gehazi “happens” to recall the episode with the Shunammite’s son. If only God would normally work with this exactness:
Read 2 Kings 8: 7 – 19
· Hazael – remember his name all the way back from God’s word to Elijah at Mt Horeb – 1 Kings 19:15 ?
· V. 10 – Elisha’s answer is a little riddle-ish – but perhaps can be understood as: the king would recover – perhaps is even now on the way, but Hazael’s waterboarding (v. 15) will stop that recovery in its tracks.
· VV. 11-12 – Wow, wow, wow. Elisha is tasked with launching a career of someone that will inflict horrors on his countrymen. The strange ways of God. Even though Elisha obeys his Lord, and presumably appreciates the justice of God’s ways, and hopefully understands that the end of all this will be glorious, he doesn’t have to like the waypoints on the journey. Further down that story that ends in glory, there’s another Man who weeps over the coming judgment on Israel.
· V. 13 – Maybe in the moment Hazael really cannot imagine himself carrying out anything so heinous or significant. But he has time on the way home to mull over the prophet’s words, and by the time he arrives back to his master (v.14), he’s eagerly assuming his prophesied calling. Very interesting and deep: God’s will is done. Sometimes that will happens “naturally,” without sign of divine finagling. But sometimes, as here, it is God’s Word that sets in motion events…even dark ones.
· VV. 16-18 – The king of Israel is Ahab’s son. The king of Judah is Ahab’s son-in-law. It appears that Jehoshaphat, who you might recall had an overall “fresh” rating (1 Kings 22: 43) [heh, heh], sealed his unwise alliance with Israel at the cost of the happiness of his son’s home. As one commentator wryly says: “Jehoshaphat seemed to be long on piety and short on sense.”
· V. 19 – For the sake of David his servant – The covenant with David…indeed all the covenants…are the spine of the biblical narrative that hold it together. God’s loyalty to His word and His people makes the difference. Our only hope.
2 Kings 8: 20 – 29
· V. 20 – Both the southern (Judah) and northern (Israel) kingdoms are proving to be unfaithful to the covenant; as a result they are in a decline. Death by a thousand cuts, as they say. The latest setback is losing control over Edom. As one commentator observes: ‘Edom’s revolt, at all events, was a heavy blow to Judah’s economy. Not only the mines and the shipyards, but the entire caravan trade with Arabia was lost.’
· VV. 28, 29 – This is basically setting the stage for the events unfolded in chapter 9.
2 Kings 9: 1-13
· V. 2 – Jehu is another name coming from Elijah’s commissioning on Horeb.
· V. 3 – Flee; do not linger – This anointing was dangerous. Just because God commands something doesn’t necessarily mean that we can stride leisurely and triumphantly through complying! What do they say: Trust in God and lock the car.
· V. 7 – So that I may avenge on Jezebel the blood of my servants the prophets. – See Revelation 6: 9-11.
· V. 11 – You know the fellow and his talk – Jehu is playing it cool, wants to get back to the strategy session or poker game or arm wrestling (or whatever they were doing) so that he’s not asked a bunch of uncomfortable questions. But then there is that smell of anointing oil wafting from his hair…
· V. 13 – These brothers in arms leapt at the chance to follow one of their own. The men who sat down as subjects of Joram rise up ready to die for Jehu. And so it goes. God’s judgments won’t be thwarted. Rebels will be replaced by…other species of sinners!
Yes, even though Jehu is God’s vessel of judgment, we’ve seen this movie before, and we are skeptical that things will really improve under him. A commentator quotes the historian Barbara Tuchman: “Revolutions produce other men, not new men.”
Come, Spirit of Jesus.