Introduction

The Second Book of Kings follows the First without any interruption. In order to spare the reader an erroneous conclusion it may be useful to remark that this division into two books does not form part of the inspired text, which originally formed but one book in the Hebrew canon. As we are mentioning this subject in passing, we would add for our readers that one of the great divisions of the Old Testament, "the Prophets," included besides the books of the prophets proper with exception of Daniel and Lamentations, all the books from Joshua through the books of Kings except for the book of Ruth.*

The mere title, "the Prophets," enlightens us about the authors of the historical books with which we are occupied. We owe these books to the prophets; they bear their imprint. So‑called modern theological criticism should in no way influence the Christian's convictions on this point. The Word of God alone is enough to explain itself and to furnish us assurance as to its contents.

Thus the acts of David are written in the words of Samuel the seer, in the words of Nathan the prophet, and in those of Gad the seer (cf. 1 Chr. 29: 29 with 1 & 2 Samuel); the acts of Solomon, in the words of Nathan the prophet, in the prophecy of Ahijah, and in the vision of Iddo the seer con­cerning Jeroboam the son of Nebat. (cf. 2 Chr. 9: 29 with 1 Kings); the acts of Rehoboam, in the words of Shemaiah the prophet and of Iddo the seer in the genealogical registers (2 Chr. 12: 15); the acts of Abijah, in the treatise of the prophet Iddo (2 Chr. 13: 22); those of Jehoshaphat, in the words of Jehu the son of Hanani which are inserted in the book of the Kings of Israel (2 Chr. 20: 34). The acts of Uzziah were written by Isaiah the son of Amoz (2 Chr. 26: 22); those of Hezekiah, in the vision of Isaiah the prophet (cf. 2 Chr. 32: 32 with 2 Kings 18‑20 and Isa. 36‑39). Finally, 2 Kings 24: 18‑25 corresponds to Jeremiah 52.

Isn't it remarkable that it should be precisely the books of Chronicles, so contested and so attacked by the ration­alists, that confirm the prophetic authority of our histori­cal books? Now if it is true that the books of Kings are the work of the prophets, and that is enough for us since the Word of God does not tell us any more concerning the man­ner in which they were composed, we can expect to find in them not only the simple account of historical facts, and a perfectly exact statement of these facts since it is of di­vine origin, but also the features which form the substance of all prophetic writing: examples of the past sufferings and of the future glories of Christ.

This is what the books of Samuel and the first book of Kings have shown us superabundantly in the persons of David and Solomon. But this also explains for us why the prophets themselves play a preponderant role in these books. This fact, as we have already mentioned elsewhere, strikes us as soon as we enter into these books. Nothing but the activity of Elijah and of Elisha is dwelt upon in nineteen of the forty‑seven chapters contained in Kings.

By way of preface, it is well yet to add here some remarks which did not get a place in the introduction to the First Book of Kings. They bear upon the character of the prophets of Israel in contrast to those of Judah. In studying 1 Kings we have been able to ascertain the character of Elijah's ministry, which above all was a ministry of miracles. We shall have occasion to notice this even more fully in the life of Elisha, the second great prophet of Israel. The ac­tivity of these men of God consisted much more of deeds than of words. On the contrary, that of the prophets of Judah is altogether different. They speak, and only rarely perform a miracle, such as that of the sun dial of Ahaz (Isa. 38: 8). This contrast springs from the fact that the public profession of the worship of Jehovah was still acknowledged in Judah, and subsisted in spite of idolatrous intermixture; thus it did not need miracles to be accredited.

This leads us to respond to the question that is often asked, why one no longer sees miracles in Christendom to­day. The reason is the same. As long as it has not been spued out of the Lord's mouth, the miracles intended to strengthen the hearts of the faithful grappling with aposta­sy shall not take place, nor those intended to vindicate the character of the true God before men who have renounced Him.

It was otherwise at the beginning of the Church's histo­ry. Numerous miracles took place, whether among the Jews who had rejected their Messiah, in order to prove the divinity of the Savior to them, or whether among the idolatrous Gentiles, in order to accredit the preaching of the God who was unknown to them. God bore witness with His servants "both by signs and wonders, and various acts of power, and distributions of the Holy Ghost, according to his will" (Heb. 2: 4).

Catholicism pretends to miracles, just as in a measure also the Protestantism of our days pretends to miraculous gifts. In fact, that which the first presents to us are false miracles intended to blind the simple, whereas the second seeks to accredit itself by an appearance of divine power when apostasy has already made itself known in its bos­om on every hand.

After the rapture of the saints, the miracles of the age to come shall be made manifest, whether among the Jews or before the nations, by means of the remnant, as we see in Revelation 11. The story of Elisha will furnish us occasion to consider this subject in type. But at the same time the land of Israel-of the apostate people under the Antichrist-and the entire world will be the theater of ly­ing wonders performed by the‑ false prophet, Satan's last instrument to seduce the men who dwell upon the earth. (Rev. 13: 13‑15).

We shall limit ourselves to these few preliminary re­marks, which will find ample confirmation in that portion of the Scriptures which we want to study under the Lord's eye and with the help of His Holy Spirit.

 

Footnotes:

*The Old Testament was composed of three major divisions: the Law, that is, the five books of Moses; the Prophets, of which we are speaking; and finally the Hagiographa or "Sacred Writings," known also by the title "the Psalms" (Luke 24: 44), and containing Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and the two books of Chronicles.