2 Kings 9

Jehu, King of Israel

Jehu's entire history takes up three verses in Chronicles (2 Chr. 22: 7‑9), which speaks sorely of his relations with Judah. We shall return to this when we study Chronicles.

The chapter we are considering brings out, as we have mentioned above, the character of the grace of Elisha. In­stead of anointing Jehu himself, he entrusts this mission to one of the sons of the prophets. This young man must not remain for an instant with Jehu, but he must flee as soon as his deed is accomplished. All is done secretly and in haste, for when it is a matter of judgment, Elisha's soul neither rests nor abides there. Judgment must take place, for God has spoken, but God finds his delight in grace and approves his servant's manner of acting.

How much, in virtue of its judicial character, does this scene differ from that which accompanies the anointing of David! Here this son of the prophets must make Jehu rise up "from among his brethren," lead him far away from all eyes into "an inner chamber," and anoint him without wit­nesses in haste and secretly. Samuel, on the contrary, anoints David king of grace "in the midst of his brethren"; they do not sit down at the table until he arrives, and this family feast reunites them for a common meal. After that, Samuel rises up in peace and goes to Ramah (1 Sam 16: 11‑13). These scenes of communion form an absolute con­trast to the one which unfolds here. Jehu is God's rod against Israel and Judah, and God cannot have commun­ion with an instrument of judgment, however necessary it may be. Later He will approve (2 Kings 10: 30) the way Jehu car­ried out his task, but without communion with him; for all the while He is speaking thus He is approving neither the man nor his motives, as we shall have occasion to note more than once in these chapters.

If the prophet Elisha had wept before Hazael, what would he have done before Jehu? He also gives as brief as possi­ble a commission: "Thus said Jehovah: I have anointed thee king over Israel" (2 Kings 9: 3). A prophet himself, he leaves up to this son of the prophets without dictating the words to him, the concern for what he will have to add to it by the Spirit.

This young man reveals to Jehu the unsparing judgment upon the house of Ahab. The motive for this judgment was the way in which this king, urged on by Jezebel, had treat­ed the servants of the Lord and His prophets. In fact, there will ever come the time when the Lord will call to mind that which has earlier been done to "His brethren," whether in Israel or in the Christian assembly.

The fact that the young prophet adds all this detail to the words of Elisha is very characteristic of this latter's career and moral essence. Not once, except at Bethel (and we have shown the reason for this), does he pronounce judgment himself, though he must pass through a scene where all is judgment on God's part. This judgment must put an end to the dynasty of Omri in order to fulfill the sentence pronounced upon Ahab. For the same reason, the Lord had already put an end to the house of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat (1 Kings 15: 28‑30), and to that of Baasha (1 Kings 16: 1‑4), each time repeating the dreadful word: Him that dieth . . . in the city shall the dogs eat, and him that dieth in the field shall the fowl of the heavens eat" (1 Kings 14: 11; 1 Kings 16: 4; 1 Kings 21: 24).

The young man flees according to the command given by the prophet. He did not have to retract that which has been decreed, has no explanation to give, no warning, as had been the case for Ahab (1 Kings 21: 27‑29); judgment was at the door and to be executed immediately.

Jehoram of Israel (vv. 11‑15), wounded in battle, had just left Ramoth‑Gilead where Hazael had kept him at bay, and had come to Jizreel to be healed of his wounds. During this time the captains of his army were at Ramoth, continuing to occupy and to keep this important post, justly claimed by the kings of Israel (cf. 1 Kings 22: 3). We see here how God has the upper hand in all events and over all men when the moment to accomplish His decrees has arrived. Scarcely had Jehu received the anointing oil than-without any preliminary arrangements, for they do not know what the prophet whom they call a fool had just done-all the cap­tains acclaimed Jehu as king Were they wise men them­selves, these men who without intelligence, without reason­ing it out, without a choice in the matter, sound the trum­pet and say: Jehu is king; while the one who despite his youth had just proclaimed God's mind, being fully aware of the reason for it, was called a fool or imbecile by them?

In our days we can often observe the same anomaly. The Christian, having knowledge of the thoughts of God, can announce them to men in their fullness and in detail, these events for which the world will be the "heater. Those who are wise call them fools, until that day when their eyes will be opened-but too late-to acknowledge the truth of what has been announced to them.

Let us note that Jehu does not conspire against Jehoram until after he has been proclaimed king He then immedi­ately takes measures so that the king of Jizreel should not receive any news of what had taken place (v. 15). Jehu's character made up of great impetuosity joined together with much prudence, decisiveness, and understanding of human nature, offers ample material for study. Let us note this trait: "If it be your will, let not a fugitive escape out of the city to go to tell it in Jizreel" (v. 15). He artfully engages his accomplices in a collective responsibility, in order that in case of failure everything cannot be laid to his charge. That which follows will give us a second exam­ple. But it is in this that we may also ascertain his lack of piety and of dependence upon God, and his ambition which takes advantage of the word of Jehovah to assure himself of full power. He is thinking only of himself, of his own interests, and of the gratification of his passions; he ex­ercises judgment to assure himself of benefits, and covers all this egoism with a cloak which he calls "zeal for Jehovah."

During the interval, Ahaziah had come down to Jehoram to express his sympathy concerning his wounds. Despite its appearance of urbanity and cordiality, this liaison was odious to the Lord. The lamp that had been maintained up to now in David's house, was about to be extinguished unless God should occupy Himself with trimming it. But his relationship to a family of an apostate race was of more value to Ahaziah than the glory of the God of Israel. Simi­lar conditions are often met with in our days. The family of God has, however, nothing to gain by such relationships. Each time Israel gained an advantage through the friend­ship of the king of Judah, what did it give in exchange? The loss was always on the side of those who, in some fee­ble measure, still bore the testimony of the true God.

Jehu goes to Jizreel. "Is it peace?" This is the great ques­tion raised. Judgment is at the door, and Jehoram does not yet know whether it is peace or wrath that has come to him. What use are his messengers and the precautions he takes to him? None of his servants returned to warn him and ad­vise him to be on his guard. The prudence of Jehu had provided for this. "Turn thee behind me," he tells them- excellent means to reach his ends without prematurely awakening the distrust of his king But God is controlling all things, even those that are contrary to his character. He is a God of truth; His ways are straight and never crooked. He has said: "There is no peace . . . to the wicked", His sentence must be executed.

"Jehu . . . drives furiously." The rumbling of thunder an­nounces the storm to all except to Jehoram, as deaf to the approach of the tempest as he had been to that of the grace so often pronounced before him. He does nothing to ward off his fate. He comes with Ahaziah to seek refuge at the foot of the tree upon which the blow is to fall. Alas! Such is the lot of men. They seek for peace outside the peace that God offers to all, and find nothing but agitation, anguish, and finally the judgment of God. "Peace, peace to him that is afar off, and to him that is nigh, saith Jehovah; and I will heal him. But the wicked are like the troubled sea, which cannot rest, and whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked" (Isa. 57: 19‑21). Also in that moment when men will "say, 'Peace,' then sudden destruction will come upon them. "What peace," answered Jehu, "so long as the fornications of thy mother Jezebel and her sorceries are so many?" Jehoram cries while fleeing, "Treachery, Ahaziah!" Not treachery, but judgment! The word of God to Elijah is fulfilled to the letter. "And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay" (1 Kings 19: 17). Jehu himself smites king Jehoram. Then he recalls the prophe­cy of Elijah to Ahab (1 Kings 21: 19‑24), not in the identical words, but with the same meaning Miserable king! In what was he trusting? In his title and his royal dignity, as we see by his riding forth which leads to his ruin; in the twelve long years of his reign, no doubt, (and who would dream of treachery after such a long reign); in the faithfulness of his subjects and of those who surrounded him. Vain sup­ports! "How are they suddenly made desolate!"

And who has made all these circumstances work together to this result? Who caused Jehoram to depart from Ramoth, leaving Jehu and his captains there? Who had led him to Jizreel, the scene of Ahab's sin? Who led him to Naboth's vineyard in his chariot? Who left him lying there outside the city in the very place where the blood of this righteous man had flowed? One cannot mistake it; it is the hand of the Lord.

Ahaziah meets the same fate (vv. 27‑29), nevertheless with mitigation, the Lord having not yet finally rejected the house of Judah. If Ahaziah's "coming to Joram was from God the complete ruin of Ahaziah" (2 Chr. 22: 7), yet he was not abandoned to the beasts of the field and the fowl of the heavens like a vile criminal, but he was buried in his sepulchre with his fathers in the city of David.

Jehu enters into Jizreel (vv. 30‑37). Jezebel hears of it and paints her face and decks her head in savage confidence of triumph. She wants to show him that she does not fear him with his company, for she still has authority and power. From high up in the window she flings down these ironic words to him: "Is it peace, Zimri, murderer of his master?" Is it peace for you? You are not worth more than Zimri, Baasha's assassin. He had succeeded in reigning for seven days following his conspiracy; then he had perished. All these disdainful thoughts reverberate in these few words. Jehu lifts his face to the window where the queen is standing, and cries out, "Who is on my side? who?" And to two or three eunuchs who nod to him from above he says, "Throw her down! And they threw her down; and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall, and on the horses; and he trampled on her" (v. 33). Here we see how much Jehu is a stranger in his thoughts to the honor and the glory of the Lord, all the while knowing the divine decree and that he is its executor. One might have expected that the word "Who is for the Lord?" might have come forth from his mouth, but God had little place in the thoughts of this violent and ambitious man. Even that which had been prophesied by Elijah concerning Jezebel, a scene at which he had been present (v. 25; cf. 1 Kings 21: 23), does not recur to his memory. He says, "Go, look, I pray you, after this cursed woman, and bury her; for she is a king's daughter" (v. 34). When the men returned, having found nothing more than some wretched dog‑eaten remains, he recalls the prophecy, but only when it is in accord with his passions. If it be a matter of governing his conduct by the prophecy, he pays it no heed.