2 Kings 6:30
And it came to pass, when the king heard the words of the woman, that he rent his clothes; and he passed by on the wall, and the people looked, and, behold, he had sackcloth within on his flesh.
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(30) And he passed.Now he was passing. The people in the streets below would see him well as he passed along the rampart.


He had sackcloth.—Rather, the sackcloth was. “The sackcloth”—i.e., the well-known garb of penitence and woe (1Kings 21:27). Jehoram had secretly assumed this ascetic garment in order to appease the wrath of Jehovah. That the king should wear sackcloth was a portent in the eyes of his subjects. The prophets wore it over the tunic as an official dress.

Within.—Under his royal robes, “upon his flesh”—i.e., next the skin. (Comp. Isaiah 20:2-3.)

2 Kings 6:30. When the king heard the words of the woman, he rent his clothes — Partly through grief for such a horrid fact, and partly through indignation at the prophet. And the people looked — Who were in great numbers upon the wall, chiefly for the defence of the city. And behold, he had sackcloth upon his flesh — Under his inner garments, in token of his sorrow for the miseries of his people, and lamenting that it was not in his power to help them.6:24-33 Learn to value plenty, and to be thankful for it; see how contemptible money is, when in time of famine it is so freely parted with for any thing that is eatable! The language of Jehoram to the woman may be the language of despair. See the word of God fulfilled; among the threatenings of God's judgments upon Israel for their sins, this was one, that they should eat the flesh of their own children, De 28:53-57. The truth and the awful justice of God were displayed in this horrible transaction. Alas! what miseries sin has brought upon the world! But the foolishness of man perverts his way, and then his heart frets against the Lord. The king swears the death of Elisha. Wicked men will blame any one as the cause of their troubles, rather than themselves, and will not leave their sins. If rending the clothes, without a broken and contrite heart, would avail, if wearing sackcloth, without being renewed in the spirit of their mind, would serve, they would not stand out against the Lord. May the whole word of God increase in us reverent fear and holy hope, that we may be stedfast and immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that our labour is not in vain in the Lord.Sackcloth - Jehoram hoped perhaps to avert Yahweh's anger, as his father had done 1 Kings 21:29. But there was no spirit of self-humiliation, or of true pentitence in his heart 2 Kings 5:7. See the next verse. 30. had sackcloth within upon his flesh—The horrid recital of this domestic tragedy led the king soon after to rend his garment, in consequence of which it was discovered that he wore a penitential shirt of haircloth. It is more than doubtful, however, if he was truly humbled on account of his own and the nation's sins; otherwise he would not have vowed vengeance on the prophet's life. The true explanation seems to be, that Elisha having counselled him not to surrender, with the promise, on condition of deep humiliation, of being delivered, and he having assumed the signs of contrition without receiving the expected relief, regarded Elisha who had proved false and faithless as the cause of all the protracted distress. If I do not this day take his head and life. This wretched and partial prince overlooks his own great and various sins, and, amongst others, his obstinate cleaving to the idolatry of the calves, and the whoredoms and witchcrafts of his mother Jezebel, 2 Kings 9:22, and the wickedness of his people, which was the true and proper cause of this and all their calamities; and lays the blame of all upon Elisha; either supposing that he who had the spirit of Elijah resting upon him, had brought this famine by his prayers, as Elijah had formerly done, 1 Kings 17:1; or because he had encouraged them to withstand the Syrians, by promising them help from God in due time; or because he would not, by his intercession to God and the working of a miracle, deliver them from these calamities, as he easily could have done. But he did not consider that the prophets could not work what miracles and when they pleased, but only as far as God saw fit, whose time was not yet come; otherwise it was Elisha’s interest as well as theirs to be freed from this distress. And it came to pass, when the king heard the words of the woman, that he rent his clothes,.... At the horror of the fact reported, and through grief that his people were brought into such distress through famine:

and he passed by upon the wall; returning to his palace:

and the people looked, and, behold, he had sackcloth upon his flesh; which, in token of humiliation for averting the calamities he was under, he had put there before, and now was seen through the rending of his clothes.

And it came to pass, when the king heard the words of the woman, that he rent his clothes; and he passed by upon the wall, and the people looked, and, behold, he had sackcloth within {p} upon his flesh.

(p) Thus hypocrites when they feel God's judgments think to please him with outward ceremonies whom in prosperity they will not know.

30. and he passed by upon the wall] The R.V. places these words in a parenthesis rendering (Now he was passing by upon the wall).

the people looked] At such an appeal many would congregate beside the two persons concerned in the matter.

he had sackcloth within upon his flesh] Cf. the action of his father Ahab (1 Kings 21:27) when God threatened him with punishment after the murder of Naboth. But neither in one case nor the other does the sorrow appear to have worked any good result. ‘I find his sorrow, I find not his repentance. The worst man may grieve for his smart, only the good heart grieves for his offence’ (Bp Hall). The result of Jehoram’s anguish seems to have been only rage against Elisha.Verse 30. - And it came to pass, when the king heard the words of the woman, that he rent his clothes. In horror and consternation at the terrible state of things revealed by the woman's story (comp. 2 Kings 5:7). And he passed by upon the wall, and the people looked. It is better to translate, with our Revisers, (Now he yeas passing by upon the wall;) and the people looked; or, and, as he was passing by upon the wall, the people looked. And, behold, he had sackcloth within upon his flesh. Jehoram had secretly assumed the penitential garment, not a mere sign of woe, but a constant chastisement of the flesh. He wore sackcloth next his skin, no one suspecting it, until, in the exasperation of his feelings at the woman's tale, he rent his robe, and exposed to view the sackcloth which underlay it. We are scarcely entitled to deny him any true penitential feeling, though no doubt he was far from possessing a chastened or humble spirit. Poor weak humanity has at one and the same time good and evil impulses, praiseworthy and culpable feelings, thoughts which come from the Holy Spirit of God, and thoughts which are inspired by the evil one. After this there arose so fearful a famine in Samaria on the occasion of a siege by Benhadad, that one mother complained to the king of another, because she would not keep her agreement to give up her son to be eaten, as she herself had already done.
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