THE SECOND BOOK OF THE KINGS,
COMMONLY CALLED, THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE KINGS.
THIS book is a continuation of the history of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, begun in the preceding book, to the entire destruction of the one by the Assyrians, and to the carrying of the other into captivity to Babylon by the Chaldeans. We find here that the kings of Israel, with their subjects in general, a small number only excepted, continued in their idolatry, notwithstanding all the admonitions and chastisements which God employed to reform them; so that he at length permitted Tiglath-pileser to take away the whole tribe of Naphtali, and transport them into Assyria: but this having no effect on the remaining tribes, to make them forsake their idolatries, and turn to the true God, he entirely rejected them, and gave them into the hand of Shalmaneser, who made them all captives, and carried them into Assyria, which put an entire end to the kingdom of Israel, after it had subsisted distinct from the house of Judah about two hundred and sixty-two years. As to the kingdom of Judah, though it kept up the worship of the true God, yet that worship was often mixed with gross superstitions and idolatrous rites, except when kings of extraordinary piety sat on the throne, and exerted themselves to have it exercised according to God’s law: and such were their provocations, such their relapses, that God saw fit at last to deliver them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, who destroyed the country, took Jerusalem, burned the temple, and carried them away captives to Babylon; which happened about three hundred and eighty-eight years after the revolt of the ten tribes, Judah having subsisted as a separate kingdom that length of time. But the divine providence made this difference between their captivity and that of the ten tribes; that the captivity of the latter was to bring on their entire dissolution as a people, but that of Judah was only to reform them; and accordingly, after having remained in captivity a course of years, during most of which, through the workings of providence, they were permitted to exercise their own worship in the midst of an idolatrous nation, they were brought home entirely cured of their idolatry, into which they never fell afterward, but continued to keep up the worship of the true God till the Son of God came into the world. Through the whole of the history of both nations we may observe, that the administration of God’s government was according to the behaviour of the people; and that all methods proper to reform them and bring them to happiness were made use of. The whole period of time included in the history contained in this book is about three hundred years.