And Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria. And Jehu wrote letters, and sent to Samaria, unto the rulers of Jezreel, to the elders, and to them that brought up Ahab's children, saying,
2 Kings 10:15
There is all the difference in the world between the ways in which the answer to this question is spoken; and there is only one way, only one meaning, in which it can be spoken honestly, as before God, from the ground of the heart.
I. There is, for instance, the careless, indifferent, frivolous answer, the answer of those who have hitherto resisted the grace of God, and who, finding that they can sin as yet with but little sorrow, neither know nor really care what religion means. "Is my heart right? Yes, I suppose so. If I am not particularly good, I am not particularly bad," and so on. Such an answer means nothing, or worse than nothing. In your "Yes" God reads "No." In your "My heart is right" He reads that it is "deceitful above all things and desperately wicked."
II. Take another answer, not, like the last, wholly hollow and insincere, but too impulsive, too confident. "Is thine heart right?" "Yes," another will say. "I do sincerely dislike what is bad, and I despise myself for the weakness with which I yielded to it. And I mean to be quite different now." This answer involves, not merely a weak wish, but a strong desire; not only a strong desire, but a resolute effort; not only even a resolute effort, but an intense and absorbing passion. A weak resolve, a half-resolve, a mere verbal resolve, a resolve made in your own strength—of what use is it? There is a deep-sighted proverb which says, "Hell is paved with good intentions."
III. "Is thine heart right?" Take one more answer. Some may answer carelessly, some presumptuously, but will not many answer in a deeper, humbler, sincerer, more serious spirit? "Though my life has not been always right," you will say, "yet I hope, I trust, that my heart is right. It is not hard. My own strength is weakness, my own righteousness is utter sin, but I lift up mine eyes unto the hills, whence cometh my help." "Make me to do the thing that pleaseth Thee, for Thou art my God. Let Thy loving Spirit lead me into the land of uprightness."
F. W. Farrar, In the Days of thy Youth, p. 179.
References: 2 Kings 10:15.—S. Baring-Gould, One Hundred Sermon Sketches, p. 161. 2 Kings 10:15, 2 Kings 10:16.—A. Edersheim, Elisha the Prophet, p. 298.
2 Kings 10:16Jehu, the founder of the fifth dynasty of the kings of Israel, interests us partly by his career and achievements, but much more by the problem of his character. His first achievement was the destruction of the entire family of Ahab; his second was the destruction of the worship of Baal, which had been imported from Phoenicia.
Let us endeavour to form a religious estimate of the worth of Jehu's zeal.
I. What is zeal? It is conviction in a practical and working form. It is the business side of love, whether of God or of man. It is shown in desire to promote the love of God, the worship of God, the praise of God, wherever this is possible. Zeal has also an eye to everything that runs counter to God's will and to His glory. It rebukes vice and combats error.
II. If zeal is not especially a Jewish virtue, the form which it took in Jehu's case was eminently Jewish. It expressed itself in a fearful destruction of human life. Jehu's zeal may have been a zeal for the Lord, notwithstanding the slaughter to which it led. We must in justice distinguish between the absolute standard of right and that relative standard which was present to the mind of Jehu; and if we do this, we may well venture to think that this act in itself was not for a man in his age and circumstances incompatible with a true zeal for the Lord.
III. But there are features in Jehu's zeal—two especially—which seem to show that it cannot have been so genuine and healthy as we could wish. It was spoiled (1) by ostentation. Jehu desired Jehonadab to come and see what he could do for the Lord. His zeal for the Lord was dashed by a zeal for his own credit and reputation. (2) By inconsistency, not the inconsistency of weakness, but the inconsistency of want of principle. "He departed not from the sins of Jeroboam" (that is, from the established calf-worship), "which made Israel to sin."
IV. The lessons which Jehu's career teaches us are: (1) Great results are constantly achieved by God through the means of very imperfect instruments. (2) Jehu teaches us the risk of attempting to carry out public works of a religious or moral character without some previous discipline of the heart and life.
H. P. Liddon, Penny Pulpit, No. 1123.
References: 2 Kings 10:16.—C. J. Vaughan, Lessons of Life and Godliness, p. 222; T. Chamberlain, Sermons for Sundays, Festivals, and Fasts, 2nd series, vol. iii., p. 134; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. ix., p. 87; J. Edmunds, Sixty Sermons, p. 343; T. Kelly, Pulpit Trees, p. 328; E. Monro, Practical Sermons on the Old Testament, vol. ii., pp. 235, 251.
2 Kings 10:16, 2 Kings 10:31Jehu is not in any sense an interesting person. He was an energetic and bold man, prompt in action, determined and thorough-going, unfeeling and unscrupulous, well fitted for his particular work—a work of judgment upon those who had sinned beyond mercy. His fault was that, while he had a real zeal, he had no true obedience. He is handed down to us, not as an example, but rather as a warning, while upon his tomb we read the condemning inscription, "Zeal without consistency; zeal without obedience; zeal without love."
I. Zeal is the same word as fervour. In its forcible original meaning, it is the bubbling up of the boiling spirit; the opposite of an impassive, cold-hearted indifference; the outburst of the generous indignation which cannot bear to see right trampled under foot by might; the overflowing of gratitude, devotion, and love to God. The zeal of Jehu was of a lower order than this. Yet even Jehu may reprove. We show our zeal chiefly by the infliction of arbitrary punishments upon offenders, not against the moral law of God, but against the moral law of the world. Such zeal is commonly divorced and dissevered from obedience.
II. We may apply to ourselves, in the way of counsel, a warning from the unfavourable part of the character before us. Jehu had a zeal for God, but Jehu nevertheless took no heed to walk in God's law with all his heart. (1) "Took no heed." To the heedlessness of human nature most of our sins may be traced up. (2) "With all his heart." The fault in our service is that the heart is not right with God. Christian zeal, like Christian faith, worketh by love.
C. J. Vaughan, Contemporary Pulpit, vol. ii., p. 171.
Reference: 2 Kings 10:18, 2 Kings 10:19.—E. Thring, Uppingham Sermons, vol. i., p. 413.
2 Kings 10:31Was Jehu then a hypocrite? Was all his zeal for the Lord false and affected? Any one who said so would quite miss the point of Jehu's character and the moral of his history. It is because there is so great a mixture of good and evil in his deeds, because there is so much in his character that deserves to be imitated while there is also, at the same time, a deadly flaw in it, which mars its beauty, that his history is worthy of particular study.
I. Notice, first, that in the double mission which Jehu was called to perform—the destruction of the house of Ahab and of the worship of Baal—there was no self-denial necessary on his part. The duty to which he was called was not one which violently crossed any propensity, or stood in the way of any selfish feeling. His words to Jehonadab, "Come and see my zeal for the Lord," are a key to the state of Jehu's mind when he set himself to reform the religion; his zeal was to be the prominent object to be looked at; the awful spectacle of God's people revolted from the worship of Jerusalem, the painful duty of slaughtering thousands of the followers of Baal, was to be as nothing compared with the spectacle exhibited to Jehonadab by Jehu's zeal.
II. Jehu's zeal burnt brightly, and scorched up everything before it, as long as it was fanned by the excitement of self-interest and a naturally stormy temperament; but the whole heart was not in it; it was "zeal for God when it answers my purpose," not "zeal for God, cost me what it may." He was a man who would serve God as long as by so doing he could serve himself. The truth which Jehu did not see, and which we ought to see, is that God, if He be served at all, should be served with all our heart, and soul, and strength; that our service must be complete and free, as from those who feel that all they can do must fall infinitely short of a perfect worship of the infinite God.
Bishop Harvey Goodwin, Parish Sermons, 3rd series, p. 48.
References: 2 Kings 10:31.—E. C. Wickham, Wellington College Sermons, p. 174; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xii., No. 685. 2Ki 10—Parker, Fountain, April 26th, 1877. 2 Kings 11:10.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvii., No. 972. 2Ki 11—Parker, vol. viii., p. 217. 2 Kings 12:2.—D. Moore, Penny Pulpit, No. 3101. 2 Kings 13:14.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. vi., p. 113. 2 Kings 13:14-19.—A. Edersheim, Elisha the Prophet, p. 309. 2 Kings 13:14-21.—J. R. Macduff, Sunsets on the Hebrew Mountains, p. 163, and Good Words, 1861, p. 527. 2 Kings 13:14-22.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. i., p. 164.
Now as soon as this letter cometh to you, seeing your master's sons are with you, and there are with you chariots and horses, a fenced city also, and armour;
Look even out the best and meetest of your master's sons, and set him on his father's throne, and fight for your master's house.
But they were exceedingly afraid, and said, Behold, two kings stood not before him: how then shall we stand?
And he that was over the house, and he that was over the city, the elders also, and the bringers up of the children, sent to Jehu, saying, We are thy servants, and will do all that thou shalt bid us; we will not make any king: do thou that which is good in thine eyes.
Then he wrote a letter the second time to them, saying, If ye be mine, and if ye will hearken unto my voice, take ye the heads of the men your master's sons, and come to me to Jezreel by to morrow this time. Now the king's sons, being seventy persons, were with the great men of the city, which brought them up.
And it came to pass, when the letter came to them, that they took the king's sons, and slew seventy persons, and put their heads in baskets, and sent him them to Jezreel.
And there came a messenger, and told him, saying, They have brought the heads of the king's sons. And he said, Lay ye them in two heaps at the entering in of the gate until the morning.
And it came to pass in the morning, that he went out, and stood, and said to all the people, Ye be righteous: behold, I conspired against my master, and slew him: but who slew all these?
Know now that there shall fall unto the earth nothing of the word of the LORD, which the LORD spake concerning the house of Ahab: for the LORD hath done that which he spake by his servant Elijah.
So Jehu slew all that remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, and all his great men, and his kinsfolks, and his priests, until he left him none remaining.
And he arose and departed, and came to Samaria. And as he was at the shearing house in the way,
Jehu met with the brethren of Ahaziah king of Judah, and said, Who are ye? And they answered, We are the brethren of Ahaziah; and we go down to salute the children of the king and the children of the queen.
And he said, Take them alive. And they took them alive, and slew them at the pit of the shearing house, even two and forty men; neither left he any of them.
And when he was departed thence, he lighted on Jehonadab the son of Rechab coming to meet him: and he saluted him, and said to him, Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart? And Jehonadab answered, It is. If it be, give me thine hand. And he gave him his hand; and he took him up to him into the chariot.
And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD. So they made him ride in his chariot.
And when he came to Samaria, he slew all that remained unto Ahab in Samaria, till he had destroyed him, according to the saying of the LORD, which he spake to Elijah.
And Jehu gathered all the people together, and said unto them, Ahab served Baal a little; but Jehu shall serve him much.
Now therefore call unto me all the prophets of Baal, all his servants, and all his priests; let none be wanting: for I have a great sacrifice to do to Baal; whosoever shall be wanting, he shall not live. But Jehu did it in subtilty, to the intent that he might destroy the worshippers of Baal.
And Jehu said, Proclaim a solemn assembly for Baal. And they proclaimed it.
And Jehu sent through all Israel: and all the worshippers of Baal came, so that there was not a man left that came not. And they came into the house of Baal; and the house of Baal was full from one end to another.
And he said unto him that was over the vestry, Bring forth vestments for all the worshippers of Baal. And he brought them forth vestments.
And Jehu went, and Jehonadab the son of Rechab, into the house of Baal, and said unto the worshippers of Baal, Search, and look that there be here with you none of the servants of the LORD, but the worshippers of Baal only.
And when they went in to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings, Jehu appointed fourscore men without, and said, If any of the men whom I have brought into your hands escape, he that letteth him go, his life shall be for the life of him.
And it came to pass, as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, that Jehu said to the guard and to the captains, Go in, and slay them; let none come forth. And they smote them with the edge of the sword; and the guard and the captains cast them out, and went to the city of the house of Baal.
And they brought forth the images out of the house of Baal, and burned them.
And they brake down the image of Baal, and brake down the house of Baal, and made it a draught house unto this day.
Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel.
Howbeit from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, Jehu departed not from after them, to wit, the golden calves that were in Bethel, and that were in Dan.
And the LORD said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.
But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the LORD God of Israel with all his heart: for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin.
In those days the LORD began to cut Israel short: and Hazael smote them in all the coasts of Israel;
From Jordan eastward, all the land of Gilead, the Gadites, and the Reubenites, and the Manassites, from Aroer, which is by the river Arnon, even Gilead and Bashan.
Now the rest of the acts of Jehu, and all that he did, and all his might, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
And Jehu slept with his fathers: and they buried him in Samaria. And Jehoahaz his son reigned in his stead.
And the time that Jehu reigned over Israel in Samaria was twenty and eight years.