2 Kings 1:1

We are here introduced to a kingly home. All the pomp of royalty is there. But it is not a happy home. To beta with, there is sickness in that home. Royalty, or rank, or riches cannot keep sickness out. Ahaziah had been looking through the window of his chamber, or, as some think, leaning over the frail baluster of wicker-work which ran round the roof on the inner or courtyard side, when the lattice-work gave way, and he was precipitated into the court beneath and seriously injured. But there are homes of sickness that are nevertheless happy homes. The sufferer is happy; the other members of the family are happy. Why? Because they all know that Jesus is there. They hear his voice saying, "It is I: be not afraid." They took Christ into their house when all was going well with them, and they find that he does not leave them when sickness comes. But it was not so with Ahaziah. How a man will bear sickness depends a good deal on what his life and character have been when he was in health. This is true physically. It is true also in a moral and spiritual sense. The bad man is generally afraid of sickness. Yes; for he is afraid of death. What about Ahaziah's previous history? We have it summed up in the closing verses of 1 Kings. "He did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of his father, and in the way of his mother, and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin: for he served Baal, and worshipped him, and provoked to anger the Lord God of Israel, according to all that his father had done." Oh, the tremendous influence of a bad example. Ahaziah was in alarm about this illness. He wanted to know if he was to recover. He had forsaken God when in health; perhaps he does not think that God would hear him now. Or perhaps he has been so hardened in sin that he really believes his heathen god can help him. So he sends messengers to inquire of Baal-zebub at Ekron, whether he would recover of his disease.

I. THE CAUSE OF SEEKING AFTER STRANGE GODS. What is the secret of that idolatry which in all ages has taken such a hold of the human heart? Why is it that such a people as the Hebrews, descended from one who lived so entirely under the power of the invisible God as Abraham did - they who in their Passover had a constant reminder of God's existence and power, and in their ten commandments a constant reminder of his mind and will, - why is it that they so far forgot God as to sink into the degrading worship of the heathen deities? Or, to bring it more home to ourselves and our own surroundings, why is it that men and women who know that Christ died for them, who therefore know the priceless worth of their immortal souls, who bear in the very name of Christian a constant reminder of the Son of God, and who have in the precepts of the gospel the highest code of morality ever taught to man, - why, is it that they too forget God, reject his mercy, set at naught his counsels, and writ have none of his reproof? Why is it that in our Christian land so many are living in practical heathenism? Why are they so few who read the Bible, and, of those who do read it, so few who obey its teachings? Why so many thousands who never enter the house of God? Why is it that a really religious daily newspaper it is almost impossible to find, while nearly all our daily newspapers largely devote themselves to advance the interests of the theatre, the race-course, and the betting-ring? Truly it may be said that our nation has gone after strange gods. What is the secret of it all? Largely this, the love of what is seen, more than of what is unseen. This is at the root of all idolatry. It is this that makes men such an easy prey to sin. They are absorbed in the interests and pleasures of the body only. They forget the interests of the immortal soul. They live for the present, but neglect the future. They live for self, but neglect God. They lay up treasure on earth, but have no treasure in heaven. We see this love of what is seen - this going after strange gods - in much of the philosophy of the present day. Men deny God, the God of the Bible, the intelligent, wise, powerful, provident, holy, loving Creator of the universe. And what do they substitute for him? A mere negation. At best matter or force. Here plainly they are absorbed in what is seen. They make a god of matter. They forget that only mind could produce mind, only soul could produce soul, that only an intelligent Being could produce the order and control the workings of the universe. Strange gods, indeed - gods of which they have no certainty - they set up in place of the God of our Christian faith. We see this love of what is seen operating also in the case of the money-lover. It is not wrong to acquire wealth, provided it is rightly won and rightly used. But there are many who make a god of money. It occupies all their thoughts while they are awake. When they are asleep, they dream of it. Even the sabbath, supposed to be devoted to the worship of God, is often devoted to meditations on money and how to get it. Yet even for the present life there are things more precious than money. Men who sacrifice everything for money soon find that they have lost things which money cannot buy.

"The world with stones instead of bread
My hungry soul has always fed:
It promised health; in one short hour
Perished the fair but fragile flower.

It promised riches; in a day
They made them wings and flew away.
It promised friends; all sought their owns
And left my widowed heart alone." And then what shall we say of the folly of those who, while making ample provision for this short life, have made none for the life that is to come? "What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" Let us beware of making a god of money. We see the same love of what is seen entering even into the Church of God. There is too much tendency, even in the Christian Church, to worship earthly rank, to attend to the rich and neglect the poor. How often have our Churches made a god of custom, of the traditions of men, of public opinion, of expediency and worldly policy I Images and pictures are set up to aid in the worship of him of whom it is said that "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."

II. THE CONSEQUENCE OF SEEKING AFTER STRANGE GODS. "But the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the King of Samaria, and say unto them, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to inquire of Baal-zebub the god of Ekron? Now therefore thus saith the Lord, Thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die." The strange deity that Ahaziah sought after had not served him much. Strange gods have never been much help to those who seek after them. They have not helped the heathen nations, but their degrading and demoralizing worship has always been a source of weakness and decay. It is the same with all the strange gods that men serve everywhere - with all the passions and desires to gratify which they spend their energies and time. We read of King Ahaz that he turned away from the true God to serve the gods of Damascus, because Syria enjoyed prosperity. He said, "Because the gods of the kings of Syria help them, therefore will I sacrifice to them, that they may help me? But, says the Bible narrative, they were the ruin of him, and of all Israel" (2 Chronicles 28:23). How many a man has done like Ahaz - turned his back upon God, and found that the strange gods whom he served proved to be his ruin! Many a man has lived without God when in health, who was very glad to seek him when sickness came and death was drawing nigh. It is told of a skeptic called Saunderson, who was a great admirer of Sir Isaac Newton's talents, but who made light of his religion when in health, that when on his death-bed he was heard to say, in mournful entreaty, "God of Sir Isaac Newton, have mercy on me!" But, as many a one has found, it may be too late then to seek the Lord. Such are the consequences of seeking after strange gods. The same message which was sent to Ahaziah will one day be sent to us - this part at least: "Thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die." The way to prepare for that message is to accept the messages of life. The way to prepare for sickness is so serve God while in health. - C.H.I.

And Ahaziah fell down through a lattice.

1. A king in mortal suffering.

2. A king in mental distress.

3. A king in superstitious darkness.

II. PERSONAL GODLINESS DIVINELY MAJESTIC. Elijah is an example of personal godliness, though, in a worldly sense, he was very poor, and his costume seemed to be almost the meanest of the mean. But see the majesty of this man in two things.

1. In receiving communications from heaven. "But the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite."

2. In reproving the king. Which is the better — a throne or a godly character? Fools only prefer the former.


I. THAT MEN IN CALAMITY NATURALLY SEEK A REFUGE. Whatever was the character of the accident which befell Ahaziah, it awakened in his mind the greatest concern, so that he was apprehensive of his life, and he wanted to know the issue of his affliction. And, so like Ahaziah, all men seek shelter when the storm gathers around them, that they may be shielded from its violence.

II. THAT THE REFUGES OF THE WICKED ARE OFTEN VAIN. Ahaziah sent his messengers to Baal-zebub, as his only hope in distress, but they were not permitted even to reach the shrine of that deity. So that the god of Ekron was of no help to the King of Israel.

III. THAT CALAMITY OR AFFLICTION ALONE IS NOT SUFFICIENT TO LEAD MEN TO REPENTANCE. Sometimes it is thought that by means of adverse circumstances men can be brought to God; but it was not so in the ease of Ahaziah.

IV. THAT GOD WILL VINDICATE HIS OWN HONOUR AGAINST THE REBELLION OF THE WICKED. Ahaziah, by seeking to consult Baal-zebub, ignored Jehovah, and thus dishonoured Him in the eyes of the people. In whatever way men may refuse to acknowledge God, and rebel against Him, He, in His own time, will bring them to nought, and vindicate His character as a God of honour, majesty, mercy, and love.

(T. Cain.)

Ahaziah, the man of whom this chapter speaks, was the son of Ahab and of Jezebel. He was badly born. Some allowance must be made for this fact in estimating his character. Ahaziah fell through the lattice, and in his helplessness he became religious. Man must have some God. Even atheism is a kind of religion. When a man recoils openly from what may be termed the public faith of his country, he seeks to apologise for his recoil, and to make up for his church absence by creating high obligations of another class: he plays the patriot; he plays the disciplinarian — in some way he will try to make up for, or defend, the recoil of his soul from the old altar of his country. It is in their helplessness that we really know what men are. The cry for friendship is but a subdued cry for God. Sometimes men will invent gods of their own. It is said of Shakespeare that he first exhausted worlds, and then invented new. That was right. It was but of the liberty of a poet so to do. But it is no part of the liberty of the soul. Necessity forbids it, because the true God cannot be exhausted. Who can exhaust nature? Who can exhaust nature's God? Still, the imagination of man is evil continually. He will invent new ways of enjoying himself. He will degrade religion into a mere form of interrogation. This is what Ahaziah did in this instance: "Go, inquire of Baal-zebub" (ver. 2). All that we sometimes want of God is that He should be the great fortune-teller. If He will tell us how this transaction will turn out, how this speculation will fructify, how this illness will terminate, how this revolution will eventuate — that is all we want with Him; a question-answering God; a God that will specially take care of us and nurse us into strength, that we may spend that strength in reviling against His throne. How true it is that Ahaziah represents us all in making his religion into a mere form of question-asking; in other words, into a form of selfishness! Nothing can be so selfish as religion.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

The 5th of February 1685 witnessed a sad scene in the palace of Whitehall. The second Charles lay in the last agony, while, amid the courtly circle around his bed, stood Sancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Ken, the Bishop of Bath and Wells. "The king is really and truly a Catholic," whispers the Duchess of Portsmouth to the French ambassador; "and yet his bed-chamber is full of Protestant clergymen." The fact had been long suspected, and gave additional earnestness to the holy men who desired to prepare the dying monarch for his inevitable and solemn change. "It is time to speak out, sir," exclaims Sancroft; "for you are about to appear before a Judge who is no respecter of persons." "Will you not die in the communion of the Church of England?" anxiously asks Ken; the king gives no response. "Will you receive the sacrament?" continues the bishop.; the king replies, "There is no hurry, and I am too weak." "Do you wish pardon of sin?" rejoins the favourite prelate, whose hymns are still sung in our Christian churches; the dying man carelessly adds, "It can do me no hurt" — on which, says Macaulay, "the bishop put forth all his eloquence, till his pathetic exhortation awed and melted the bystanders to such a degree, that some among them believed him to be filled with the same spirit which in the old time, had, by the mouths of Nathan and Elias, called sinful princes to repentance." To complete the parallel we propose, we must notice another incident in this dying scene. "If it costs me my life," exclaims the Duke of York, afterwards James II., "I will fetch a priest." With some difficulty he is found, He is smuggled into the royal presence, and the chamber of death. "He is welcome," says Charles. The monarch who refused to listen to Sancroft and Ken, had an open ear for Father Huddleston. The monarch who was unwilling to die in the Church of England, is perfectly willing to die in the Church of Rome, For three-quarters of an hour he "confesses," adores the "crucifix," receives the mysterious virtues of "extreme unction," and at length, with an apology to his attendants that he has been "a most unconscionable time dying," he breathes his last, an apostate from the faith inseparable from England's throne, and for his abandonment of which his own successor died an exile on the charity of a foreign land. Let Ahaziah take the place of Charles II.; let his idolatry be represented in the Popery of the British monarch; let the application to the god of Ekron be symbolised in the welcome given to the Romish monk; and, last of all, let Elijah by the bedside of the King of Israel, dealing faithfully with the soul departing there, be the type of good Sancroft and Ken by that other couch, using all their entreaties to make the sufferer think of his approaching end — and the parallel is well-nigh complete. The mention of Ekron and Baal-zebub introduces the subject of the heathen oracles, which played such an important part in all the nations of antiquity. Even among the Jews, it is believed by many, a true oracle existed — namely, the Urim and Thummim ("lights and perfections," as the words denote), on the high priest's breastplate; and that, when the Divine response was to be given, it was manifested either in an audible voice from the twelve precious stones, or in their appearance changing in keeping with the answer — brighter for an affirmative, and duller for a negative reply. What are usually known, however, as the heathen oracula were very different. They were also very numerous: the small province of Boeotia, in Greece, having twenty-five, and the Peloponnesus as many; but the most celebrated were Delphi, Dodona, and Jupiter Ammon in the deserts of Lybia. We get a glimpse of one of the oracular priestesses in the life of Paul, where the reference, we think, abundantly proves that the heathen oracles were under Satanic control. Such being admitted, we need not add they were only a system of imposture and falsehood, a "lying in wait to deceive," "cunningly devised fables," as Peter expresses it, where the allusion is unmistakable. There was more than mere fury about the Pythia; and it may be that the commonplace expression about there being "method in madness" has been literally borrowed from her. Never did ambiguity find itself of such use as on the consecrated tripod, or beneath the decayed oak-tree. Croesus., King of Lydia, asks what will be the issue of a war with Persia, and he receives as reply, "If you war with them, you will destroy a great kingdom." Pyrrhus, King of Epirus, desires to know what will be the result, if he assists the Tarentines against the Romans, and the response may either mean that he is to conquer the Romans, or that the Romans are to conquer him. In both instances, Croesus and Pyrrhus were defeated and ruined, but of course the oracle was right, and its credit maintained. Many lessons might be drawn from that darkened chamber, where lies the son of Ahab, arrayed in the last robe he will ever need. We mention only one — the folly of men when they forsake the ways of God to pay homage to idols of any kind, or in hopeless attempt to unveil the future. As to the former all the Ekrons of earth — whether pride of reason, or personal merit, or the general mercy of God — are only vanity and a snare; there is but one Rock of hope, security, and strength, "and that Rock is Christ." As to the latter — the attempt to unveil the future, we know what Saul made of it in his visit to Endor, and we have seen what Ahaziah made of it in his proposed message to Ekron. "Just men made perfect" have other occupation than to be the tools of the clairvoyant; and lost spirits, we may be sure, are in no mood for such work. Away with your mediums, their bandaged eyes and pencilled messages, hands waving in the air, and all the dark arts of this latest charlatanry, the most wretched and profane of all modern shams. "God is His own interpreter"; and neither to shrines at Ekron nor Boston, neither to Baal-zebub nor Daniel Home, will He give the power of unlocking the destinies of men.

(H. T. Howat.)

It is the habit of some people only to seek spiritual support in times of trouble and difficulty. When the clouds have passed they think no more of the truths that comforted them in sorrow. Dr. Moule, the Bishop of Durham, in his recently published book, From Sunday to Sunday, relates the following incident: "A friend told me the tale a few years ago as we paced together the deck of a steamship on the Mediterranean, and talked of the things unseen. The chaplain of a prison, intimate with the narrator, had to deal with a man condemned to death. He found the man anxious, as well he might be; nay, he seemed more than anxious — convicted, spiritually alarmed. The chaplain's instructions all bore upon the power of the Redeemer to save to the uttermost; and it seemed as if the message were received and the man were a believer. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the chaplain had come to think that there was ground for appeal from the death-sentence. He placed the matter before the proper authorities, and with success. On his next visit, very cautiously and by way of mere suggestions and surmises, he led the apparently resigned criminal towards the possibility of a commutation. What would he say, how would his repentance stand, if his life were granted him? The answer soon came. Instantly the prisoner divined the position; asked a few decisive questions, then threw his Bible across the cell, and, civilly thanking the chaplain for his attentions, told him that he had no further need of him nor of his book." The Bible, like prayer, was never meant exclusively for the hours of darkness. It has a message for every time and every occasion of life.

When I was at school in France, an English boy who was sleeping in the next bed to mine in a large dormitory said, "There will be thunder and lightning to-night!" When I asked, "How do you know?" he replied, "Because So-and-so," referring to a French boy who seldom prayed, "is saying his prayers." He meant that this boy only said his prayers when he was frightened, or by fits and starts. Ah! that is what we are all liable to do, and that is the very danger I want to guard you against. Beware that you do not pray by fits and starts.


Ahab, Ahaziah, Baalzebub, Elijah, Jehoram, Jehoshaphat, Joram
Ekron, Moab, Samaria
Ahab, Authority, Death, Free, Itself, Moab, Rebelled, Transgresseth
1. Moab rebels
2. Ahaziah, sending to Baal-Zebub, has his judgement by Elijah
5. Elijah twice brings fire from heaven on those Ahaziah sent to apprehend him.
13. He pities the third captain,
15. and, encouraged by an angel, tells the king of his death
17. Jehoram succeeds Ahaziah

Dictionary of Bible Themes
2 Kings 1:1

     6224   rebellion, against authority
     8728   enemies, of Israel and Judah

2 Kings 1:1-6

     8616   prayerlessness
     8747   false gods

2 Kings 1:1-14

     5092   Elijah

2 Kings 1:1-18

     5366   king

Whether the Sin of those who Crucified Christ was Most Grievous?
Objection 1: It would seem that the sin of Christ's crucifiers was not the most grievous. Because the sin which has some excuse cannot be most grievous. But our Lord Himself excused the sin of His crucifiers when He said: "Father, forgive them: for they know not what they do" (Lk. 23:34). Therefore theirs was not the most grievous sin. Objection 2: Further, our Lord said to Pilate (Jn. 19:11): "He that hath delivered Me to thee hath the greater sin." But it was Pilate who caused Christ to be crucified
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether it is Lawful to Curse an Irrational Creature?
Objection 1: It would seem that it is unlawful to curse an irrational creature. Cursing would seem to be lawful chiefly in its relation to punishment. Now irrational creatures are not competent subjects either of guilt or of punishment. Therefore it is unlawful to curse them. Objection 2: Further, in an irrational creature there is nothing but the nature which God made. But it is unlawful to curse this even in the devil, as stated above [2960](A[1]). Therefore it is nowise lawful to curse an irrational
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Answer to the Jewish Rabby's Letter.
WE Are now come to the letter of Mr. W's Jewish Rabby, whom Mr. W. calls his friend, and says his letter consists of calm and sedate reasoning, p. 55. I on the other hand can see no reason in it. But the reader than not need to rely upon my judgment. Therefore I will transcribe some parts of it, and then make some remarks. The argument of the letter is, that the story of Lazarus's being raised is an imposture; or else the Jews could not have been so wicked, as to be on that account provoked against
Nathaniel Lardner—A Vindication of Three of Our Blessed Saviour's Miracles

An Address to a Soul So Overwhelmed with a Sense of the Greatness of Its Sins, that it Dares not Apply Itself to Christ with Any
1-4. The case described at large.--5. As it frequently occurs.--6. Granting all that the dejected soul charges on itself.--7. The invitations and promises of Christ give hope.--8. The reader urged, under all his burdens and fears, to an humble application to him. Which is accordingly exemplified in the concluding Reflection and Prayer. 1. I have now done with those unhappy creatures who despise the Gospel, and with those who neglect it. With pleasure do I now turn myself to those who will hear me
Philip Doddridge—The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul

Scriptures Showing the Sin and Danger of Joining with Wicked and Ungodly Men.
Scriptures Showing The Sin And Danger Of Joining With Wicked And Ungodly Men. When the Lord is punishing such a people against whom he hath a controversy, and a notable controversy, every one that is found shall be thrust through: and every one joined with them shall fall, Isa. xiii. 15. They partake in their judgment, not only because in a common calamity all shares, (as in Ezek. xxi. 3.) but chiefly because joined with and partakers with these whom God is pursuing; even as the strangers that join
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

The Assyrian Revival and the Struggle for Syria
Assur-nazir-pal (885-860) and Shalmaneser III. (860-825)--The kingdom of Urartu and its conquering princes: Menuas and Argistis. Assyria was the first to reappear on the scene of action. Less hampered by an ancient past than Egypt and Chaldaea, she was the sooner able to recover her strength after any disastrous crisis, and to assume again the offensive along the whole of her frontier line. Image Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a bas-relief at Koyunjik of the time of Sennacherib. The initial cut,
G. Maspero—History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 7

A Prayer when one Begins to be Sick.
O most righteous Judge, yet in Jesus Christ my gracious Father! I, wretched sinner, do here return unto thee, though driven with pain and sickness, like the prodigal child with want and hunger. I acknowledge that this sickness and pain comes not by blind chance or fortune, but by thy divine providence and special appointment. It is the stroke of thy heavy hand, which my sins have justly deserved; and the things that I feared are now fallen upon me (Job iii. 25.) Yet do I well perceive that in wrath
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety

The book[1] of Kings is strikingly unlike any modern historical narrative. Its comparative brevity, its curious perspective, and-with some brilliant exceptions--its relative monotony, are obvious to the most cursory perusal, and to understand these things is, in large measure, to understand the book. It covers a period of no less than four centuries. Beginning with the death of David and the accession of Solomon (1 Kings i., ii.) it traverses his reign with considerable fulness (1 Kings iii.-xi.),
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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