Again the watchman reported, "He reached them, but he is not coming back. And the charioteer is driving like Jehu son of Nimshi--he drives like a madman."
Ecclesiastes 9:10). It is this vigorous decision of character which made him so suitable an instrument in executing God's vengeance on the house of Ahab,
I. JEHU'S APPROACH TO JEZREEL.
1. The watchman's announcement. In the far distance the watchman on the tower of Jezreel beholds a company of horsemen rapidly approaching. What can it portend? The report is brought to the king, who unsuspiciously sends out a messenger on horseback to inquire. Towers and watchmen are for the protection of a city and its inhabitants. But "except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain" (Psalm 127:1). And if the Lord decrees the destruction of a city, or of those in it, towers and watchmen will do little to protect them.
2. Successive messengers. These verses are chiefly interesting as illustrating the character of Jehu. The messenger sent by Jehoram soon reaches the company, and asks, "Is it peace?" The idea probably is, "What tidings from the field of battle?" Jehu does not even answer him civilly, but, with a rude "What hast thou to do with peace?" he orders him to turn behind him. A man this who will brook no delay, submit to no curb, endure no check, in his imperious course. He sweeps obstacles from his path, and bends them to his will. This messenger returns not, and a second, sent out from the king, meets a like reception, and is also compelled to ride behind.
3. Jehu recognized. At length the horsemen are near enough for the watchman to get a closer view, and he has no difficulty in recognizing the furious driving of the leading figure as the driving of Jehu. It is familiar to all that character imprints itself on manner. Physiognomy, walk, gesture, handwriting even, are windows through which, to an observant eye, the soul looks out. Hypocrisy may create a mask behind which the real character seeks to hide itself. But hypocrisy, too, has characteristic ways of betraying its presence, and the mask cannot always be kept on. If we wish habitually to appear true, we must be true.
II. JEHORAM AND AHAZIAH SLAIN.
1. The fateful meeting. On learning that Jehu was approaching, King Jehoram, now convalescent, prepared his chariot, and, accompanied by Ahaziah of Judah, went out to meet his captain.
(1) The two encountered at the portion of Naboth the Jezreelite. Strange coincidence, only, as we shall see below, more than coincidence. As the chariots meet, the king puts the anxious question, "Is it peace, Jehu?" Alas! the day of peace is over; it is now the day of vengeance.
(2) Jehu throws no disguise over his intentions. With his usual vehement abruptness he at once bursts forth, "What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?" Jehu was right: there can be no peace in a state when the foundations of religion and morality are everywhere subverted. When fountains of immorality are opened at head-quarters, their poisonous influence speedily infects the whole nation (Hosea 4:5). They who are responsible for the subversion of righteousness in a state, must bear the penalty.
(3) Jehoram needed to hear no more. He saw at a glance the situation, and with a shout, "Treachery, O Ahaziah!" he turned and fled. But there was no grain of pity in Jehu. With fierce promptitude he seizes his bow, fits one arrow to the string, and, taking sure aim, smites the flying king right through the heart. Jehoram falls - is dead.
2. Blood for blood. The tragedy thus transacted was in the immediate neighborhood of Naboth's vineyard. On that very spot, or near it, Naboth's own blood had been shed (1 Kings 21:13), and, as this verse shows (ver. 26), not his alone, but the blood of his sons. Thither, after the murder, Ahab went down to take possession of the vineyard, and there, when he arrived, he found Elijah standing, waiting to denounce upon him the doom of blood. This was not all, for among those who rode with Ahab that day were two of his captains, one of them Bidkar, the other this Jehu, who heard the prophetic announcements against Ahab and his family (1 Kings 21:19-24). Ahab himself was subsequently spared, but the doom predicted against him had now fallen on his son: "In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine" (1 Kings 21:19). That prophecy, probably, had never altogether left the mind of Jehu, but now it came home to him with fresh force as he saw it actually fulfilled by his own hand. Bidkar, too, as it chanced, was there, and Jehu recalled to him the prophetic oracle. Then, to give it literal accomplishment, he bade Bidkar give orders that the corpse of Jehoram should be thrown into the plat of ground which formerly belonged to Naboth. Startling correspondences often thus occur between sin and its mode of punishment. When they occur in fiction, we speak of them as instances of "poetic justice." But poetry, in this as in other cases, is "unconscious philosophy," and is not opposed to truth. Its truth in such representations lies rather in seizing and bringing to light actual laws in the moral government of the world. There is a singular tendency in events in history to fold back on each other - even dates and places presenting a series of marvelous coincidences.
3. A partner in doom. The King of Judah had, the moment the alarm was given, sought his own safety. He fled "by the way of the garden house " - was it the "garden of herbs," into which Naboth's vineyard had been converted (1 Kings 21:2)? But in vain. The peremptory Jehu allows nothing to escape his vigilance, and immediately he is on Ahaziah's track. His command was, "Smite him also in the chariot," and this was done, "at the going up to Gur, which is by Ibleam." Ahaziah continued his flight to Megiddo, where he died. A slightly different account of the manner of his death is given in 2 Chronicles 22:9. Whatever the precise circumstances of the death, we cannot but see in it
(1) a righteous retribution for his own sins; and
(2) an example of the end of evil association.
Through his mother Athallah, daughter of Jezebel, he was brought into close and friendly relations with the court of Samaria, and, sharing in the crimes of Ahab's house, shared also in their fate. It was his visit to King Jehoram which immediately brought down this doom upon him,
III. THE FATE OF JEZEBEL.
1. Her daring defiance. When Jehoram had been slain, the end of Jezebel, the prime mover and presiding spirit in all the wickedness that had been wrought in Israel, could not be far distant. Jezebel perfectly apprehended this herself, for, on hearing that Jehu had come to Jezreel, she prepared to give him a defiant reception. While one loathes the character of the woman, it is impossible not to admire the boldness and spirit with which she faces the inevitable. Her proud, imperious nature comes out in her last actions. She paints her eyelids with antimony, tires her head, and adorns her person, as if she was preparing for some festal celebration. Then she plants herself at the window, and, when Jehu appears, assails him with bitter taunting words. "Is it peace, thou Zimri, thy master's murderer?" she mockingly asked. What a power for evil this woman had been in Israel! What a power, with her strong intellect and will, she might have been for good!
2. Her ghastly end. If Jezebel thought, by this show of imperious defiance, to produce any effect on Jehu, perhaps to disarm him by sheer admiration of her boldness, she had mistaken the man. Jehu's impetuous nature was not to be thus shaken from its purpose. He quickly brought the scene to a conclusion. "Who is on my side? who?" he cried, lifting up his eyes to the windows. Two or three eunuchs, no friends of Jezebel, and anxious only to please the new ruler, gave the needful sign. "Throw her down," was the pitiless order; and in another instant the painted Jezebel was hurled from the palace window, and, dashed on the ground, was being trodden by the hoofs of the horses. Pitiless herself, she now met with no compassion. One who had shed much blood, and rejoiced in it, her own blood was now bespattered on the wall and on the horses. Jehu had no compunctions, but, fresh from the dreadful spectacle, entered the palace, and sat down to eat and drink. But the climax was yet to come. As if even he felt that, vengeance being now sated, some respect was due to one who had so long held sway in Israel, he bade his servants "Go, see now this cursed woman, and bury her: for," he said, "she is a king's daughter." The servants went, but soon returned with a shocking tale. Attracted by the scent of blood, the prowling city dogs had found their way into the enclosure, and, short as the time had been, all that remained of haughty Jezebel was the skull, and feet, and palms of the hands, strewn about the court.
3. A prophecy fulfilled. Such was the dreadful end of this haughty, domineering, evil woman. Possibly even Jehu could not restrain a shudder when he heard of it. He had not thought of it before, but now he recalled the close of that awful prophecy of Elijah to Ahab, "The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel" (1 Kings 21:23), the terms of which had been repeated to him by Elisha's messenger, (ver. 10). That word of God had been fulfilled with ghastly literalness. Would that men would lay to heart the lemon, and believe that all God's threatenings will be as certainly fulfilled! - J.O.
The driving is like the driving of Jehu.
Homilist.Jehu was a religious fanatic; his whole nature was on fire with indignation against the idolatry in his country under the reign of King Joram. We may take this man's history to illustrate some of the worst features of fanaticism.
I. IT "DRIVETH FURIOUSLY," WITH A HEARTLESS DISREGARD TO THE LIVES OF ALL WHO DIFFER FROM IT. What eared Jehu for the lives of those who differed from him in religious opinion? Nothing. What do your religious fanatics, who often assemble in thousands to hoot Out their impious crudities, care for the bodily interests, health, or life of those who differ from them? Religious fanaticism is essentially cruel.
II. IT "DRIVETH FURIOUSLY," WITH AN OSTENTATIOUS SPIRIT. "Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord" (2 Kings 10:16). Jehu really did not care "for the Lord " or for true theology. He cared only for himself — self-display, self-glory. Fanaticism is essentially ostentations. It creates a morbid hunger for the applause of men. It will itinerate the country, have preachments every day of the week, prayer-meetings all the day, and drive "furiously" on; but it will take good care to have the whole set forth in puffing advertisements and paraded in all the prints of the so-called "Christian world." "Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord." How unlike the true ministry of heaven, which does not cause its voice to be heard in the street, which does its world silently as the sunbeam.
III. IT "DRIVETH FURIOUSLY" UNDER THE COVER OF PRETENCE. This Jehu resolved to destroy all the worshippers of Baal; but how did he set to work in order to accomplish this end? Not in a straightforward way. Inspiration tells us, "Jehu did it in subtilty." There is a somewhat popular impression, that. fanaticism is always sincere. This is a mistake; as a rule, it is a lying thing. As it works by falsehood, so it works under its cover. "Fanaticism," says Professor Lange, "dissolves all the bonds of life and love, but imputes the blame of it to faith. It leads a man to acts of betrayal, of rebellion, and of murder, while he imagines that he is offering sacrifices acceptable to God. It institutes a community of hatred, in opposition to the community of love, and treats the fire of hell as if it were sacred. It appears in the guise of religion, but for the purpose of banishing Christ and His Gospel from the earth." Conclusion: — Infer not that because a minister, a community, or a Church are driving furiously in religious work, that they are religious. Genuine religion is a life, not a passion; it is a river, silent and constant as the stars, not a flood rushing and roaring for the hour.
I. FIRST, PULL UP. I have read somewhere, of a horse rushing down a country village, with nostrils distended, and with fire flashing from his heels, yet without driver or hand to guide him. He was dragging behind him a cart, in which was a child, who clung to its side in pale terror. A woman, as it passed, shot from her doorway, like an arrow from its bowstring, and followed in full pursuit, crying, "Save that child! save that child!" Why did she run and cry thus? Oh, you say, "It was her child." No, it was not. She had left her own little ones all safe around her hearth; but she had a heart above that selfishness which would care only for its own. That child had a mother, but she was not there, the good woman would take her place — one of her children might want help some day. Imbued, I trust, with the unselfish spirit of this woman, we seek to-night to check the speed of those fiery passions which are dragging some of you to death. You are probably unknown to us; but have you not a mother who loves you, a mother who prays for you? You have been going ahead bravely of late, you think. You rightly judge life to be short, and you feel that if you are to enjoy life, you had better be quick about it; if you are to get a fortune you had better keep a sharp lookout. Yes, this is all very well, but where will this pleasure-seeking lead you? It may be, in your haste to get money, you do not scruple to be a little dishonest. "Anyhow, by hook or by crook," you say, "I mean to go ahead." Yes, but where will this furious driving lead you? Perhaps you have never thought of this. You don't know where you are going. I believe more young men are ruined for the want of thought, than aught else.
II. NOW I WANT YOU TO TURN ROUND. You feel to-night you have been going ahead on the wrong road. You have determined, as God shall help you, to pull up. But remember, pulling up is only part of the business. You have been on the wrong road; you now want the right. The first thing you need is a new heart. You need the power of the Holy Spirit to convert you. I shall have no faith in your fine resolutions to give up evil habits, evil companions, and pleasure-seeking, unless you have implanted within you new principles. Wind and tide will be against you. In your own strength you may pull until your veins stand like whipcord upon your brow, and you will go down the stream still: And even suppose you should be able to give up the grosset forms of sin, yet, without religion, you must feel when you come to die that, after all, your life has been a failure. Let me urge you, therefore, to seek salvation through Christ.
III. NOW, GO AHEAD. I must now assume that you have decided for Christ, united yourself with Christian companions and a Christian Church. At any rate, many young men here have done that; so that the advice I am about to give cannot be deemed impracticable. In common sense, Christian young men, this go-ahead spirit is very desirable; desirable even from a business point of view. We are commanded to "be diligent in business." If you are in business for yourself, seek, in every true and honest way, to augment your income. In doing so, you will have God's blessing upon you. Do not be miserly, do not be covetous; but do seek, by dint of plodding perseverance, and constant attention to business, to rise in the world.
(L. A. Banks, D. D.)
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