The Future of Israel
1 Kings 14:15-16
For the LORD shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and he shall root up Israel out of this good land…

The vision of the Shilonite concerning the house of Israel, now before us, seems to have come upon him suddenly. We think the exclamation, "But what? Even now!" was the half-involuntary expression of the surprise of this new revelation. This utterance should, then, have stood at the beginning of verse 15 rather than at the end of the verse preceding. The connecting particle "For," with which verse 15 now opens, favours this view. The new vision describes the then future calamities of Israel, together with their provoking causes.

I. HE WAS HENCEFORTH TO BE TROUBLED IN HIS OWN LAND. He is there to stagger and tremble under the stroke of God -

1. "As a reed is shaken in the water."

(1) The reed is a figure of frailty. Rabshakeh, in describing the inability of the Egyptians to support Hezekiah against the Assyrians, compares them to a bruised reed (2 Kings 18:21; Isaiah 36:6; see also Ezekiel 39:6). Contrariwise, our Lord, asserting the stability and vigour of John Baptist, said that he was no "reed shaken with the wind" (Matthew 11:7). In derision of the royalty of Jesus the soldiers put a reed in His hand for a sceptre (Matthew 27:29). Subsequent history bore emphatic testimony to the instability and feebleness of Ephraim.

(2) The reed is "shaken in the water." This element is at once a symbol of trouble and of people (see Psalm 69:17; Revelation 17:15). So disquiet, arising from popular tumults and civil war, is suggested. And did not this become fact? The frequent changes of dynasty kept the nation in perpetual broils. These evils were aggravated by wars with their brethren of Judah.

2. As a reed shaken by the wind.

(1) This is not asserted, but implied, since reeds shake in water when moved by winds. And foreign influences had much to do with the troubles of Israel.

(2) Foreign idolatries introduced by Solomon's wives were at the root of the troubles.

(3) The wars between Israel and Judah brought foreign armies upon the scene Egyptians, Syrians, and Assyrians. By these rough winds the troubles were aggravated.


1. A captivity of Israel is foretold.

(1) The settlement of the people in Canaan is frequently described in Scripture under the figure of the planting of a vine there (see Psalm 64:2; Psalm 80:8; Jeremiah 2:21; Jeremiah 11:17).

(2) This is now to be reversed. "He shall root up Israel out of this good land which he gave to their fathers." Suppose the vine had feeling; what a painful process!

2. Also the region of their dispersion.

(1) "I will scatter them beyond the river i.e., the Euphrates, for thus, by emphasis, this river is ever distinguished in Scripture (see Genesis 15:18; compare Deuteronomy 11:24 with 1 Kings 4:21 and Psalm 72:8).

(2) This river also stands for the Assyrians, through whose territory it flowed. Their armies invading Israel are likened to the Euphrates rising and overflowing its western bank (see Isaiah 8:7).

(3) How literally was all this accomplished (see 2 Kings 15:29; 2 Kings 17:6, 18).


1. First provoked by their Canaanitish idolatries.

(1) These are represented here by their groves." The word Asherah (אשירה אשרת) occurs thirty-nine times, and is everywhere translated groves, yet it may well be doubted whether this is its meaning. For take the next occurrence after that in our text, viz., ver. 28 of this chapter: How could a grove be built under a green tree? How could a grove be made in the house of the Lord? (See 2 Kings 21:7; 2 Kings 23:6, 18)

(2) These Asheroth, or Asherim, appear to have been images made of wood, cased in metal, perhaps fashioned like goats, which were worshipped with abominable rites. They were popular Canaanitish divinities, and for this reason to be execrated by Israelites (see Exodus 34:18; Deuteronomy 16:21).

(3) But for all this they fell into the snare of worshipping together with the Baalim, or Bulls, and other Canaanitish idols (Judges 3:7; Judges 6:25; 1 Kings 18:19).

2. Then by their complicity in the sin of Jeroboam.

(1) This addition to their earlier idolatries filled up the measure of their iniquity. For it completely alienated them from the worship of Jehovah in His temple.

(2) They forsook the Lord, so He threatens to "give up Israel for the sin of Jeroboam," as He had also given up the house of Jeroboam to judgment. - J.A.M.

Parallel Verses
KJV: For the LORD shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and he shall root up Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the river, because they have made their groves, provoking the LORD to anger.

WEB: For Yahweh will strike Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water; and he will root up Israel out of this good land which he gave to their fathers, and will scatter them beyond the River, because they have made their Asherim, provoking Yahweh to anger.

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