2 Kings  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 8
To The Reader:
The value of this little book will be found not by a mere rapid reading, but by “meditation” on the subjects of which it treats. The man of the world is imbued with “the spirit of the world,” by which he knows, enters into, and loves the things of the world. But the children of God “have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things which are freely given to us of God” (1 Cor. 2:1212Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. (1 Corinthians 2:12)). Meditation in God’s precious Word leads to the knowledge, not of truth only, but of God; and this is our peace and security and power while we pass as pilgrims through the world. To this end, we trust, this little book will be a help.
The ministries of Elijah and Elisha occupied the days of the family of Ahab, of the house of Omri—the time of the deepest corruption in the kingdom of the Ten Tribes. The testimony of the Lord about those times is this: “And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him.”
It was in those days that Hiel, the Bethelite, dared the arm of the Lord by rebuilding Jericho; an act which, affronting the truth and power of the Lord, looked with infidel boldness and said, “Where is the God of judgment?” (Mal. 2:1717Ye have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment? (Malachi 2:17)). For Ahab’s days were days of man’s proud provocation and their tempting of the Lord over again, as in the wilderness.
At such a time, just on the act of Hiel, Elijah is called out (1 Kings 16:34; 17:134In his days did Hiel the Beth-elite build Jericho: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his firstborn, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Joshua the son of Nun. (1 Kings 16:34)
1And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word. (1 Kings 17:1)
); and in him we see an entirely independent call of God and energy of the Spirit. He is quite in the Lord’s own hand. He does not belong to the Priesthood. He never seeks the Temple. He never consults established oracles, nor follows in the ordinances of Israel. But the Lord takes him up and fills him with light and power altogether His own, not reaching him by any prescribed channel at all.
And so also with Elisha. He was independent of all that was already instituted in the land. The hand of the Lord uses him, the Spirit of God fills him, without respect to the Temple or the Priesthood.
But though there is this common character and moral in the call of these two prophets (and indeed, in measure, of all the prophets), yet their ministries are, in detail, very distinct. Testimony against evil, and consequent suffering, mark the history of Elijah. Power and grace, in using it for others, mark that of Elisha. Both are seen in the Lord Jesus Christ, whose shadows, of course, they were. In one aspect of His history on earth, we see the suffering, driven, persecuted Witness—the world hating Him, because He testified that its works were evil. In another we see the powerful, gracious, ready Friend of others: all that had sorrows or necessities getting healing and blessing from Him.
Even more than this stands reflected in the histories of these prophets, for Elijah’s sorrow and rejection by the world end in heaven; Elisha’s power carries him ahead of all that might resist and keeps him in constant honor and triumph on the earth. These things foreshadow the heavenly and earthly things of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and King of Israel.
I would now pass through the history of Elisha given to us in 2 Kings 2-13. I do so, however, only rapidly, though in this little journey noticing each detached scene in order, and seeking to draw forth something of the divine counsel and the divine moral I have found it a Scripture of great interest to my own soul.