The Anointing of Jehu

2 Kings 9-10  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 7
Our prophet is not the principal object here, but he is seen. And the whole history, being one of very deep moral value, I would not pass it by.
It is another solemn lesson, affording us an awful illustration of the doctrine of Scripture that the Lord may use, instrumentally or ministerially, those in whom He personally takes no delight. This is a solemn fact. Balaam could never have stood in the mind or sympathies of God. But Balaam the prophet is used, as is also Saul the king, and Judas the apostle.
Our souls may well pause over truth like this, and be admonished. “Have we not prophesied in Thy name?...I never knew you.” No communion in spirit, though the hand or the tongue may have been used by the Lord.
And this clearly shows itself in Jehu. The hand of this captain is used, but there is no communion between him and the Lord. He goes through his service. He executes his commission to the full. But there is no expression whatever of a soul exercised towards God. He takes up and lays down most solemn and important transactions, and all of them, too, in the name and at the command of the Lord; but there is no exercise of heart as in the sanctuary, or presence of God.
And this is just what marks the man whom God can use ministerially, but in whom He can have no joy personally. All may be used in this dead way: knowledge as well as services may be taken up,—taken up by a dead intellect, as in a dead hand. For what is knowledge, if used as a mere material? Jehu had both. He had knowledge and strength; he had an understanding that could apprehend the divine decrees touching the house of Ahab, and a hand ready to execute them. But it was a dead intellect and a dead hand; no divine life or grace filled or moved either. And with us, knowledge will be but the same, if it be not the occasion of awakening divine affections. Jesus’ knowledge ever made Him enter into and reflect the divine counsels. But there is nothing of this in Jehu. He can talk of God’s purposes and execute them, but there is no communion with God through all his action.
And here I would turn to look at something in full, moral contrast with all this, and which shines beautifully in the spirit of Elisha.
He told his messenger, that as soon as he had poured the oil on Jehu’s head, he was to open the door and flee, as though he were to have no communion with Jehu. Like the man of God who was not to have sympathy with the place he was sent to curse. (See 1 Kings 13:99For so was it charged me by the word of the Lord, saying, Eat no bread, nor drink water, nor turn again by the same way that thou camest. (1 Kings 13:9)). He had a business to do with Jehu—weighty business; but that was all. And in this, Elisha blessedly stands in kindred feeling with God Himself. We have already seen how gloriously he carried in him both the mind and power of God, revealing the one, and exercising the other; but in this case he shows that he carried the tastes and the senses of the blessed God also. Like Matthew the publican, I may say, who strikingly shows that he understood the sympathies and tastes of the Lord Jesus (Luke 5:2929And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them. (Luke 5:29)).
This is truly to be desired by our souls. We are much to covet this holy attainment. God had no personal joy in Jehu, though He may use him, as I have already noted. So Elisha had no personal joy in him, though by divine command he anoints him.
And in this, Elisha stands distinguished from Jehonadab. It is not that Jehonadab was not faithful. It is not that he was not a separated one, a saint of God, but he is not in Elisha’s elevation, just as Lot was not in Abraham’s, or Obadiah in Elijah’s. Jehonadab has not this divine sense of what Jehu was. He gets up into his chariot. He strikes hearts with him, if I may speak so. He rejoices in his work. But Elisha and the Lord have no delight in him. “Open the door, and flee, and tarry not,” was the prophet’s word to his messenger.
But this may turn to holy admonition and lead us earnestly to desire of our God this precious sympathy with Himself—this companionship with the divine enjoyments, tastes, and loathings. This was a deep work of the Spirit in the prophet’s soul. He had much besides—the mind and the power of God, as I have said, were with him. But oh, this introduction of his soul into the divine sense of things and persons! This was a beauteous fruit of the Spirit’s path and husbandry within him. This was divine. He could, like God Himself, travel the whole course of Jehu’s action, and yet take no personal delight in him. But it was not so with Jehonadab; the senses of the spiritual mind were not so lively in him. And these differences we see continually.
This character in Jehu, however, is very solemn. There is not a fragment of a broken heart —no outgoings of desire—no sense of the divine honor about him. He can even remind Bidkar of the day in which they both rode after Ahab in the days of his blood and covetousness (when the Lord laid the righteous burden upon him), with an unmoved soul. His soul takes no part in the recollection. He has no sense of share in all the evil. So unlike Daniel or Nehemiah, who, rehearsing the sin of their people, their kings, their priests, and their prophets, still take their own place and share in all the mischief. So unlike David also, who, though the judgment of another was making way for him to reach the throne (as the judgment of Ahab’s house was here preparing the like for Jehu), could see only the dishonor of the Lord’s anointed—he had no eye of joy for that throne which sparkled before him, but an eye of tears over the shame and fall of others which lay before it.
Thus is Jehu contrasted with those who are “of God” in similar scenes. And such contrast is that which lies between the flesh and the spirit, between a soul moved only by the corrupt principles of the world, and a soul ordered by the power and grace of God.
Still, however, it was a divine commission which he executes, but how awful in its character! On what a fearful journey does it send this sword of the Lord! From Ramoth to the vineyard of Naboth, from thence to the going up to Gur, from thence to Jezreel, from thence to the shearing-house, and from thence to Samaria, and all the road marked by blood—blood, too, appointed in righteousness to be shed! For though the sword that shed it cared not for righteousness, yet in its action the Lord was pleading with the flesh of Ahab and his house—as, by and by, He will have a greater pleading, even with all flesh, and the slain of the Lord shall be many. And what shall be the rapidity and the stretch of the divine judgment then! What will be the journey of the sword of the Lord, or “the grounded staff” in that day, when “as the lightning cometh out of the east,and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be”!
We may look a moment at the righteous judgment in this journey of Jehu. It is like the day of the Flood, or of Sodom, or of the Red Sea. Our souls, beloved, may afresh prize the precious blood that shelters us, while we own also, with reverence, the way of Him to whom vengeance belongs.
Jehu executes the divine commission, it is true, but it served himself. The decree of God concerning Ahab was just that on which Jehu could get forward in the world. Like a true Pharisee, he would trade on religion, or use godliness as gain. Beyond that, it had no beauty for him, or power over him; and thus, what religious zeal brought him, religious declension shall preserve to him. If he could give up Baal to get the throne, he can now give up Jehovah with as much ease to secure the throne. He can return to the calves of Jeroboam, after he has abolished the prophets of Ahab, that, as Jeroboam said, “the kingdom might not return to others.”
Oh, the deep and serious lesson! May our souls ponder it and seek an exercised heart and conscience in all service, and all knowledge, lest all be dead in our minds and hands!