The Prophecy Upon Hazael

2 Kings 8:7‑15  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 10
We have here another instance of the intimacy of the prophet with the counsels of the Lord. What daily communications there must have been between them! Indeed, in the history of God’s people, glorious revelations have been vouchsafed to those faithful ones who stood obedient—the witnessing and suffering remnants in evil times. Thus to Ezekiel and Daniel among the captives, what extended visions of divine purposes were opened to them! So when Zechariah, Haggai, and their companions began, in honesty of heart and in spite of enemies, to work at the house of the Lord as His faithful remnant returned out of captivity, what thoughts and scenes of coming glory are made to pass before them! As still more marvelously afterward, in like manner, before John in Patmos, where he was a companion in the kingdom and patience of Jesus. And Elijah and Elisha were of the same. They were, each of them in his season, the godly remnant of their day, and had very preciously the eye, the ear, and the lips of the Lord opened to them.
But from this passage in his history we find that Elisha had honor beyond the limits of Israel. We see him in Damascus, and his arrival is soon reported to the king, and honored by him. The case of Naaman may have given him this introduction to the honor and confidence of the Syrian court, and is some evidence of the testimony which that healed leper, that converted sinner of the Gentiles, had borne to the name of the God of Israel, so that at least the Syrian king does not now again look to the king (see chap. 5: 5), but to the prophet of Israel.
But I must notice the character of Hazael. He had come to Elisha with an inquiry from the Syrian king his master, about the disease under which the king was then suffering. Elisha tells him to say to his master, “Thou mayest surely recover.” But having given this answer to the king’s inquiry, he adds another word, “Howbeit the Lord hath showed me that he shall surely die.”
On hearing this, we read that Hazael “settled his countenance steadfastly until he was ashamed.* This was hypocrisy. Under the eye of the prophet, before the truthful mind of the man of God, this show of his countenance witnessed against him. He feigned sorrow at this prophecy of Ben-hadad’s death.
(* Considering the whole circumstance with the context, however, it seems it is the prophet, rather, that “settled his countenance” upon Hazael, until Hazael is ashamed. And as the vision passes before the prophet of the awful cruelties this Hazael, now standing before him, would inflict upon his beloved though wayward Israel, “the man of God wept.” Ed.)
The prophet himself, during this little moment of Hazael’s practicing grief, appears to have been following the course of divine inspiration through his own soul, and he weeps at the prospect of all the evil which this Hazael would do to Israel when he got into power—for into such scenes the Spirit of the Lord was now leading him. The prophet’s sorrow was as genuine as Hazael’s was hypocritical. It was the result in his heart of the divine vision which his eye was then beholding.
Hazael then returns to Benhadad, and misstates to him the prophet’s answer to his inquiry. The prophet had said, “Thou mayest surely recover”—thereby intimating that there was nothing in the disease itself that was fatal; and then he added, “The Lord hath showed me that he shall surely die,”— thereby intimating that Benhadad was to perish by other means than the disease. Hazael, however, now tells the king that the prophet had said, “He should surely recover.” Here was the misstatement, or the lie, of this hypocrite. But the end strikingly shows the full, unmixed truth of the prophet’s words—for the disease does not kill the king, but by other means, even by the hand of this murderous Hazael. Thus Benhadad might have recovered, but he surely dies, as the prophet had spoken.