There is Always More than Enough with God
This chapter records four of God’s miracles through Elisha; providing money for a poverty-stricken window; raising a dead boy to life (32-37); purifying poisonous food (38-41); and providing food for 100 men (42-44).
Verse 1 – Poor people and debtors were allowed to pay their debts by selling themselves or their children as slaves.
Verse 6 – This oil was used for cooking, for lamps, and for fuel. The oil stopped pouring only when she ran out of containers. We have to beware of limiting God. God’s provision was as large as her faith and the willingness to obey. God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
Miracle of the Shunammite’s Son
Verse 9 – This Shunammite woman realized that Elisha was a man of God and wanted to prepare a room for him when he came to town. Soon her kindness would be rewarded far beyond anything she could have imagined.
Verses 15, 16 – The woman was barren in a society in which both pagans and worshipers of the Lord thought barrenness as one of the curses from the gods. This act of power was a witness for God. It was a statement that God could give blessings to those who were faithful to Him.
Verses 18-26 – When death entered the home of the Shunammite family, this was another opportunity to show the mercy and grace of a loving God.
Verse 27 – Elisha modeled both sensitivity and recognition of his own limitations. When he said, “The Lord has hidden it from me,” it showed his limited knowledge and power of God.
Verses 29-31 – Elisha had seemed confident that sending Gehazi was sufficient to heal the woman’s son.
Verses 32-35 – When Elisha arrived, he carried out a more complicated procedure for healing her son. Here Elisha’s success was dependent on his prayer to the Lord.
Verses 38-41 – “Death in the pot” means that the food was poisonous. Perhaps a poisonous wild vegetable or herb had been mixed in with the edible plants. God’s power protected His people from careless dangers even in a serious famine.
Verses 42-44 – The provisions did not multiply while in the baskets that were given as a gift. It was multiplied as the servants began distributing it to the 100 men. (Does this story sound familiar?) Give it away, and watch it multiply.
Verses 1-3 – These names are a little confusing, so let me try to make clear who is who. Jehoram was Jehoshaphat’s son. (Verse 8:16). As Jehoshaphat ruled toward the end of his life, it was custom for the appointed king to rule alongside the ruling king. Jehoram did this the last 5 years of Jehoshaphat’s reign (kings over Judah, the southern kingdom).
Joram, king of Israel was Ahab’s son and Ahaziah’s brother. Both Ahab (1 Kings 16:29—22:40) and Ahaziah (1:2-28) served as kings of Israel (northern kingdom) before Joram. The confusion is at the beginning of chapter 3, in the spelling. Two versions of the Bible spell, Jorams’s name—Jehoram as being Ahab’s son. But look in chapter 8 verse 16. It says Joram, son of Ahab not Jehoram. Two different versions of the Bible clear this spelling up. I use four different versions of the Bible for references. Even I was confused.
Verses 4, 5 – Moab lay just southeast of Israel. Israel and Judah held some of the most fertile land in the ancient Near East. The neighboring nations like Moab envied them and constantly attempted to seize the land. The country had been under Israel’s control for some time due to Ahab’s military leadership. When Ahab died, Mesha, the Moabite King, took the opportunity to rebel. While Israel’s next king, Ahaziah, did nothing about the revolt, Joram decided to take action. He joined forces with Jehoshaphat, king of Judah and went to fight the Moabites. (Unless you have been following and studying up to this point, this all will seem non-relevant. I assure you all of God’s Word is relevant.) God’s Word describes how the land that was promised to Israel was conquered and lost throughout history and why different tribes continue to fight over this promise land unto this day. Together, Israel and Judah brought the Moabites to the edge of surrender. However, when they saw the Moabite King sacrifice his own son and successor (3:27), they withdraw. Some of these battles fought by Mesha were recorded on a plaque called the Moabite Stone, which was discovered in 1868.
Verse 10 – Edom was under Judah’s control; thus, they marched with them, making three kings.
Verses 11-20 – In Old Testament time’s music often accompanied prophecy (1 Chronicles 25:1). Jehoshaphat’s request for “a prophet of the Lord” shows how true worship in both Israel and Judah had declined. This miracle predicted by Elisha affirmed God’s power and authority and validated Elisha’s ministry. In 2 Chronicles 18, King Jehoshaphat of Judah and Kin Ahab of Israel gave the prophet Micaiah a similar request. However, they ignored God’s advice—with disastrous results.
Verse 2 – Elisha was a very persistent prophet. He would not let Elijah out of his sight. By the words the other prophets said to Elisha, he knew God was about to take Elijah. Perhaps by Elijah repeatedly telling Elisha to remain behind, it was to determine Elisha would be worthy of this great calling.
Verse 3 – The conversations show that Elijah’s departure was common knowledge.
Verses 7, 8 – God’s power was demonstrated again. Elijah made a miraculous path through the Jordan River. An audience of prophets was there to report this miracle to the people.
Verse 9 – Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit (prophetic ministry). According to custom (Deuteronomy 21:17) the firstborn son received a double portion of the father’s inheritance. But the decision to grant Elisha’s request was up to God. Elisha’s motives were pure. His main goal was not to be better or more powerful than Elijah’s, but to accomplish more for God. If our motives are pure, we don’t have to hesitate to ask for more from Him. Elisha had to observe Elijah being taken up in order for the request to be granted.
Verse 11 – Elijah was the second person mentioned in Scripture to go to heaven without dying. Enoch was the first (Genesis 5:21-24). The other prophets that were there may have had a hard time believing what they saw because they began to search for Elijah (verses 16-18). (The only other person taken to heaven in bodily form was Jesus after His resurrection, Acts 1:9.)
Verses 13-15 – Elijah’s mantle showed that Elisha was the legitimate heir to Elijah. When Elisha struck the water, it was not out of disrespect to God or Elijah. It was a plea by Elisha to God to confirm his appointment as Elijah’s successor.
Verses 16-18 – These men begged Elisha to let them go look for Elijah. Elisha told them not to go, but they persisted. Finally, Elisha relented and let them waste their time—for 3 days.
Verses 19-22 – Elisha confirmed his role as a channel for God’s works by performing a miracle—one that demonstrated the practical benefits of God’s great acts.
Verses 23, 24 – These youths were more or less warning Elisha not to speak against their idolatrous religious center the way Elijah did. They were not merely mocking Elisha’s baldness; they were disrespecting everything Elisha represented. When Elisha cursed them, he did not call those bears out of the woods himself. God sent them as a judgment for their callous unbelief.
These “boys” paid for their jeering with their lives. When we are cynical and sarcastic toward people who have been appointed by God, we are in danger of not just mocking that person, but also the spiritual message that they bring. True leaders of God, need to be respected and encouraged in their ministry.
The Book of Second Kings continues the drama begun in First Kings. Israel had been divided in 1 Kings Chapter 12 and the two kingdoms had begun to slide into idolatry and corruption toward collapse and captivity. Second Kings relates the stories of 12 kings of the northern kingdom (called Israel) and the 16 kings of the southern kingdom (called Judah). For 130 years, Israel endures the succession of evil rulers until they were conquered by Shalmaneser of Assyria and led into captivity in 722 B.C. (17:6). Of all the kings in both north and south, only two—Hezekiah and Josiah—were called good. Jehoshaphat though, according to scripture—“Did what was right in the eyes of the Lord,” but only Hezekiah and Josiah were called “good.” Because of their obedience to God and the spiritual revivals during their reigns, Judah stood for an additional 136 years until falling to Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians in 586 B.C.
Verse 2 – Baal-Zebub was not the same god as Baal, the Canaanite god worshiped by Ahab and Jezebel. Baal-Zebub—“Lord of the Flies,” was the god whose temple was located in the city of Ekron. This god was thought to have the power of prophecy. King Ahaziah was injured and wanted to know if he would recover, so he sent messengers to Ekron to learn of his fate. Turning to pagan deities was disloyal to God and was worthy of death (Exodus 22:20).
Verses 3, 4 – Elijah challenged king Ahaziah on his false worship by the question, “Is it because there is no God in Israel?” Then Elijah announces that Ahaziah would die.
Verses 9, 10 – Round two! Therefore, now Ahaziah knows who his enemy is. He sends his captain and 50 men back to Elijah and they tell Elijah that the king commands for him to come down. They knew Elijah was “a man of God” but yet disrespected him. Elijah simply told them “If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men. Poof! Gone!
Verses 11, 12 – I wonder how long the king waited before he realized his men weren’t coming back. The king foolishly trusted in his own power and pride again. Surely, this prophet won’t defy the king a second time. Wrong! The king sends another 50 men to Elijah. The same thing was said and fire came down from heaven and consumed the men.
Verses 13-15 – Notice how the third captain came before Elijah. Although the first two captains called Elijah “man of God,” they were not genuine in their respect for him. This third captain also called Elijah man of God, but he humbly begged for mercy. His attitude showed respect for God and His power. That one act saved the lives of him and his men. Effective living begins with a right attitude towards God. At this point, God sent an angel to tell Elijah to go with the company.
Verse 16 – Perhaps at this point Ahaziah recognized the power of God, but there is no recorded evidence of it.
Promise of Victory by the False Prophets
Verses 4, 5 – Jehoshaphat’s words in these verses reflect the two different roles he was playing. In verse 4, his words show that he was a faithful vassal of Ahab, but in verse 5 Jehoshaphat, the pious king of Judah, wanted to consult a legitimate prophet of Yahweh.
Verse 6 – These 400 prophets may have been the 400 Asherah priests left alive by Elijah at Carmel, although 450 prophets of Baal were killed.
Verses 11, 12 – These false prophets gave Ahab the message he wanted to hear.
Verses 15, 16 – Why did Micaiah tell Ahab to attack when he had previously vowed to speak only what God had told him? He might have been speaking sarcastically, making fun of the messages from the pagan prophets by showing that they were telling the king only what he wanted to hear. When confronted, he predicted that the king would die and the battle would be lost. Although Ahab repented temporarily (21:27), he still listened to the false prophets.
Verse 22 – The lying spirit symbolized the way of life for these prophets, who told the king only what he wanted to hear.
Verses 20-22 – God uses everything—both good and evil—for His good purpose (Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28). God does not entice anyone to become evil. Those committed to evil however, may be used by God to hurry their deserved judgment (Exodus 11:10).
Verse 29 – Ahab told Jehoshaphat that he would disguise himself, but Jehoshaphat was to wear his royal attire. In a battle, a king would never wear his royal attire. This would certainly draw a huge target on his life.
Verse 34 – It was foolish for Ahab to think he could escape God’s judgment wearing a disguise. God sees and evaluates the motives of each person.
Verse 35 – Just as the prophet had predicted (20:42), Ahab was killed. God accomplished what human cunning could neither bring about nor prevent by ordaining the flight of a randomly shot arrow.
Verse 43 – Just like his ancestors Solomon and Asa, Jehoshaphat followed God, but he didn’t remove the high places—the pagan shrines in the hills. He did rid the land of the male shrine prostitutes, which had remained after the reign of his father Asa though.
Verses 52, 53 – The book of 1 Kings began with a nation united under David, the most devout king in Israel’s history. The book ends with a divided kingdom and the death of the most evil, wicked king of all. What happened? The people forgot to acknowledge God as their ultimate leader; they appointed human leaders who ignored God; and then they conformed to the life-styles of these evil leaders. Occasional wrongdoing gradually turned into a way of life. Failing to recognize God as our ultimate leader is the first step toward ruin!
Summary of Jezebel
Jezebel ranks as the most evil woman in the Bible. The Bible even uses her name as an example of people who completely reject God (Revelation 2:20, 21). Jezebel was determined to make Israel worship her gods. Jezebel not only managed her husband, Ahab, but she also had 850 assorted pagan priests under her control. She believed that the king had the right to possess anything he wanted. Jezebel ruthlessly had Naboth killed and took ownership of the land. Jezebel’s plan to wipe out worship of God in Israel led to painful consequences. Before she died, Jezebel suffered the loss of her husband in combat and her son at the hand of Jehu, who took the throne by force. She died in the defiant and scornful way she had lived.
Verse 4 – After hearing God’s judgment (20:42), Ahab went home to pout. Rage turned to hatred and led to the murder of Naboth. However, Naboth wanted to uphold God’s laws: it was considered a duty to keep ancestral land in the family.
Verses 8-10 – Jezebel knew enough of God’s law to arrange for 2 witnesses to accuse Naboth of blasphemy. What is not revealed here is that Jezebel also had Naboth’s heirs killed (2 Kings 9:25, 26). This was necessary since as long as Naboth had surviving heirs, the land would stay in the family.
Verses 17, 18 – Elijah had faded into the background for a while. Now he reenters the story.
Verses 19-24 – The first cursed pronounced on Ahab described the way dogs would lick Ahab’s blood in the same place that they licked Naboth’s blood and the blood of his sons. The second disaster would come on all males; both slave and free of Ahab’s house. The bible implies that this prophecy of Elijah was fulfilled when Joram, Ahab’s son was left for the dogs on Naboth’s land in Jezreel (2 Kings 9:24-26).
Verses 27-29 – We see that this repentance by Ahab was shallow because he continued his rebellion in the next chapter. God pronounced that the prophesied destruction on Ahab’s house would only happen only after Ahab’s death. We must accept God’s sovereignty on those occasions when He seems harsh by our standards and also when He seems too merciful by our judgment.
Verses 4-9 – Ahab tried to end the siege by a total surrender to Ben-Hadad’s initial demands, but Ben-Hadad then increased his demands so that even a desperate, weakened Ahab resorted to resistance.
Verse 11 – The point of this saying is to not count your victories before a battle. I guess Ahab didn’t remember what King David said before he took the head off of Goliath. David claimed the victory before he slung the rock out of his sling. He stood before Goliath and told him what he was about to do and gave the entire honor to God.
Verses 13-16 – Divine revelation gave encouragement and guidance to Ahab. Since there is no mention of Israelite chariots, Ahab’s chariot army may have been disabled by the drought. God’s intervention helped Ahab to lead a surprise attack while the Aramean army was drunk. The purpose of this divine intervention was that Ahab would recognize God’s character. The lesson failed.
Verse 21 – It is reasonable to conclude that much of the Israelite success came from God’s blessing on the surprise infantry attack on the unprepared unharnessed chariots of the Aramean army.
Verse 23 – Since the days of Joshua, Israel soldiers had a reputation for being superior fighters in the hills, but ineffective in the open plains and valleys because they did not use chariots in battle. What Ben-Hadad’s officers did not understand was that it was God, not chariots that made the difference in battle.
Verse 31 – Sackcloth was the symbol of mourning for the dead or for natural disaster. The rope around the head was a sign of submission.
Verses 35, 36 – The prophet needed a wound so he would look like an injured soldier and could effectively deliver his prophecy to Ahab. A lion killed the first man because he refused to obey the Lord’s instructions through the prophet.
Verses 41, 42 – God helped Ahab destroy the Aramean army to prove to Ahab and to Aram that He alone is God. But Ahab failed to destroy the king, his greatest enemy. Ben-Hadad was under God’s judgment to die, and Ahab had no authority to let him live. For this, God told Ahab that he must die instead. This prophet’s message soon came true when Ahab was killed on the battlefield (22:35)