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The most interesting part of this chapter is that which contains the death of the prophet Elisha. We have heard nothing of this man of God for some time. Here we are introduced to his history afresh, and the relation of his death. Here is also an account of the wicked reign of Jehoahaz, king of Israel. A remarkable circumstance is related of the revival of a dead man by being cast into the sepulcre of Elisha.
Reader! what a melancholy relation, for the most part, is the history of Israel under their kings. The outline of it is little more than that such an one began to reign at such a period, that he reigned so long, and that he did evil in the sight of the Lord, as his father had done before him. And is this the general history of man? How precious ought Christ to be, who came to do away sin by the sacrifice of himself!
The relation in this verse is the natural consequence of sin; for sin; when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
This is a sweet account in the midst of the narrative, as a beautiful spot of herbage amidst a barren heath. Observe how grace works; and how it brings forth God's mercy!
The best improvement to be made of the short account of this man's reign is, that God's grace exceeded his undeservings. Sweet is that scripture, the Lord delighteth in mercy. Micah 7:18 .
What an awful character was Jeroboam! And what an awful monument, even to this hour, remains to his dreadful memory in the book of God! Reader! think what an aggravated state of guilt must that man be heaping to himself, whose transgressions operate after his death; the deadly fruit of whose iniquities, like a poisonous tree, kills for ages after he himself ceases to be!
Our minds are relieved from the relation of such awful characters as we have lately been looking to, in the history of Jehoahaz and Joash, in the very mention of the name of Elisha, the man of God. And though we are now arrived to the period of his death in the history, yet, precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. We are not told how old the prophet was, but we may pretty nearly gather the account, from the time in which he became a prophet to the time of his death. If the Reader looks back to the call of Elisha, he will discover that from the entrance on his prophetical office, which was when anointed by Elijah as his successor, (see 1 Kings 19:16 ) to this period, was little short of 66 years. So that however young he then was, his ministry proves him to have died tolerably aged. Indeed many years seem to have passed in retirement, towards the close of his life, for we have no account of him since his anointing Jehu king. The visit of Joash, and the lamentation he made over the prophet in the prospect of his death, is striking. He used the same words as Elisha himself had done on the departure of Elijah. As if he had said; now thou art departing, all the praying strength of Israel is departing with thee. Oh! how blessed is it to be thus in truth esteemed. Gracious, praying souls among God's people are the salt of the earth, to preserve it from general putrefaction! They are the lights of the world, to prevent total darkness. Lord! I would take occasion to say, from this scene in the dying chamber of Elisha, Lord, raise up more Elishas, more faithful servants of our God, to stem the torrent of general corruption.
The prophet, though dying, had lost nothing of his prophetical spirit, nor of his faithfulness in God's covenant promises. Like another Elijah, he gives intimations, even in death, of what should follow. The typical representation of the arrow, and of smiting, fully explains what the prophet's meanings were.
Here is no account of the prophet's funeral, or of Israel's lamentation over him. Reader! doth not the death of the servants of our Lord always remind thee, and call forth holy joy in the heart, that though all die, yet Jesus the Master liveth forever! Sweet thought! And oh! the preciousness of the consolation. Thou art forever the same, blessed Jesus, and thy years do not fail. Hebrews 1:12 . The invasion by the Moabites the same year as the prophet died, is remarkable. Not unfrequently, before the Lord brings on a judgment on a guilty land, he houseth his servants. Noah was taken into the ark before the flood. Lot sent out of Sodom before the overthrow.
This miracle perhaps, (for I do not presume to decide upon it positively) had a double signification. Probably it might be intended to imply that the doctrine Elisha had delivered, gave life to the souls of the faithful, after the prophet himself was no more. And yet perhaps, more probably, the thing itself was intended to lead the minds of the Old Testament saints to the belief and assurance of the resurrection, in and by the Lord Jesus. Elisha was himself an eminent type of Christ. And as such, was not the revival of this dead man, whose body was hastily put, through fear of the band of the Moabites, into the sepulchre of Elijah, an emblem that from believers being buried with Christ in the likeness of his death, they shall be also in his likeness in the resurrection? Romans 6:5 ; John 11:25 .
The chapter closes with a double aspect, Israel's unworthiness, and the Lord's grace and favor. Oh! dearest Jesus! how doth thy great, thy glorious salvation shine more conspicuously blessed, when beheld over the view of man's undeservings! Surely everything in redemption-work loudly proclaims that sovereign truth, where sin abounded, grace doth much more abound; that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might, grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:20-21 .
I PASS over every other consideration, which the perusal of this chapter affords, to take the larger, and more attentive review of the dying moments of the man of God, Elisha. No doubt the recollection of the wicked reign of Jehoahaz and Joash; the infinite clemency of a most gracious God, notwithstanding showed to such impious monarchs and their people, and the deliverances wrought out for them by the Lord; no doubt these contemplations would open a large door for improvement. And indeed, I pray the Reader not wholly to pass them by. May the Holy Ghost sanctify them to the soul both of Writer and Reader. But I pass the more quickly over those things, to take a more deliberate view of the dying prophet, which this chapter records. And as with this chapter, the life and ministry of Elisha terminates, methinks I would gather up, from the fragments of a life so illustrious, and so highly honored, somewhat to contemplate to the honor of the saint, and yet infinitely more, to gather therefrom in reference to the Saviour.
And shall I, blessed Spirit of all truth, shall I humbly venture to ask, while lying low in the dust before thee, is there not somewhat in thy servant the prophet Elisha, which forms a resemblance, however imperfect and far short of the original, to the person, character, and offices of our Lord Jesus Christ? Didst thou, blessed Spirit, graciously design that thy church should be led to such a contemplation! Look then, my soul, while waiting the Holy Ghost's teaching, look to Elisha, and see whether he was not intended to shadow forth somewhat of Jesus, in his life and ministry!
A double portion of the Spirit was promised Elisha at the river Jordan , when entering on his prophetical office, on the departure of Elijah. And was it not at the same river the Holy Ghost descended on the Person of the Lord Jesus, at his entrance on his ministry, when the Spirit was given to him without measure? Did Elisha divide the waters hither and thither with the mantle of Elijah, in testimony that the Lord God of Elijah was with him: and are not the waters of death, and the depths of destruction dried up, and a passage made through Jordan for Christ's ransomed to pass over, by his robe of righteousness, which forms the justifying covering and mantle of all his people before the Lord Jehovah forever? Did Elisha work miracles; heal the waters, and cure the barren ground by the cruse of salt: and hath not our Jesus healed all the springs of bitterness in us and our corrupt nature, and by the salt of grace, and the covenant blessings, his precious and finished redemption work hath wrought in us, and for us; hath he not brought in such everlasting healing to the nations, that henceforth, Jehovah himself hath said, and confirmed it with an oath, There shall be no more dearth, or barren land, for in Christ Jesus his people shall be saved with an everlasting righteousness, and shall be neither ashamed nor confounded, world without end! Did Elisha multiply the pot of oil, raise the Shunammite's son; restore the poisoned food to wholesomeness; feed an hundred men with twenty loaves; cure Naaman, the Syrian, of his leprosy in mercy, and fasten it on Gehazi in punishment: and did he those great deeds in the name of the Lord? Yes! all these and many more, in confirmation of his commission, in whose name he acted; and, like another Moses, was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after. But as for thee, thou blessed Jesus, thou, as a Son over thine own house, and as the Lord and Sovereign of Elisha, to whom he, and all that went before, and all that followed, ministered to thy coming; thou hast indeed in an endless perpetuity of miracles, not only during the days of thy flesh upon earth, but now in the everlasting possession and exercise of thy glory in heaven, still carrying on the same gracious and blessed designs in the accomplishment of thy redemption. The widow's oil which the prophet multiplied, might indeed shadow forth the oil of grace, which thou art dispensing, by thy Spirit, upon all thy people; but oh! how weak a representation of the fulness, by which thou art forever supplying the impoverished state of the insolvent, and the wretched. Elisha, by thy command, did raise the Shunammite's dead son. But thou, blessed Jesus, art raising millions of dead sinners to a new and spiritual life, which are by nature dead in trespasses and sins. Elisha to manifest the power and grace of the God in whose name he acted, might be permitted to convert the poisoned broth into wholesome food. But thou, Almighty Jesus, in thine own power, and by thine own sovereign mercy, hast converted the very poison of sin into streams of salvation: by death thou hast destroyed him that had the power of death, that is the devil; and hast delivered them who through fear of death were all their life time subject to bondage. Hail! holy, blessed, precious, Lord Jesus! Lamb of God who hath all power in heaven and in earth. Not one or two only of widowed women, leprous Syrians, or famished men hath thy grace and mercy been manifested to by the ministry of thy servants, but millions of souls and bodies of thy redeemed, amidst all their poverty, leprosy, and famished state of endless ruin, but for thy gracious interposition, hast thou restored to life, and health, and joy, and liberty. Men shall be blessed in thee, and all nations shall call thee blessed. Here let me bow down before thee thou Lord God of the prophets, Elisha's God and Saviour, in whom, and through whom, and for whom, all his ministry was exercised. And in the view of his life, and indeed of all thy servants who shadowed forth thy coming, may this one gracious truth be fully brought home to the soul, and made blessed both to him that writes, and him that reads, that to him, even to Jesus, gave all the prophets witness, that through thy name, dearest Lord Jesus, whosoever believeth in thee, shall receive remission of sins.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Kings 13". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent