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Bible Commentaries

Sermon Bible Commentary

2 Kings 1

Verse 3

2 Kings 1:3

I. The step from the ultra-local worship set up by Jeroboam to a foreign Phoenician worship seems a very long one. Yet it was natural and easy. The conscience of the idolater becomes at once stupefied and sensitive, more and more incapable of appreciating moral distinctions, more and more alive to terrors. The thought of a righteous Being is appalling; from an object of trust He passes into an object of horror. Other nations which seem happier and more prosperous have other gods and sacrifices. It might be well to try them. The most powerful neighbour must be most worthy of imitation.

II. A king like Ahab meets the demand of a people in this state. The Scripture leaves the impression upon our minds that he was intellectually superior to his predecessors, of a higher ambition, less narrow in his notions. He had not the dread which Jeroboam felt of intercourse with Jerusalem; he cultivated the friendship of Jehoshaphat. At the same time, he took to wife Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians. With her he naturalized the worship of Baalim.

III. The Baal worship was essentially the worship of mere power as distinguished from righteousness. The most serious services, the sacrifices and libations of blood, must be presented to some malevolent nature which would destroy unless it were soothed. Thus the worship of power becomes literally the worship of evil. By a regular and awful process Baal, or Baalzebub, became in the minds of his devout servants what his name imported to Jews of later time the prince of the devils.

IV. There are those who think that Elijah exceeded his commission when he destroyed the priests of Baal. I have not seen any occasion to depart from the ordinary view of the subject. But though I do not read in Elijah's deep despondency the condemnation of his last act, I do see in it the natural effects of any great exercise of destructive power perhaps of power at all upon the mind of him to whom it has been entrusted. The sense of exhaustion, the cry, "I am not better than my fathers, though I have done such wonders," the hopelessness of the future becoming all the more deep from the apparently useless triumph that had been won already surely every prophet must have these bitter experiences if he is not to sink into a Baal-worshipper and after all to regard the God of truth and righteousness merely as a God of might.

F. D. Maurice, Prophets and Kings of the Old Testament, p. 125.

References: 2 Kings 1:1-16 . Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iv., p. 354. 2 Kings 1:2-8 . J. R. Macduff, The Prophet of Fire, p. 253. 2 Kings 1:9 . Clergyman's Magazine, vol. xiii., p. 16. 2 Kings 1:9-18 . J. R. Macduff, The Prophet of Fire, p. 267. 2 Kings 1:10-12 . J. Hammond, Expositor, 1st series, vol. iii., p. 454. 2 Kings 1:0 W. M. Taylor, Elijah the Prophet, p. 185; Parker, vol. viii., p. 68.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on 2 Kings 1". "Sermon Bible Commentary".