Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 18

Sermon Bible CommentarySermon Bible Commentary

Verse 4

2 Kings 18:4

Nehushtan: a mere "piece of brass." So Hezekiah named the brazen serpent. He was bent on the work of national reformation. He saw that incense was being burnt to this brazen serpent; that was enough for him. Whatever it might have been to the people in the past, it was clearly a curse now, and had better be destroyed at once.


I. A blind veneration for the past is always an obstacle in the path of progress. There are multitudes who cling with unintelligent grasp to institutions and customs simply because they have come down to them from their fathers. If there be a tendency to worship the brazen serpent instead of the living God, then the truest wisdom is to grind it to powder.

II. Even that which has been ordained by God Himself for a blessing may be so misused as to become a curse. We see this in the case (1) of art and science; (2) of the weekly day of rest; (3) of the Bible; (4) of our sanctuaries.

III. Every symbol loses its significance and value in proportion as it is converted into an idol. The brazen serpent was a material token of the pitying mercy of God, a symbol of the Divine power, a reminder of the Divine holiness. But when the Jews began to worship it, its worth departed. And so it always is. (1) Every creed is a symbol, an attempt to express the truth of God in the words of man. Such words are valuable only as pointing to that which is more valuable than themselves. The claim of God is that we honour Him and truth, and burn no incense to mere confessions of faith. (2) The Sacraments also are symbols. Whenever they begin to be idolised, they lose much of their significance and value. (3) The Cross is the grandest symbol in all history. But it is not intended that we should rest in the outward circumstances of the Crucifixion. The looking to the Cross which brings salvation is a looking through the Cross to that which it reveals.

T. C. Finlayson, Contemporary Pulpit, vol. iv., p. 160.

References: 2 Kings 18:4 . W. Lindsay Alexander, Sermons, p. 260; T. R. Stevenson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xi., p. 236; W. Walters, Ibid., vol. xx., p. 237. 2 Kings 18:4 , 2 Kings 18:5 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvi., No. 960. 2 Kings 18:5 . Weekly Pulpit, vol. i., p. 3.

Verses 9-12

2 Kings 18:9-12

I. In the time of David and Solomon, the small people of the Jews became a very powerful nation, respected and feared by all the kingdoms round. But when they fell into idolatry and forsook the true God and His law, all was changed. Idolatry brought sin; and sin brought bad passions, hatred, divisions, weakness, ruin. Elijah's warnings had been in vain, and Elisha's warnings also. At heart the Israelites liked Ahab's and Jezebel's idolatries better than the worship of the true God. And why? Because if they worshipped God and kept His laws, they must needs have been more or less good men, upright, just, merciful, cleanly and chaste livers; while, on the other hand, they might worship their idols and yet be as bad as they chose. They chose the worse part, and refused the better; and they were filled with the fruit of their own devices, as every unrepenting sinner surely will be.

II. The king of Assyria, we read, brought heathens from Assyria and settled them in the Holy Land, instead of the Israelites. From the Jewish priest that they asked for these poor people got some confused notion of the one true God, and they went on for several hundred years worshipping idols and the true God at the same time. But as time went on the Samaritans seem to have got rid of their old idolatry, and built themselves a temple on Mount Gerizim, and there worshipped they knew not what. But still they did their best, and their reward came at last.

III. When Jesus rested by Jacob's well, His heart yearned over these poor ignorant Samaritans and over the sinful woman who came to draw water at the well. For hundreds of years the Samaritans had felt after God, and in due time they found Him, for He came to them, and found them, and spoke with them face to face.

IV. All Christ asks of you is to receive Him when He comes to you, and to love, and thank, and try to be like Him, while for the rest, to whom little is given, of him shall little be required; and to him who uses what he has, be it little or much, more shall be given, and he shall have abundance.

C. Kingsley, Town and Country Sermons, p. 362.

Reference: 2 Kings 18:13-16 . H. B. Tristram, Sunday Magazine, 1873, p. 795.

Verse 36

2 Kings 18:36

I. How strong must have been the temptation to answer the apostate Rabshakeh. And what rendered silence more difficult was the easiness of the answer which might have been given by reference to the mighty hand and to the outstretched arm by which Jehovah had rescued His people from the house of bondage. But the king's commandment was wise. No good could possibly have arisen from the verbal controversy which the apostate Rabshakeh tried to provoke. Angry passions might have been excited and inflamed, but Hezekiah knew that "the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God." Let us learn wisdom from Hezekiah. When we find a man arguing, not for truth, but for victory; when, instead of approaching high and holy subjects with meekness and reverence, instead of showing kindness and tender-heartedness towards those whom he may think in error, he evinces bitterness, and wrath, and clamour, and evil-speaking, our wisdom is, though sorrowful, still to be silent.

II. We have the same instruction from still higher authority, even the example of Hezekiah's Lord. "He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth." Instead of answering, He silenced His opponents, and in His reply, instead of entering into a discussion with them, exposed either their ignorance or their malice, and so in effect answered them not.

III. In all our religious investigations and inquiries the essential thing is to have an honest and good heart. When we seek for spiritual improvement, we must have recourse to self-examination and prayer. We must pray to God to give us an honest heart before we venture to inquire into the things of God.

W. F. Hook, Parish Sermons, p. 140.

References: 2 Kings 18:37 . Preacher's Monthly, vol. vi., p. 199. 2 Kings 18:0 Parker, vol. viii., p. 279. 2Ki 18-19 E. H. Plumptre, Expositor, 2nd series, vol. ii., p. 437.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on 2 Kings 18". "Sermon Bible Commentary".