Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
And where was it that they met? Jehu had good reason to know the place. So had Jehoram. About twenty years before, another memorable meeting had taken place there. Jehoram's father, Ahab, had coveted Naboth's vineyard. Jehoram's mother, Jezebel, had brought about Naboth's death by a process of false swearing against him. Naboth was dead, and Ahab, accompanied by his two captains, Jehu and Bidkar, rode out to take possession of that vineyard whose owner the queen had murdered. But his sin had found him out. Elijah, the messenger of God, met him there. And there, in that vineyard which he had procured through covetousness, envy, treachery, and bloodshed, Ahab was compelled to listen to his doom. Terrible words they were indeed for a king to hear. "Thus saith the Lord, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even throe. And Jezebel, the instigator of the crime, was not forgotten. The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel." And now, in that very place, stained with the blood of Naboth, Jehu meets Jehoram, the son of Ahab the murderer and the king. The blood of Naboth cries to Heaven for vengeance. Jehoram was little better than his father. He too "cleaved unto the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin." He forsook the true God and served other gods. No doubt his conscience smote him and his spirit failed him, as he asked of Jehu, "Is it peace?" But there was not much time left him to prepare to die. Jehu's words were few, and his actions quick as thought. With his full strength he drew his bow and sent his arrow straight to Jehoram's heart. It was then that the words of Elijah, spoken twenty years before in that very place, flashed back upon his mind, and he caused the lifeless body of Jehoram to be cast into the field of Naboth the Jezreelite. But Jehu's work of vengeance is not yet done. Jezebel's long career of wickedness had hardened her heart and blinded her to her danger. As Jehu rode into the city, she sat at her window in her best attire, as if to defy him, and greeted him with the sneering question, "Had Zimri peace, who slew his master?' But Jehu is not a man to be trifled with. He finds willing helpers in her own servants. At his command they threw her down into the street, and she - the adulteress and the murderess, the woman whose name has become proverbial as a symbol of everything that is bad - is trampled under the horses' feet, and once more the doom of Heaven is fulfilled: "In the portion of Jezreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel." We learn from this narrative some important lessons.
I. SIN, NOT REPENTED OF, MUST BE PUNISHED. This is a law of nature. It is a fact of history. It is the very essence of morality. It is the very essence of justice. It is at the basis of social order in a nation. It is at the basis of the moral government of the universe. Those who transgress the law of nations, those who transgress the laws of honesty or of morality, those who take away the life, or the property, or the character of others, must be made to suffer for it. This is necessary, that justice may be vindicated. It is necessary, in order that property and person and character may be safe. It is necessary, in order that other evil-doers may be deterred from crime. Even under our own national law, we feel that there is something wrong when an evil-doer escapes. We feel that it has a bad effect upon the community when crime goes unpunished. Now, what is sin in the Bible sense? Sin is the transgression of the Law. It is a transgression of a far higher law than the law of nations, of that law on which the well-being of all nations depends - the eternal Law of God. The Law of God is at the foundation of all true well-being and happiness in every nation and in every age. "This do, and thou shalt live." "The commandment is holy, and just, and good." It is, therefore, in the interests of every nation, it is in the interests, not of one generation of men merely, but of those who shall come after them, that those who transgress the Divine Law should suffer for it. Every violation of a Divine law must be followed by its corresponding punishment. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Look at your own lives in the light of this great truth. Are there any sins in your lives unrepented of? Then be assured that the punishment, if it has not yet come, awaits you. Sins against God, against God's Law, against God's sabbath; sins against our fellow-man - sins of unfair dealing, sins of evil-speaking, or other and grosser sins; every one of these, if not repented of, is sure to bring its corresponding punishment. "Be sure your sin will find you out."
II. PUNISHMENT MAY BE DELAYED, BUT IT IS NONE THE LESS SURE. There is an old Irish proverb, "The vengeance of God is slow, but sure." We have many illustrations of that in history. It was long after Jezebel's great crime before her punishment overtook her. When the Israelites were journeying through the wilderness, the Amalekites treated them with great treachery and cruelty, falling upon them in the rear, and when they were faint and weary. It was not until four hundred years afterwards that the sentence against Amalek was executed but it was executed at last. We may kill our enemies, we may seek to destroy all traces of our crime, but we can never destroy the memory and the guilt of it by any acts of ours. Charles IX. of France was led, by the importunity of another Jezebel, Mary de Medicis, to kill Admiral Coligny, who was the great leader of the French Protestants. For a long time he refused, but at last he consented in the memorable words, "Assassinate Admiral Coligny, but leave not a Huguenot alive in France to reproach me." That was the origin of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew. Having killed Coligny, he did not want any of his friends to remain to bear witness against him. How anxious men are to destroy all traces of their crime! And yet how vain all such efforts are! There is One whose eye sees every act of human life. We may escape the judgment of men, but we cannot escape the judgment of God. If not here, then certainly hereafter, every sin, not repented of, will receive its due reward. "For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it he good or had."
III. THERE IS OFTEN A RESEMBLANCE BETWEEN THE PLACE AND MANNER OF THE SIN AND THE PLACE AND MANNER OF THE PUNISHMENT.
1. It was at Naboth's vineyard that the great sin of Ahab's house had been committed. There, too, at Naboth's vineyard, Jehoram, Ahab's son, was slain. It was outside the walls of Jezreel that the dogs licked the blood of Naboth. There, too, the dogs licked the blood and ate the flesh of Jezebel his murderess. It would seem as if this was part of the Divine Law of retribution. One reason for it would appear to be that it fixes unmistakably the connection between the sin and its punishment. Robe Spierre, the famous French revolutionist, literally choked the river Seine with the heads of those whom he sent to the guillotine. But the day came when the death-tumbrel containing himself was trundled along the streets of Paris to the selfsame fatal axe, amid the shouts and execrations of the multitude. Cardinal Beaten condemned to death George Wishart, one of the first of the Scottish Reformers, and watched him burning at the stake, while he himself reclined on rich cushions on the walls of his castle at St. Andrew's. Three months afterwards the cardinal himself was put to death, and his dead body was hung by a sheet from the very battlements whence he had looked at the execution of Wishart. There is something more than accident in such things. There is the vivid impression intended to be made on people's minds, that "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap"
2. The same is true of the resemblance between the manner of the sin and the manner of the punishment. Jezebel's murder of Naboth was treacherous and ignominious. She herself was put to death in a treacherous and ignominious way. "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." Jacob cruelly deceived his aged father Isaac when he was blind and feeble. What a pointed retribution it was when he was afterwards cruelly deceived by his own sons in their statements about Joseph! Haman was hanged on the gallows which he had made for Mordecai. One of the most terrible instances of this truth, that as we have treated others we shall be treated ourselves, is the case of Charles IX. of France, referred to above. He consented to the Massacre of St. Bartholomew. He caused the streets of Paris to run with the blood of the Huguenots. He died at the age of twenty-four: and what a death! French historians of the highest order say that he was in such agony of remorse that he literally sweated blood. The blood that oozed from his own body caused him to think of those whose blood he had so freely shed, and he cried out in his last hours about the massacre of the Huguenots. Horrible! Yes; but there is a deep and solemn truth underlying all this. It is a truth that should have practical result upon every life. "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again" If your sin is public, most likely your punishment will be public. Men who commit commercial frauds - that is, sins against public confidence and trust - they ought to suffer, and they do suffer, public exposure. If your sin is secret, your punishment will also most likely be secret. They who sin against the laws of health suffer in an impaired constitution. They who sin by speaking evil about others most likely will have many to speak evil about themselves. Standing there by Naboth's vineyard, and thinking of the envy, covetousness, and murder, of which it reminds us, and their terrible consequences, let us hear the blood of Nabeth and the blood of Naboth's house crying to us from the ground, "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." Such, then, is the Divine law of retribution. But God, who is just, is also merciful. He willeth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from his wickedness, and live. We have looked at the way of his justice. Let us look also at the way of his mercy. It is the way of the cross. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." If you reject God's mercy, there is only the other alternative-God's retributive justice. - C.H.I.
I. A REVOLTING EXHIBITION OF HUMAN DEPRAVITY. He was ruthlessly and craftily cruel. He shot Jehoram dead in his chariot. "And Jehu drew a bow with his full strength, and smote Jehoram between his arms." He commanded Jezebel, who was looking out of a window as he drove up, to be thrown down, and in her fall she was fatally injured, and her body was trodden down by the feet of horses, and afterwards consumed by dogs (ver. 36). He then proceeded to exterminate the family of Ahab. He addressed letters to those who had the care of his sons (no less than seventy in number), and proposed to them to select the fittest of them, and place him on the throne of his father. This they declined to do (through fear of Jehu), but promised to do anything else that might be required. Accordingly Jehu directed them to bring the heads of Ahab's sons the next day to Jezreel, and they were sent in two baskets. He directed them to be emptied out in two heaps at the gate of the city, and to remain there over night. The next morning he ordered a general slaughter of all Ahab's family and adherents in the town of Jezreel. He then set out for Samaria, and, meeting on his way a party of forty-two persons, all of the family of Ahaziah, he seized and slew them (2 Kings 10:1-13) Pursuing his malignant cruelty on his arrival at Samaria, he cuts off every branch of the house of Ahab that he can find (2 Kings 10:17). To effect this, with an infernal craftiness, he ordered all the worshippers of Baal throughout the land to assemble, as if he desired to join them in united worship. All having assembled, without the absence of a single man, he caused every one to be put to death (2 Kings 10:20-28). Here is a fiend in human form; and, alas! he is but a specimen of those monsters in bureau history who, in almost every age and land, have reveled in the blood and slaughter of their fellow-men. Such characters as these declare in thunder that men have fallen from their normal state. For who can believe that Infinite Purity and Benevolence would create characters of this class? All sin is an apostasy.
II. A DISTRESSING MYSTERY IN THE GOVERNMENT or GOD. That a just God should allow such men to become kings, and should even place them on a throne over the destinies of millions, is a mystery at which we stand aghast. That the merciful Father should permit men to be murderers one of another confounds us with amazement. Yet this has been going on everywhere through the millenniums of human history. Verily "clouds and darkness are round about him." "His way is in the sea, and his path in the great waters," etc.
III. A MIGHTY ARGUMENT FOR FUTURE RETRIBUTION. Were we to believe that this state of things is to continue forever, that there is no retributive period before us, when there will be a balancing of human accounts and a settling of human affairs, religion, which is supreme love to God, would be out of the question. He who could prove to me that there is no future state of retribution would destroy within me all the possibilities of religion. But the concurrent belief of mankind, the universal cries of conscience, and the declarations of the gospel assure us that there is a reckoning day to come. "We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ." "I saw, and behold a great white throne," etc.
IV. A PROOF OF THE SUPREME NEED OF A MORAL REGENERATOR. What can alter the character of such men as this Jehu, and put an end to all the cruelties, tyrannies, frauds, and violence, that turn the world into a Pandemonium? Philosophy, literature, civilization, legislative enactments, ceremonial religions? No; nothing short of a power which can change the moral heart. "Marvel not that I say unto you, Ye must be born again." The gospel is this regenerating power. Thank God, One has come into this world who will "create a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." - D.T.
1 Kings 19:16), was now to be fulfilled. The delay in the fulfillment is perhaps to be attributed to Ahab's repentance (1 Kings 21:29). God bore long with this wicked house, and did not cut it off till the cup of its iniquity was full. The execution of God's threatenings may be long postponed, but, like his promises, his threatenings never fail in the end to be fulfilled (2 Peter 3:9).
I. THE MESSENGER DESPATCHED.
1. He was sent by Elisha. On Elisha had fallen the mantle of Elijah, and to him belonged the task of executing Elijah's unfulfilled commissions. We must distinguish throughout this history between the motives which actuated Jehu in his conspiracy against Ahab, and the providential purpose which, as God's instrument, he was raised up to fulfill. That is to be read from the standpoint of the prophet. Israel was a people called into existence for the purpose of being a witness for the true God amidst surrounding heathenism. It owed its existence and possession of the land of Canaan to Jehovah. From him it had received its polity; to him it was bound in solemn covenant; the fundamental laws of its constitution required undivided allegiance to him. The penalties which would follow from disobedience were but a counterpart of the blessings which would flow from obedience. The first great sin of the nation was in the setting up of the calves under Jeroboam. For adherence to this unlawful form of worship two dynasties had already perished (ver. 9). But with the accession of the house of Omri a new development in evil took place (1 Kings 16:31, 32). The worship of the Phoenician Baal was introduced; God's prophets were relentlessly persecuted, and, under the influence of Jezebel, the moving spirit of three reigns corruption had spread far and near throughout the realm, and had penetrated even to Judah. Jehoram at first showed a better spirit (2 Kings 3:2), but he must afterwards have yielded to the superior influence of his mother, for Baal-worship was restored, and had the prestige of court example (ver. 22; 2 Kings 10:21). Under these circumstances, it was folly to hesitate, if Israel was to be saved. "Here the question of the justifiableness of rebellion against a legitimate dynasty, or of revolution in the ordinary sense of the word, cannot arise. The course of the house of Ahab was a rebellion against all law, human and Divine, in Israel" (Bahr). Even in ordinary earthly states, the right of revolution when religion, liberty, morality, and national honor can be saved by no other means, is universally conceded. But revolution here was not left to dubious human wisdom. The initiative was taken by Jehovah himself, acting through his prophet, and express Divine sanction was given to the overthrow of Ahab's house.
2. His responsible commission. The person chosen by Elisha to convey God's call to Jehu, and anoint him king, was one of the sons of the prophets. The anointing was to be in secret; hence the choice of a deputy. No value attaches to the tradition that the messenger was the future Prophet Jonah. Of his personality we know nothing more than is here told. He was an obscure individual, yet he set in motion a train of events of the most tragic significance. A child's hand may suffice to explode a mine. This messenger Elisha ordered to take a flask of the holy oil, and go to Ramoth-Gilead, where Jehu was. When he found the son of Nimshi, he was to retire with him into the innermost apartment, and anoint him King of Israel in the name of Jehovah, then he was to "open the door, and flee, and tarry not."
3. The spirit in which he was to execute it. It was a clear, unmistakable, but terribly serious and important message this prophetic disciple was entusted with; and it is instructive to notice the manner in which he was directed to perform his task. "Gird up thy loins," etc., said Elisha. He was to prepare at once for action; he was to make no delay on his errand; he was faithfully to execute the commands given to him; when his work was done, he was directly to leave the spot. In God's service there is to be no lingering, or looking back, or turning from side to side, or dallying on the field of duty. The powers of body and soul are to be braced up for the doing of the "one thing" given us to do. "Girding up the loins of your mind," says an apostle (1 Peter 1:13). Promptitude, speed, fidelity, stepping where the command of God stops, - these are invaluable qualities for doing God's work.
II. JEHU ANOINTED.
1. The messenger's arrival. Jehoram had returned to Jezreel to be healed of wounds received from the Syrians, and Jehu was at this time in command of the army at Ramoth-Gilead. The city itself had previously fallen into the hands of the Israelites. When the messenger arrived, he found the captains of the host sitting together in some house or court, and he at once addressed Jehu with the words, "I have an errand to thee, O captain." Jehu put the question, "Unto which of all us?" and the answer was, "To thee, O captain." The call of God may come to us at unexpected times and in surprising ways. It may come through others, or its voice may be heard in providence. There are general calls which God gives "to us all," and there are special calls to the individual. In whatever way the call of God is made known to us, we do well to give attentive heed to it.
2. The act of anointing. Jehu's anointing was to take place secretly. The messenger was to take him into an "inner chamber," and there make known his errand. We are reminded that it is generally in silence and secrecy that God gives men their summons to their peculiar life work. No time was wasted. The young man, trembling, excited, no doubt, at the thought of the perilous deed he was performing, and at the awful nature of the message he had to deliver, had no sooner got Jehu in private than he poured the oil from his flask upon his head, and said, "Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I have anointed thee king over the people of the Lord, even over Israel." There is involved in this brief announcement the truths:
(1) That royal authority is from God. He sets up kings and puts down kings (Daniel 2:21). Those only who rule by his sanction and with his favor are legitimate rulers.
(2) Israel was a people of the Lord. Only God, therefore, had the right to appoint its rulers, and to determine the limits within which royal power should, be exercised. It was by their setting at naught of all the limits of a theocratic constitution that Ahab and his house had forfeited the throne.
(3) Jehu was made king by the direct act of God. God had taken the kingdom from Ahab's house and given it to him. It followed however, that if he, in turn, departed from God's commandments, he would incur the same fate.
3. The terrible charge. The prophet next declared to Jehu the terrible duty imposed upon him as the executor of God's judgments. It was certainly work from which any man might shrink, though to Jehu it does not seem to have been repugnant, as paving his own way to the throne We notice:
(1) The ground of the judgment: "That I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets," etc. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints" (Psalm 116:15). Whoso touches them, touches him (Acts 9:4). He will not allow the least injury done to them to pass unavenged (Matthew 18:6).
(2) The range of the judgment: "The whole house of Ahab" - king, queen-mother, the royal household, every one, great and small, having in him the accursed blood. It was a root-and-branch extermination that was decreed.
(3) The terribleness of the judgment. Dreadful as this execution was, it was in accordance with the ideas of the time. In some sense it was a necessary concomitant of such a revolution as Jehu was about to bring about. From the Divine side it was justified as an act of vengeance against a wicked house. Ahab's house did not fall without warning, for it had already the doom of Jeroboam's and Baasha's dynasties to warn it from evil courses. Special signs of the Divine wrath were to attend the end of Jezebel, the prime instigator of Ahab's wickedness. It was foretold that the dogs would eat Jezebel in the portion of Jezreel, and there would be none to bury her. How fearful a thing it is, as shown by these examples, to fall into the hands of a living God (Hebrews 10:31)! Great persecutors have often met a terrible end.
III. JEHU PROCLAIMED.
1. Jehu and his captains. The whole circumstances of the prophet's visit had been so strange, his appearance had been so wild, and his calling out of Jehu for a private interview so remarkable, that the captains who had witnessed the scene were naturally much astonished. Their first question, accordingly, when Jehu reappeared among them, himself somewhat agitated, and his hair streaming with the oil which had been poured upon it, was "Is it peace? Wherefore came this mad fellow to thee?" Men under any spiritual excitement seem "mad fellows" to profane minds (Hosea 9:7; Acts 26:24; 2 Corinthians 5:13); but there may have been something in this messenger's disheveled appearance - the result of his haste - his eager, hasty manner, and the strange fire that burned in his eye, which gave them the impression of one not altogether accountable for his actions. His hasty flight at the end of the interview would add to their surprise. Jehu, in reply, sought to evade explanation. His words, "Ye know the man, and his communication," mean either, "You have taken a right estimate of him as a madman, and therefore need not concern yourself with what he said;" or, "You are yourselves at the bottom of this trick, and know very well wherefore he came" The latter is, perhaps, the better sense, and may indicate that Jehu wished to sound his companions before going further. Their eager, "It is false; tell us now," shows how greatly their curiosity was aroused. Jehu thereupon told them frankly what had happened.
2. Jehu proclaimed king. The response on the part of the captains was immediate. Jehu must already have been a general favorite, or the proposal to make him king would not have met with such easy acceptance. As with one accord, the captains threw off their upper garments, spread them on the stairs, made Jehu mount above them, and, blowing the trumpets, forthwith proclaimed him king. Would that when God comes declaring to men the anointing and exaltation of "another King, even Jesus," his words found as ready a response! - J.O.
Ecclesiastes 9:10). It is this vigorous decision of character which made him so suitable an instrument in executing God's vengeance on the house of Ahab,
I. JEHU'S APPROACH TO JEZREEL.
1. The watchman's announcement. In the far distance the watchman on the tower of Jezreel beholds a company of horsemen rapidly approaching. What can it portend? The report is brought to the king, who unsuspiciously sends out a messenger on horseback to inquire. Towers and watchmen are for the protection of a city and its inhabitants. But "except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain" (Psalm 127:1). And if the Lord decrees the destruction of a city, or of those in it, towers and watchmen will do little to protect them.
2. Successive messengers. These verses are chiefly interesting as illustrating the character of Jehu. The messenger sent by Jehoram soon reaches the company, and asks, "Is it peace?" The idea probably is, "What tidings from the field of battle?" Jehu does not even answer him civilly, but, with a rude "What hast thou to do with peace?" he orders him to turn behind him. A man this who will brook no delay, submit to no curb, endure no check, in his imperious course. He sweeps obstacles from his path, and bends them to his will. This messenger returns not, and a second, sent out from the king, meets a like reception, and is also compelled to ride behind.
3. Jehu recognized. At length the horsemen are near enough for the watchman to get a closer view, and he has no difficulty in recognizing the furious driving of the leading figure as the driving of Jehu. It is familiar to all that character imprints itself on manner. Physiognomy, walk, gesture, handwriting even, are windows through which, to an observant eye, the soul looks out. Hypocrisy may create a mask behind which the real character seeks to hide itself. But hypocrisy, too, has characteristic ways of betraying its presence, and the mask cannot always be kept on. If we wish habitually to appear true, we must be true.
II. JEHORAM AND AHAZIAH SLAIN.
1. The fateful meeting. On learning that Jehu was approaching, King Jehoram, now convalescent, prepared his chariot, and, accompanied by Ahaziah of Judah, went out to meet his captain.
(1) The two encountered at the portion of Naboth the Jezreelite. Strange coincidence, only, as we shall see below, more than coincidence. As the chariots meet, the king puts the anxious question, "Is it peace, Jehu?" Alas! the day of peace is over; it is now the day of vengeance.
(2) Jehu throws no disguise over his intentions. With his usual vehement abruptness he at once bursts forth, "What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?" Jehu was right: there can be no peace in a state when the foundations of religion and morality are everywhere subverted. When fountains of immorality are opened at head-quarters, their poisonous influence speedily infects the whole nation (Hosea 4:5). They who are responsible for the subversion of righteousness in a state, must bear the penalty.
(3) Jehoram needed to hear no more. He saw at a glance the situation, and with a shout, "Treachery, O Ahaziah!" he turned and fled. But there was no grain of pity in Jehu. With fierce promptitude he seizes his bow, fits one arrow to the string, and, taking sure aim, smites the flying king right through the heart. Jehoram falls - is dead.
2. Blood for blood. The tragedy thus transacted was in the immediate neighborhood of Naboth's vineyard. On that very spot, or near it, Naboth's own blood had been shed (1 Kings 21:13), and, as this verse shows (ver. 26), not his alone, but the blood of his sons. Thither, after the murder, Ahab went down to take possession of the vineyard, and there, when he arrived, he found Elijah standing, waiting to denounce upon him the doom of blood. This was not all, for among those who rode with Ahab that day were two of his captains, one of them Bidkar, the other this Jehu, who heard the prophetic announcements against Ahab and his family (1 Kings 21:19-24). Ahab himself was subsequently spared, but the doom predicted against him had now fallen on his son: "In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine" (1 Kings 21:19). That prophecy, probably, had never altogether left the mind of Jehu, but now it came home to him with fresh force as he saw it actually fulfilled by his own hand. Bidkar, too, as it chanced, was there, and Jehu recalled to him the prophetic oracle. Then, to give it literal accomplishment, he bade Bidkar give orders that the corpse of Jehoram should be thrown into the plat of ground which formerly belonged to Naboth. Startling correspondences often thus occur between sin and its mode of punishment. When they occur in fiction, we speak of them as instances of "poetic justice." But poetry, in this as in other cases, is "unconscious philosophy," and is not opposed to truth. Its truth in such representations lies rather in seizing and bringing to light actual laws in the moral government of the world. There is a singular tendency in events in history to fold back on each other - even dates and places presenting a series of marvelous coincidences.
3. A partner in doom. The King of Judah had, the moment the alarm was given, sought his own safety. He fled "by the way of the garden house " - was it the "garden of herbs," into which Naboth's vineyard had been converted (1 Kings 21:2)? But in vain. The peremptory Jehu allows nothing to escape his vigilance, and immediately he is on Ahaziah's track. His command was, "Smite him also in the chariot," and this was done, "at the going up to Gur, which is by Ibleam." Ahaziah continued his flight to Megiddo, where he died. A slightly different account of the manner of his death is given in 2 Chronicles 22:9. Whatever the precise circumstances of the death, we cannot but see in it
(1) a righteous retribution for his own sins; and
(2) an example of the end of evil association.
Through his mother Athallah, daughter of Jezebel, he was brought into close and friendly relations with the court of Samaria, and, sharing in the crimes of Ahab's house, shared also in their fate. It was his visit to King Jehoram which immediately brought down this doom upon him,
III. THE FATE OF JEZEBEL.
1. Her daring defiance. When Jehoram had been slain, the end of Jezebel, the prime mover and presiding spirit in all the wickedness that had been wrought in Israel, could not be far distant. Jezebel perfectly apprehended this herself, for, on hearing that Jehu had come to Jezreel, she prepared to give him a defiant reception. While one loathes the character of the woman, it is impossible not to admire the boldness and spirit with which she faces the inevitable. Her proud, imperious nature comes out in her last actions. She paints her eyelids with antimony, tires her head, and adorns her person, as if she was preparing for some festal celebration. Then she plants herself at the window, and, when Jehu appears, assails him with bitter taunting words. "Is it peace, thou Zimri, thy master's murderer?" she mockingly asked. What a power for evil this woman had been in Israel! What a power, with her strong intellect and will, she might have been for good!
2. Her ghastly end. If Jezebel thought, by this show of imperious defiance, to produce any effect on Jehu, perhaps to disarm him by sheer admiration of her boldness, she had mistaken the man. Jehu's impetuous nature was not to be thus shaken from its purpose. He quickly brought the scene to a conclusion. "Who is on my side? who?" he cried, lifting up his eyes to the windows. Two or three eunuchs, no friends of Jezebel, and anxious only to please the new ruler, gave the needful sign. "Throw her down," was the pitiless order; and in another instant the painted Jezebel was hurled from the palace window, and, dashed on the ground, was being trodden by the hoofs of the horses. Pitiless herself, she now met with no compassion. One who had shed much blood, and rejoiced in it, her own blood was now bespattered on the wall and on the horses. Jehu had no compunctions, but, fresh from the dreadful spectacle, entered the palace, and sat down to eat and drink. But the climax was yet to come. As if even he felt that, vengeance being now sated, some respect was due to one who had so long held sway in Israel, he bade his servants "Go, see now this cursed woman, and bury her: for," he said, "she is a king's daughter." The servants went, but soon returned with a shocking tale. Attracted by the scent of blood, the prowling city dogs had found their way into the enclosure, and, short as the time had been, all that remained of haughty Jezebel was the skull, and feet, and palms of the hands, strewn about the court.
3. A prophecy fulfilled. Such was the dreadful end of this haughty, domineering, evil woman. Possibly even Jehu could not restrain a shudder when he heard of it. He had not thought of it before, but now he recalled the close of that awful prophecy of Elijah to Ahab, "The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel" (1 Kings 21:23), the terms of which had been repeated to him by Elisha's messenger, (ver. 10). That word of God had been fulfilled with ghastly literalness. Would that men would lay to heart the lemon, and believe that all God's threatenings will be as certainly fulfilled! - J.O.