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2 Kings: The Power and the Fury (Focus on the Bible) Paperback – July 20, 2011
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2 Kings provides a fast–paced narrative of insight into the history of Israel under its monarchy. This book is a continuation of the narrative begun in 1 Samuel, and continued through 2 Samuel and 1 Kings. Ralph finishes it off with a captivating and rewarding journey through 2 Kings.
Written between 561 BC and 538 BC, 2nd Kings gives us a warning about the consequences of sin, especially the catastrophic repercussions of Israel’s love affair with idolatry.
Through prophets such as Elisha and Elijah we see God’s compassion for his people and the opportunity for repentance. An opportunity spoilt by Judah, climaxing with the subjugation of the kingdom by the Babylonians.
Illuminating, accessible and laced with his unique sense of humour, Davis’ practical devotional expository applies events to the contemporary reader providing parallels to alert us in the 21st century.
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Today there is a renewed emphasis on the preaching of OT narrative in evangelical circles... The six volumes of Ralph Dale Davis of which 2 Kings: The power and Fury is the culmination are excellent guides for contemporary expositor as he preaches from the "former prophets". Davis has laid an excellent foundation; may many expositors build upon his work as they preach OT narrative.-- The Master's Seminary Reviewed by Keith Essex, Assistant Professor of Bible Exposition (Associate Professor of Bible Exposition, The Master's Seminary, Sun Valley, California)
Davis is a helpful guide, not least because he explains the issues with the needs of contemporary Christians in mind.-- The Churchman, Matthew Mason
About the Author
- Publisher : Christian Focus; Revised edition (July 20, 2011)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 368 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1845500962
- ISBN-13 : 978-1845500962
- Item Weight : 1.03 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #80,941 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Hezekiah (Chapter 18-20)
Azariah (Uzziah) (15:1-7)
Joram (Jehoram) (1:17; 3:1-3)
Ahaziah (8:25-29; 9:29)
Athaliah (11) queen
Jeroboam II (14:23-29)
Jehoahaz (Shallum) (23:31-35)
Jehoiachin (24:8-17; 25:27-30)
FIRE from HEAVEN
Elijah said, "'If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.' Then fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty."
Some consider Elijah's calling down fire upon Azariah's emissaries as violent and unnecessary.
But you don't send 51 military personnel to "ask" the prophet to come to see the king.
This was an act of intimidation and aggression by people who worshiped Baal-zebub, not Yahweh (1:2). If Elijah didn't want to come, they would force him to do so.
After Elijah and Elisha crossed the Jordan River, Elisha asked him,
"Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me."
ELIJAH IS TAKEN to HEAVEN
As Elijah and Elisha were talking, "there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven."
BEARS MAUL 42 LADS
Another difficult action for some to accept is Elisha cursing boys who are mocking him.
Then two bears tear 42 of them to shreds.
The boys grew up in Bethel, Jeroboam's center of bull worship, and were expressing contempt for Yahweh's representative.
Elisha's curse was a followup on Yahweh's covenant curse in Lev 26:21,22.
"If then you act with hostility against Me, and are unwilling to obey Me...I will let loose among you the beasts of the field, which will bereave you of your children."
God killed these boys for disrespecting Him. And their parents failed to teach them to have the utmost respect for Yahweh and His prophets.
Our modern culture wants God to be a nice sort of chap at all times, which He is not.
THE SUPERIORITY OF YAHWEH
Three kings go to war with the king of Moab. He is almost defeated. Then he sacrifices his oldest son as a burnt offering on the wall.
"And there came great wrath against Israel, and they departed from him and returned to their own land."
This was not the action of a pagan god who was pleased with the death of a first-born son, since pagan gods do not exist.
Dodd says that the verse should be rendered, not great indignation against Israel, but
"There was great trouble, or repentance upon (in or among) Israel."
That is, they were extremely grieved on account of this barbarous sacrifice, and wished they had not pushed a war to the point where the king of Moab killed his own son to try to win favor with his false god.
RAISED FROM THE DEAD
Elisha regularly stayed in a room provided by a Shunnamite woman and her husband.
After her son dies, Elisha comes at her request and raises him from the dead.
"The lad sneezed seven times and the lad opened his eyes."
GOD MIRACULOUSLY PROVIDES
During a famine, a man brought 20 loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain to Elisha, who said,
"Give them to the people [100 of them] that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, 'They shall eat and have some left over.' So he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, ACCORDING TO THE WORD OF THE LORD.'"
Centuries later, Jesus would feed, not 100,
but 5,000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish (Mk 6:41-44),
and 4,000 people with 7 loaves of bread and a few fish (Mk 8:5-9).
In both instances, there were leftovers!
Of course, Jesus' main concern was to feed our souls, calling Himself the Bread of Life!
"I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst" (Jn 6:35).
GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER ALL
Even though Yahweh is Israel's God, He directs even the foreign captain of Aram's army.
"Naaman, captain of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man with his master, and highly respected, because by him THE LORD HAD GIVEN victory to Aram."
The Lord then allows a little Jewish girl to be captured. She is the one that tells Naaman about Elisha, so he can be healed from his leprosy. After he was healed, he said, "Behold now, I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel."
GOD PROTECTS HIS PEOPLE
When the king of Aram sent horses and chariots and a great army to seize Elisha, the prophet told his servant,
"Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them."
Then Elisha prayed and said, "O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." And the Lord opened the servant's eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha."
God also preserved the captured Syrians. They were temporarily blinded, led to the king of Israel, given a "great feast," and then sent home. The mercy of Yahweh! The Arams never invaded Israel after that.
The Arameans besieged Samaria to the point of starvation.
Then the Lord "caused the army of the Arameans to hear a sound of chariots and a sound of horses, even the sound of a great army." After they abandoned their camp out of fear, the Jews plundered it for food.
GOD WEEPS as HE JUDGES
Elisha wept as he foresaw the destruction that would be done to Israel by Hazael, the future king of Aram.
Jesus wept over Jerusalem as He foresaw its destruction by the Romans in 70 AD, a destruction that occurred because of their unbelief (Lk 19:41-44).
Yahweh is just and righteous to judge an apostate people, but He is also slow to anger and full or mercy, so there is divine sadness in His judgment.
GOD NEVER FORGETS HIS PROMISES
After Jehoram became king of Judah, he walked in the [evil] way of the kings of Israel.
He had married the daughter of Ahab, the evil king of Israel.
"However, the Lord was not willing to destroy Judah, for the sake of David His servant, since He had promised him to give a lamp to him through his sons always."
This refers to God's promise to David,
"I will raise up your descendant after you...And I will establish the throne of his kingdom FOREVER." (2 Sam 7:12-13)
YAHWEH AVENGES HIS PEOPLE
After a servant of Elisha anoints Jehu as king of Israel, he says
"You shall strike the house of Ahab your master, that I may avenge the blood My servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the Lord, at the hand of Jezebel [Ahab's wife]."
Jezebel had killed many prophets of the Lord (1 Kgs 18:4,13).
So Jehu arranged to have Ahab's 70 sons killed, as well as all the supporters of Baal.
"They brought out he sacred pillars of the house of Baal and burned them. They also broke down the sacred pillar of Baal and broke down the house of Baal, and made it a latrine to this day.
Thus Jehu eradicated Baal out of Israel."
Jesus said that if someone brought ruin to one of His disciples, it would be better for a millstone to be put around his neck and be dropped into the sea. (Mt 18:6).
YAHWEH PRESERVES THE DAVIDIC COVENANT, AGAIN and AGAIN
God's promise to David in 2 Sam 7:12-13 to establish the throne of David's descendant FOREVER is once again hanging by a thread.
Athaliah was the evil daughter of the evil king Ahab of Israel.
As a political alliance, she married Jehoram, when his father, Jehoshaphat, was king of Judah.
Jehoshaphat died, making his firstborn son, Jehoram, king of Judah.
Jehoram solidifies his power by killing all of his brothers (2 Chron 21:1-4).
So God's promise to David hinges upon Jehoram's succession.
Athaliah and Jehoram had a son, Ahaziah.
After Jehoram dies, Ahaziah becomes king of Judah.
Then Ahaziah dies in Jehu's northern coup (9:27-28), leaving Athaliah as queen of Judah.
To solidify her power, she had all of Ahaziah's sons put to death, all but Joash, who was hidden away by Ahaziah's good sister, Jehosheba.
So God's promise to David to establish his descendants' throne FOREVER depends upon the survival of Joash.
It is typical for God's kingdom to be under continual attack.
The apostle, John, said,
"Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you" (1 Jn 3:13).
Jesus said to His apostles,
"If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you...But because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you" (Jn 15:18,19).
THE GOOD SISTER, JEHOSHEBA
Back to the bad Athaliah's good sister, Jehosheba, who preserved Ahaziah's only-living son, Joash.
She is heard of only in 1 Kings 11:2 and 2 Chronicles 22:11, and never after that.
But she preserved the only living heir to the throne of Judah.
She was an unsung hero who helped fulfill God's promise to David, to establish his descendants' throne FOREVER, through Jesus Christ.
"when He raised Him up from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion" (Eph 1:20,21).
There would have been no Christmas without Jehosheba!
That is just like God, to use a person who is so little known to help fulfill His promises.
"Jehoash (Joash) became king, and he reigned 40 years in Jerusalem...He did right in the sight of the Lord."
WHY ISRAEL FELL to ASSYRIA
"This came about because the sons of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up from the land of Egypt...and they had feared other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord had driven out before the sons of Israel."
They built high places, sacred pillars, Asherim, burned incense, served idols, rejected His statutes and His covenant, forsook all the commandments, made molten images, made their sons and daughters pass through the fire, practiced divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil.
GOOD KING HEZEKIAH of JUDAH
"He did right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father [ancestor] David had done. He removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah. He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it.
He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him.
For He clung to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses."
Sennacherib of Assyria threatened to conquer Judah. To avert a war, Hezekiah tried to appease him with silver and gold from the temple. But Sennacherib had a history of taking tributes from kings and then taking them into captivity anyway, so he had no intention of backing down.
Sennacherib's spoke persons taunted Hezekiah and the people, by speaking in their language.
They argue that the people have no one to rely upon against the Assyrians.
"Has any of the gods of the nations delivered this land from the hand of the king of Assyria?"
"But if you say to me, 'We trust in the Lord our God,' is it not He whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away?" Whether or not these pagans KNEW it was PLEASING TO YAHWEH for Hezekiah to remove pagan instruments of worship, they tried to persuade the people anyway.
They even had the audacity to claim that the Lord TOLD THEM to attack Judah.
In graphic terms, they said that if the people did not peacefully surrender, that they would be "doomed to eat their own dung and drink their own urine." (A siege often resulted in starvation)
They promised the people that in captivity they would "eat each of his vine and each of his fig tree and drink each of the waters of his own cistern."
Hezekiah "tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth and entered the house of the Lord."
He prayed "O Lord, the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You made heaven and earth...Listen to the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent TO REPROACH THE LIVING GOD."
YAHWEH'S RESPONSE to ASSYRIA
Yahweh responded to Hezekiah through the prophet Isaiah.
"She [Assyria] has despised you and mocked you,
the virgin daughter of Zion;
she has shaken her head behind you,
the daughter of Jerusalem!
Whom have you reproached and blasphemed?
And against whom have you raised your voice,
and haughtily lifted up your eyes?
AGAINST THE HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL!
Through your messengers you have reproaches THE LORD...
Have you not heard?
Long ago I did it.
From ancient times I planned it.
Now I have brought it to passs,
that you [Assyria] should turn fortified cities into ruinous heaps...
Because of your raging against Me.
And because your arrogance has come up to My ears,
therefore I will My hook in your nose,
And My bridle in your lips...
Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria,
'He will not come to this city or shoot an arrow there...
For I will defend this city to save it for My servant David's sake.'"
Then it happened that night that the angel of the Lord went out and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when men rose early in the morning, behold, all of them of dead."
When Sennacherib went back home to worship Nisroch his (false) god, he was assassinated.
GOD GRANTS HEZEKIAH 15 MORE YEARS
Chapter 20 is a flashback in time to what happened before 18:13-19:36.
So before God delivers Jerusalem from the Assyrians, He heals Hezekiah from an illness.
God tells Isaiah the prophet to tell Hezekiah, "Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live."
Hezekiah then prays, appealing to God on the basis of his faithfulness, which is a pattern of prayer found in the Psalms.
"Remember now, O Lord, I beseech You, how I have walked before You in truth and with a whole heart and have done what is good in Your sight." And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
"Before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him, saying,
'Return to Hezekiah the leader of My people, "Thus says the Lord, the God of your father David, 'I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will heal you...I will add 15 years to your life, and I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria.'"'"
WHAT JOSIAH DID THAT PLEASED GOD
1. Took out of the temple all the vessels that were made for Baal, Asherah, and all the host of heaven.
He burned them and carried their ashes to Bethel.
2. Deposed the idolatrous priests who burned incense to Baal, the sun and moon and stars.
3. Burned the Asherah, ground it to dust, and threw its dust on the graves of the common people.
4. Broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes which were in the house of the Lord, where the women were weaving hangings for the Asherah.
5. Defiled all the high places and deposed the priests who burned incense.
6. Defiled Topheth, the place of child sacrifice.
7. Destroyed sun worship.
8. Broke down idolatrous altars.
9. Defiled the high places built by Solomon for Ashtoreth, Chemosh, and Milcom.
10. Broke in pieces the sacred pillars and the Asherim (fertility worshp).
11. Broke down the altar at Bethel which Jeroboam had made, demolished its stones, ground them to dust, and burned the Asherah.
12. Removed all the houses of the high places in Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made, provoking the Lord.
Thus says the Lord, "Behold, I bring evil on this place and on its inhabitants...because they have forsaken Me and have burned incense to other gods that they might provoke Me to anger with all the work of their hands, therefore My wrath burns against this place, and it shall not be quenched."
Josiah did all these things knowing it would not divert God's wrath. Why? Simply to obey God.
In 622 BC, Josiah fulfilled a prophecy made in 930 BC.
"Now when Josiah turned, he saw the graves that were there on the mountain, and he sent and took the bones from the graves and burned them on the altar and defiled it according to the word of the Lord which the man of God proclaimed."
(2 Kgs 23:16)
"There came a man of God from Judah to Bethel by the word of the Lord, while Jeroboam was standing by the altar to burn incense. He cried against the altar by the word of the Lord, and he said, 'O altar, altar, thus says the Lord, "Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the of high places who burn incense on you, and human bones shall be burned on you."'"
(I Kings 13:2)
Josiah joined 7 other kings who "did right in the sight of the Lord," but only two others (Asa and Hezekiah) who "walked in all the way of his father David."
2 Kings ends on a dismal note.
The last king, Zedekiah, had his sons slaughtered in front of him.
Then had his eyes put out and was brought in bronze fetters to Babylon.
Jerusalem and the house of the Lord were burned by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.
Who would think that any sure hope from God could be hidden under this failed, dilapidated, and captive people?
At this point Israel has lost its land (promised to Abraham) and the kingship (promised to David).
According to Haggai, Nehemiah, and Malachi, Judah stays under foreign domination.
Life is hard, the sky is gray, the wind is cold.
But Matthew 1:12-16 picks up where 2 Kings 25 leaves off.
And precisely at this time, the Messiah is given!
It was when this people was trampled, beaten down, and teetering between faith and compromise, that the Son of righteousness began to blaze.
It is not our righteousness that brings redemption, but Yahweh's stubborn faithfulness.
"After the deportation to Babylon...Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah."
I have to say, he turned my understanding of 1 Kings 19 (Elijah at Horeb) inside out. I had studied that passage in depth in Seminary, translating it myself, writing a research paper on it, but Davis pointed out some features of the story that had me smacking my forehead - of course! That's so vital! And I'd never seen it before.
I rushed to my laptop and ordered his 2 Kings commentary, which I've now read cover to cover. It is fabulous. Davis has a way of opening up the difficult and boring passages to show why the author included them in the narrative. I've now added all of Davis' Joshua through Samuel volumes to my wish list.
I appreciate the man's orthodoxy and uncompromising work with scripture as well as his humility and clear commentary. This is one of those commentators you read and find that you'd very much like to hang out with in person. Fans of CS Lewis might find Davis writing much like an American version of Lewis brilliant observations.