« PreviousContinue »
Jeroboam, the son of Nebat.”
Yet perhaps he comforted himself in thinking that he was better than his father,--this made him right with God. But after all the difference of his guilt was but in degree. The father broke the first commandment, and had other gods. The son broke the second, and worshipped graven images. It will avail us little if while we can say, we are not so bad as others, we are still in such sins as prove we are at a distance from God, and in a state of condemnation.
This king Jehoram had to undertake a war to recover his right. Mesha, the king of Moab rebelled against him : and refused to pay his usual tribute of “an hundred thousand lambs, and an hundred thousand rams, with the wool.” (ver. 4, 5.)
, The king seeks assistance in this warfare in two ways. First, from Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah. Secondly, from Elisha the prophet; though this second he would not have sought to had it not been for the king of Judah. (ver. 6, 7, 8.)
On their way through Edom, the king of Edom joins them ; but they are suddenly in a great difficulty from want of water. “There was no water for the host, and for the cattle that followed them.” (ver. 9.)
Jehoram saw in this calamity nothing but a hopeless case. “ The king of Israel said, Alas! that the Lord hath called these three kings together to deliver them into the hand of Moab."
Jehoshaphat bethought him of help from the Lord. He said, “Is there not here a prophet of the Lord, that we may inquire of the Lord by him ?" Yes ! there was. Elisha the prophet had followed the armies. Perhaps he knew what was coming. One of the king of Israel's servants spoke slightingly of Elisha, as having been merely the servant of Elijah, “which poured water on the hands of Elijah.” But Jehoshaphat knew his divine authority and power, and said, "the word of the Lord is with him."
This made him valuable and worthy of seeking. He was God's mouth-piece for the time. God used him as His instrument. This also should be the ground on which we prize highly a Christian minister. “The word of the Lord is with him.” If he be a man of God, taught of God, sent by God, speaking God's word, doing God's work, ministering, as God gives him gifts and grace, to God's people, we must esteem him highly in love for his work's sake. If we despise him, we despise Him that sent him.
Proud men are often humble in distress, and will stoop low to gain their end. So the king of Israel humbles himself to go and seek to Elisha, and the king of Judah leads him to him. The one prompted by selfishness, the other giving honour where honour was due. They sent not for Elisha to come to them, but the three kings go down to him. “So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat, and the king of Edom went down to him.”
The double Spirit of Elijab produced great boldness in Elisha. He stood on his high ground of a prophet and minister of God, and for a time left alone his condition as a subject of the king. “Elisha said unto the king of Israel, what have I to do with thee? get thee to the prophets of thy father, and to the prophets of thy mother.” And then again, “as the Lord liveth before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look towards thee, nor see thee.'
This answer, while very bold, would the more strike the king's conscience, as well deserved by him. Perhaps he thought Elisha would be flattered by his coming to him. Elisha would have him plainly see he could not lightly mock God, by first neglecting Him, and then lightly seeking to Him. Can the sinner be surprised if when he cries to God only because driven by his fears, God should not be found of him, and if they that despise Him in prosperity shall be lightly esteemed in adversity. Yet this king was to benefit by the company of the good. For Jehoshaphat's sake deliverance was at hand for him.
Elisha said, “Bring me a minstrel." This was probably a Levite, who was accustomed to play sacred melody,--perhaps the songs of David, “the sweet Psalmist of Israel.” Such of old seems to have been the custom. Prophets prophesied with the accompaniment of music. So we read in 1 Samuel x. 5., “A company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp before them : and they shall prophecy.”.
This soothed Elisha's spirit, and raised his mind heavenward. God sanctified it as a channel for the spirit of prophecy. “It came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him.” Then he told them to dig trenches and ditches. For without wind and without rain, water should flow in those ditches. Themselves and their cattle should so be preserved. The same means too should give
them victory over their enemies. Who could have said how that should be! Who could have devised a plan by which water in trenches should destroy an army! Who could have said, the water shall do more than satisfy your thirst and your cattle, and so give you strength for the victory! But this was counted a light matter. “And this is but a light thing in the sight of the Lord ; he will deliver the Moabites also into
And so it was. In the morning, at the hour of the morning sacrifice, “behold there came water by the way of Edom, and the country was filled with water.”
The effect of this appearance of water was victory. For in the morning, “when the sun shone on the water, and the Moabites saw the water on the other side, red as blood : they said, this is blood, the kings are surely slain, and they have smitten one another now therefore Moab to the spoil.” Hence they rushed in confusion, and without order on the well prepared ranks of the three kings. The Israelites had an easy victory; “they smote the Moabites, so that they fled before them : but they went forward smiting the Moabites, even in their country.”
Thus did the kings learn how many ways