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I will pursue,
die; and said, 'It is enough; now, O LORD, take i went in the strength of that meat forty sdays and away my life; for "I am not better than my fathers. forty nights, unto Horeb the amount of God.
5 And as he lay and slept under a juniper-tree, 9' And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged behold, then an angel Stouched him, and said unto there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, Arise and eat.
him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, 6 And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake Elijah? baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his 10 And he said, I have been very #jealous for *head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him the Lord God of hosts : for the children of Israel down again.
have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine 7 And the angel of the LORD came again the altars, and slain 'thy prophets with the sword: and second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to eat; because the journey is too great for thee.
take it away. 8 And he arose, and did eat and drink, and 11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the d Num. II. 15. Jon. 4.3, 8. e Ps. 39. 12. Heb. I. 14. • bolster, & Ex. 34. A Ex. 3. 1. Mal. 4. 4, 5. i Rom. 11. 2-4. k Num. 25. 11, 13. Ps. 69. 9. 23, Deut. 9. 9, 18. Matt. 4. 2.
I c. 18. 4, 20. Mic. 7. 2. I will overtake, Ex. 15. 9. But, how came she honour him, and therefore sent an angel to keep him alive. Our to send him word of her design, and so to give him an oppor case would be bad sometimes, if God should take us at our tunity of making his escape? Did she think him so daring, word, and grant us our foolish passionate requests. Having that he would not fee; or, did she think herself able to prevent prayed that he might die, he laid down and slept, (v. 5,) wishing it? or, was there a special providence in it, that she should be it might be to die in his sleep, and not to wake again; but he thus infatuated, by her own fury? I am apt to think, that, is awakened out of his sleep, and finds himself not only well though she desired nothing more than his blood, yet, at this provided for with bread and water, (v. 6,) but, which was more, time, she durst not meddle with him, for fear of the people, all attended by an angel, who guarded him when he slepi, and counting him a prophet, a great prophet, and therefore sent this twice called him to his food when it was ready for him, v. 5, 7. message to him, merely to frighten him, and get him out of the He needed not complain of the unkindnesses of men, when it way, for the present, that he might not carry on what he had was thus made up by the ministration of angels. Thus providbegun. The backing of her threats with an oath and impreca- ed for, he had reason to think he fared better than the prophets tion does not at all prove that she really intended it, but only of the groves, that did eat at Jezebel's table. Wherever God's intended to make him believe it. The gods she sware by could children are, as they are still upon their Father's ground, so do her no harm.
they are still under their Father's eye and care. They may III. Elijah, hereupon, in a great frighi, Aed for his life, it is lose themselves in a wilderness, but God has not left them; there likely by night, and came to Beer-sheba, v.3. Shall we praise they may look at him that lives, and secs them, as Hagar, Gen. him for this? We praise him not. Where was the courage 16. 13. with which he had lately confronted Ahab, and all the prophets Lastly, He is carried, in the strength of this meat, to Horeb, of Baal? Nay, which kept him by his sacrifice, when the fire the mount of God, v. 8. Thither the Spirit of the Lord led of God fell upon it? He that stood undaunted in the midst of him, probably, beyond his own intention, that he might have the terrors both of heaven and earth, trembles at the impotent communion with God in the same place where Moses had, the menaces of a proud passionate woman. Lord, what is man! | law that was given by Moses being revived by him. The Great faith is not always alike strong. He could not but know angel bade him eat the second time, because of the greatness of that he might be very serviceable to Israel at this juncture, and the journey that was before him, v. 7. Note, God knows what had all the reason in the world to depend upon God's protection, he designs us for, though we do not, what services, what trials, while he was doing God's work; yet he flies. In his former and will take care for us, when we, for want of foresight, cannot danger, God had bidden him hide himsell, (ch. 17.3,) therefore for ourselves, that we be furnished for them with grace suffihe supposed he might do it now.
cient. He that appoints what the voyage shall be, will victual IV. From Beer-sheba he went forward into the wilderness, the ship accordingly. See how many different ways God took that vast howling wilderness in which the Israelites wandered to keep Elijah alive; fed him by ravens, with multiplied meals Beer-sheba was so far distant from Jezreel, and within the do--then by an angel-and now, to show that man lives not by minion of so good a king as Jehoshaphat, that he could not but bread alone, he kept him alive 40 days without meat, not resting be safe there; yet, as if his fears haunted bim, even then when and sleeping, which might make him the less to crave sustehe was out of the reach of danger, he cannot rest there, but nance, but continually traversing the mazes of the desert, a day went a day's journey into the desert. Yet perhaps he retired for a year of Israel's wanderings; yet he neither needs food, thither, not so much for his safety, as that he might be whoily nor desires it. The place, no doubt, reminds him of the manretired from the world, in order to a more free and intimate na, and encourages him to hope that God would sustain him communion with God. He left his servant at Beer-sheba, that he here, and, in due time, bring him hence, as he did Israel, though, might be private in the wilderness, as Abraham left his servants like him, fretful and distrustful. at the bottom of the hill when he went up into the inount to V.9–18. Here is, worship God, and as Christ in the garden was withdrawn from I. Elijah housed in a cave at mount Horeb, which is called his disciples : or perhaps it was because he would not expose the mount of God, because on it God had formerly manifested his servant, who was young and tender, to the hardships of the his glory. And, perhaps, this was the same cave, or cleft of a wilderness; that would be putting new wine into old bottles, rock, in which Moses was hidden, when the Lord passed by beWe ought thus to consider the frame of those who are under fore him, and proclaimed his name, Ex. 34. 6. What Elijah our charge, for God considers ours.
proposed to himself, in coming to lodge here, I cannot conceive, V. Being wearied with his journey, he grew cross, (like unless it were either to indulge his melancholy, or to satisfy children when they are sleepy,) and wished he might die, v. 4. his curiosity, and assist his faith and devotion, with the sight He requested for his life, (so it is in the margin,) that he might of that famous place where the law was given, and so many die ; for death is life to a good man ; the death of the body is great things were done, and hoping to meet with God himself, the life of the soul. Yet that was not the reason why he wished there where Moses met with him; or, in token of his abandonto die; it was not the deliberate desire of grace, as Paul's, to ing his people Israel, who hated to be reformed; and so it agrees depart and be with Christ, but the passionate wish of his corrup- with Jeremiah's wish, (Jer. 9. 2,) O that I had in the wildertion, as Job's. Those that are, in this manner, forward to die, ness a lodging-place of wayfaring men, that I might leave my are not in the fittest frame for it. Jezebel has sworn his death, people, and go from them, for they be all adulterous ; and so it and therefore he, in a fret, prays for it, runs from death to death, was a bad omen of God's forsaking them: or, it was because yet with this difference, he wishes to die by the hand of the he thought he could not be safe any where else; and to this inLord, whose tender mercies are great, and not to fall into the stance of the hardships this good man was reduced to, the hands of man, whose tender mercies are cruel. He would apostle refers, Heb. 11. 38, They wandered in deserts and in rather die in the wilderness, than as Baal's prophets died, ac- mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. cording to Jezebel's threatening, (v.2,) lest the worshippers of II. The visit God made him there, and the inquiry he made
We canBaal triumph, and blaspheme the God of Israel, whom they concerning him: The word of the Lord came to him. will think themselves too hard for, if they can run down his ad not go any whither, to be out of the reach of God's eye, his vocate. He pleads, “It is enough; I have done enough, and arm, and his word. Whither can I flee from thy Spirit ? Ps. suffered enough; I am weary of living.” Those that have se 139. 7, &c. God will take care of his outcasts, and those cured such a happiness in the other world, will soon have enough who, for his sake, are driven out from among men, he will find, of this world. He pleads, “ I am nol better than my fathers, nor and own, and gather with everlasting loving kindnesses. St. better able to bear those fatigues; and therefore why should I John saw the visions of the Almighty, when he was in banishbe longer burdened with them than they were ?" But is this that ment in the isle of Patmos, Rev. 1. 9. my lord Elijah? Can that great and gallant spirit shrink thus? The question God puts to him, is, What doest thou here, God thus left him to himself, to show that when he was bold and Elijah? v. 9, and again, v. 13. This is a reproof, 1. For his strong, it was in the Lord, and the power of his mighe, but of fleeing thither. “What brings thee so far from home? Dost himself he was no better than his fathers, or brethren.
thou flee from Jezebel ? Couldest thou not depend upon alVI. God, by an angel, fed him in that wilderness, into the mighty power for thy protection:" Lay the emphasis upon wants and perils of which he had wilfully thrown himself, and (thou). "What thou! So great a man, so great a prophet, so in which, if God had not graciously succoured him, he had pe- famed for resolution-dost thou run thy country, run thy colours rished. How much better does God deal with his froward thus ?" This cowardice had been more excusable in another, children than they deserve! Elijah, in a fit of despondency, and not so bad an example. Should such a man as I am flee? wished to dje; God necdod him not, yet designed further to Neh. 6.11. Howl, fer-trees, if the cedars be thus shaken. 2. For VoL, I.-108
( 857 )
Ez. 1. 4.
o Zecb. 4.6.
mount mbefore the Lord. And, behold, the LORD thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword: passed by, and a great and strong wind "rent the and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks, before the to take it away, Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind : and 15 And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was thy way to the wilderness of Damascus : and when not in the earthquake:
thou comest, anoint Hazaels to be king over Syria : 12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the 16 And Jehu' the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still to be king over Israel: and Elisha“ the son of Shaphat, small voice.
of Abel-meholah, shalt thou anoint to be prophet in 13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he thy room. Pwrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and 17 And it shall come to pass, that him that stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, esca peth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay; and there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu 'shall thou here, Elijah?
Elisha slay." 14 And he said, I have been very jealous for 18 Yet's have left me seven thousand in Israel, the Lord God of hosts ; because the children of all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and Israel have forsaken "thy covenant, thrown down every mouth which hath not kissed yhim. m Ex. 24. 12.
P Ex. 3. 6. Is. 6. 2.
9 ver. 9, 10.
u Luke 4. 27, called Eliacus. • 2 Kings 9. 14, &c. 10.6, &c. 13. 3. Hos. 6. 5. Jer. 22. 9. 2 Kings 8. 12, 13. 1 2 King 9. 1-3.
z Rom. 11.4. or, will leave. y Hos. 13. 2. his fixing here. “What doest thou here in this cave? Is this heaven and earth, by his angels, whom he makes spirits, or a place for a prophet of the Lord to lodge in? Is this a time for winds; (Ps. 104. 4,) sounded so loud, that the earth not only rang, such men lo retreat, when the public has such need of them ?" but rent again. 2. He felt the shock of an earthquake. 3. He In the retirement to which God sent Elijah, ch. 17. he was a saw an eruption of fire, v. 12. These were to usher in the des blessing to a poor widow at Sarepta, but here he had no oppor- signed manifestation of ihe divine glory, angels being employed tunity of doing good. Note, It concerns us often to inquire, in them, whom he maketh a flame of fire, and who, as his miwhether we be in our place, and in the way of our duty, "Am nisters, march before him, to prepare in this desert a highway I where I should be ; whither God calls me, where my business for our God. But, 4. At last, he perceived a still small voice, lies, and where I may be useful ?”
in which the Lord was, that is, by which he spake to him, and III. The account he gives of himself, in answer to the ques not out of the wind, or the earthquake, or the fire. Those tion put to him, (v. 10,) and repeated, in answer to the same struck an awe upon him, awakened his attention, and inspired question, v. 14. In which, 1. He excuses his retreat, and de- humility and reverence; but God chose to make known his sires it may not be imputed to his want of zeal for reformation, mind to him in soft whispers, not in those dreadful sounds. but to his despair of success. For God knew, and his own Which when he perceived, (1.) He wrapped his face in his manconscience witnessed for him, that as long as there was any le, as one afraid to look upon the glory of God, and apprehensive hope of doing good, he had been very jealous for the Lord God that it would dazzle his eyes, and overcome him. The angels of hosts; but now that he had laboured in vain, and all his en cover their faces before God, in token of reverence, Is. 6. 2. deavours were to no purpose, he thought it was time to give up Elijah hid his face, ashamed that he should have been such a the cause, and mourn for what he could not mend. Abi in cel. coward as to shrink from his duty, when he had such a God of lam, et dic, Miserere mei-—"Away to thy cell, and cry, Have power to stand by him in it. The wind, and earthquake, and compassion on me.” 2. He complains of the people, their ob- fire, did not make him cover his face, but the still voice did. stinacy in sin, and the height of impiety they were got to; Gracious souls are more affected by the tender mercies of the “ The children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, and that is Lord, than by his terrors. (2.) He stood at the entrance of the the reason I have forsaken them; who can stay among them, cave, ready to hear what God had to say to him. This method to see every thing that is sacred ruined and run down ?" This of God's manifesting himself, here at mount Horeb, seems to the apostle calls his making intercession against Israel, Rom. refer to the discoveries God formerly made of himself at this 11.2, 3. He had often been, of choice, their advocate, but now place to Moses. [1.] Then there was a tempest, and earthis necessitated to be their accuser, before God. Thus, (John quake, and fire, (Heb. 12. 18:) but when God would show Mo5. 45,) There is one that accuseth you, even Mores, in whom ye ses his glory, he proclaimed his goodness; and so here, He was trust." Those are truly miserable, that have the testimony and the word, was in the still small voice. (2.) Then the law was prayers of God's prophets against them. 3. He charges them thus given to Israel, with the appearances of terror first, and with having forsaken God's covenant; though they retained cir- then with a voice of words; and Elijah, being now called to cumcision, the sign and seal of it, yet they had quitted his wor- revive that law, especially the two first commandments of it, is ship and service, which was the intention of it. Those who here taught how to manage it; he must not only awaken and neglect God's ordinances, and let fall their communion with him, terrify the people with amazing signs, like the earthquake and do really forsake his covenant, and break their league with himfire, but he must endeavour, with a still small voice, to convince He charges them with having thrown down his altars; they not and persuade them, and not forsake them, when he should do only deserted them, and suffered them to go to decay, but, in that.' Faith comes by hearing the word of God; miracles do their zeal for the worship of Baal, had wilfully demolished them. but make way for it. "[3.) Then God spake to his people with He alludes to private altars which the prophets of the Lord had, terror; but in the Gospel of Christ, which was to be introduced and which good people attended, who could not go up to Jerusa- by the spirit and power of Elias, he would speak by a still lem, and would not worship the calves nor Baal; these separate small voice, the dread of which should not make us afraid; see altars, though breaking in upon the unity of the church, yet, Heb. 12. 18, &c. being erected and attended by those that sincerely aimed at the V. The orders God gives him to execute. He repeated the glory of God, and served him faithfully, were excused from the question he had put to him before, “What doest ihou here? charge of schism; God owned them for his altars, as well as This is not a place for thee now." Elijah gives the same that at Jerusalem, and the putting of them down is charged answer, (v. 14,) complains of Israel's apostacy from God, and upon Israel as a crying sin. But this was not all; They have the ruin of religion among them. To this, God gives him a slain thy prophets with the sword, who, it is probable, ministered reply. When he wished he might die, (v.4) God answered at those altars. Jezebel, a foreigner, did it, (ch. 18. 4,) but it him not according to his folly, but was so far from letting him is charged upon the body of the people, because the generality die, that he not only kept him alive then, but provided that he of them were consenting to their death, and pleased with it. 4. He should never die, but be translated. But when he complained gives the reason why he retired into this desert, and took up of his discouragement, (and whither should God's prophets go his residence in this cave. (1.) It was because he could not with their complaints of that kind, but to their Master ?) God appear to any purpose : "I only am left, and have none to se gave him an answer. He sends him back with directions to cond or support me in any good design. They all said, The appoint Hazael king of Syria, (v. 15,) Jehu king of Israel, and Lord he is God, but none of them would stand by me, or offer Elisha his successor in the eminency of the prophetical office, to shelter me. That point then gained, was presently lost again, (v. 16;) which is intended as a prediction, that by these God and Jezebel can do more to debauch them, than I can to reform would chastise the degenerate Israelites, plead his own cause them. What can one do against thousands ?” Despair of among them, and avenge the quarrel of his covenant, v. 17. success hinders many a good enterprise. None are willing to Elijah complained that the wickedness of Israel was unpuventure alone; forgetting that those are not alone, who have nished; the judgment of famine was too gentle, and had nol God with them. (2.) It was because he could not appear with reclaimed them; it was removed, before they were reformed. any safety;." They seek my life lo take it away; and I had better “I
have been jealous,” says he, "for God's name, but he himspend my life in a useless solitude, than lose my life in a fruit-self has not appeared jealous for it.” “Well," says God, be less endeavour to reform those that hate to be reformed.” content, it is all in good time; judgments are prepared for those
IV. God's manifestation of himself to him. Did he come scorners, though they are not yet inflicted; the persons are híther to meet with God? He shall find that God will not fail pitched upon, and shall now be nominated, for they are now in to give him the meeting. Moses was put into the cave, when being, who shall do the business." 1. “When Hazael comes God's glory passed before him; but Elijah was called out of it, to be king of Syria, he shall make bloody work among the to stand upon the mount before the Lord, v. 11. He sau no people, (2 Kings 8. 12,) and so correct them for their idolatry." manner of similitude, any more than Israel did, when God talked 2. "When Jehu comes to be king of Israel, ho shall make bloody to them in Horeb: but, 1. He heard a strong wind, and saw the work with the royal family, and shall utterly destroy the house terrible effects of it, for it rent the mountains, and tore the of Ahab, that set up and maintained idolatry." 3. “Elisha, rocks. Thus was the trumpet sounded before the Judge of while thou art on earth, shall strengthen thy hands; and when
• Go return.
o 2 Sam. 11. 22.
19 So he departed thence, and found Elisha the
were thus busied, God favoured the nation with the successes we bere read of,
which were the more remarkable, because obtained against Ben-hadad king of son of Shaphat, who was ploughing with twelve Syria, whose successor, Hazael, was ordained to be a scourge to Israel, they yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth :
muat abortly suffer by the Syrians, and yet now triumph over them, thal, ir
possible, they might be led to repentance by the goodness of God. Here is, and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon 1. Ben hiulad's descent upon Israel, and his insulent demand, v. 1-12. II. The him.
defeat Ahab gave him, encouraged and directed by a prophel, v. 13-21. JII.
The Syrians rallying again, and the second deleat Ahab gave them, v. 22–30. 20 And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, IV. The covenant of preace Ahab made with Ben-hadad, wben he had him at
his mercy, (v. 31—34,) for which he is reproved and threatened by a propbet, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and said unto him, "Go back again: for what have et AND Ben-hadad the king of Syria gathered al!
his host together; and there were thirty and done to thee?
two kings with him, and horses, and chariots: and he 21 And he returned back from him, and took wentup, and besieged Samaria, and warred against it. a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their 2 And he sent messengers to Ahab king of IsAesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave rael into the city, and said unto him, Thus asaith unto the people, and they did eat: then he arose, Ben-hadad, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him. 3 Thy silver and thy gold is mine: thy wives
also and thy children, even the goodliest, are mine. CHAPTER XX.
4 And the king of Israel answered and said, This chapter is the history of a war between Ben-hadad king of Syria, and Ahab My lord, Oking, according to thy saying, I am king of larael, in which Ahab was once, nod ngain, victorious we read nothing thíne, and all that I have. of Elijah or Elisha in all this story; Jezebel's rage, it is probable, was abated, improve the appears not al court , bol, being told how many thousands of good Thus speaketh Ben-hadad, saying, Although I have
5 And the messengers came again, and said, may suppose, ju, founding religious houses, schools, or colleges, of prophets, in sent unto thee, saying, Thou shalt deliver me thy silreform the nation, when the throne and court would not be reformed: while they ver, and thy gold, and thy wives, and thy children ; • Matt. 8. 21, 22. Luke 9. 61, 62.
a Is. 10. 13, 14. thou art gone, shall carry on thy work, and be a remaining wit 2. That it was a powerful call: Elijah did but cast his mantle ness against the apostacy of Israel, and even he shall slay the upon him, (v. 19,) in token of friendship, that he would take children of Bethel, that idolatrous city." Note, The wicked him under his care and tuition, as he did under his mantle, and are reserved to judgment. Evil pursues sinners, and there is to be one with him in the same clothes, or, in token of his being no escaping it; to attempt an escape, is but to run from one clothed with the spirit of Elijah ; now he put some of his honour sword's point upon another. See Jer. 48. 44. He that flees upon him, as Moses on Joshua, (Num. 27. 20;) but when from the fear, shall fall into the pit; and he that gets up out of Elijah went to heaven, he had the mantle entire, 2 Kings 2.13. ihe pit, shall be taken in the snare. Elisha, with the sword of And immediately he left the oven to go as they would, and ran the Spiril, shall terrify and wound the consciences of those who after Elijah, and assured him that he would follow him preescape Hazael's sword of war, and Jehu's sword of justice; sently, v. 20. An invisible hand touched his heart, and unacWith the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked, Is. 11. 4. countably inclined him by a secret power, without any external 2 Thes. 2. 8. Hos. 6. 5. It is a great comfort to good men, and persuasions, to quit his husbandry, and give himself to the good ministers, to think that God will never want instruments ministry. It is in a day of power, that Christ's subjects are to do his work, in his time, but when they are gone, others shall made willing, (Ps. 110. 3,) nor would any come to Christ, be raised up to carry it on.
unless they were thus drawn, Elisha came to a resolution VI. The comfortable information God gives him of the num- presently, but begged a little time, not to ask leave, but only to ber of Israelites who retained their integrity, though he thought take leave of his parents. This was not an excuse for delay, he was left alone; (v, 18,) I have left me seven thousand in like his, (Luke 9. 61,) that desired he might bid them farewell Israel, (besido Judah,) which have not bowed the knee to Baal. that were at home; but only a reservation of the respect and Note, i. In times of the greatest degeneracy and apostacy, duty he owed to his father and mother. Elijah bade him go God has always had, and will have, a remnant faithful to him, back, and do it, he would not hinder him; nay, if he would, he some that keep their integrity, and do not go down the stream might go back, and not return, for any thing he had done to him. The apostle mentions this answer of God to Elijah, (Rom. He will not force him, nor take him against his will; let him sit 11. 4,) and applies it to his own day, when the Jews generally down and count the cost, and make it his own act. T'he efficacy rejected the Gospel; Yet, says he, at this time also there is a of God's grace preserves the native liberty of man's will, so remnant, v. 5. 2. It is God's work to preserve that remnant, that they who are good are good of choice, and not by constraint ; and distinguish thein from the rest, for without his grace they not pressed men, but volunteers. could not have distinguished themselves: I have left me; it is 3. That it was a pleasant and acceptable call to him, which therefore said to be a remnant, according to the election of grace. appears by the farewell feast he made for his family, v. 21, 3. It is but a little remnant, in comparison with the degenerate Yet he not only quitted all the comforts of his father's house, race; what is 7000 10 the thousands of Israel? Yet when those but exposed himself to the malignity of Jezebel, and her party ; of every age come together, they will be found many more, it was a discouraging time for prophets to set out in. À man 12,000 sealed out of each tribe, Rev. 7.4. 4. God's faithful ones that had consulted with flesh and blood, would not be fond of are often his hidden ones, (Ps. 83. 3,) and the visible church Elijah's mantle, nor willing to wear his coat; yet Elisha, cheerscarcely visi'le; the wheat lost in the chaff, and the gold in the fully, and with a great deal of satisfaction, leaves all, to accomdross, till the sifting, refining, separating day comes. 5. The pany him. Thus Matthew made a great feast, when he left Lord knows them that are his, though we do not; he sees them the receipt of custom to follow Christ. in secret. 6. There are more good people in the world, than 4. That it was an effectual call: Elijah did not stay for him, some wise and holy men think there are. Their jealousy of lest he should seem to compel him, but left him to his own themselves, and for God, makes them think the corruption is choice, and he soon arose, went after him, and not only assouniversal; but God sees not as they do. When we come to ciated with him, but ministered to him, as his servitor, poured heaven, as we shall miss a great many whom we thought to water on his hands, 2 Kings 3. 11. It is of great advantage to have met there, so we shall meet a great many whom we little young ministers, to spend some time under the direction of thought to have met there. God's love often proves larger than those that are aged and experienced, whose years teach wisdom; man's charity, and more extensive.
and not to think much, if occasion be, to minister to them. V. 19-21. Elisha was named last in the orders God gave Those that would be fit to teach, must have time to learn: and to Elijah, but is first called, for by him the other two were to be those that hope, hereafter, to rise and rule, must be willing, at called. He must come in Elijah's room; yet Elijah is forward first, to stoop and serve. to raise him, and is far from being jealous of his successor, but
NOTES TO CHAPTER XX. rejoices to think that he shall leave the work of God in such V.1-11. Here is, good hands.
I. Ben-hadad's threat to make a descent upon Ahab's kingdom, Concerning the call of Elisha, observe,
and the siege he laid to Samaria, his royal city, v. 1. What 1. That it was a surprising call: Elijah found him by divine the ground of the quarrel was, we are not told; covetousness direction, or, perhaps, he was, before, acquainted with him, and and ambition were the principle, which would never want some knew where to find him. He found him, not in the schools of pretence or other. David, in his time, had quite subdued the the prophets, but in the field; not reading, or praying, or sacri- Syrians, and made them tributaries to Israel, but Israel's aposficing, but ploughing, v. 19. Though a great man, (as appears tacy from God makes them formidable again. Asa had tempted by his fcast, v, 21,) master of the ground, and oxen, and ser
the Syrians to invade Israel once, (ch. 15. 18—20,) and now vants, yet he did not think it any disparagement to him, to they did it of their own accord: it is dangerous bringing in a follow his business himself, and not only to inspect his servants, foreign force into a country, posterity may pay dear for it. but himself to lay his hand to the plough. Idleness is no man's Ben-hadad had with him 32 kings, who were either tributaries honour, nor is husbandry any man's disgrace. An honest call to him, and bound in duty to attend him, or confederates with ing in the world does not at all put us out of the way of our him, and bound in interest to assist him ; how little did the title heavenly calling; any more than it did Elisha, who was taken of king look, when all these poor petty governors pretended to it! from following the plough, to feed Israel, and to sow the seed II. The treaty between these two kings; surely Israel's Deof the word ; as the apostles from fishing, to catch men. Elisha fence was departed from them, or else the Syrians could not inquired not alter Elijah, but was anticipated with this call. We have marched so readily, and with so little opposition, to Samalove God, and choose him, becausc he chose us, and loved us first. Tria, the head and heart of the country, a city lately built, and
cc. 19. 2.
I are at
6 Yet I will send my servants unto thee to-mor- Tell him, Let dnot him that girdeth on his harness row about this time, and they shall search thine boast himself, as he that putteth it off. house, and the houses of thy servants; and it shall 12 And it came to pass, when Ben-hadad heard be, that whatsoever is *pleasant in thine eyes, they this $message, as he was drinking, he and the kings shall put it in their hand, and take it away. in the pavilions, that he said unto his servants,
7 Then the king of Israel called all the elders "Set yourselves in array: and they set themselves of the land,' and said, Mark, I pray you, and see in array against the city. how this man seeketh mischief; for he sent unto 13 And, behold, there came a prophet unto Ahab me for my wives, and for my children, and for my king of Israel, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Hast silver, and for my gold; and I denied him not. thou seen all this great multitude ? behold, I will
8 And all the elders and all the people said unto deliver it into thine hand this day; and thou shalt him, Hearken not unto him, nor consent.
know that I am the Lord. 9'Wherefore he said unto the messengers of 14 And Ahab said, By whom? And he said, Thus Ben-hadad, Tell my lord the king, All that thou saith the LORD, Even by the young men of the didst send for to thy servant at the first, I will do: princes of the provinces. Then he said, Who shall but this thing I may not do. And the messengers Horder the battle? And he answered, Thou. departed, and brought him word again.
15 Then he numbered the young men of the 10 And Ben-hadad sent unto him, and said, princes of the provinces, and they were two hunThe gods do so unto me, and more also, if the dust dred and thirty-two: and after them he numbered of Samaria shall suffice for handfuls for all the peo- all the people, even all the children of Israel, being ple that follow me.
seven thousand. 11 And the king of Israel answered and said, 16 And they went out at noon: but Ben-hadad • desirable. 6 2 Kings 5. 7. t kept not back from him.
Tor, Place the engines; and they placed engines. approached. e ver. 29. my feet, Ex. 11, 8. Juig. 4, 10. d'Prov. 27. 1. rord. ! or, lents.
77 or, scrrants, ni bind, or, tie.' Judg. 7. 7. therefore, we may suppose, not well fortified, but like to fall any provocation given him, had invaded his country, and bequickly into the hands of tho invaders; both sides are aware of sieged his capital city? He owns to them how he had truckled this, and therefore,
to him before, and would have them advise him what he should 1. Ben-hadad's proud spirit sends Ahab a very insolent de- do in this strait; they speak bravely, (v. 8,) Hearken not to mand, v. 2, 3. A parley is sounded, and a trumpeter (we may him, nor consent; promising no doubt, to stand by him in the suppose) is sent into the city, to let Ahab know that upon these refusal. (2.). Yet he expresses himself very modestly in his terms he will raise the siege–That Ahab become his vassal, denial; (v. 9) he owns Ben-hadad's dominion over him;" Tell
his villain, * and not only pay him a tribute out of what he my lord the king, I have no design to affront him, nor to recede has, but make over his title to Ben-hadad, and hold all at his from the surrender I have already made ; what I offered at first, will, even his wives and children, the goodliest of them: the I will stand to, but this thing I may not do; I must not give manner of expression is designed to gall them; “ All shall be what is none of my own." It was a mortification to Ben-hadad, mine, without exception."
that even such an abject spirit as Ahab's was, dares deny him; 2. Ahab's poor spirit sends Ben-hadad a very disgraceful sub- yet it should seem by his manner of expressing himself, that he mission; it is general indeed, he cannot mention particulars in durst not have done it, if his people had not animated him. his surrender, with so much pleasure as Ben-hadad did in his 5. Ben-hadad proudly swears the ruin of Samaria : the threatdemand, but it is effectual, I am thine, and all that I have, v. 4: ening waves of his wrath, meeting with this check, rage and See the effect of sin: (1.) If he had not, by sin, provoked God foam, and make a noise ; in his fury, he imprecates the impoto depart from him, Ben-hadad could not have made such a de- tent revenge of his gods. If the dust of Samaria serve for handmand; sin brings men into such straits, by putting them out of fuls for his army, (v. 10,) so numerous, so resolute, an army divine protection ; if God do not rule us, our enemies shall; a will be bring into the field against Samaria; and so confident rebel to God, is a slave to all besides. Ahab had prepared his is he of their success, it will be done as easily as the taking up silver and gold for Baal, (Hos. 2. 8,) justly therefore it is taken of a handful of dust: all shall be carried away, even the ground from him; such an alienation amounts to a forfeiture. (2.), If on which the city stands. Thus confident is his pride, thus he had not, by sin, wronged his own conscience, and set that cruel is his malice; this prepares him to be ruined, though such against him, he could not have made such a mean surrender; a prince and such a people are unworthy of the satisfaction of guilt dispirits men, and makes them cowards; he knew Baal seeing him ruined. could not help, and had no reason to think that God would, and 6. Ahab sends him a decent rebuke to his assurance; dares therefore is content to buy his life upon any terms; skin for skin, not defy his menaces, only reminds him of the uncertain turns and all that is dear to him, he will give for it; he will rather live of war; (v. 11,)“Let not him that begins a war, and is girda beggar, than not die a prince,
ing on his sword, his armour, his harness, boast of victory, or 3. Ben-hadad's proud spirit rises, upon his submission, and think himself sure of it, as if he had put it off, and were come becomes yet more insolent and imperious, v. 5, 6. Ahab had home a conqueror.” This was one of the wisest words that laid his all at his feet, at his mercy, expecting that one king ever Ahab spake, and is a good item or memento to us all : it would use another generously, that this aknowledgment of Ben-is folly to boast before, of any day, since we know not what it hadad's sovereignty would have contented him; the honour was may bring forth, (Prov. 27. 1;) but especially to boast of a day sufficient for the present, and he might, hereafter, make use of of battle, which may prove as much against us, as we promise it if he saw cause; Satis est prostrasse leoni-It suffices the lion ourselves it will be for ns. It is impolitic to despise an enemy, to have laid his antagonist prostrale; but this will not serve: and to be too sure of victory is the way to be beaten. Apply it (1.) Ben-hadad is as coveious as he is proud, and cannot go to our spiritual conflicts ; Peter fell by his confidence : while we away, unless he have the possession as well as the dominion; are here, we are but girding on the harness, and therefore must he thinks it not enough to call it his, unless he have it in his never boast as though we had put it off. Happy is the man that hands; he will not so much as lend Ahab the use of his own feareth always, and is never off his watch. goods above a day longer. (2.) He is as spiteful as he is haughty; V. 12-21. The treaty between the besiegers and the behad hc come himself to select what he had a mind for, it had sieged being broken off abruptly, we have here an account of been some respect to a crowned head, but he will send his ser. the battle that ensued immediately. vants to insult the prince, and hector over him, to rifle the I. The Syrians, the besiegers, had their directions from a palace, and strip it of all its ornaments; nay, to give Ahab the drunken king, who gave orders over his cups, as he was drinkmore vexation, they shall be ordered, not only to take what they ing, (v. 12,) drinking himself drunk, (v.
16,) with the kings in please, but, if they can learn which are the persons or things the pavilions, and this, at noon. Drunkenness is a sin which ihat Ahab is, in a particular manner, fond of, to take those ; armies and their officers have, of old, been addicted to. Say not Whatsoever is pleasant in thine eyes, ihey shall take that away. thou then that the former.days were, in this respect, better than We are often crossed in that which we most dote upon; and these, though these are bad enough; had he not been very secure, that proves least safe, which is most dear. (3.) He is as unrea- he would not have sat to drink; and had he not been intoxicated, sonable as he is unjust, and will construe the surrender Ahab he would not have been so very secure : security and sensuality made for himself
, as made for all his subjects too, and will have went together in the old world, and Sodom, Luke 17.26, &c. them also to lie at his mercy; " They shall search, not only Ben-hadad's drunkenness was the forerunner of his fall, as thy house, but the houses of thy servants too, and plunder them Belshazzar's was, Dan. 5. How could he prosper, that preat discretion." Blessed be God for peace and property, and ferred his pleasure before his business, and kept his kings to that what we have we can call our own.
drink with him, when they should have been at their respective 4. Ahab's poor spirit begins to rise too, upon his growing posts to fight for him? In his drink, 1. He orders the town to insolence; and if it becomes not bold, yet it becomes desperate, be invested, the engines fixed, and every thing got ready for the and he will rather hazard his life than give up all thus. (1.) Now making of a general attack, (v. 12,) but stirs not from his he takes advice of his privy council, who encourage him to stand drunken club to see it done; Wo unto thee, O land, when thy it out.
He speaks but poorly, (v. 7.) appeals to them whether king is such a child. 2. When the besieged made a sally, (and, Ben-hadad were not an unreasonable enemy, and did not seek by that time, he was far gone,) he gave orders to take them mischief. What other could he expect from one who, without alive, (v. 18,) not to kill them, which might have been done
more easily and safely, but to seize them, which gave them an * That is, a person appropriated and enslaved.--ED,
opportunity of killing the aggressors ; so imprudent was he in the
orders he gave, as well as unjust, in ordering them to be taken
pls. 37. 29–36.
was drinking shimself drunk in the pavilions, he 23 And the servants of the king of Syria said and the kings, the thirty and two kings that helped unto him, Their gods mare gods of the hills, therehim.
fore they were stronger than we: but let us fight 17 And the young men of the princes of the pro- against them in the plain, and surely we shall be vinces went out first; and Ben-hadad sent out, and stronger than they. they told him, saying, There are men come out of 24 And do this thing: Take the kings away, Samaria.
every man out of his place, and put captains in 18 And he said, Whether they be come out for their rooms; peace, take them alive; or whether they be come 25 And number thee an army like the army out for war, take them alive.
that* thou hast lost, horse for horse, and chariot for 19 So these young men of the princes of the chariot: and we will fight against them in the provinces came out of the city, and the army which plain, and nsurely we shall be stronger than they. followed them.
And he hearkened unto their voice, and did so. 20 And they slew every one his man: and the 26 And it came to pass, at the return of the year, Syrians fled; and Israel pursued them: and Ben that Ben-hadad numbered the Syrians, and went up hadad the king of Syria escaped on an horse with to Aphek,o to fight against Israel. the horsemen.
27 And the children of Israel were numbered, 21 And the king of Israel went out, and smote and were 'all present, and went against them: and the horses and chariots, and slew the Syrians with the children of Israel pitched before them like two a great slaughter.
little flocks of kids ; but the Syrians filled the coun22 And the prophet "came to the king of Israel, try. and said unto him, Go, strengthen thyself, and mark 28 And there came a man of God, and spake and see what thou doest: for at the return of the unto the king of Israel, and said, Thus saith the year, the king of Syria will come up against thee. Lord, Because the Syrians have said, The LORD &c. 16. 9. ver. 12. Prov. 23. 29–32. Hos. 4. 11. A Is. 51. 15. i Judg. 7. 21, 22. £P. 116. 2, 3. 13. 12.6:
• was fallen. n Ps. 10. 3.o 1 Sam. 4. 1. 29. 1. 2 Kings 13. 17. † the war with
Israel Ior, victualled prisoners, though they came for peace, and to renew the treaty; and made the best of his way, v. 20. See how God slips off the ihus, as is usual, he drinks, and forgets the law, both the poli-spirit of princes, and makes himself terrible to the kings of the cies and the justice of war.
earth. Now where are the silver and gold he demanded of II. The Israelites, the besieged, had their directions from an Ahab? Where the handfuls of Samaria's dust? Those that are inspired prophet, one of the prophets of the Lord, whom Ahab most secure, are commonly least courageous. Ahab failed not had hated and persecuted : And behold, a prophet, even one, to improve this advantage, but slew the Syrians with a great drew near to the king of Isruel; so it may be read, v. 13. Be- slaughter, v. 21. Note, God oftentimes makes one wicked man bold, and wonder, that God should send a prophet with a kind a scourge to another. and gracious message to so wicked a prince as Ahab was; but V. 22-30. We have here an account of another successful he did ii, 1. For his people Israel's sake, who, though wickedly campaign, which Ahab, by divine aid, made against the Syrians, degenerated, were the seed of Abraham his friend, and Jacob in which he gave them a greater defeat than in the former. his chosen, the children of the covenant, and not yet cast off. Strange! Ahab idolatrous, and yet victorious; a persecutor, 2. That he might magnify his mercy, in doing good to one so and yet a conqueror! God has wise and holy ends, in sufferevil and unthanksul ; might either bring him to repentance, or ing wicked men to prosper, and in it glorifies his own name. leave him the more inexcusable. 3. That he mighi mortify the 1. Ahab is admonished by a propbet to prepare for another pride of Ben-hadad, and check his insolence: Ahab's idolatry war, v. 22. It should seem, he was now secure, and looked shall be punished hereafter, but Ben-hadad's haughtiness shall but a little way before him; those that are careless of their be chastised now; for God resists the proud, and is pleased to souls, are often as careless of their outward affairs; but the say that he fears the wrath of the enemy, Deut. 32. 26, 27. prophet (to whom God made known the following counsels of the There was but one prophet, perhaps, to be had in Samaria, and Syrians) told him, they would renew their attempt, at the rehe drew near with this message, intimating that he had been turn of the year, hoping to retrieve the honour they had lost, forced to keep at a distance ; Ahab, in his prosperity, would and be avenged for the blow they had received. He therefore not have borne the sight of him, but now he bids him welcome, bade him strengthen himself, put himself into a posture of dewhen none of the prophets of the groves could give him any fence, and be ready to give them a warm reception. God had assistance; he inquired not for a prophet of the Lord, but God decreed the end, but Ahab must use the means, else he tempts sent one to him, unasked, for he waits to be gracious.
God: “Help thyself, strengthen thyself, and God will help and Now, (1.) This prophet animates him with an assurance of strengthen thee. The enemies of God's Israel are restless in victory, which was more than all the elders of Israel could give their malice, and though they may take some breathing time for him, (v. 8,) though they promised to stand by him. This pro- themselves, yet are still breathing out threatenings and slaughter phet, who is not named, for he spake in God's name,) tells him, against the church. It concerns us always to expect assaulis from God, that this very day the siege should be raised, and the from our spiritual enemies, and therefore to mark and see what army of the Syrians routed, v. 13. When the prophet said, we do. Thus saith the Lord, we may suppose Ahab began to tremble, II. Ben-hadad is advised by those about him concerning the expecting a message of wrath: but he is revived, when it proves operations of the next campaign. a gracious one. He is reminded of the use he must make of 1. They advised him to change his ground, v. 23. They take this blessed turn of affairs; “ Thou shall know that I am Jeho- it for granted that it was not Israel, but Israel's gods, that beat vah, the sovereign Lord of all:" God's foretelling a thing that them; (so great a regard was then universally had to invisible was so very unlikely, proved that it was his own doing. (2.) He powers :) but they speak very ignorantly of Jehovah that he instructs him what to do for the gaining of this victory. (1.) He was many, whereas he is One, and his name one-that he was must not stay till the enemy had attacked him, but must sally their God only, a local deity, peculiar to that nation, whereas he out upon them, and surprise them in their trenches. (2.) The is the Creator and Ruler of all the world-and that he was a provinces, the pages, the footmen, who were few in number, but said, I will lift up mine eyes to the hills from whence cometh my 232, utterly unacquainted with war, and the unlikeliest men help, (Ps. 121,1,) and that his foundation was in the holy mounthat could be thought of, for such a bold attempt ; yet these tain, (Ps. 87. 1.-78. 54;) and much was said of his holy hill, must do it, those weak and foolish things must be instruments (Ps. 15.1.-24.3,) supposing him altogether such a one as their of confounding the wise and strong, that while Ben-hadad's imaginary deities: they fancied he was confined to his hills, boasting is punished, Ahab's might be prevented and precluded, and could not, or would not, come down from them, and there and the excellency of the power might be of God, (3.) Ahab fore an army in the valley would be below his cognizance, and must himself so far testify his confidence in the word of God, as from under his protection: thus vain were the Gentiles in their to command in person, though, in the eye of reason, he exposed | imaginations concerning God, so wretchedly were their foolish himself to the utmost danger by it; but it is fit that those who hearts darkened, and, professing
themselves to be wise, they became have the benefit of God's promises, should enter upon thein. fools. 2. They advise him to change his officers, (v.24, 25;) Yet, [4.] He is allowed to make use of what forces he had at not to employ the kings, who were commanders by birth, but hand, to follow the blow, when these young men had broken the captains rather, who were commanders by merit, who were ice. All he had in Samaria, or within call, were but 7000 men, inured to war, would not affect to make a show like the kings, v. 15.
It is observable that it is the same number with theirs but would go through with business; let every man be emthat had not bowed the knee to Baal, (ch. 19. 18,) though, it is ployed in that which he is brought up to, and used to, and prelikely, not the same men.
ferred to that which he is fit for. Syria, it seems, was rich and III. The issue was accordingly; the proud Syrians were populous, when it could furnish recruits sufficient, after so great beaten, and the poor despised Israelites were more than con a defeat, horse for horse, chariot for chariot. querors; the young men gave an alarm to the Syrians, just at III. Both armies take the field : Ben-hadad, with his Syrians, noon, at high dinner time, supported by what little force they encamps near A phek, in the tribe of Asher, a city, it is likely, in had, v. 16. Ben-hadad despised thein, at first, (v. 18,) but when his own possession, one of those which his father had won,(v. 34,) they had, with unparalleled bravery and dexterity, slain every and the country about fat and level, and fit for his purpose, one his man, and so put the army into disorder, that proud man v. 26. Ahab, with his forces, posted himself at some distance durst not face them, but mounted immediately, drunk as he was, l over against them, v. 27. The disproportion of numbers was