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11th April

2 Kings 1-3; Psalm 101

Bible in a Year
6 minutes
In this article
11th April

2 Kings 1-3; Psalm 101

Bible in a Year
6 minutes


So far in 1-2 Kings we've read through Solomon's reign and the splitting of the kingdom. Solomon's reign started off bloody with the killing of his enemies and then looked positive as he asked God for wisdom to lead. This wisdom led to him and the nation flourishing with new levels of infrastructure being put in place and with a long era of peace. Solomon built the temple and a palace for himself. But through it all he started hoarding for himself horses, gold, and foreign wives, all of which Deuteronomy 7 warned against. These foreign wives led him to worship foreign gods. God rebuked Solomon and told him that once he died, his kingdom would be split in two. Israel in the north led by Jeroboam, and Judah in the south led by Solomon's son Rehoboam.

In Israel, because Jeroboam led the people to worship false gods, God promised to remove his family from the throne. He died and was replaced by his son Nadab, who was killed by Baasha. Similarly, after Baasha came his son, Elah, who was murdered and replaced by Zimri, who was murdered and replaced by Omri. After Omri, came his son Ahab. All the northern kings were evil and their lines were bloody. In Judah, after Rehoboam came his son Abijam, who was equally wicked. After Abijam is Asa who did good and led the people back to God. But when attacked by the northern kingdom, he went to Syria for help rather than God. After Asa came his son Jehoshaphat.

Then we focused on Elijah, a prophet to the northern kingdom of Israel. We read as he rebuked Ahab for leading the people to worship the storm god Baal and told him the rain would stop. He performed a miracle with some flour and oil and brought a Phoenician boy back to life. Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal in a prayer off and then fled from the wicked queen Jezebel. He met with God at mount Sinai and then anointed a new king over Syria, a new king over Israel, and a new prophet to replace him, Elisha. When Ahab's wife Jezebel had a man killed so they could claim his land, Elisha went and rebuked Ahab. God would take the northern kingdom from Ahab's son. Ahab then died in battle passing the throne to his son Ahaziah.

2 Kings 1-3

We saw at the end of 1 Kings Ahaziah, king of Israel, has been following in his father Ahab's footsteps and leading the people into sin. Starting 2 Kings he has a great fall and is laid up in bed, not sure whether he will get better. So he sends a messenger to go find out from Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, if he will get better. Once again God is angry that one of his kings would turn to a different god for help. He tells Elijah to intercept the messenger and pass on to Ahaziah that because of this he will surely die.

Once Ahaziah heard what Elijah had said he sends 50 men to capture Elijah. God sends fire to burn up the 50 men, but Ahaziah just sends another 50. He ignored God because he didn't think he was powerful enough to tell him if he would get better. Now that he can see God's power, he still ignores it. The second group of 50 gets burnt up and so Ahaziah sends a third. This time the leader of the third group recognises God's power and Elijah's authority and begs them not to kill him or his men. Elijah agrees to go back with the man, and this time tells Ahaziah he will die to his face, which he does.

Elijah’s role as prophet is nearly over. God wants to call him directly up to heaven, without letting him die. We know that Elisha will replace him, but the question is how. The route that Elijah takes; from Gilgal, to Bethel, to Jericho, to the river Jordan, is the opposite journey that the Israelites took when they first entered the land with Joshua. He’s retracing their steps. Just as God was in control of the land then, he is still in control of the land now.

With each place they arrive at, Elijah gives Elisha opportunity to leave, but Elisha is determined that he wants to follow in Elijah’s footsteps. On their journey they meet other prophets who know that Elijah will be taken soon. The prophets from Jericho follow them and watch when they get to the Jordan. Elijah takes his cloak and strikes the water, splitting it in two, just like when the Israelites first crossed it many years ago. 

Once they were on the other side Elijah turns to Elisha and asks if there’s anything that he could do for Elisha before he goes. Elisha asks for a ‘double portion’ of Elijah’s spirit. This isn’t Elisha asking to be twice the prophet Elijah was, though he does end up doing twice the miracles Elisha does. In Deuteronomy 21:17 we read how the firstborn gets a ‘double portion’ of the inheritance. Elisha is asking if he can be Elijah’s son and join in the family business. He is asking if he can be the prophet after Elisha, and is willing to make that commitment.

Elijah is then taken up to heaven, leaving his cloak behind. Elisha picks it up, walks back to the river Jordan, and strikes the water with the cloak just like Elijah did. The water splits, showing Elisha’s authority as prophet, and he walks back over. The prophets that had followed them saw what Elisha did. They saw him perform the same miracle as Elijah, and so they knew that Elisha was to be the new prophet. From there we see Elisha perform a miracle making unclean and harmful water clean and drinkable, and a strange story where some young men mock Elisha and God sending bears to attack them. The main point is we’re meant to see the evidence of God’s authority that is now upon Elisha through each of these stories.

Now that Ahaziah is dead, his brother Jehoram becomes kings. We see the kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom join to fight the king of Moab. On their way to Moab they reach a place with no water, and they call Elisha to ask what God will do. Elisha first provides them with water, in contrast with Elijah who spoke a drought over the people many years ago. He then tells the kings that God will be with them.

As the two armies drew close to fight, God tricks the Moabites into thinking their enemies are already dead and rush straight in. Israel, Judah, and Edom are winning the fight until the king of Edom sacrifices his own son on the wall. The Bible says that 'there came great wrath against Israel' and they retreated. It’s unclear what this means. It may be that the Moabites were inspired by this sacrifice and fought harder. Maybe the Israelite army were so disgusted with what had just happened that they lose the will to fight and retreat. Some scholars suggest that from the original language we can see the suggestion that the Israelites participated in the human sacrifice, and God rejected them for it.

Whatever the reason, this story is meant to reflect the battle in 1 Kings 22. The two kingdoms come together to fight a foreign enemy. The southern kingdom asks to hear from a prophet of God. That prophet is reluctant to help them, but eventually does. The kings go out to battle and are eventually beaten. Gone is the era of Israel’s history under David and Solomon where they dominated their enemies. Now the kings of Israel are disobedient and unfaithful, and so are routinely beaten back by their enemies.

Psalm 101

The psalm is attributed to king David and is believed to fall into the category of royal psalm. This isn’t because of it’s content but it’s context. It’s believed that this psalm was said by a king, perhaps at their coronation, as a vow for how they will lead.

Psalm 101:1-2 - Commitment to justice and integrity

Psalm 101:3-5 - Avoid the wicked

Psalm 101:6-8 - I will stand by the faithful and destroy the wicked

The psalmist, a king, starts with a commitment to love and justice. They will think upon how to live a blameless life and how to walk with integrity.

In contrast they won’t even look at anything wrong. If others do wrong the psalmist will make sure it doesn’t affect or contaminate them. They will keep those who are wicked away from them so that they have no opportunity to engage with evil. As part of their justice the psalmist will destroy the wicked who slanders innocent people in their arrogance.

The psalmist then reiterates their stands. Those who are faithful and good the psalmist will support. They will allows those who live rightly to come close to them. But those who are wicked will not come close to them. Instead, the psalmist will destroy them, removing them from the land from access to God’s presence.

This psalm reaffirms the role of Israel’s human kings. To pursue righteous and justice and to remove wickedness from their lands.

Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.

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