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13th April

2 Kings 8-11; Psalm 103

Bible in a Year
6 minutes
In this article
13th April

2 Kings 8-11; Psalm 103

Bible in a Year
6 minutes


So far in 1-2 Kings, we've read through Solomon's reign, the splitting of the kingdom, and the era of kings and prophets. Solomon's reign began with eliminating his rivals. He then asked God for wisdom, which led to peace and prosperity in Israel. Solomon built the temple and his palace but disobeyed God by accumulating wealth, horses, and marrying foreign wives, leading to idol worship.

God told Solomon his kingdom would be divided after his death: Israel in the north under Jeroboam and Judah in the south under Rehoboam. Jeroboam's led the northern tribes in worship to other gods. After Jeroboam, leaders like Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri, and Ahab followed in Israel, all doing evil. In Judah, Rehoboam also did evil, as did his son Abijam. Then came Asa, who returned the people to God but relied on Syria instead of God when attacked. He was replaced by his son Jehoshaphat.

The story shifted to Elijah, a prophet who condemned Ahab for idolatry and predicted a drought. Elijah performed miracles, defeated Baal's prophets, and fled from Jezebel. He met God, anointed new leaders, and chose Elisha as his successor. Elisha condemned Ahab for seizing Naboth's vineyard. Ahab died in battle, succeeded by Ahaziah, then Jehoram. We read as Elijah was taken to heaven, and Elisha stepped up to fill his place. We saw Elisha performing many of the miracles Elijah had done. The northern and southern kings, Jehoram and Jehoshaphat, banded together to fight against Moab. While it looked like they were winning the battle turned when the king of Moab sacrificed his own son.

Yesterday was focused on Elisha. We read as he performed more miracles that were similar to Elijah; producing a lot of oil from one small jug and bringing a small boy back to life. He also provided food for the other prophets and healed a Syrian man named Naaman. But Syria was warring against Israel. They tried to capture Elisha so he couldn't help Israel, but he blinded them. They then sieged the capital Samaria, and the people turn to cannibalism as was predicted back in Deuteronomy 28:53. But God was still in control and the siege was lifted.

2 Kings 8-11

We get a brief story of the woman whose son Elisha raised from the dead, before we jump back into the story of the kings. Interestingly, it's the king of Syria that we first go back to. Ben-hadad is ill and so he sends his servant Hazael to ask Elisha if he would get better. Elisha, pretty bluntly, tells Hazael to say to Ben-hadad that he would get better, but the truth is he will die. He then gives Hazael a pointed look before breaking down and crying.

We read how Elisha has had a vision of all the terrible things that Hazael will do to Israel. We get a sense of the character of Hazael as he hears this and asks how he will do these 'great things'. Only someone awful could hear of these terrible things and call them 'great'. Elisha tells him he will be king. Hazael goes back, tells Ben-hadad he will be fine, then later that night kills him in his sleep, just as Elisha predicted.

This brings us to the final sections of this book focused on the journey to exile. The northern kingdom of Israel will be the first to go at the hands of Assyria, and then the southern kingdom of Judah will be exiled by the hands of Babylon.

The list of kings gets confusing because the kings of Judah and the kings of Israel have similar names. To recap, we have Joram as king in Israel, and Jehoram as king in Judah. After Jehoram comes Ahaziah (not to be confused with the Ahaziah that was king of Israel before Joram), and both these kings of Judah led their people to do evil and sin against God.

Meanwhile, Elisha tells one of his prophets to find one of Joram's commanders, Jehu, and anoint him as the new king. He does this and tells Jehu that God has chosen him to bring punishment to the family of Ahab for all their sins. Remember, Ahab was a bad king. His wife Jezebel murdered a lot of God's prophets and also murdered Naboth for his field. His son, Joram, is the current king and is just as bad as his parents.

So Jehu takes this role seriously, perhaps too seriously. It looks more like that he enjoys killing, rather than he is doing what God told him to. He first kills Joram, as he was meant to, but then he also kills Ahaziah, the king of Judah. After that he hunts down Jezebel and has her killed too. Next he secretly writes letters to the important leaders and servants who were with all Ahab's son, 70 in total, and tells them to kill Ahab's son and send him their heads. So they do this.

He then turns around and shows everyone the heads of Ahab's sons, and talks about how evil the servants were for killing Ahab's innocent sons. He has all the important leaders and servants killed as well. But he's still not done. He then kills a load of Ahaziah's family, before tricking all the followers of Baal into coming together and having them all killed too.

Jehu is a bloodthirsty man, but God uses this man to not only get rid of two sets of evil kings, but also rid Israel of all those who would promote the worship of Baal. But the kingdom isn't quite at peace yet. In Judah, Ahaziah's mother hears that he is dead and takes the throne for herself. She has everyone else inline to the throne killed.

Fortunately, Ahaziah's sister rescues one of his sons, Joash (sometimes known as Jehoash), and hides him away. After 7 years, when the boy was older, a priest called Jehoida crowns and anoints Joash as king and leads a rebellion against Ahaziah's mother, ending in her death. The rightful king in Judah is back on the throne.

But this is an important moment. Until this point, it looked like the royal line in Judah would always be strong. In Israel, there have been a few times where a servant or commander has killed the king, and a new family leads the kingdom. But in Judah, it has always been the one family, the descendants of David, passed from father to son. But here we get our first little blip. It a short blip, but it's still a blip. Maybe the southern kingdom of Judah isn't as secure as first thought.

Psalm 103

This psalm is attributed to David and falls into the category of praise psalm.

Psalm 103:1-5 - A call to bless the Lord

Psalm 103:6-14 - The Lord is righteous and just

Psalm 103:15-19 - Human lives are short but the Lord’s love is eternal

Psalm 103:20-22 - A call to bless the Lord

The psalmist starts with a call to bless the Lord. They are speaking primarily to themselves, “Bless the Lord, O my soul”. While blessing the Lord, the psalmist also encourages themself to remember all that the Lord has done for them. He forgives sins and heals diseases. He’s the one who has redeemed the psalmist’s life and crowned them with love and mercy. The Lord satisfied the psalmist and renewed their youth.

The psalmist then turns to focus on the Lord’s righteousness and justice. The Lord cares about the oppressed and made himself know to Moses and the people of Israel. He is merciful and gracious. Slow to anger. This is a reference to Exodus 34:6-7.

Continuing to riff of that Exodus passage, the psalmist explains that the Lord will not always be angry with his people, nor give them the punishment they deserve. This is because he is a loving God who removes our sins from us and has compassion on us.

Next, we see the psalmist reflect on human nature. Our live are short. We’re like flowers who flourish in one moment and then are blown away by the wind the next. In contrast, the Lord’s love is eternal for those who are loyal and obedient, faithful to his commandment. The Lord can do all this because he reigns as king over all creation.

So the psalmist ends with a call to bless the Lord, but this time to the heavens. They call out to the council of spiritual beings who support the Lord and encourages them to bless him in all that they do.

The psalm is a reminder to us and to all creation of the nature of the Lord. He reigns over all, and in his reign he is loving and patient, ready to forgive sins and restore his people.

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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