THE CERTAINTY AND SUDDENESS OF GOD’S JUDGMENT – DESPITE ITS SEEMING DELAY
Despite God’s promise of judgment against those who oppose Him and persist in their rebellion and sins, people tend to disregard or mock His threat. They imagine that life will go on along its present course without any divine intervention and righting of wrongs. The more powerful their status, the more their false confidence fortifies their wicked behavior. Here we see Jehu commissioned as God’s instrument of certain and sudden judgment against the idolatrous house of Ahab.
August Konkel: The oracle has the two standard elements: There is a judgment relevant to the immediate situation (v. 7), followed by the stereotyped curse (vv. 8–9). The oracle against Jezebel (v. 10) is specifically a fulfillment of the prophetic word (1 Kings 21:23). The judgment speech brings to a climax the accumulated sins of Israel from Jeroboam to Joram.
Iain Provan: The twelve years of Jehoram, son of Ahab, are completed (2 Kgs. 3:1; 8:25); and the time for judgment has come (1 Kgs. 21:21–29). Elisha is still with us, and Hazael—though not in the way first planned—is king of Aram. Ahab’s drama is approaching its final curtain. Of the players mentioned in 1 Kings 19:15–18, we await only Jehu. Right on cue, he now makes his entrance. Israel will be purged at last of Ahab’s house and the worship of Baal it has introduced. Judah, too, will be cleansed. Even the Davidic line will seem under threat. God’s quiet ways are, for the moment, at an end. Earthquake is the order of the day.
G. Campbell Morgan: It is indeed a terrible chapter in which the truth of the divine government is written no longer in the gentle words of patient mercy, but in flames of fire. At last the day of God’s patience had passed, and the devouring sword fell on the chief persons in the household of Ahab, who had done so much to encompass the ruin of His ancient people.
John Gates: Because idolatry threatened to destroy all remaining good influences in Israel and to invade Judah and so destroy the whole nation, the house of Ahab was marked for extinction.
I. (:1-3) TOP SECRET MISSION – COMMAND TO ANOINT JEHU KING OF ISRAEL – JUDGMENT IS SECRETIVE
A. (:1) Need for Speed in Accomplishing the Mission
“Now Elisha the prophet called one of the sons of the prophets, and said to him, ‘Gird up your loins, and take this flask of oil in your hand, and go to Ramoth-gilead.’”
Nobody is privy to God’s secret timetable regarding His appointed judgments. It seems as if life will continue to go on as in the past without any divine intervention. But God sets judgment in motion in top secret fashion. That’s why “Today is the day of salvation.” We have no guarantee of tomorrow.
Matthew Henry: Elisha did not go himself to anoint Jehu, because he was old and unfit for such a journey and so well known that he could not do it privately, could not go and come without observation; therefore he sends one of the sons of the prophets to do it.
B. (:2) Need for Secrecy in Accomplishing the Mission
“When you arrive there, search out Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi, and go in and bid him arise from among his brothers, and bring him to an inner room.”
MacArthur: A private room that could be closed off to the public. Elisha commissioned one of the younger prophets to anoint Jehu alone behind closed doors. The rite was to be a secret affair without Elisha present so that Jehoram would not suspect that a coup was coming.
C. (:3a) Clearly Defining the Mission
“Then take the flask of oil and pour it on his head and say,
‘Thus says the LORD, I have anointed you king over Israel.’”
Donald Wiseman: Elisha sends a member of a prophetic group (cf. 1 Kgs 20:35) to fulfil the task of anointing Jehu that Elijah had passed on to him (1 Kgs 19:16). This unnamed young prophet is identified in Jewish tradition (Seder Olam) with Jonah (2 Kgs 14:25) and involves a foreign mission. Doubtless Jehu was motivated also by personal ambition and the current disaffection with the regime and its heavy taxation. He was, however, God’s agent using the army to end it just as the army had originally brought Omri to power.
D. (:3b) Need for Speed and Secrecy to Escape after Completing the Mission
“Then open the door and flee and do not wait.”
II. (:4-10) TERMINATION COMMISSION — PURPOSE OF ANOINTING
JEHU KING OF ISRAEL – JUDGMENT IS CERTAIN
(:4) Prelude — Arrival
“So the young man, the servant of the prophet, went to Ramoth-gilead.”
A. (:5) Targeted Message
“When he came, behold, the captains of the army were sitting, and he said,
‘I have a word for you, O captain.’
And Jehu said, ‘For which one of us?’ And he said, ‘For you, O captain.’”
B. (:6) Textbook Anointing
“And he arose and went into the house, and he poured the oil on his head and said to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, I have anointed you king over the people of the LORD, even over Israel.’”
C. (:7-10a) Termination Commission
1. (:7) Summary of Avenging Devastation Against House of Ahab
“And you shall strike the house of Ahab your master, that I may avenge the blood of My servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the LORD, at the hand of Jezebel.”
2. (:8) Specific Assassination of all Males of the House of Ahab
“For the whole house of Ahab shall perish, and I will cut off from Ahab every male person both bond and free in Israel.”
3. (:9) Similar Treatment to Judgment Against Jeroboam and Baasha
“And I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah.”
MacArthur: God would thoroughly annihilate Ahab’s line in the same way as Jeroboam’s dynasty and Baasha’s dynasty had previously ended violently (1Ki 15:27-30; 16:8-13).
Caleb Nelson: Why did God’s word set up Jehu like this to be king? Well, the text tells us at length. It was to avenge the blood of the prophets and the blood of all God’s people who had suffered under the depredations of Ahab and Jezebel. God highlights the fact that He is giving royal power to Jehu so that Jehu can take vengeance. Vengeance belongs to God, but in this case He is delegating it to a human agent.
4. (:10a) Special Degrading Treatment for Jezebel and Her Corpse
“And the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the territory of Jezreel,
and none shall bury her.”
(:10b) Postlude — Departure
“Then he opened the door and fled.”
John Gates: A predictive act indicating the swiftness and awfulness of the destruction to follow.
III. (:11-13) TRUMPETED CONFESSION – RECOGNITION OF JEHU AS KING OF ISRAEL – JUDGMENT IS SUDDEN
A. (:11) Confusion Regarding the Nearness of God’s Judgment
“Now Jehu came out to the servants of his master, and one said to him,
‘Is all well? Why did this mad fellow come to you?’
And he said to them, ‘You know very well the man and his talk.’”
August Konkel: Calling the prophet a “madman” (9:11) is a derogatory reference to the eclectic nature of prophets. Prophets were those “crazy preachers”; the description does not refer to their activity in prophesying but to their manner of life and speech. But prophets did have influence, even when their ability to declare the divine will was disregarded. The officers know the prophetic emissary with Jehu, and his announcement is regarded as the occasion to act. The followers of Jehu immediately turn the bare steps into an ascent to a royal dais and declare Jehu as king. Blowing a trumpet was customary in installing a king (cf. 1 Kings 1:34, 39). It served as a public announcement to formally submit to the new monarch. Following the accession ceremony, a proclamation to announce the anointed as king was normal procedure (cf. 1:11, 13, 18). Though the prophetic herald is spoken of disparagingly, his word is effective.
Ellicott: Ye know the man.—There is emphasis on the ye. Jehu apparently implies that the man was sent to him by his fellow-generals—that they had planned the whole thing. His purpose is to find out their disposition. Or, more probably, his reply may simply mean: “Why ask me, when you yourselves must have divined the right answer to your question?”
B. (:12) Full Disclosure Reveals the Surprise of Imminent Judgment
“And they said, ‘It is a lie, tell us now.’ And he said, ‘Thus and thus he said to me, Thus says the LORD, I have anointed you king over Israel.’”
Dale Ralph Davis: Jehu’s associates, of course, are incurably curious—what did this whacko want with him (v. 11a)? Jehu seems to dismiss the matter. But, unless Jehu had quick access to a shower and shampoo, it would be difficult to hide both the sight and the fragrance of the anointing oil on his head. When Jehu comes clean there is a spontaneous coronation (vv. 12–13). One infers that Joram was hardly the poster-boy of the army. So the conspiracy is on (v. 14a), all furloughs are cancelled (v. 15b), and the mad ride to unseat the king begins (v. 16).
The Pulpit Commentaries: And they said, It is false. There was no rudeness in the reply. It merely denied that Jehu’s supposition was correct. There had been no collusion between the spiritual and temporal authorities. The captains had no knowledge of the young prophet’s errand. Tell us now. “Tell us,” i.e.; “what the young prophet said, since we are completely in the dark upon the subject.” And he said, Thus and thus spoke he to me, saying, Thus saith the Lord, I have anointed thee king over Israel. Jehu declared to them without any reserve all that the young prophet had said to him. He accepted their declaration that they were not in league with him, and then gave them an exact account of all that had occurred. He left it for them to determine what, under the circumstances, they would do.
C. (:13) Need for Speed in Recognizing Jehu as King
“Then they hurried and each man took his garment and placed it under him on the bare steps, and blew the trumpet, saying, ‘Jehu is king!’”
They wasted no time in expressing their loyalty to the new king and recognizing his authority and anticipating his mission of swift judgment.
Donald Wiseman: The army officers took their cloaks and placed, spread or ‘set’ them under him to acclaim him as king. The act of spreading out the garment was one of recognition, loyalty and promise of support (cf. the people to Christ in Matt. 21:8; Luke 19:36). The place where they did this is not clear, for the word translated bare steps (Heb. gerem) occurs only here. If the same as ‘bone’ it is taken as the steps ‘themselves’, on the basis of the Hebrew reflexive based on ‘my bone’, i.e. myself. It may well be an architectural term, the landing part-way down the steps (Gray) or a raised supported structure (cf. Akkad. girnû). The trumpet (šôpār)-call (as used in the coronation of Solomon, 1 Kgs 1:34; and Joash, 2 Kgs 11:14) was to herald a public proclamation and assembly. It may be noteworthy that they said ‘Jehu rules as / is king’ rather than the popular acclamation ‘Long live the king’ which was only made when the full public assent had been made: as for Saul (1 Sam. 10:24), Absalom (2 Sam. 16:16), Solomon (1 Kgs 1:34, 39), Joash (2 Chr. 23:11) and Josiah (2 Kgs 11:12). Negotiations to that end for Jehu still lay ahead.
Iain Provan: When Jehu tells them what has been said, they immediately proclaim him king (v. 13; cf. 1 Kgs. 1:34, 39; Matt. 21:8; Mark 11:8; Luke 19:36). They seem most eager to do so. Perhaps Jehoram’s lack of military success had already caused unrest in the army.