The Word Made Fresh
1After the death of Ahab, Moab revolted against Israel. 2Ahaziah was in bed with injuries sustained from a fall through the roof of his house in Samaria. He sent messengers to ask Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, whether he would recover.
3But the LORD’s angel told Elijah the Tishbite, “Go meet the messengers of the king of Samaria and ask them, ‘Are you going to seek advice from Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, because you think there is no God in Israel?’ 4Tell them this is what the LORD says to the king; ‘You shall not rise from your bed. You are going to die.’”
Elijah did as the angel had said, 5and the messengers went back to king Ahaziah. He asked, “Why have you come back so soon?”
6They said, “A man met us and told us to come back to you, and tell you that the LORD says, ‘Do you think there is no God in Israel? Is that why you’re going to ask Baal-Zebub in Ekron? The LORD says you won’t recover from your injuries. You’re going to die.’”
7Ahaziah asked them, “Describe the man who met you and told you this.”
8They said, “He was a hairy man. He wore a leather belt around his waist.”
“It was Elijah, the Tishbite,” said the king. Then the king sent a squadron of fifty men to find Elijah. They found him sitting on a hilltop, and the captain said, “Man of God, the king tells you to come down.”
10Elijah said, “If I am a man of God, then let fire come down and burn you and your men up.” And fire came down and burned them up.
11The king sent another squadron of fifty men. Their captain said to Elijah, “Man of God, the king orders you to come, now!”
12Again, Elijah responded, ““If I am a man of God, then let fire come down and burn you and your men up.” And fire came down and burned them up.
13The king sent a third squadron of fifty soldiers. The captain approached Elijah and fell to his knees before him and begged him, “O man of God, please spare my life and the life of my men, for we are your servants. Let us be worthy in your sight. 14We know that the other two squadrons were killed by a fire that came down from the heavens, but I ask that you spare us.”
15The LORD’s angel said to Elijah, “Don’t be afraid of the king. Go.” So, Elijah went with them to the king. 16He told the king, “This is what the LORD says; ‘You sent messengers to seek advice from Baal-Zebub the god of Ekron. Did you think there is no God in Israel from whom to seek help? Because you did this, you shall not leave the bed on which you lie. You shall certainly die.’”
17Ahaziah died, as the LORD had spoken through Elijah. Since he had no sons he was succeeded by Jehoram as king. This was in the second year of king Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat of Judah. 18The reign of Ahaziah and his deeds are recorded in the Book of the Acts of the Kings of Israel.
1-4: We are told at the beginning of 2 Kings that Ahab’s death results in Moab’s rebellion, so Moab was under Israel’s control during Ahab’s reign, a detail we had not learned earlier, and which will be disputed in Chapter 2. But now we return to the account of Ahaziah’s rule. He rules only two years over Israel, then has an accident, falling through the ceiling of his house. He realizes he is seriously injured and sends messengers to inquire at the temple of Baal-Zebub in Ekron. Ekron is one of the Philistine cities on the coastal plain. The name Baal-Zebub survives into New Testament times as the name of the prince of demons, Beelzebul (Matthew 12:24). Elijah is inspired to meet the messengers and tell them Ahaziah is going to die because he sent to inquire of Baal-Zebub, as if there is no God in Israel.
5-8: The messengers return to Ahaziah and give him the message. When they describe the man who met them to tell them the king will die, he realizes it is Elijah.
9-10: He sends a squad of 50 soldiers to fetch Elijah. They find him sitting on top of a hill and beg him to come down. Elijah, as we have seen, is quite the expert with fire, and the 50 are burned up.
11-12: Ahaziah sends another 50, and this captain is more insistent than the first. “Come down right now!” he says. Poor fellow.
13-16: You have to wonder if Ahaziah will ever get it. Another 50 men are sent, but this commander treats Elijah with the utmost respect, and Elijah agrees to return with them. When he is brought to Ahaziah he gives him the message as before that he is going to die from his injuries.
17-18: Ahaziah dies just as Elijah said he would. He is succeeded by Jehoram, who is otherwise unidentified, although some texts assume it is Ahaziah’s brother, Ahaziah having no sons. We also learn that Jehoshaphat’s son, also named Jehoram, has succeeded Jeoshaphat in Jerusalem.
The book of 2 Kings takes up exactly where 1 Kings left off. Some ancient manuscripts combine the 1 and 2 Kings in one scroll, as one book. 2 Kings will focus more on the kings of Israel, while 1 Kings focused more on the kings of Judah. In both cases their attraction to other gods will result in their ultimate downfall. We need to be aware of how easy it is to fall under the influence of false gods, and people sometimes fall into the worship of idols without realizing they are idols, and without realizing they are worshiping. Our worship of God is easily set aside for trivial things. But God is gracious and abounding in steadfast love. To a point, as we shall continue to learn in 2 Kings.