2 Kings 1:1-18
Ahaziah had fallen through the latticed window of his upstairs room in Samaria and was injured. So he sent messengers, instructing them, “Go inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I will recover from this injury” (1:2 CSB).
In order to understand this chapter, it is necessary to have a Biblical view of God. To have such a view in the culture of our time is rare, even among those who regularly attend a church that preaches God’s word. Why is this so? The Biblical view of God requires an acceptance of both the goodness and grace of God and the holiness and justice of God, even when we don’t grasp how they can be reconciled. The apostle Paul sums it up well. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off (Romans 11:22 NIV).
The setting of the chapter is two years after the death of the wicked king Ahab. He tried to escape the doom prophesied for him by Elijah, but while in battle, someone shot an arrow at random, but God directed its flight, and it struck Ahab between the joints of his armor, and he bled to death. Then dogs licked up his blood just as Elijah had prophesied. Now Ahab’s wicked son Ahaziah ruled over the northern kingdom of Israel. He walked in the ways of his evil parents.
Think for a moment of the power of sin over the human heart. You might assume that Ahaziah would have learned from the death of his father, which happened just as God had said. But no, something more than a terrible judgment is needed to change a sinner’s heart. Ahaziah dares God to carry out judgment on him. When he falls and seriously injures himself, he brazenly sends messengers to the false god Baal-Zebub to find out if he will recover. Will Ahaziah succeed in mocking God?
All that happens in this chapter is a demonstration of the kindness and severity of God. The Lord was kind toward Elijah and protected him, but acted severely against all who provoked him to anger. In this chapter, we must not blame Elijah for what happened. He was no more able in himself to bring down fire from heaven than you and I are. Instead, let us think of something else. The living God demands that his people honor him as the only true God.
The issue at stake was the honor of the God of the covenant (1:3, 6, 16). Remember the demand of the law covenant. Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, “Israel, listen to the statutes and ordinances I am proclaiming as you hear them today. Learn and follow them carefully. The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. He did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with all of us who are alive here today. The Lord spoke to you face to face from the fire on the mountain. At that time I was standing between the Lord and you to report the word of the Lord to you, because you were afraid of the fire and did not go up the mountain. And he said: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. Do not have other gods besides me (Deuteronomy 5:1-7 CSB). The living God spoke plainly to his people, Israel. Notice three matters about this word.
- Human responsibility was clearly stressed.
- The God of the covenant was clearly identified.
- A transgression was clearly prohibited.
Though the law covenant has been fulfilled and set aside, this command is still in force today. We’ll consider this in another post.
The first commandment of the law covenant was clearly transgressed (1:1). This was not an isolated incident in Ahaziah’s life (cf. 1 Kings 22:51-53). Ahaziah did not learn from the mistakes of others. His act was similar to what Saul had done when he consulted the medium at Endor (cf. 1 Samuel 28). What happens to Ahaziah and his men is an example of the consequences of daring to challenge the true and living God.
Grace and peace, David