New Defender's Study Bible Notes
Introduction to II Kings
The division between I Kings and II Kings is seemingly quite arbitrary; originally the two were one book. The second book continues the history of Judah and Israel until their eventual captivities. Like I Kings, the book of II Kings was probably compiled from records of the earlier prophets by Jeremiah or one of the later prophets of Judah.
The ministries of Elijah and Elisha constitute the dominant subject of the first third of the book. The portion of the history devoted to Israel is sad in the extreme, with one ungodly king after another leading the people away from God, until finally the Assyrians destroyed their land and carried the people off into captivity. The last king of Israel was Hoshea (II Kings 17).
There were, of course, believers and faithful servants of God in the northern kingdom during all those years of spiritual decline and apostasy. The most notable were the prophets Elijah and Elisha, but two of the prophets of the Biblical canon also had ministries primarily in Israel. Hosea’s initial ministry to Israel was during the long reign of Jeroboam II, but it evidently continued even beyond Israel’s exile into Assyria (Hosea 1:1). The prophet Amos was a contemporary of Hosea who also ministered especially in the northern kingdom of Israel (sometimes called Ephraim).
In Judah, several of the kings were God-fearing men, and Hezekiah and Josiah in particular led in great national revivals. Of the writing prophets, those whose ministry was mainly centered in Judah were—in more or less chronological order—Obadiah, Joel, Isaiah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah and Jeremiah. Isaiah, in the days of Ahaz and Hezekiah, and Jeremiah, during the last days of the kingdom under Josiah and the kings who briefly followed him, had especially significant influence on the kings and the nation as a whole.
No doubt because of the influence of these prophets, and the several God-fearing kings of Judah, God allowed Judah to remain in the land for about 130 years after Israel had been carried away to Assyria. Eventually, however, even Judah became so wicked and apostate, especially under her final kings (Jehoiakim, Jeconiah and Zedekiah) that God sent Nebuchadnezzar and the armies of Babylon to destroy Jerusalem with its temple and to carry the king and all the leaders of the people into exile and captivity in Babylon.
There were other godly prophets and priests in both Israel and Judah, of course, besides those whose prophecies have been preserved in the Bible. Some among these, no doubt, were the original writers of the records now incorporated in the books of Kings. The last of them, Jeremiah, quite possibly was the man who compiled and edited all of these earlier documents into their present, divinely inspired form.
1:2 Ahaziah. Ahaziah, the son of Ahab (I Kings 22:40) should not be confused with the later king of Judah, the son of Jehoram (II Kings 8:25)
1:3 not a God in Israel. King Ahaziah, son of Ahab and Jezebel, reigned only two years, following in the pagan idolatry of his parents. Although he certainly knew about the total defeat of the priests of Baal by Elijah at Carmel, as well as his father’s death as predicted by the prophet Micaiah, he nevertheless chose to seek help from a heathen prophet instead of the God of Israel. The sin of modern Christendom is much greater even than this, as two thousand years of Christian witness are being everywhere rejected in deference to the evolutionism and occultism of the ancient pagan gods.
1:6 Baal-zebub. The name of this “god” of the Philistine city, Ekron, means “lord of the flies.” What a poor substitute for the true God of creation!
1:10 and consumed him. This time of deep apostasy in Israel was marked by many remarkable miracles. The people of Israel had separated themselves from the true temple and priesthood, so they probably had little or no knowledge of the then-extant Scriptures. Accordingly God spoke by many great miracles confirming the testimony of Elijah and Elisha during this period, seeking to call His people back to Himself. Very few heeded, especially among their kings and leaders.
1:14 fire down from heaven. The third captain recognized what the others had ignored—that the God of Elijah was the true God of heaven. This had been demonstrated ten years before on Mount Carmel also with fire from heaven, but self-centered pagan pantheists forget easily. Whether these heavenly fires were providentially directed lightning or specially created fires for the occasion, the deadly effect was the same.
1:17 Jehoram reigned. Note two Jehorams mentioned in this verse. The first is King of Israel, son of Ahab and brother of Azakiah (II Kings 3:1). The second was co-regent of Judah with Jehoshaphat his father.
1:17 second year of Jehoram. Jehoram had apparently been installed as co-regent over Judah with Jehoshaphat his father just two years before another Jehoram, younger son of Israel’s king Ahab, began his own reign. This was the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat’s reign (II Kings 3:1). It was fairly common during that period for kings to appoint sons as co-regents, in order to forestall later disputes that might develop when the reigning monarch died.