2 Kings

In 1 Kings, we read about prophets and kings. There is an equal amount about both groups. The book ends with a long story. And the prophet Elijah is the main person in the story. 2 Kings starts with a long story too. It is about the prophet who came after Elijah. His name is Elisha. He is not as familiar as Elijah. But Elisha was just as important.

The Hebrew (Jewish) Bible has different parts. ‘The Prophets’ is the name of one part. ‘The Prophets’ also has two parts. There are the ‘former’ prophets. The word ‘former’ means ‘earlier’ or ‘in the past’. And there are the ‘latter’ prophets, which means ‘later’. Six books are in the ‘latter’ prophets. They are Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings. And there is a reason for this. They are history books that give a prophet's opinion. They show how the prophets understood things.

The ‘latter’ prophets’ books do not support the idea of a king. These books often describe kings as men who are against God. The kings’ hearts and minds were against God's desires. 2 Kings describes a king's resistance against God. It begins with the story of Elijah. He went up into heaven. And this showed that God approved of him. The book ends with the Jewish nation. Their enemies forced them to make a long journey. They went to Babylon as slaves. This showed that God did not approve of the Jewish nation.

The book has a vast amount of detail. We can divide it into five sections.

God Shows his Power (Chapters 1-8)

These stories are very interesting and exciting. They show God's power (3:16-18 and 7:6-7). They also show God's grace (4:42-44 and 8:8-10). The story is mainly about Elisha. It describes him in various ways. He is a man of:

  • WISDOM (2:9). Elisha could have asked for anything. But he had one great desire. He wanted to continue Elijah's great work.
  • FAITH (2:9). He asked for ‘a double share’. When we pray, we should remember who God is. Then we know that God can do anything. Elisha did not believe that Elijah would fall back down to the earth (2:16). Elisha had too much faith in God to think that.
  • CONFIDENCE (3:18). ‘It is easy for the Lord to do it. He will also let you defeat the enemy.
  • KNOWLEDGE. Many incidents showed Elisha's knowledge. He had a difficult job. But it was a special job. And God gave him the equipment that he needed. Knowledge was part of that equipment. He was aware of things in a way that was not natural. He knew about things that had not yet happened. They might even be happening somewhere else. (There are examples in 6:8-23, 32; 7:2, 16-20; and 8:1, 10-13.)

Notice something in the stories about Elisha. Several of them show something special. They show the Lord's power to heal a situation. It might be an evil situation. Or it might be a difficult situation. But God heals it in a particular way. For Elisha, God did not begin by taking away the evil. He began by adding something. God told Elisha to add things that were good and healthy. He added salt (2:19-22). He added grain (4:38-41). And he added a stick (6:1-7).

All these stories are about miracles. But they could also have a spiritual principle. It could be for future people. And this would include us. Here is an example. Holy people should be ready to be leaders. They could achieve much that is good. It could have been like this for the Jews. But it was not. Most of all, these miracles show us that God's word is powerful. (Read 2:21; 3:16; 4:43; 5:10 and 7:1, 16.)

God Uses Jehu (Chapters 9-10)

These two chapters are about a man called Jehu. He led a revolution. And its purpose was good. King Ahab was wicked. His effect on other people was bad too. And Jehu wanted to change things. The whole religious system was evil. And God used Jehu to remove it (10:30). But, in many ways Jehu was not a good example.

We may want to achieve something too. And the desire might be strong. But something else is important first. We must defeat evil in ourselves. We might never learn to do it. And Jehu was like this. He is a sad example (10:31).

The People Refuse God's Authority (Chapters 11-17)

These chapters are about the two kingdoms.

[Note: David's son, Solomon, died. And the Jews divided into two groups. The Southern Kingdom was called Judah. This group wanted David's family to rule them. The other group became the Northern Kingdom. The name for this group was Israel.]

The story ended with Samaria's defeat. (This was Israel's capital.) It is a sad story. There was confusion. And there was a lack of system. So their enemy, Assyria, defeated Israel.

The writer wanted to tell us about the Samaritans. So he explained how they began (17:24-41). This section has two important truths. They are:

God is faithful. This word is important. It speaks about God. It assures us that we can trust God completely. He will never disappoint us. He always does all that he promises.

Everywhere, things were bad. The people's religion was evil. And their behaviour was wicked. But God still had his people. And they stayed loyal to him. These people of God were honest and morally good. And Jehoiada was like this. He was a brave priest. A cruel queen was ruling at the time. Her name was Athaliah (11:4-20). But the priest was a good influence. And the young king could copy his example (11:21; 12:2).

We, too, have spiritual responsibilities for children. Each child needs a true man or woman of God. He or she could be an example for the child. The lives of each person should show what God is like. They should show God's power to change a life. Many children are still waiting to meet someone like this.

God must punish sin. This is a spiritual principle. And Chapter 15 shows this very clearly. Read 15:9-10, 17-19, 23-25 and 27-31.

The People Return to God and Remove Evil (Chapters 18-23)

These six chapters tell a great story. The people truly returned to God. And they removed the evil things from their lives. This happened twice. The first time, Hezekiah was king (18-20). The second time, Josiah was king (22-23). But after Hezekiah, there was a very evil king. His name was Manasseh (21). While he ruled, the people's religion was very evil. It was worse than it had ever been before. Wicked acts were the worst too.

[Note: All these kings ruled in Judah. This was the Southern Kingdom of the Jews.]

Hezekiah achieved much. He had strong spiritual principles. We can read about all of these in a few words. They are in 18:4-7. He removed idols. He trusted in the Lord. He followed the Lord. He obeyed God's laws. The Lord was with him.

Both of the good kings were famous for one special thing. Hezekiah was famous because he trusted in God. The problem came from outside the nation. Something bad happened. A foreign country attacked them. And the enemy even entered the land. But Hezekiah relied on God. (Isaiah, the prophet, advised him.) Then there was Josiah. He is famous because he turned to God. This time, the problem came from inside the nation. Josiah removed evil things. And he tried to change all that was wrong in the nation.

Notice something important. It is about both these special times. The word of God had a chief part (18:6; 22:8-13). Josiah was like other people. He had problems because of past family members. These past family members did not trust in God.

Here are some examples. There were Manasseh's sins (23:10, 12. Compare 2 Chronicles 33:6). There were Solomon's sins (23:13. Read 1 Kings 11:7). And there were Jeroboam's sins (23:15).

We should think about what we will leave behind when we die. We should ask whether we are leaving good things or bad things behind.

Fair Punishment (Chapters 24-25)

These were sad years. Behaviour was very wicked. So, there had to be punishment for Judah's people.

[Note: Judah was the Southern Kingdom of the Jews.]

God wanted his punishment to make them better people. So Judah went into exile (23:26-27. Compare Hebrews 12:9-11; 1 Peter 4:17). The same thing had happened to Israel.

[Note: Israel was the Northern Kingdom of the Jews.]