As I read through these chapters in 2 Kings, I’m struck by the long-suffering patience of God. After almost 300 years of being independent of Judah, has there been one king of Israel that did “right” in the eyes of the Lord?? Even Jehu, who demolished Baal worship, “was not careful to walk in the law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He did not turn from the sins of Jeroboam, which he made Israel to sin” (2 Kings 10:31).
But God continues to show mercy… continues to wait for repentance. Consider this example from today’s reading:
Now Hazael king of Syria oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz. But the Lord was gracious to them and had compassion on them, and he turned toward them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, nor has he cast them from his presence until now (2 Kings 13:22-23).
God seems to give Israel every chance to repent. He waits and waits and intercedes and sends Elijah and waits and sends Elisha and waits and waits some more. But in the end, Israel does not repent, and Israel will be destroyed.
God’s mercy to Israel reminds me of a quote from Charles Spurgeon…
Slow to anger. He can be angry, and can deal out righteous indignation upon the guilty, but it is his strange work; he lingers long, with loving pauses, tarrying by the way to give space for repentance and opportunity for accepting his mercy. Thus he deals with the greatest sinners, and with his own children much more so: towards them his anger is short-lived and never reaches into eternity, and when it is shown in fatherly chastisements he does not afflict willingly, and soon pities their sorrows.
From this we should learn to be ourselves slow to anger; if the Lord is longsuffering under out great provocations how much more ought we to endure the errors of our brethren! And plenteous in mercy. Rich in it, quick in it, overflowing with it; and so had he need to be or we should soon be consumed. He is God, and not man, or our sins would soon drown his love; yet above the mountains of our sins the floods of his mercy rise.
– taken from The Treasury of David (Psalm 103:8)
Yet above the mountains of our sins the floods of mercy rise. Beautiful. Both the truth and the words… are beautiful!
Keeping up with the Kings
- Judah: Rehoboam, Abijam, Asa (good), Jehoshaphat (good), Jehoram (son of Jehoshaphat), Ahaziah (killed by Jehu), Queen Athaliah, Jehoash (only surviving son of Ahaziah: good), Amaziah (good)
- Israel: Jeroboam, Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri, Ahab, Ahaziah, Jehoram (or Joram, son of Ahab), Jehu, Jehoahaz, Jehoash, Jeroboam II