Charles Simeon Commentary - 2 King 10:30 - 10:31

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Charles Simeon Commentary - 2 King 10:30 - 10:31


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DISCOURSE: 373

THE CHARACTER OF JEHU

2Ki_10:30-31. And the Lord said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel. But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart: for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin.

WE can scarcely conceive any stronger proof of God’s willingness to reward his people, than that which he has given us in rewarding persons, whose services were merely external, without any real love to him in their hearts. If we were to judge from the honour put upon Jehu, we should be ready to suppose he was, if not a blameless, yet, on the whole, a pious character: but on a review of his history, our admiration must be fixed, not on him, but on that infinitely gracious and condescending Being, who was pleased to remunerate such services as his. Let us consider,

I.       The character of Jehu—

Here was a mixture, not uncommon in the world. Let us notice,

1.       What he did for God—

[Being appointed of God to the office of avenging upon Ahab the blood of Naboth and of the prophets, he addressed himself to the work without delay. In the space of a few hours he destroyed Jehoram, with his mother Jezebel, and then instantly set himself to complete the work he had so prosperously begun. And it is worthy of observation, that in extirpating the family of Ahab, he succeeded by the very same means which Jezebel had used for the destruction of Naboth. He sent letters to the great men of Samaria, to whose care the seventy sons of Ahab were entrusted, and required of them to cut off their heads in one single night, and send them to him at Jezreel: and these elders, many of whom had doubtless concurred in the shedding of Naboth’s blood at the command of Jezebel, now, at the command of Jehu, became traitors to their king, and murderers of all his family.

But, besides cutting off the posterity of Ahab, he proceeded also to execute judgment on all the worshippers of Baal. By a stratagem deeply laid, but ill according with truth or godliness, he succeeded against these also in one day; and entirely banished, as it were, the worship of Baal from the land, burning all his images with fire, and making his very temple a draught-house, or sink of all uncleanness.

In this conduct he gained the approbation of Jehonadab, whose pious character and zealous co-operation strengthened and encouraged him in this arduous undertaking. From God himself too did he obtain a decided testimony of approbation, together with a rich reward: for he alone of all the kings of Israel had the kingdom continued to his posterity of the fourth generation, or for so long a period of years.

Thus, it must be confessed, he appears to have been a distinguished servant of the Lord; though, alas! he was but partial in that obedience which he rendered.]

2.       What he omitted to do—

[Against Ahab, whom it was his interest to destroy, and Baal, whom he had no wish to preserve, he executed vengeance with zeal; but against the calves of Dan and Bethel, which policy required him to preserve — — —, he raised not up his hand. Nor indeed did he make the law of God the rule of his conduct: “he took no heed to walk according to that;” much less did he aim at it “with all his heart:” no; he both indulged in himself, and tolerated in others, much that was contrary to the divine will; and thus he manifested, that, notwithstanding all his outward obedience, his heart was not right in the sight of God.]

Such was his character, externally good, but internally depraved. Let us proceed to notice,

II.      The lessons to be deduced from it—

Such characters as these are very instructive: they teach us,

1.       That we may perform many outward duties, and yet have no vital principle of religion within us—

[The actions of Jehu, as to the matter of them, were good; and therefore they were rewarded; but in their motive and principle they were bad; and therefore God afterwards visited them with a severe punishment [Note: Hos_1:4.]. This shews, that notwithstanding all he did for the Lord, he had not within him any principle of true piety. And thus it is with multitudes amongst ourselves: they are zealous against open vice and profaneness, yea active too in many works of benevolence, and yet appear evidently to be destitute of vital godliness: they have never been truly humbled before God, never fled to Christ for refuge, never given themselves up to God as his redeemed people — — — How much is it to be regretted that such persons, who by their virtues have gained the admiration and love of the most pious characters, and even received a recompence from the Lord also, should yet, for want of a root of grace in them, never bring forth fruit unto perfection, and never obtain happiness in the eternal world! Like the youth in the Gospel, or Nicodemus, or Paul in his unconverted state, they are zealous towards God to a certain extent, but without a new and spiritual birth must for ever perish. O that all who have a zeal for God in the performance of outward duties, would carefully examine the principles by which they are actuated, and never be satisfied with any action which has not a sense of redeeming love for its moving cause!]

2.       That we may profess much zeal for God, and yet have a radical alienation of heart from him—

[Jehu certainly professed to be actuated by a regard for God’s honour: “Come, see my zeal for the Lord,” said he: and when the different events had taken place, he made reflections upon them as accomplishing the divine predictions. Yet his flagrant neglect of other duties stamped him an hypocrite in the sight of God. And is it not thus with many who make a profession of religion in the present day? They think themselves zealous for God, and wish to be thought so by others: but they are manifestly under the dominion of some reigning lusts, some evil tempers, some hidden abominations. They will sacrifice the refuse to the Lord, and such things as they care but little about; but the choicest of the flocks, and the sins which are more intimately connected with their pleasures or their interests, they will retain. Let professors of religion who are so ardent in talking about their favourite topics, or in attending on the ordinances of religion, inquire, Whether the law of God be really in their hearts; whether they are aspiring after an entire conformity to its commands; and whether they are longing to “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God?” Sad will it be to be numbered among those of whom St. James speaks, who seem to be religious, and yet, by their unbridled tongues, and unsubdued tempers, shew that they “deceive their ownselves, and that their religion is vain [Note: Jam_1:26.].”]

3.       That if ever we would be accepted of God hereafter, we must have our hearts right with him now—

[This is required of every human being [Note: Deu_10:12-13; Deu_18:13.]. Absolute perfection indeed is not to be expected; but Christian perfection must be attained; nor without it will any conformity to outward rights, or any profession of Christian principles, avail us before God [Note: Act_8:21.] — — — — But how shall this state of mind be attained? It must be sought by prayer to God, who has promised to give us his Holy Spirit, and by the mighty working of that Spirit to bring us to an entire conformity to his will [Note: Eze_36:26-27.]. Plead then with God that blessed promise: yea, give him no rest till he accomplish it to your souls. Then shall your heart be made right with God, as God’s is with you; and with infinite condescension will he “take you up to sit with him in the chariot” of his love, and on the throne of his glory [Note: ver. 15.].]