We have come to a turning point in the history of the kings of the ten tribes realm. The house of Ahab will be exterminated. To this end God calls Jehu. It is a special calling. It is said three times of Jehu that he is anointed king by the LORD (verses 3,6,12). He is the only one of all the kings of the ten tribes of whom that is said. No one of the other kings was anointed. His anointing is therefore unique and means that he is called to a special task.
At the same time we see that, although God calls someone, God does not approve of everything that that person does. God can also use unbelievers and even Satan. In this history we learn how the hand of God is in these things. He leads history, He chooses His instruments and executes judgment through them. Perhaps we can compare Jehu with Nebuchadnezzar who is also an instrument of God and at the same time acts willful. Another question is, what kind of instrument it is, to what extent the anointed Jehu has been guided by the LORD. Was he a believer?
In Hoshea 1 we see the evaluation of all Jehu’s actions (Hos 1:4). There is talk about blood debt on the house of Jehu, in which the three following generations are included. But it started with Jehu. He shed a lot of blood from people for whom God did not order him to shed their blood.
Why does God call such a man? Because Jehu is the least bad of all the bad guys. He knew and hated the idolatry of Jezebel. He is very energetic. But whoever has a commission from the LORD has no license to do what he wills. For the execution one has to depend on Him step by step. The energy of Jehu is not that of faith, but of the flesh. One may have a command from the Lord, but yet not always be in dependence on the Lord. This is the case with Jehu.
In the history of the church on earth, which we see presented in Revelation 2-3 in the seven churches, we have arrived with Jehu in the phase of Sardis. Sardis follows Thyatira as Jehu follows Jezebel. We see much agreement between Jehu and Sardis. The Lord tells Sardis that she has the name to live, but she is dead (Rev 3:1). The expressions of life are seen, but it is only a semblance of life. Also, the works were not found to be perfect (Rev 3:2). This does not mean that something is missing, but that more is being done than has been said. Too much has been done and that is a sin. That is how it was in the emerging Protestantism. Protestantism has dealt with the idolatry of Rome. There is much that is of God. That is the reformation. But there is also a lot of the flesh and that is protestantism.
An example of the combination of man’s responsibility in a negative sense and God’s actions can be seen in the judgment of Ahaziah. In 2 Chronicles 22 we read about the downfall of Ahaziah as a decree by the LORD (2Chr 22:7-9). There the death of Ahaziah is seen from the side of God. Jehu did not receive the instruction to kill also Ahaziah the king of Judah. With that he does more than he should. But that does not mean that God is losing control. It is the problem of the relation between man’s responsibility and God’s hand. Ahaziah was killed because he had sinned against God. What God uses from the handling of man does not change the responsibility of man.
1 - 4 Command to Anoint Jehu King over Israel
1 Now Elisha the prophet called one of the sons of the prophets and said to him, “Gird up your loins, and take this flask of oil in your hand and go to Ramoth-gilead. 2 When you arrive there, search out Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi, and go in and bid him arise from among his brothers, and bring him to an inner room. 3 Then take the flask of oil and pour it on his head and say, ‘Thus says the LORD, “I have anointed you king over Israel.”‘ Then open the door and flee and do not wait.” 4 So the young man, the servant of the prophet, went to Ramoth-gilead.
Why does Elisha send a student prophet? He has to do it himself or did Elijah have to do it before? Elisha did to Hazael what Elijah was told to do. Here we see that Elisha, just like Elijah did with regard to Hazael, gives hands over the command and puts it in the hands of one of the student prophets.
He tells the student prophet to gird up his loins. This indicates that he has to walk fast to fulfil his mission quickly. Jehu must be anointed with oil from flask. That reminds of Saul who was also anointed with oil from a flask (1Sam 10:1), while David was anointed with oil from a horn (1Sam 16:1). A flask represents fragility and a horn strength. Saul and Jehu have failed in their task; David has served the counsel of God (Acts 13:36).
The anointing must take place behind closed doors (verse 2). It is not a public matter, but a hidden matter. In this we can see an indication that God behind the scenes determines who comes to power. This also applies to all governments. By Him “kings reign” and “princes rule” (Pro 8:15,16).
5 - 10 Anointing of and Command for Jehu
5 When he came, behold, the captains of the army were sitting, and he said, “I have a word for you, O captain.” And Jehu said, “For which [one] of us?” And he said, “For you, O captain.” 6 He arose and went into the house, and he poured the oil on his head and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I have anointed you king over the people of the LORD, [even] over Israel. 7 You shall strike the house of Ahab your master, that I may avenge the blood of My servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the LORD, at the hand of Jezebel. 8 For the whole house of Ahab shall perish, and I will cut off from Ahab every male person both bond and free in Israel. 9 I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah. 10 The dogs shall eat Jezebel in the territory of Jezreel, and none shall bury [her].’” Then he opened the door and fled.
The student prophet comes to Jehu. It seems that Jehu is somewhere on a field, in consultation with fellow captains of the army. He is one of the captains. The student prophet says he has a message “for you, O captain”. He does not mention a name, but Jehu responds to the remark. He is the leader. The student prophet may have looked at him or even appointed him.
When Jehu asks who he means, the student prophet answers with the same word - “for you, O captain”. Jehu gets up and goes into the house. There he is anointed by the student prophet. The words with which the anointing occurs bear witness to the great seriousness associated with the anointing. Being king “over the people of the LORD” is a serious matter. This must penetrate deeply. God does not give up His claims on His people. This is also evident from the command Jehu receives.
The LORD has not forgotten His people: for Jehu must deliver his people from the idolaters and the idols. That should Jehu tell a lot. He must perform the judgment on Ahab and his house (verses 7-10). This is the command made by Elijah (1Kgs 21:21-24).
After the anointing with the accompanying words the student prophet flees. Why this fleeing? Elisha knows the character of Jehu, as he also knew it from Hazael. It seems that he has ordered the young man not to stay with Jehu for a moment longer than necessary for the anointing. He must act as the man of God from Judah (1Kgs 13:7-10,16-17). Jehu is not a company for this student prophet. This is very different from the anointing of David. Samuel must not flee when he has anointed the anointed of the LORD. David is therefore the man after God’s heart.
11 - 13 Jehu Proclaimed King
11 Now Jehu came out to the servants of his master, and one said to him, “Is all well? Why did this mad fellow come to you?” And he said to them, “You know [very well] the man and his talk.” 12 They said, “It is a lie, tell us now.” And he said, “Thus and thus he said to me, ‘Thus says the LORD, “I have anointed you king over Israel.”‘“ 13 Then they hurried and each man took his garment and placed it under him on the bare steps, and blew the trumpet, saying, “Jehu is king!”
The company Jehu is in does not excel through Godliness. They call the messenger of Elisha, the man of God, who came to Jehu with a message from God, “this mad fellow”. Men with such an appraisal are the friends of Jehu.
Jehu does not protect the messenger either. In his reply, he connects to their appraisal. He even calls the man a man who only talks, by which he could mean empty or negative talk. With these words Jehu wants to finish it off. His comrades insist, however, because they don’t like his answer. They may mention the man a man who only talks, but they also know that he didn’t come just like that. He will certainly have brought an important message.
When Jehu tells them what the man has said and done, they suddenly change their minds. They do not judge the student prophet differently, but the message of that ‘talker’ is convenient for them They do not accept the word because they agree with God’s Word, but because they want it. For them Jehu is immediately the king they want. They all take off their garment and place it under him. Then they say that Jehu has become king.
14 - 26 Jehu Kills Jehoram
14 So Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi conspired against Jehoram. Now Jehoram with all Israel was defending Ramoth-gilead against Hazael king of Aram, 15 but King Jehoram had returned to Jezreel to be healed of the wounds which the Arameans had inflicted on him when he fought with Hazael king of Aram. So Jehu said, “If this is your mind, [then] let no one escape [or] leave the city to go tell [it] in Jezreel.” 16 Then Jehu rode in a chariot and went to Jezreel, for Jehoram was lying there. Ahaziah king of Judah had come down to see Jehoram. 17 Now the watchman was standing on the tower in Jezreel and he saw the company of Jehu as he came, and said, “I see a company.” And Jehoram said, “Take a horseman and send him to meet them and let him say, ‘Is it peace?’” 18 So a horseman went to meet him and said, “Thus says the king, ‘Is it peace?’” And Jehu said, “What have you to do with peace? Turn behind me.” And the watchman reported, “The messenger came to them, but he did not return.” 19 Then he sent out a second horseman, who came to them and said, “Thus says the king, ‘Is it peace?’” And Jehu answered, “What have you to do with peace? Turn behind me.” 20 The watchman reported, “He came even to them, and he did not return; and the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi, for he drives furiously.” 21 Then Jehoram said, “Get ready.” And they made his chariot ready. Jehoram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah went out, each in his chariot, and they went out to meet Jehu and found him in the property of Naboth the Jezreelite. 22 When Jehoram saw Jehu, he said, “Is it peace, Jehu?” And he answered, “What peace, so long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?” 23 So Jehoram reined about and fled and said to Ahaziah, “[There is] treachery, O Ahaziah!” 24 And Jehu drew his bow with his full strength and shot Jehoram between his arms; and the arrow went through his heart and he sank in his chariot. 25 Then [Jehu] said to Bidkar his officer, “Take [him] up and cast him into the property of the field of Naboth the Jezreelite, for I remember when you and I were riding together after Ahab his father, that the LORD laid this oracle against him: 26 ‘Surely I have seen yesterday the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons,’ says the LORD, ‘and I will repay you in this property,’ says the LORD. Now then, take and cast him into the property, according to the word of the LORD.”
Jehu does not oppose his appointment. He accepts the kingship his friends have chosen him to. He also immediately has his plan ready and together with the other captains he conspires against Jehoram, the king of Israel. By doing so, he makes them jointly responsible for his actions. He goes not only because the LORD has said it, but provides himself with the support of others. There is no question whatsoever to the LORD what He wants to happen. He does ask if, if it is really the will of the captains that he is king, they want to show it by making sure that his plan does not become known in Jezreel ahead of time.
In an in-between sentence (verses 14b-15a) it is still told that the wicked king Jehoram of Israel is in Jezreel and that he is there to be healed of the wounds he suffered in the war against the Syrians. That explains why Jehu wants to go to Jezreel. He wants to go there because there is the man he wants to kill first. Also Ahaziah king of Judah is there. He is on a sick visit to his uncle Jehoram.
The watchman on the watchtower of Jezreel sees the company of Jehu arriving and reports it in the city. Jehoram sends out a horseman to ask if it is peace. He may be referring to peace with the Syrians. Jehoram does not think that Jehu is on his way to kill him. When the horseman arrives and asks the king’s question for peace, Jehu answers how the man the man is thinking to ask that question. Does he not see that there is no peace in the kingdom as long as it is ruled by such a king? The man can better join him. That is what the messenger does. The same happens to a second messenger who is sent by Jehoram.
The watchman tells Jehoram of both the first and the second messenger that they did arrive at the company of Jehu, but that they did not return. Meanwhile, the company has also come closer. Now the watchman can see from Jehu’s style of driving that it is Jehu. Jehu drives furiously.
The question might arise whether it is wrong to carry out a command as quickly and well as possible. Yet that is not what this is all about. With all we know about Jehu, it seems that his sole purpose in driving fast is to become king as fast as possible. Doesn’t he have a wonderful reason in what the prophet said? Isn’t it wonderful to be able to carry out God’s judgment? Jehu loves to do that, but it’s a carnal pleasure with him.
This is how it can be when disciplining in the church. Discipline is necessary when there is openly sinned and it is not confessed. If, however, this discipline is carried out with an unseen pleasure, for example because it eliminates someone who obstructed our plans, the motive is purely carnal. In that case, we act in our own interest. We must always be aware that it is about the Name of the Lord. Otherwise we act in the power of the flesh, as Jehu does.
When Jehoram hears that the second rider has not returned, he and Ahaziah go to meet Jehu. Soon there are three kings together in Jezreel. They are drawn together as by a magnet and that even on Naboth’s land. There Jehoram himself now asks the question he had asked by both horsemen, the question of peace with the Syrians. In his answer Jehu does not talk about peace with the Syrians or not, but about the lack of peace among God’s people.
He also talks about the cause of the lack of that peace. The cause lies in the harlotries the witchcrafts of Jehoram’s mother Jezebel. The diagnosis is correct. How can there be peace among God’s people, as long as the disgusting and demonic influence of Jezebel is present and maintained? At the same time, the observation is businesslike. Nothing of the indignation of the prophets who share in the feelings of God’s heart’s sorrow can be heard.
When Jehoram discovers that Jehu is not an ally, but an opponent, he shouts “treachery” to Ahazia and flees. But Jehu is prepared for that. He draws his bow with his full strength and kills the fleeing Jehoram with one well-targeted arrow. The force with which the arrow is shot is emphasized. It reflects the inner attitude of Jehu. He must and will perform his task without failure. He knows intellectually that he is engaged in carrying out the judgment announced by God through Elijah (1Kgs 21:19-24).
We even hear from what Jehu quotes a peculiarity that we don’t read in the history written in 1 Kings 21. Here it appears that Naboth’s sons were also murdered by Jezebel and Ahab in order to take possession of their piece of land and to keep it. By also killing the sons there is no one who will be able to claim the land of Naboth, so Jezebel and Ahab will have argued.
27 - 29 Jehu Kills Ahaziah
27 When Ahaziah the king of Judah saw [this], he fled by the way of the garden house. And Jehu pursued him and said, “Shoot him too, in the chariot.” [So they shot him] at the ascent of Gur, which is at Ibleam. But he fled to Megiddo and died there. 28 Then his servants carried him in a chariot to Jerusalem and buried him in his grave with his fathers in the city of David. 29 Now in the eleventh year of Jehoram, the son of Ahab, Ahaziah became king over Judah.
When Ahaziah flees, Jehu orders him to kill. The actual death of Ahaziah took place some time later, because he fled to Megiddo. He is killed in the area of Samaria, not in the city of Samaria. Ahaziah is the son of the godless king Jehoram of Judah and Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab. Instead of distancing himself from Ahab’s wicked house, he seeks its friendship. Because of this he shares in the judgment that comes over the house of Ahab.
30 - 37 Jehu Kills Jezebel
30 When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard [of it], and she painted her eyes and adorned her head and looked out the window. 31 As Jehu entered the gate, she said, “Is it well, Zimri, your master’s murderer?” 32 Then he lifted up his face to the window and said, “Who is on my side? Who?” And two or three officials looked down at him. 33 He said, “Throw her down.” So they threw her down, and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall and on the horses, and he trampled her under foot. 34 When he came in, he ate and drank; and he said, “See now to this cursed woman and bury her, for she is a king’s daughter.” 35 They went to bury her, but they found nothing more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands. 36 Therefore they returned and told him. And he said, “This is the word of the LORD, which He spoke by His servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, ‘In the property of Jezreel the dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel; 37 and the corpse of Jezebel will be as dung on the face of the field in the property of Jezreel, so they cannot say, “This is Jezebel.”‘“
After Jehu killed Jehoram, he came into Jerusalem. There is Jezebel and to Jehu it is especially about her. When Jezebel hears that Jehu is coming, she dresses up. She paints her eyes and takes care of her hairstyle. Does she want to try to impress Jehu with her beauty? She must have known that her life was over. But instead of worrying about her soul, she is concerned about her body. That is also very much present today. It is dangerous to do a lot of physical care and neglect the care of the soul.
When she sees Jehu, she also speaks to him about peace. It is not a question of whether there is still peace to be made. It is more a statement that, as far as she is concerned, there is no peace for Jehu. She speaks to him as “Zimri, your master’s murderer”. The meaning seems to be as follows. Zimri became king by murder. However, he is king for only seven days, for after seven days of kingship, when he is cornered, he ends his life by suicide (1Kgs 16:8-10,15-18). By naming Jehu Zimri she says that things will not be better for him than for Zimri. She thinks he will only reign for a short time. She holds on to her own position.
Jehu does not answer her, he does not address her. He speaks to her officials and asks who is with him. His question is not who is on the side of the LORD, but who is on his side. He does not honor the Name of the LORD, but gathers people around himself. It should not be important to us who is on our side, but who is on the side of the Lord. It is not about who is with us (cf. Mk 9:38), but about who is with the Lord.
Jehu orders her to throw her out of the window. Then he tramples her under foot. He acts extremely despicable with her. This goes beyond hating evil. The way on which he judges her goes beyond what is appropriate. He is stricter than God. That he is totally insensate is shown by the fact that after having trampled Jezebel like this, he goes inside to eat and drink.
Then he seems to be getting weak again and wants to give a funeral to “this cursed woman” because she is a king’s daughter. However, God did not speak of a burial. The men he sent out to bury her, come back with the announcement that there is nothing left of Jezebel except a few bones. She has been eaten by the dogs. Suddenly Jehu knows it again. He remembers what Elijah said. However, he does not allow himself to be corrected by it; it is more a conclusion. Her memory must simply disappear from Israel, she must not be remembered in any way.