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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 20–25
Verses 20–25

We must here attend,

I. The sepulchre of Elisha: he died in a good old age, and they buried him; and what follows shows, 1. What power there was in his life to keep off judgments; for, as soon as he was dead, the bands of the Moabites invaded the land—not great armies to face them in the field, but roving skulking bands, that murdered and plundered by surprise. God has many ways to chastise a provoking people. The king was apprehensive of danger only from the Syrians, but, behold, the Moabites invade him. Trouble comes sometimes from that point whence we least feared it. The mentioning of this immediately upon the death of Elisha intimates that the removal of God’s faithful prophets is a presage of judgments coming. When ambassadors are recalled heralds may be expected. 2. What power there was in his dead body: it communicated life to another dead body, 2 Kgs. 13:21. This great miracle, though very briefly related, was a decided proof of his mission and a confirmation of all his prophecies. It was also a plain indication of another life after this. When Elisha died, there was not an end of him, for then he could not have done this. From operation we may infer existence. By this it appeared that the Lord was still the God of Elisha; therefore Elisha still lived, for God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. And it may, perhaps, have a reference to Christ, by whose death and burial the grave is made to all believers a safe and happy passage to life. It likewise intimated that though Elisha was dead, yet, in virtue of the promises made by him, Israel’s interests, though they seemed quite sunk and lost, should revive and flourish again. The neighbours were carrying the dead body of a man to the grave, and, fearing to fall into the hands of the Moabites, a party of whom they saw at a distance near the place where the body was to be interred, they laid the corpse in the next convenient place, which proved to be Elisha’s sepulchre. The dead man, upon touching Elisha’s bones, revived, and, it is likely, went home again with his friends. Josephus relates the story otherwise, That some thieves, having robbed and murdered an honest traveller, threw his dead body into Elisha’s grave, and it immediately revived. Elijah was honoured in his departure. Elisha was honoured after his departure. God thus dispenses honours as he pleases, but, one way or other, the rest of all the saints will be glorious, Isa. 11:10. It is good being near the saints and having our lot with them both in life and death.

II. The sword of Joash king of Israel; and we find it successful against the Syrians. 1. The cause of his success was God’s favour (2 Kgs. 13:23): The Lord was gracious to them, had compassion on them in their miseries and respect unto them. The several expressions here of the same import call upon us to observe and admire the triumphs of divine goodness in the deliverance of such a provoking people. It was of the Lord’s mercies that they were not consumed, because he would not destroy them as yet. He foresaw they would destroy themselves at last, but as yet he would reprieve them, and give them space to repent. The slowness of God’s processes against sinners must be construed to the honour of his mercy, not the impeachment of his justice. 2. The effect of his success was Israel’s benefit. He recovered out of the hands of Benhadad the cities of Israel which the Syrians were possessed of, 2 Kgs. 13:25. This was a great kindness to the cities themselves, which were hereby brought from under the yoke of oppression, and to the whole kingdom, which was much strengthened by the reduction of those cities. Thrice Joash beat the Syrians, just as often as he had struck the ground with the arrows, and then a full stop was put to the course of his victories. Many have repented, when it was too late, of their distrusts and the straitness of their desires.