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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 1–10
Verses 1–10

We have here the anointing of Jehu to be king, who was, at this time, a commander (probably commander-in-chief) of the forces employed at Ramoth-Gilead, 2 Kgs. 9:14. There he was fighting for the king his master, but received orders from a higher king to fight against him. It does not appear that Jehu aimed at the government, or that he ever thought of it, but the commission given him was a perfect surprise to him. Some think that he had been anointed before by Elijah, whom God ordered to do it, but privately, and with an intimation that he must not act till further orders, as Samuel anointed David long before he was to come to the throne: but that it not at all probable, for then we must suppose Elijah had anointed Hazael too. No, when God bade him do these things he bade him anoint Elisha to be prophet in his room, to do them when he was gone, as God should direct him. Here is,

I. The commission sent.

1. Elisha did not go himself to anoint Jehu, because he was old and unfit for such a journey and so well known that he could not do it privately, could not go and come without observation; therefore he sends one of the sons of the prophets to do it, 2 Kgs. 9:1. They not only reverences him as their father (2 Kgs. 2:15), but observed and obeyed him as their father. This service of anointing Jehu, (1.) Had danger in it (1 Sam. 16:2), and therefore it was not fit that Elisha should expose himself, but one of the sons of the prophets, whose life was of less value, and who could do it with less danger. (2.) It required labour and was therefore fitter for a young man in his full strength. Let youth work and age direct. (3.) Yet it was an honourable piece of service, to anoint a king, and he that did it might hope to be preferred for it afterwards, and therefore, for the encouragement of the young prophets, Elisha employed one of them: he would not engross all the honours to himself, nor grudge the young prophets a share in them.

2. When he sent him, (1.) He put the oil into his hand with which he must anoint Jehu: Take this box of oil Solomon was anointed with oil out of the tabernacle, 1 Kgs. 1:39. That could not now be had, but oil from a prophet’s hand was equivalent to oil out of God’s house. Probably it was not the constant practice to anoint kings, but upon the disturbance of the succession, as in the case of Solomon, or the interruption of it, as in the case of Joash (2 Kgs. 11:12), or the translation of the government to a new family, as here and in the case of David; yet it might be used generally, though the scripture does not mention it. (2.) He put the words into his mouth which he must say (2 Kgs. 9:3)-- I have anointed thee king, and, no doubt, told him all the rest that he said, 2 Kgs. 9:7-10. Those whom God sends on his errands shall not go without full instructions. (3.) He also ordered him, [1.] To do it privately, to single out Jehu from the rest of the captains and anoint him in an inner chamber (2 Kgs. 9:2), that Jehu’s confidence in his commission might be tried, when he had no witness to attest it. His being suddenly animated for the service would be proof sufficient of his being anointed to it. There needed no other proof. The thing signified was the best evidence of the sign. [2.] To do it expeditiously. When he went about it he must gird up his loins; when he had done it he must flee and not tarry for a fee, or a treat, or to see what Jehu would do. It becomes the sons of the prophets to be quick and lively at their work, to go about it and go through it as men that hate sauntering and trifling. They should be as angels that fly swiftly.

II. The commission delivered. The young prophet did his business with despatch, was at Ramoth-Gilead presently, 2 Kgs. 9:4. There he found the general officers sitting together, either at dinner or in a council of war, 2 Kgs. 9:5. With the assurance that became a messenger from God, notwithstanding the meanness of his appearance, he called Jehu out from the rest, not waiting his leisure, or begging his pardon for disturbing him, but as one having authority: I have an errand to thee, O captain. Perhaps Jehu had some intimation of his business; and therefore, that he might not seem too forward to catch at the honour, he asked, To which of all us? that it might not be said afterwards he got it by speaking first, but they might all be satisfied he was indeed the person designed. When the prophet had him alone he anointed him, 2 Kgs. 9:6. The anointing of the Spirit is a hidden thing, that new name which none knows but those that have it. Herewith,

1. He invests him with the royal dignity: Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, whose messenger I am, in his name I have anointed thee king over the people of the Lord. He gives him an incontestable title, but reminds him that he was made king, (1.) By the God of Israel; from him he must see his power derived (for by him kings reign), for he must use it, and to him he must be accountable. Magistrates are the ministers of God, and must therefore act in dependence upon him and with an entire devotedness to him and to his glory. (2.) Over the Israel of God. Though the people of Israel were wretchedly corrupted, and had forfeited all the honour of relationship to God, yet they are here called the people of the Lord, for he had a right to them and had not yet given them a bill of divorce. Jehu must look upon the people he was made king of as the people of the Lord, not as his vassals, but God’s freemen, his sons, his first-born, not to be abused or tyrannized over, God’s people, and therefore to be ruled for him, and according to his laws.

2. He instructs him in his present service, which was to destroy all the house of Ahab (2 Kgs. 9:7), not that he might clear his own way to the throne, and secure to himself the possession of it, but that he might execute the judgments of God upon that guilty and obnoxious family. He calls Ahab his master, that the relation might be no objection. “He was thy master, and to lift up thy hand against his son and successor would be not only base ingratitude, but treason, rebellion, and all that is bad, if thou hadst not an immediate command from God to do it. But thou art under higher obligations to thy Master in heaven than to thy master Ahab. He has determined that the whole house of Ahab shall perish, and by thy hand; fear not: has not he commanded thee? Fear not sin; his command will justify thee and bear thee out: fear not danger; his command will secure and prosper thee.” That he might intelligently, and in a right manner, do this great execution on the house of Ahab, he tells him, (1.) What was their crime, what the ground of the controversy, and wherefore God had quarrel with them, that he might have an eye to that which God had an eye to, and that was the blood of God’s servants, the prophets and others, faithful worshippers, which they had shed, and which must now be required at the hand of Jezebel. That they were idolaters was bad enough, and merited all that was brought upon them; yet that is not mentioned here, but the controversy God has with them is for their being persecutors, not so much their throwing down God’s altars as their slaying his prophets with the sword. Nothing fills the measure of the iniquity of any prince or people as this does nor brings a surer or a sorer ruin. This was the sin that brought on Jerusalem its first destruction (2 Chron. 36:16) and its final one, Matt. 23:37, 38. Jezebel’s whoredoms and witchcrafts were not so provoking as her persecuting the prophets, killing some and driving the rest into corners and caves, 1 Kgs. 18:4. (2.) What was their doom. They were sentenced to utter destruction; not to be corrected, but to be cut off and rooted out. This Jehu must know, that his eye might not spare for pity, favour, or affection. All that belonged to Ahab must be slain, 2 Kgs. 9:8. A pattern is given him of the destruction intended, in the destruction of the families of Jeroboam and Baasha (2 Kgs. 9:9), and he is particularly directed to throw Jezebel to the dogs, 2 Kgs. 9:10. The whole stock of royal blood was little enough, and too little, to atone for the blood of the prophets, the saints and martyrs, which, in God’s account, is of great price.

The prophet, having done this errand, made the best of his way home again, and left Jehu alone to consider what he had to do and beg direction from God.