From Ramoth-Gilead to Jezreel was more than one day’s march; about the mid-way between them the river Jordan must be crossed. We may suppose Jehu to have marched with all possible expedition, and to have taken the utmost precaution to prevent the tidings from getting to Jezreel before him; and, at length, we have him within sight first, and then within reach, of the devoted king.
I. Joram’s watchman discovers him first at a distance, him and his retinue, and gives notice to the king of the approach of a company, whether of friends or foes he cannot tell. But the king (impatient to know what is the matter, and perhaps jealous that the Syrians, who had wounded him, had traced him by the blood to his own palace, and were coming to seize him) sent first one messenger, and then another, to bring him intelligence, 2 Kgs. 9:17-19. He had scarcely recovered from the fright he was put into in the battle, and his guilty conscience put him into a continual terror. Each messenger asked the same question: “Isa. it peace? are you for us or for our adversaries? Do you bring good tidings or bad?” Each had the same answer: What hast thou to do with peace? Turn thee behind me, 2 Kgs. 9:18, 19. As if he had said, “It is not to thee, but to him that sent thee, that I will give answer; for thy part, if thou consult thy own safety, turn thee behind me, and enlist thyself among my followers.” The watchman gave notice that the messengers were taken prisoners, and at length observed that the leader of this troop drove like Jehu, who it seems was noted for driving furiously, thereby discovering himself to be a man of a hot eager spirit, intent upon his business, and pushing forward with all his might. A man of such a violent temper was fittest for the service to which Jehu was designated. The wisdom of God is seen in the choice of proper instruments to be employed in his work. But it is not much for any man’s reputation to be known by his fury. He that has rule over his own spirit is better than the mighty. The Chaldee paraphrase gives this a contrary sense: The leading is like that of Jehu, for he leads quietly. And, it should seem, he did not come up very fast, for then there would not have been time for all this that passed. And some think he chose to march slowly, that he might give Joram time to come out to him, and so dispatch him before he entered the city.
II. Joram himself goes out to meet him, and takes Ahaziah king of Judah along with him, neither of them equipped for war, as not expecting an enemy, but in haste to have their curiosity satisfied. How strangely has Providence sometimes ordered it, that men have been in haste to meet their ruin when their day has come to fall.
1. The place where Joram met Jehu was ominous: In the portion of Naboth the Jezreelite, 2 Kgs. 9:21. The very sight of that ground was enough to make Joram tremble and Jehu triumph; for Joram had the guilt of Naboth’s blood fighting against him and Jehu had the force of Elijah’s curse fighting for him. The circumstances of events are sometimes so ordered by divine Providence as to make the punishment answer to the sin as face answers to face in a glass.
2. Joram’s demand was still the same: “Isa. it peace, Jehu? Isa. all well? Dost thou come home thus flying from the Syrians or more than a conqueror over them?” It seems, he looked for peace, and could not entertain any other thought. Note, It is very common for great sinners, even when they are upon the brink of ruin, to flatter themselves with an opinion that all is well with them, and to cry peace to themselves.
3. Jehu’s reply was very startling. He answered him with a question: What peace canst thou expect, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel (who, though queen dowager, was in effect queen regent) and her witchcrafts are so many? See how plainly Jehu deals with him. Formerly he durst not do so, but now he had another spirit. Note, Sinners will not always be flattered; one time or other, they will have their own given them, Ps. 36:2. Observe, (1.) He charges upon him his mother’s wickedness, because he had at first learned it and then with his kingly power protected it. She stands impeached for whoredom, corporal and spiritual (serving idols and serving them with the very acts of lewdness), for witchcraft likewise, enchantments and divinations, used in honour of her idols; and these multiplied, the whoredoms and the witchcrafts many; for those that abandon themselves to wicked courses know not where they will stop. One sin begets another. (2.) Upon that account he throws him off from all pretensions to peace: “What peace can come to that house in which there is so much wickedness unrepented of?” Note, The way of sin can never be the way of peace, Isa. 57:21. What peace can sinners have with God, what peace with their own consciences, what good, what comfort, can they expect in life, in death, or after death, who go on still in their trespasses? No peace so long as sin is persisted in; but, as soon as it is repented of and forsaken, there is peace.
4. The execution was done immediately. When Joram heard of his mother’s crimes his heart failed him; he presently concluded the long-threatened day of reckoning had now come, and cried out, “There is treachery, O Ahaziah! Jehu is our enemy, and it is time for us to shift for our safety.” Both fled, and, (1.) Joram king of Israel was slain presently, 2 Kgs. 9:24. Jehu dispatched him with his own hands. The bow was not drawn at a venture, as that which sent the fatal arrow through the joints of his father’s harness, but Jehu directed the arrow between his shoulders as he fled (it was one of God’s arrows which he has ordained against the persecutor, Ps. 7:13), and it reached to his heart, so that he died upon the spot. He was now the top branch of Ahab’s house, and therefore was first cut off. He died a criminal, under the sentence of the law, which Jehu, the executioner, pursues in the disposal of the dead body. Naboth’s vineyard was ha 3980 rd by, which put him in mind of that circumstance of the doom Elijah passed upon Ahab, “I will requite thee in this plat, said the Lord (2 Kgs. 9:25, 26), for the blood of Naboth himself, and for the blood of his sons,” who were either put to death with him as partners in his crime, or secretly murdered afterwards, lest they should bring an appeal, or find some way to avenge their father’s death, or break their hearts for the loss of him, or (his whole estate being confiscated, as well as his vineyard) lose their livelihoods, which was in effect to lose their lives. For this the house of Ahab must be reckoned with; and that very piece of ground which he, with so much pride and pleasure, had made himself master of at the expense of the guilt of innocent blood, now became the theatre on which his son’s dead body lay exposed a spectacle to the world. Thus the Lord is known by the judgment which he executeth. Higgaion. Selah. (2.) Ahaziah king of Judah was pursued, and slain in a little time, and not far off, 2 Kgs. 9:27, 28. [1.] Though he was now in Joram’s company, he would not have been slain but that he was joined with the house of Ahab both in affinity and in iniquity. He was one of them (so he had made himself by his sins) and therefore he must fare as they fared. Jehu justly construed his commission as extending to them. Yet, [2.] Perhaps he would not at this time have fallen with them if he had not been found in company with them. It is a dangerous thing to associate with evil-doers; we may be entangled both in guilt and misery by it.