For the Love of God, Volume 1/October 28

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By D.A. Carson About Devotional Life
Chapter 303 of the book For the Love of God, Volume 1


2 Kings 9; 1 Timothy 6; Hosea 1; Psalm 119:73-96

IT IS WORTH COMPARING the anointing of David (1 Sam. 16) with the anointing of Jehu (2 Kings 9)—or, more precisely, it is worth comparing not only the two anointings, but what follows from the two anointings.

The story of David is the better known (1 Sam.). When Samuel anointed him to be king, David was still a young man, a youthful shepherd. The anointing changed nothing of his immediate situation. In due course he gained heroic dimensions by defeating Goliath and then maturing into an efficient and loyal officer of King Saul. When Saul became embittered and paranoid, forcing David to hide in the hill country of Judea, David seemed a long way from the throne. Providence gave him two startling opportunities to kill Saul, but David restrained himself; indeed, he even restrained some of his own men who were quite prepared to do the deed that David would not touch. His reasoning was simple. Though he knew he would be king, he also knew that at the moment Saul was king. The same God who had anointed David had first installed Saul. To kill Saul was therefore to kill the Lord’s anointed. He was unwilling to grasp the inheritance that the Lord himself had promised him, if the price to be paid was an immoral act. God had promised him the throne; God would first have to vacate it of its current incumbent, for David would not stoop to intrigue and murder. This was one of David’s finest hours.

How different is Jehu! When he is anointed, he is assigned the task of punishing and destroying the wicked household of Ahab. But he waits for no providential sign: as far as he is concerned, his anointing is incentive enough to embark immediately on a bloody insurrection. Moreover, for all his pious talk about wiping out the idolatry of the wretched household of Ahab (e.g., 9:22), his own heart is betrayed by two evil realities. First, he not only assassinates the current incumbent of the throne of Israel, but when he has the opportunity he kills Ahaziah, the king of Judah as well (9:27-29), not sanctioned by the prophet, however. Did Jehu perhaps entertain visions of a restored, united kingdom, brought together by assassination and military power? Second, although Jehu reduced the power of Baal worship, he promoted other forms of idolatry no less repugnant to God (10:28-31). Unlike David, he was not “a man after God’s own heart” (cf. 1 Sam. 13:14). Far from it: “He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam, which he had caused Israel to commit” (10:31).

The lesson is important. Not even divine prophecy frees a person from the obligations of morality, integrity, and loyal and obedient faith in God. The end does not justify the means.

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