Jehu, then his son Jehoahaz, and then Jehoash served as kings over Israel. “Jehoash son of Jehoahaz began to rule over Israel in the thirty-seventh year of King Joash’s reign in Judah. He reigned in Samaria sixteen years. But he did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam son of Nebat had led Israel to commit” (II Kings 13:10-11, NLT).
True to His Word, God allowed Jehu’s son and grandson to rule over Israel, but both continued to do evil. However, Jehoash seemed to have a soft spot in his heart for the prophet Elisha. You may recall that it was Elijah who confronted Ahaziah, king of Israel, who had sought the god of Ekron, Baal-zebub, to see whether or not he would recover from the injuries he sustained in a fall through some latticework in his palace.
Elijah informed Ahaziah that his lack of faith in the Lord and his turning to a false god would surely result in his death. And just as Elijah had said, Ahaziah never left his bed, but died there – you can read the entire account in Second Kings 1.
In First Kings 19:16, God instructs Elijah to anoint Jehu as king of Israel. After Elijah is taken into heaven (Second Kings 2), Elisha steps into his shoes – or more literally, his cloak. Later, in Second Kings 9:1, Elisha sends one of the younger prophets to once again anoint Jehu king of Israel. It was after this second anointing that Jehu acted and took over the throne.
With all that background under our belts, let’s return to Jehoash. “When Elisha was in his last illness, King Jehoash of Israel visited him and wept over him” (II Kings 13:14a). Jehoash realized the seriousness of Elisha’s sickness and was devastated.
“Elisha told him, ‘Get a bow and some arrows.’ And the king did as he was told. Elisha told him, ‘Put your hand on the bow,’ and Elisha laid his own hands on the king’s hands. Then he commanded, ‘Open that eastern window,’ and he opened it. Then he said, ‘Shoot!’ So he shot an arrow. Elisha proclaimed, ‘This is the Lord’s arrow, an arrow of victory over Aram, for you will completely conquer the Arameans at Aphek.’ Then Elisha died and was buried” (II Kings 13:15-17, 20a).
“King Hazael of Aram had oppressed Israel during the entire reign of King Jehoahaz. But the Lord was gracious and merciful to the people of Israel, and they were not totally destroyed. He pitied them because of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And to this day He still has not completely destroyed them or banished them from His presence” (II Kings 13:22-23).
Our Heavenly Father has such immense love and mercy. As John tells us, “God is love” (I John 4:16b). Even when we deserve death, total separation from Him, He pities us and covers our sins with the precious blood of His Son if only we call on His Name. Don’t give up on anyone lost person you’re praying for; as long as they’re breathing, the Holy Spirit can still speak to his heart.
“King Hazael of Aram died, and his son Ben-hadad became the next king. Then Jehoash son of Jehoahaz recaptured from Ben-hadad son of Hazael the towns that had been taken from Jehoash’s father, Jehoahaz. Jehoash defeated Ben-hadad on three occasions, and he recovered the Israelite towns” (II Kings 13:24-25). Three times, just as Elisha had said – see Second Kings 13:19.
“When Jehoash died, he was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel. Then his son Jeroboam II became the next king” (II Kings 13:13).
Love. Compassion. Jehoash may not have been the kind of king he should have been, but his sorrow over Elisha’s illness and death was genuine and important enough to be noted. I believe it was that love and compassion that prompted the Lord to extend His mercy to Jehoash and the people of Israel.
“A good character is the best tombstone. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.” (Charles H. Spurgeon)