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cannot suppose that he woald have been so severe 18 to have cursed a number of little boys and girls, who were playing innocently in the streets, merely for observing the niked appearance of his head; and desiring him to pass on, and not disturb their mirthful sport: though even little children would have been deserving of rebuke and chastisement, fór such an expression, if their parents had taught them the reverence due to the aged; but if the inhabitants of Bethel brought up their children from their early infancy, to despise and scoff at the ministers: of the LORD, they certainly provoked God to send judgniebt upon themselves i and no circumstance could have afflicted these sinners more than having their little ones torn to pieces by a furious wild beasts since even wicked persons' Usually love their offspring. As for the poor chil. dren; death could not be an evil to them in such a case, büt'a mertyz since it did but remove them from a world where they were devoted to vice and impiety, into a state of perfect happiness. So that, whether those who were slain by the bears were young men or little children, the justice of God clearly appears, and the prophet is vindicated from the imputation of cruelty, May'the history of this dreadful visitatioti influence children and youthe to regulate their own conduct by it, both in relation to the respect which it becomes them to pay 'to persons, grown venerable by experience, and a good life ; and to the reverence which is due towards the ministers of God!
THE BEGINNING OF THE REIGN OF JEHORAM (CALLED
ALSO JORAM) KING OF 18RAEL.
From 2 Kings, Chan. iii.
Israel in Samaria, in the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah.
And he wrought evil in the sight of the LORD; but not like his father, and like his mother : for he put away the image of Baal that his father had made.
Nevertheless, he cleaved unto the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin ; he departed not therefrom: .
And Mesha king of Moab was a sheep master, and rendered unto the king of Israel an hundred thousand lambs, and an hundred thousand rams with the wool.
But it came to pass when Ahab was dead, that the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel..
And Jehoram sent to Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, saying, The king of Moab hath rebelled against me : wilt thou go with me against Moab to battle ? and he said, I will go up : I am as thou art, my people as thy
said, I wand my horses a way shall we go Of Edom
And he said, Which way shall we go up? and he an. swered, The way through the wilderness of Edom.
. So the king of Israel went, and the king of Judah, and the king of Edom, and they fetched a compass of seven days journey; and there was no water for the host, and for the cattle that followed them. .. .
And the king of Israel said, Alas, that the Lord hath called these three kings together to deliver them into the hand of Moab.
But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD, that we may enquire of the Lord by him? and one of the king of Israel's servants answered and said, Here is Elisha the son of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands of Elijah. .
And Jehoshaphat said, 'The word of the Lord is with him. So the king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat, and the king of Edom, went down to him.
And And Elisha said unto the king of Israel, What have "I to do with thee? get thee to the prophets of thy father, and to the prophets of thy mother. And the king of Israel said unto him, Nay : for the LORD hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab.
And Elisha said, As the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee. - But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass when the minstrel played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him.
And he said, Thus saith the Lord, Make this valley full of ditches.
For thus saith the Lord, Ye shall not see wind, nei. ther shall ye see rain, yet that valley shall be filled with water, that ye may drink, both ye and your cattle, and your beasts.
And this is but a light thing in the sight of the LORD : he will deliver the Moabites also into your hand.
And he shall smite every fenced city and every choice city, and shall fell every good tree, and stop all wells of water, and mar every good piece of land with stones.
And it came to pass in the morning, when the meatoffering was offered, that behold there came water by the way of Edom, and the country was filled with water.
And when all the Moabites heard that the kings were come up to fight against them, they gathered all that were able to put on armour, and upward, and stood in the border.
And they rose up early in the morning, and the sun shone upon the water, and the Moabites saw the water on the other sid as red as blood;
And they said, This is blood: che 'kings are surely slain, and they have smitten one another : now therefore Moab, to the spoil. . . . - And when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose up and smote the Moabites, so that they fed: before them; but they went forward smiting the Moabites, even in their country.
And they beat down the cities, and ob every good piece of land cast' every man his stone, and filled it : and they stopped all the wells of water, and felled all the good tree&: only in Kir-haraseth left they the stones there. of; howbeit, the slingers went about it, and smote it,
And when the king of Moab saw that the battle was too gore for him, he took with him 'seven hundred men that drew swords to break through even to the king of Edom : but they could not...?
Then he took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt offering upon the wall. And there was great indignation against Israel : and they departed from him, and returned to their own land.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.. The rebellion of the Moabites was mentioned in a for.. mer section ; but we do not find that Ahaziah made any attempt to reduce them, notwithstanding the tribute which the king of Moab paid was a considerable revenue to the crown. We may conclude, from the general tenour of Jehoshaphat's conduct, that he thought it his duty to assist the king of Israel in such a cause, as he had reason to think he had renounced, idolatry. The king of Edon, whose aid he required, was no more than a deputy under him. The plan, which Jehoshaphat proposed, ap: wpeared a very politic one ; but the execution of it brought
the the three kings into such distress, as nothing but the providence of God could deliver them from. The king of Israel began to reproach the LORD as the author of their misfortune ; but Jehoshaphat wisely and piously wished to enquire, by the mouth of some holy prophet, by what means they might be relieved in this unhappy situation, and whether the present enterprize was agreeable to the Divine will. .. . i We may suppose that Elisha attended this tedious march by the appointment of God, that he might prove by this counsels and direction, the chariot of Israel, and - the horsemen thereof, as Elijah had formerly been*. It is likely that there were many in this combined army to whom the prophet was known, though he kept himself concealed from the kings, till they should wish for his presence. · Elisha knowing that Jehoram was not reformed, though he had with interested views put away the image of Baal; he beheld him with a holy indignation, which so much disturbed his mind, that he required a musician - ito be sent for ; who, by playing on a harp, and singing i psalms, calmed the 'tumult of his soul. From this cir
eumstance we may judge, that it is proper for those who desire communion with God to keep their spirits quiet and serene, since they are not prepared even for prayer and praise till they can lift up their thoughts to heaven. Elisha was however guilty of no sin in his behaviour to Jehoram, as he kept his anger within due bounds, and dismissed it so soon.
The order which the prophet - gave to the suppliant kings, to make the valley full of ditches, was to try their faith and obedience. The supply of water, he foretold, which could not come by natural means,, was an earnest
* See Section Ixii.