Synopsis of the Books of the Bible, by John Nelson Darby, [1857-62], at sacred-texts.com
The following commentary covers Chapters 13 through 17.
Walking in the steps of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, the house of Jehu was no protection to Israel against Hazael. But the compassion of Jehovah raised up a deliverer. To His pitiful heart there was yet space for long-suffering towards His people. Elisha, at the point of death, puts the king in the way of deliverance; but his heart was unable to embrace it in its full extent. Still, in the reign of Jehoash, the Syrians were driven back into their own land; and Jeroboam, although walking in the evil ways of the son of Nebat, was able to recover all the original possessions of Judah; for God had pity on Israel, and had seen that their affliction was very bitter.
Alas! when it is not the faith of God's people that is the source of their strength, one enemy destroyed only makes room for another. The Assyrian soon appears on the scene. Elisha being dead, Israel-deprived of this last link with God-soon fall into anarchy and ruin. The Assyrian invades the land. Israel, leagued with the king of Syria, turn their last efforts against Judah. A sorrowful picture of the people of God! The alliance between Syria and Israel brings out the king of Judah's unfaithfulness, and entangles him in the snares of the Assyrian.
Elisha, already dead, restores life to a corpse which was being hastily buried on account of an invasion of the Moabites. His history, unto the end, is stamped with the character of the power of life [See Note #1]. This resurrection, wrought by contact with the bones of Elisha, appears to me to give the comforting instruction, that, while apparently lost to Israel, the true prophet is still the vessel and guardian of all their hopes; and that when Israel is, as it were, dead and forgotten, He will, after all, restore them to life in a manner as unexpected as powerful.
We come now to the connection of Judah with the Assyrian, fruit of the inward demoralisation of the former. Ahaz plunged into the worst idolatry. Full of worldly wisdom, he seeks in the new power of Assyria a support against enemies nearer home, and he succeeds to his ruin. We see again here the nullity of the high priest in presence of the king. It appears that the people had lost their confidence in the house of David, as had the latter in the faithfulness and goodness of the Lord.
Hoshea, although less wicked than his predecessors, concludes the list of kings, whom the patience of God had borne with in Israel. God thought of His people; and now there was no more hope of them. They were not even a vessel fit to contain the election of God, to whom He made Himself known. Brought under subjection to the king of Assyria, Hoshea had sought help from Egypt. After the king of Assyria had put him in prison, Samaria and all Israel could not long resist. The people of God are carried into captivity, and dispersed among the cities of Assyria and Media; and the land which belonged to Jehovah, and which had been given in possession to Israel, is peopled by strangers, sent thither by the king of Assyria.
In the prophecies of Hosea the two great principles of God's dealings may be seen, one of which has been set before us in Elisha (the connection between the resurrection of the man about to be buried, and the first Verse I shall quote, is remarkable), namely, redemption from the power of death (Hos 13:14); and the governmental dealings of God (Hos 14:9). But how the prophet labours to adapt his voice to the foolishness of Israel, and to make it reach the conscience of this erring people! He comes after Elisha's death. Elisha's presence among them, and the subsequent testimony of Hosea, bring out the marvellous patience and kindness of God towards them. Hosea gives us more than the internal history-he unfolds the causes of the judgments, although God may have sometimes interposed for restoration, and may have appeared to smite when the king was less wicked than ordinarily. In the language of the prophets we find what the people really were in the sight of God. The promise of their restoration, and in principle even that of our present blessing, is found there also.
The history of that which happened after foreign nations were brought in shews the strange confusion which had taken place in Israel. It is one of the former priests of Jeroboam's system who comes to instruct them in the fear of Jehovah. Together with this they worship their own gods. A medley, hateful to the Lord, is the consequence. In the same way that, in spite of their unfaithfulness, Jehovah retained His sovereign rights over the people, we find Him also vindicating His claim to the land after the people were driven out. He maintains these rights for ever.
To understand all this part of the history which we are considering, the prophets Hosea and Amos must be read, and Isaiah 7 and 8 (compare Hos 5:13; Hos 8:4; Hos 11:5; Amo 5:27; and also is, 26; Hos 13:10-11); but, to understand well God's dealings, the whole of these prophecies should be read. I have only quoted the passages which mark the connection with the history; but the internal condition of the people is much more seen in the prophets than even in the books which instruct us as to their public history.