Who wrote it?
The book of 2 Kings doesn’t name its author. The tradition is that the prophet Jeremiah was the author of both 1 and 2 Kings.
When(ish) was it written?
The book of 2 Kings, along with 1 Kings, was likely written between 560 and 540 BC.
Why was it written?
The book of 2 Kings is a sequel to 1 Kings. It continues the story of the kings over the divided kingdom (Israel and Judah). The book of 2 Kings concludes with the final overthrow and deportation of the people of Israel and Judah to Assyria and Babylon, respectively.
Some Key Verses
[quote] And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had practiced.
– 2 Kings 17:7-8 [/quote]
[quote] Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.
– 2 Kings 22:1-2 [/quote]
[quote] And the Lord sent against him bands of the Chaldeans and bands of the Syrians and bands of the Moabites and bands of the Ammonites, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by his servants the prophets.
– 2 Kings 24:2 [/quote]
[quote] Yet the Lord was not willing to destroy Judah, for the sake of David his servant, since he promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons forever.
– 2 Kings 8:19 [/quote]
A Quick Summary
2 Kings depicts the downfall of the divided kingdom. Prophets continue to warn the people that the judgment of God is at hand, but they will not repent. The kingdom of Israel is repeatedly ruled by wicked kings, and, even though a few of Judah’s kings are good, the majority of them lead the people away from worship of the Lord. These few good rulers, along with God’s prophets, cannot stop the nation’s decline. The northern kingdom of Israel is eventually destroyed by the Assyrians, and about 136 years later the southern kingdom of Judah is destroyed by the Babylonians.
There are three prominent themes present in 2 Kings. First, the Lord will judge His people when they disobey and turn their backs on Him. The Israelites’ unfaithfulness was reflected in the evil idolatry of the kings and resulted in God exercising His righteous wrath against their rebellion. Second, the word of the true prophets of God always comes to pass. Because the Lord always keeps His word, so too are the words of His prophets always true. Third, the Lord is faithful. He remembered His promise to David (2 Samuel 7:10-13), and, despite the disobedience of the people and the evil kings who ruled them, the Lord did not bring David’s family to an end.
Jesus uses the stories of the widow of Zarephath from 1 Kings and Naaman in 2 Kings to illustrate the great truth of God’s compassion toward those the Jews deemed unworthy of God’s grace—the poor, the weak, the oppressed, tax collectors, Samaritans, Gentiles. By citing the examples of a poor widow and a leper, Jesus showed Himself to be the Great Physician who heals and ministers to those in the greatest need of divine sovereign grace. This same truth was the basis of the mystery of the body of Christ, His Church, which would be drawn from all levels of society, male and female, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 3:1-6).
Many of the miracles of Elisha foreshadowed those of Jesus Himself. Elisha raised the Shunammite woman’s son (2 Kings 4:34-35), healed Naaman of leprosy (2 Kings 5:1-19), and multiplied loaves of bread to feed a hundred people with some left over (2 Kings 4:42-44).
What does this mean?
God hates sin and He will not allow it to continue indefinitely. If we belong to Him, we can expect His discipline when we disobey Him. A loving Father corrects His children for their benefit and to prove that they indeed belong to Him. God may at times use unbelievers to bring correction to His people, and He gives us warning before delivering judgment. As Christians, we have His Word to guide us and warn us when we go astray from His path. Like the prophets of old, His Word is trustworthy and always speaks truth. God’s faithfulness to His people will never fail, even when we do.
The stories of the widow and the leper are examples for us in regard to the Body of Christ. Just as Elisha had pity on these from the lowest levels of society, we are to welcome all who belong to Christ into our churches. God “shows no partiality” (Acts 10:34), and neither should we.
- Take a few minutes to review the Scripture from 2 Kings 4:1-37 and Hebrews 11:35 – 12:3. What verses or ideas stand out to you from these passages? What questions do you have? What would you like to remember and apply to your life?
- Are you facing immediate challenges, or maybe struggling with longer term unmet desires? Do you find yourself wondering if anyone sees or cares? How could the story of Elisha be an encouragement? How might the Gospel apply?
- What do you already have, that God might be able to use? Time? Resources? Abilities?
- Is God asking you to “do something” by faith, to “pour out your oil,” as the woman did in II Kings? Or maybe He’s asking you to “do nothing” by faith…to simply wait patiently? Which do you find more difficult?
- Read Hebrews 12:1-3. Be reminded that the promise of Jesus is “something better,” and that His endurance on the cross shows that He does see and He does care. How does that reminder give you strength to endure obstacles in your own life?