Dave Burnette's Commentary

2 Kings Chapter 2

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Jeremiah
Date Penned: (586 BC)
Overview: A History of the Kings of Israel and Judah (c 1-25)
Theme: A Divided Kingdom (c 1-17)
Message: God Takes Elijah to Heaven (v 1-25)

2 Kings 2 Commentary 

(2:3) The Group - The group referred to as the "sons of the prophets that were at Bethel" was similar to a school for spiritual leaders. Groups like this were gatherings of disciples around a recognized prophet, such as Elijah or Elisha. These gatherings of prophets, located throughout the country, helped to stem the tide of spiritual and moral decline in the nation. The young prophets at Bethel were eyewitnesses to the succession of the prophetic minister from Elijah to Elisha.

(2:8) The Cloak of Elijah - Elijah's mantle (or cloak) was a symbol of his authority as a prophet.

(2:9-12) Elisha's Motives - God granted Elisha's request because Elisha's motives were pure. His main goal was not to be better or more powerful than Elijah but to accomplish more for God. If our motives are pure, we don't have to be afraid to ask great things from God. When we ask God for great power or ability, we need to examine our desires and get rid of any selfishness we find. To have the Holy Spirit's help, we need only ask with the right motives.

(2:9) A Double Portion - When Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah's spirit, he was asking to be Elijah's successor in the prophetic ministry. Deuteronomy 21:17 helps explain Elisha's request. According to custom, a firstborn son would receive a double portion of his father's inheritance (see the note on Genesis 25:31-34). Elisha was asking to be Elijah's successor, or heir-the one who would continue Elijah's work as leader of the prophets. But the decision to grant this request was up to God. Elijah only told Elisha how he would know if his request had been granted.

(2:11) Honor is Given to Elijah - Elijah was taken to heaven without dying. He is the second person mentioned in Scripture to have this honor. Enoch was the first (Genesis 5:21-24). The other prophets may not have seen God take Elijah, or they may have had a difficult time believing what they had seen. In either case, they wanted to search for Elijah (2 Kings 2:16-18). Finding no physical trace of him would confirm what had happened and strengthen their faith. The only other person taken to heaven in bodily form was Jesus after his resurrection from the dead (Acts 1:9).

(2:13) Elisha the Prophet - These three incidents were testimonies to Elisha's commission as a prophet of God. They are recorded to demonstrate Elisha's new power and authority as Israel's chief prophet under God's ultimate power and authority.

(2:22) Elisha Pleads with God - Elisha did not strike the water out of disrespect for God or Elijah. He was pleading with God to confirm his appointment as Elijah's successor. This persuasive miracle probably reminded the group of prophets about Moses at the Red Sea (Exodus 14:15-22) and Joshua crossing the Jordan River (Joshua 3:7-17). Both of these miracles gave clear confirmation that God was doing mighty work through these men.

(2:23) God Sends a Judgement of Bears - It is highly unlikely that this was a group of children; most likely it was a mob of young men. Because they were from Bethel, the religious center of idolatry in the northern kingdom, they probably were warning Elisha not to speak against their immoral pagan worship practices, as Elijah had done. They were not merely teasing Elisha about his baldness but showing severe disrespect for his message and God's power. They may also have jeered because of their disbelief in the chariot of fire that had taken Elijah. When Elisha cursed them, he did not call out the bears himself. God sent the bears as a judgment for the young men's callous unbelief.

(2:24) Respecting the Man of God - These young men jeered at God's messenger and paid for it with their lives. Making fun of religious leaders has been a popular sport through the ages. To take a stand for God often contradicts the popular beliefs of unbelievers and leaves leaders vulnerable to verbal abuse. When we are cynical and sarcastic toward a religious leader, we are in danger of mocking not just the person but also the spiritual message. While we are not to condone any sin that leaders commit, we need to pray for them, not laugh at them. True leaders--those who follow God--need to be heard with respect and encouraged in their ministry.


Dave Burnette's Life Application

A Double Portion


Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter, making application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Today we continue the book of 2 Kings with Chapter 2.  In our text, we see Elijah taken to heaven and the beginning of Elisha's Ministry as he purifies the water and faces scrutiny. What catches my eye today is how Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah's prophetic power. God granted this request because Elisha's motives were pure. Elisha was not after doing more than Elijah but to accomplish more for the Lord. In applying, we can see that God will grant our petitions if our motives are pure and decisive according to the Lord's Will. No obstacle is too significant; No river is too wide. How about you? Are you facing a roadblock that requires a Double Portion of God's prophetic power? Let us learn from our text today and the life of Elisha to realize that no matter what we face in this world, the "Double Portion" of our Lord's Power is available to us if we call upon the Lord with a pure heart to do His Will.


2 Kings 2

2 Kings 2

 1And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.

 2And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel.

 3And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.

 4And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho.

 5And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.

 6And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the LORD hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on.

 7And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan.

 8And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground.

 9And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.

 10And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.

 11And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

 12And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.

 13He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan;

 14And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.

 15And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him.

 16And they said unto him, Behold now, there be with thy servants fifty strong men; let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master: lest peradventure the Spirit of the LORD hath taken him up, and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley. And he said, Ye shall not send.

 17And when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, Send. They sent therefore fifty men; and they sought three days, but found him not.

 18And when they came again to him, (for he tarried at Jericho,) he said unto them, Did I not say unto you, Go not?

 19And the men of the city said unto Elisha, Behold, I pray thee, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord seeth: but the water is naught, and the ground barren.

 20And he said, Bring me a new cruse, and put salt therein. And they brought it to him.

 21And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there, and said, Thus saith the LORD, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land.

 22So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake.

 23And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.

 24And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.

 25And he went from thence to mount Carmel, and from thence he returned to Samaria.