“Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
2 Kings 17:1–7; 12–18; 24–29; 33
IN the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah began Hoshea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel nine years. And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, but not as the kings of Israel that were before him. (Though best of all the kings of Israel, he was bad; and though bad, he was the best. God takes care to give men their due, and say all in their favour that can be said.)
3, 4 ¶ Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, and gave him presents. And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea: for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt, and brought no present to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year: therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison.
Egypt was the rival power to Assyria, and the petty kings were first on one side and then on the other, as they hoped to gain advantage.
5 ¶ Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years.
6 In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria. (This was the close of the guilty career of the kingdom of Israel.)
7 For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, and had feared other gods.
12 For they served idols, whereof the Lord had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing.
13–18 Yet the Lord testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets. Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the Lord their God. And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the Lord had charged them, that they should not do like them. And they left all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger. Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only.
24 ¶ And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel. (Thus the land was peopled by a motley company collected from several conquered nations. This was a part of the policy of the Assyrian monarch, in order to keep the nations his slaves.)
25 And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the Lord: therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which slew some of them. (Still has God some champions left: lions prove loyal if men are traitors.)
26 Wherefore they spake to the king of Assyria, saying, The nations which thou hast removed, and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land: therefore he hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay them.
27 Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the priests whom ye brought from thence; and let him teach them the manner of the God of the land.
They imagined that there was a deity for each country, and that Israel’s god must be appeased.
28, 29 Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Beth-el, and taught them how they should fear the Lord. Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt.
33 So they feared the Lord, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence. (And this mongrel religion is fashionable still: men try to serve God and Mammon, but in vain. God will have no rival, he will be all or nothing. May God deliver us from this Samaritan mixture. Amen.)
C. H. Spurgeon, The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1964), 398.