I. How it may be vindicated — As being " a man of like passions with us," he might err, and did err on some occasions ; but in this matter he did nothing that was in any wise un- becoming his high character. Consider, 1. The provocation given — [This was exceeding great. Ahaziah walked in all the steps of liis father Ahab : and this alone was abundantly sufficient to call forth the displeasure of God against him. But he had now been pouring contempt on God in a more than ordinary degree. He had fallen through a lattice, and the injury he had received was likely to prove fatal. Anxious to know what the event would be, he sent messengers to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron. By this conduct he declared, not to Israel only, but even to the heathen themselves, that there was no God in Israel able to solve the question, and that the god of Ekron, a city of the Philistines, was superior to him. What an insult was this to the God of Israel, " Whose name is, Jealous!" And what a ten- dency had this to confirm the heathen in their idolatry, and to justify them in their rejection of the true God ! Besides this, when Jehovah sent his servant Elijah to reprove the messengers, and to give them the information which they were going to seek, Ahaziah, instead of humbling himself for his offence, and preparing for his latter end, rose up in anger against the God of heaven and earth, and sent a band of soldiers to seize the Prophet, in order to wreak his vengeance on him. He knew that Elijah was a most distinguished prophet of Jehovah, and yet he determined to slay him, for no other reason than because he had delivered the message which God had sent him to deliver. What was this but to contend with God himself ? But further, when the whole band with their commander were consumed by fire from heaven, the enraged king did not at all relent, but sent another, and another band, as though he was determined never to relinciuish the unequal contest.