Here is a curse on the youths of Bethel, enough to destroy them; it was not a curse causeless, for it was Elisha’s character, as God’s prophet, that they abused. They bade him “go up,” reflecting on the taking up of Elijah into heaven.
The prophet acted by Divine impulse. If the Holy Spirit had not directed Elisha’s solemn curse, the providence of God would not have followed it with judgment. The Lord must be glorified as a righteous God who hates sin, and will reckon for it.
Let young persons be afraid of speaking wicked words, for God notices what they say. Let them not mock at any for defects in mind or body; especially it is at their peril, if they scoff at any for well doing.
Let parents that would have comfort in their children, train them up well, and do their utmost best to drive out the foolishness that is bound up in their hearts. And what will be the anguish of those parents, at the day of judgment, who witness the everlasting condemnation of their offspring, occasioned by their own bad example, carelessness, or wicked teaching!
Heb. na’ar, a child from the age of infancy to adolescence. It generally implies youth, but not always, for the word is used of Isaac when 28 years old (Gen.22:5), of Joseph when 39 years old (Gen 41:12).
Here the little children were the infidel young men of Bethel who were worshippers of the golden calf instead of Jehovah. It was God who sent the bears, and we have to believe that the offenders were worthy of such judgment.
The term bald head had no special reference to lack of hair, according to some authorities; it signified a worthless fellow. It was a term of contempt. Here it was equal to blasphemy of God for the young men mocked Elisha as a prophet of Jehovah, in contemptuous allusion to (the translation of) Elijah, which they no doubt denied and made fun of. The idea seems to be: Go up ( be translated) like Elijah, you worthless fellow!