2 Kings 6 – 2019-03-18
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- Bible Text:2 Kings 6:1-33 (ESV)
1 Now the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, “See, the place where we dwell under your charge is too small for us. 2 Let us go to the Jordan and each of us get there a log, and let us make a place for us to dwell there.” And he answered, “Go.” 3 Then one of them said, “Be pleased to go with your servants.” And he answered, “I will go.” 4 So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. 5 But as one was felling a log, his axe head fell into the water, and he cried out, “Alas, my master! It was borrowed.” 6 Then the man of God said, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, he cut off a stick and threw it in there and made the iron float. 7 And he said, “Take it up.” So he reached out his hand and took it.
8 Once when the king of Syria was warring against Israel, he took counsel with his servants, saying, “At such and such a place shall be my camp.” 9 But the man of God sent word to the king of Israel, “Beware that you do not pass this place, for the Syrians are going down there.” 10 And the king of Israel sent to the place about which the man of God told him. Thus he used to warn him, so that he saved himself there more than once or twice.
11 And the mind of the king of Syria was greatly troubled because of this thing, and he called his servants and said to them, “Will you not show me who of us is for the king of Israel?” 12 And one of his servants said, “None, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom.” 13 And he said, “Go and see where he is, that I may send and seize him.” It was told him, “Behold, he is in Dothan.” 14 So he sent there horses and chariots and a great army, and they came by night and surrounded the city.
15 When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16 He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18 And when the Syrians came down against him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, “Please strike this people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Elisha. 19 And Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” And he led them to Samaria.
20 As soon as they entered Samaria, Elisha said, “O Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they may see.” So the Lord opened their eyes and they saw, and behold, they were in the midst of Samaria. 21 As soon as the king of Israel saw them, he said to Elisha, “My father, shall I strike them down? Shall I strike them down?” 22 He answered, “You shall not strike them down. Would you strike down those whom you have taken captive with your sword and with your bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master.” 23 So he prepared for them a great feast, and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the Syrians did not come again on raids into the land of Israel.
24 Afterward Ben-hadad king of Syria mustered his entire army and went up and besieged Samaria. 25 And there was a great famine in Samaria, as they besieged it, until a donkey’s head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and the fourth part of a kab of dove’s dung for five shekels of silver. 26 Now as the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried out to him, saying, “Help, my lord, O king!” 27 And he said, “If the Lord will not help you, how shall I help you? From the threshing floor, or from the winepress?” 28 And the king asked her, “What is your trouble?” She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.’ 29 So we boiled my son and ate him. And on the next day I said to her, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him.’ But she has hidden her son.” 30 When the king heard the words of the woman, he tore his clothes—now he was passing by on the wall—and the people looked, and behold, he had sackcloth beneath on his body— 31 and he said, “May God do so to me and more also, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat remains on his shoulders today.”
32 Elisha was sitting in his house, and the elders were sitting with him. Now the king had dispatched a man from his presence, but before the messenger arrived Elisha said to the elders, “Do you see how this murderer has sent to take off my head? Look, when the messenger comes, shut the door and hold the door fast against him. Is not the sound of his master’s feet behind him?” 33 And while he was still speaking with them, the messenger came down to him and said, “This trouble is from the Lord! Why should I wait for the Lord any longer?”
- Reflection & Application:6:1–7 A lost axe-head. The picture of the company of prophets becomes a little clearer in this story. They lived together as a community under Elisha’s leadership. (The crucial phrase in v 1 reads lit. ‘the place where we dwell in your presence’.) There seem to have been such communities at Bethel, Jericho and Gilgal (2 Ki. 2:3, 5, 15–18; 4:38), but it is not clear which of these, if any, is the subject of this narrative, or whether Elisha had equally strong ties with all of them. It would be wrong to think of them as monastic communities, like those which flourished in the Judean wilderness during the fourth to sixth centuries AD, as it is clear that the prophets married and raised families (4:1). In the present story we see a community building a new settlement to accommodate its growing numbers—a sign that it was flourishing under Elisha’s leadership.
Elisha’s action to retrieve the sunken axe-head is as mysterious as his earlier healing of the Jericho spring and his removal of poison from the stew. Like those stories, it shows him to have been a man possessing extraordinary powers, powers not possessed by the other members of the prophetic community. Such powers were his because of his special status as a man of God (6). The cumulative effect of these strange tales is to suggest what this phrase means: he was not simply a pious man who served God but a man whose relationship with God was unique among the prophets of his time. Like Elijah earlier, he was in a very special sense God’s man for this moment in Israel’s history…
2 Kings 6:14-16
- Reflect on Elisha’s words “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them” in light of 1 John 4:4 and John 16:33.
1 John 4:4 (ESV)
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
John 16:33 (ESV)
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
2 Kings 6:22-23
- Reflect on Elisha’s action in light of Romans 12:17-21.
Romans 12:17–21 (ESV)
17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
- How do I react to those who are against me, or wish me harm, and how does this relate to my trust in God?
 Bimson, J. J. (1994). 1 and 2 Kings. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 367). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.