2 Kings 6-7
(He Intervenes)
April 17th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

The people then looted the camp of Aram. Food prices dropped overnight—a handful of meal for a shekel; two handfuls of grain for a shekel—God’s word to the letter!

- 2 Kings 7:16 (MSG)

Summary of Chapters

Today's reading takes place during the time of the divided kingdom. The Northern Kingdom, known as Israel, had separated from the Southern one, known as Judah many generations before the events in today's chapters. Both kingdoms also separated themselves from God, as they adopted the idols and practices of the nearby pagan nations. But God had provided prophets to warn the people of their missteps and to try to draw them nearer. Elijah had been the greatest of these and had served mainly in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Elijah had been replaced by Elisha, who had been granted twice the spirit of his mentor.

The genealogy of the kings of Israel are described in many of the chapters of 1 Kings and 2 Kings, but in today's reading the king's name is not mentioned. He is simply referred to as the king of Israel. Perhaps the reason is because the focal point in chapters 6-7 is the prophet Elisha, who is at the center of each story and at the center of various miracles, such as the ax head that floated to the top of the water when one of the other priests lost it in the Jordan. Elisha was also involved in the events that blinded and confused the army of Arameans, causing them to abandon their siege of Samaria, where the king of Israel had his residence. Elisha then advised the king to feed the army of his enemy and send them home.

On a subsequent occasion the fortress in Samaria was under siege again and the people were experiencing a severe famine. Elisha prophesied regarding a sudden end to the famine: "Elisha said, “Listen! God’s word! The famine’s over. This time tomorrow food will be plentiful—a handful of meal for a shekel; two handfuls of grain for a shekel. The market at the city gate will be buzzing (2 Kings 7:1 - MSG)." He was laughed at, but warned one of the leading scoffers that they would see it but not be able to enjoy it.

The departure of the Arameans on that occasion was first observed by the lowliest citizens of Samaria, a group of lepers who were forced to live outside of the city gates:

    And they rose up in the twilight, to go unto the camp of the Syrians: and when they were come to the uttermost part of the camp of Syria, behold, there was no man there.

    For the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host: and they said one to another, Lo, the king of Israel hath hired against us the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us.

    Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life.

    - 2 Kings 7:5-7 (KJV)

But God did not intervene with a miracle for Ben-Hadad, King of Aram or for the man who was king of Israel at that time, because both were evil. The captain of the king of Israel was trampled by his own people as they ran pell-mell to gather the booty.

Reflection and Application

God loves us so much that he may get involved in the small parts of our lives and also send guardian angels to protect us from dangerous situations. The idea of a lost ax head may seem trivial to modern people of our era, who could run down to the nearest hardware store or order one on Amazon.com for next day delivery. But in the days of Elisha the iron used for the ax was a valuable and precious commodity, that was handcrafted and not easily replaced. This context helps to explain the dismay expressed by the prophet who lost it, and justifies the involvement of Elisha.

Notice the wisdom and mercy demonstrated by Elisha, who suggested that the king of Israel should feed the army of his enemy. This counter-intuitive measure is consistent with advice we will see in Proverbs 25:21,22, which is quoted by the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:20.

    “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
        if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
    In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

    - Romans 12:20 (NIV)

When the Arameans prepared to attack Israel and Samaria they had no idea that they were going up against God, who allowed Elisha to hear their detailed plans and who blinded the Arameans during one of their attempted sieges. The LORD also revealed to Elisha his plan for defeating the Arameans during a subsequent siege so that the prophet could advise the king and his people.

Notice that the king of Israel and his officer had no respect for the words of Elisha when he shared this prophecy. The king blamed Elisha for the siege that they were experiencing at the hands of the people from Aram. The king's officer did not believe Elisha when he said that food would soon be available at a reasonable price, but he would not taste it. Chapter 7 closes with an emphasis on the fulfillment of this prophecy:

    Now the king had put the officer on whose arm he leaned in charge of the gate, and the people trampled him in the gateway, and he died, just as the man of God had foretold when the king came down to his house. It happened as the man of God had said to the king: “About this time tomorrow, a seah of the finest flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.”

    The officer had said to the man of God, “Look, even if the LORD should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?” The man of God had replied, “You will see it with your own eyes, but you will not eat any of it!” And that is exactly what happened to him, for the people trampled him in the gateway, and he died.

    - 2 Kings 7:17-19 (NIV)

In the traditional standard translations, the chapter ends just as noted above, but in the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in the caves of Qumran, there was an extra clause to further emphasize what Elisha had said: "for the people trampled him in the gateway, and he died, just as the man of God had said(1)."

The Dead Sea Scrolls are assumed to have been written in the first century A.D. by either Pharisees, Sadducees, or another group of priestly scribes, and then tucked away in a cave where they remained hidden until the mid-20th century. These scrolls were written in Hebrew and offer an interesting insight into the version of scripture that was used during the time when Jesus walked among men and women. They are consistent with the scriptures as we know them, but in some cases have minor variances, as shown above, or additional chapters, as we may see in other cases.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What is the most valuable thing that you ever dropped in water?
    2. What aspects of our lives would be too insignificant for God to get involved?
    3. What are some of the ways in which God has intervened in the details of your life to help you recover a lost item or protect you?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we know that you can get involved in the smallest area of our lives, if you chose to. Help us to seek your help.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    People who do not have enough to eat today


    (1) Abegg, Martin Jr; Flint Peter; and Ulrich, Eugene, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible HarperCollins, NY, NY, 1999, p 265

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: 2 Kings 8-10 (Jehu's Reign)

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