2 Kings 6:24-7:20; Acts 16:16-24; Psalms 143:1-6; Proverbs 30:5-6
OT: “Some time later, King Ben-hadad of Aram brought all his military units together and marched up and laid siege to Samaria. So there was a severe famine in Samaria, and they continued the siege against it until a donkey’s head sold for thirty-four ounces of silver, and a cup of dove’s dung sold for two ounces of silver… Elisha replied, “Hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Lord says: ‘About this time tomorrow at Samaria’s gate, six quarts of fine flour will sell for a half ounce of silver and twelve quarts of barley will sell for a half ounce of silver.’” Then the captain, the king’s right-hand man, responded to the man of God, “Look, even if the Lord were to make windows in heaven, could this really happen?” Elisha announced, “You will in fact see it with your own eyes, but you won’t eat any of it.” Now four men with a skin disease were at the entrance to the city gate. They said to each other, “Why just sit here until we die? If we say, ‘Let’s go into the city,’ we will die there because the famine is in the city, but if we sit here, we will also die. So now, come on. Let’s surrender to the Arameans’ camp. If they let us live, we will live; if they kill us, we will die.” So the diseased men got up at twilight to go to the Arameans’ camp. When they came to the camp’s edge, they discovered that no one was there, for the Lord had caused the Aramean camp to hear the sound of chariots, horses, and a large army. The Arameans had said to each other, “The king of Israel must have hired the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Egypt to attack us.” So they had gotten up and fled at twilight, abandoning their tents, horses, and donkeys. The camp was intact, and they had fled for their lives…The diseased men came and called to the city’s gatekeepers and told them, “We went to the Aramean camp and no one was there — no human sounds. There was nothing but tethered horses and donkeys, and the tents were intact.” The gatekeepers called out, and the news was reported to the king’s household… Then the people went out and plundered the Aramean camp. It was then that six quarts of fine flour sold for a half ounce of silver and twelve quarts of barley sold for a half ounce of silver, according to the word of the Lord. The king had appointed the captain, his right-hand man, to be in charge of the city gate, but the people trampled him in the gate. He died, just as the man of God had predicted when the king had come to him.” (2 Kings 6:24-25; 7:1-7, 10-11, 16-17 CSB)
From the end of 2 Kings chapter 2 up to this point in chapter 7, 2 Kings records the various ways that Elisha intervened in different peoples affairs and the miracles that he performed. The miracles of Elisha were much different than the miracles of Elijah before him. The miracles performed through Elijah were typically done strictly through Elijah and were amazing to behold. The miracles performed through Elisha were much different. They involved partnership from the people Elisha was ministering to… they required the people to hear what Elisha was saying, and trust his words enough to do what he was telling them to do. Sometime the things that Elisha had people do made no sense whatsoever: gathering a bunch of empty bottles, adding flour to a poisoned stew, adding salt to stagnant water, washing in the murky Jordan river, etc. When the people trusted and obeyed, the miracle was there waiting for them. This story is no different. Samaria was under siege for an extended time – to the point that people in the city reverted to cannibalism to survive. When King Joram was at the end of his rope, he finally went to Elisha. The word from the Lord through Elisha was so unbelievable that the king’s right-hand man scoffed at it in unbelief. The truth of the matter was that God was already working on their behalf. While King Joram was fretting in Samaria, God was spooking the Syrian camp to the point that they evacuated the area as fast as they could, leaving behind all of their supplies. God had provided everything that Samaria needed, but they didn’t even know it. When two homeless lepers discovered the truth and reported back to the king, even then he had trouble believing it – so he sent a team of trusted messengers to investigate. God is faithful to His word. When He says that He will provide, He will… and many times that provision is already on its way. We just have to trust His word and obey His word so that we can meet up with the provision. Sometimes the things that God asks us to do don’t make any sense – but if we obey, provision will be on the other side of our obedience waiting for us. We have the choice to trust and obey, or doubt and walk away.
Psalms: “Lord, hear my prayer. In your faithfulness listen to my plea, and in your righteousness answer me. Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one alive is righteous in your sight. For the enemy has pursued me, crushing me to the ground, making me live in darkness like those long dead. My spirit is weak within me; my heart is overcome with dismay. I remember the days of old; I meditate on all you have done; I reflect on the work of your hands. I spread out my hands to you; I am like parched land before you. Selah” (Psalms 143:1-6 CSB)
Just like the siege on Samaria was allowed by God to chastise the people of Israel and bring them back to a dependence on the Lord, God also allowed troubling times to come into King David’s life to bring about correction, humility, and dependence. Challenging situations are also tools, when we allow them to work in us instead of running away from them, that bring about our maturity and strengthen our faith in God. David wrote this psalm when he was going through one of those correcting and refining times. His strength had reached its limits… no longer could he independently muscle his way through. Instead of giving himself over to hopelessness, he chose to remember God’s faithfulness in times past and spread out his hands to God in dependent surrender. 9 months into this pandemic, I imagine most people have gotten to the point that David got to: spiritually weak and overcome with dismay. So now that we have reached the limits of our own faculties, we have a choice. Do we let these challenging times have their full work in us… do we spread out our hands to the Lord and trust Him completely and allow Him to strengthen us and refine us, or do we keep fighting against this year in our own strength and fall deeper into confusion, anger, bitterness, and despair? As for me, I like David, choose the former.
Proverbs: “Every word of God is pure; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Don’t add to his words, or he will rebuke you, and you will be proved a liar.” (Proverbs 30:5-6 CSB)
God’s words are truth… God’s words are true… God’s words are pure. We don’t need to shape His words into something that is comfortable for us to accept. We need to shape ourselves (by His grace) to conform to His words. It is in our trust and obedience that God becomes a shield and refuge. The more we reject His words, the more we subject ourselves to the consequences of being uncovered by Him. Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey.