Elisha is spoiling the enemy’s plans. The Spirit reveals their plans and Elisha shares it with the king. Something has to be done about this!
When reading this story I was wondering what king Elisha was warning. I didn’t see him being over helpful with a king that was evil in the Lord’s sight. So I did a little Googling. Gotquestions.org tells me that he was prophesying during the reigns of Jehoram, Jehu, Jehoahaz and Joash.
I have a chart I got online some time ago. I searched for it again and can’t find it. I will upload it and put a link to it here so you can reference it too. In the chart it lists the last three kings as neutral; neither especially evil or good. We know they all kept the people of Israel away from God but some of them forsook the Baals. Following the links regarding the kings from Gotquestions.org it looks like Jehu was the best of them. He still continued with the idols king Jeroboam had set up but obeyed the Lord in other areas. He did forsake the Baals. I’m inclined to believe that this is the king Elisha was warning about the king of Syria’s plans.
So let’s get to the meat of our story. NOTHING is hidden from the Lord. And we don’t see EVERYTHING He has in store for us.
God was not ready yet for Israel to fall. He still held out hope to them. He knew what was coming but He wanted to give them every chance possible to turn away from sin. He did not want them falling into the hands of their enemies. So He told all their secrets to Elisha. Elisha then passed these on to the king if Israel.
There was a better relationship with Elisha and the king than there was with Elijah and Ahab. The king listened to Elisha instead of calling him an enemy. Imagine the different story if the king had refused to listen. There would also have been a much different outcome if Elisha didn’t want to warn the king because he judged him unworthy of God’s intervention. Both men had to be willing to listen and act on the information God provided.
I can certainly understand the frustration of the king of Syria. The first few times the king of Israel escaped his trap might have been chalked up to coincidence but not after time and time again of it happening. Today we would start sweeping the room for hidden microphones. In Elisha’s day a ‘traitor’ search was conducted.
I’m surprised that God allowed the Syrians to learn the truth. He could have kept them in the dark. But He let them know the whole truth about the leak but they wouldn’t be able to stop it. I wonder how the man found out about it. Was he spying on the king when he heard the news being relayed? Why didn’t he try and take Elisha out on his own since he knew the source of the problem. Maybe he did and it didn’t go well. All he was left with was telling the king of Syria where the leak was.
Elisha was not afraid of anything. I have no doubt that God warned him of the king of Syrian’s plans against him too.
“The king of Syria knows we have been talking. He plans to kill you but I won’t let that happen.”
Elisha whole heartedly trusted God to take care of the situation. God let him see his protection. I wonder if the horses and chariot that Elijah left in was in this contingent. Elisha shared this ‘insight’ with his servant who was afraid.
I’m blown away by Elisha’s restraint. He could have prayed that they fell on one another and killed themselves. But he chose to use confusion instead. And ended it with mercy. Elisha’s prayer for ‘blindness’ obscured him to the Syrians and confused them enough to follow wherever he led. It didn’t blind them so they saw nothing but darkness. They had no idea where he was leading them and were shocked when they were able to comprehend where they ended up. Right in the capital city of Israel’s northern kingdom. I wonder if they were surrounded by the king’s army when their eyes were finally opened. Can you imagine their surprise?
Israel’s king wanted to kill them but Elisha said no. “You shall not strike them down. Would you strike down those whom you have taken captive with your sword and bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master” (verse 22).
In the stories of battles won and lost that we have read I have seen a LOT of captives slain. In 2 Samuel 8 when David defeated Moab he had the people lie down on the ground in lines. Two lines were put to death where the third was made servants. When the children of Israel faced Moab with Moses and they brought back captive the women and children, EVERY male was killed and EVERY woman who had ever been intimate with a man was killed. The only survivors were the virgin girls. When David raided from Ziklag he didn’t leave ANY survivors.
I know there were reasons for these harsh lines but not so in today’s story. Maybe the attitude had changed over the years. I know it is different today than even in Elisha’s day. Is it possible that as God was showing mercy on Israel for their sin, Elisha was showing mercy on Syria? Neither earned that mercy by their actions. But where Israel wasn’t responding to God’s mercy, Syria responded to Elisha’s and Israel’s. “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” (verse 23). They were grateful for the mercy shown them. But it didn’t last. That is a story for another day.
There are two lessons taught today. The first is the glaringly obvious one “When God is for us it doesn’t matter the size of the enemy.” “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (verse 16). This applies today as surely as it did on that field around Dothan. God loves each and every one of His children and He will go to the mat for us.
The second lesson is to learn from your ‘lessons’ of mercy. When God shows us mercy it isn’t so we can run back out and do the same thing over again. He wants us to learn from the lesson. “See how close you came to destruction? Take a lesson from this and don’t do it again.” Even mercy ends when no lesson is learned. Just ask Israel and Judah. They came up against that ending.
Even when we fail to learn He doesn’t fail to love. Which is why He sends us so many other lessons to get our attention.
Father God, forgive me for not learning or keeping the lessons learned from mercy. I know I have gone back into the same sin more than once after receiving forgiveness and mercy. You still waited with arms spread wide calling me out AGAIN. THANK YOU! I know I’m not done learning but at least some of those lessons have sunk in. I PRAY I never need those lessons again.
THANK YOU that You are my protection and provision. Satan has NO CHANCE against You. You hedge me in and are a shield about me. I PRAY I don’t step from behind that hedge or shield through sin.