Peace only lasts between two trusted parties. Unfortunately, even when the king of Israel spared the Arameans, the Arameans decided to take advantage of their release. This is why the king of Israel is so upset with Elisha: if he just could have killed the Arameans when they were in his presence, the city of Samaria wouldn’t have been suffering as they were by the end of the chapter. It’s sad, though, that the king of Israel learned nothing from the first experience – or remembered nothing, apparently, from everything God had done through Elisha thus far. Instead of vowing to slice Elisha’s skull in two, the king of Israel could have just asked him, “Ask God to release us from this famine.” Done. What does it take for the king to place his trust in God completely??? One thing I think he’s struggling with is the fact that Elisha is a man, and the king sees God through this man. He even confuses Elisha with God himself! In verse 21, the king shouts to Elisha, “My father … .” It’s a strange thing to call a person, and it’s the first reference I’ve seen of it. The chapter leaves us not knowing what will happen to Elisha or the king, but I have a feeling it’s going to leave us in awe.
One thing I’ve been noticing about Elisha, and I read it in my notes yesterday, is that his “small” miracles are recorded alongside his “big” miracles. Elisha could save his powers to accomplish mighty tasks, but he uses them in everyday life, just as he did when he recovered the prophet’s ax head from the river. I just have to throw in that I bet that gathering was a fun time. Hard work, yes, but a fun time, nonetheless. Just imagine all those prophet guys clearing trees and marking ground and carrying on in conversation as they made stuff with their hands while hanging out down by the river. Man club day!!! I bet there were some campfires and good chats as they were building their new meeting place. And what a glorious celebration anyway; the group of prophets had grown so large that they needed somewhere bigger to meet!
And gosh, let’s not end this without addressing the poor woman who ate her son. This is what officially kicked off the king of Israel’s anger toward Elisha. At least we know he was a compassionate king. We shutter at the thought of eating our children or someone else’s for that matter and probably think that in this day and age, this situation would never arise or that you would never be so desperate as to eat your own. Let’s hope it never comes to that, but I am reminded that just across the border in Cambodia, less than 50 years ago, this very atrocity happened. I am reminded of a story our friend was telling us about the years after the war when he was a small child. He said he and his sister didn’t get to play outside very often and never by themselves because several children had gone missing, and some people believed that other people were eating them. The country was ravaged. There was barely any food. And people were desperate, just like the women in Samaria.
Writing prompt: desperation
What’s the most desperate thing you’ve ever done? Write about it, and compare it to either the women in Samaria’s struggles or another desperate act of which you’re reminded today.