Posted 04 Nov 2013
2 Kings 13:14-19 (NLT)
When Elisha was in his last illness, King Jehoash of Israel visited him and wept over him. “My father! My father! I see the chariots and charioteers of Israel!” he cried. Elisha told him, “Get a bow and some arrows.” And the king did as he was told. Elisha told him, “Put your hand on the bow,” and Elisha laid his own hands on the king’s hands.
Then he commanded, “Open that eastern window,” and he opened it. Then he said, “Shoot!” So he shot an arrow. Elisha proclaimed, “This is the Lord’s arrow, an arrow of victory over Aram, for you will completely conquer the Arameans at Aphek.
Then he said, “Now pick up the other arrows and strike them against the ground.” So the king picked them up and struck the ground three times. But the man of God was angry with him. “You should have struck the ground five or six times!” he exclaimed. “Then you would have beaten Aram until it was entirely destroyed. Now you will be victorious only three times.”
Interpretation – The king KNEW that the arrow he shot out of the window had been proclaimed as the Lord’s arrow, & since Elisha told him to do something else with the remaining arrows perhaps he SHOULD have realise that Elisha’s prophecy wasn’t over yet! If the king had thought that then perhaps he would have paid more attention to what Elisha asked him to do: strike the ground with the remaining arrows.
The “obvious” thing for the King to do (in his own mind) might have been to strike the ground three times, but that wasn’t the SMART thing to do! To be fair to him, he didn’t know what was “riding” on his actions – the number of times he would be able to defeat the Aramean army! But since he DID know that Elisha was in “prophecy mode”, perhaps he should have been more careful & thoughtful in his actions. And the king HAD JUST HEARD Elisha proclaim “This is the Lord’s arrow, an arrow of victory over Aram” so he should have realised that “victory over Aram” was in the offing!
Application – What can we learn from the kings error?
1) Don’t ASSUME we know the importance of an apparently senseless or “small” act of obedience which we are asked to perform. There could be a LOT more “riding” on our act of obedience than we realise.
2) Don’t disregard a prophecy, even if it doesn’t SEEM to relate to us – it might turn out to be central to our lives, careers, future, etc in the end! King Jehoash discovered that… the hard way!
3) Actively look for, & pay close attention to, what the Lord God is “saying” to us. That might be through a reading of the Bible, or else by a thought in our minds, or a word someone says to us, or various other means.
4) If we believe God (through a prophet) has told us to do something, then it would be WISE & PRUDENT to do the thing, & keep doing it, until He tells us to stop! King Jehoash STOPPED doing the thing he’d been told to do, which was to strike the ground with arrows, after only doing that three times. We need to keep on “striking the ground with arrows” (I use that metaphorically here) over & over again JUST IN CASE an great deal more is at stake than we realise… better to be safe than sorry!
What do you think? How would you interpret the story of King Jehoash’s visit with the prophet Elisha?
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