Scripture reading – 2 Kings 3; 2 Kings 4

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Our study of the second book of the Kings continues with the prophet Elisha, who took a prominent place in Israel as the prophet and man of God.

2 Kings 3

King Jehoram, Son of Ahab (2 Kings 3:1-7)

King Ahab’s death and his son Jerhoram’s ascension to the throne of Israel moved Mesha, the king of Moab, to challenge Israel’s demand for tribute (2 Kings 3:4-5). Facing his first challenge as the king of Israel, Jehoram numbered his soldiers and then solicited the help of Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, saying, “The king of Moab hath rebelled against me: wilt thou go with me against Moab to battle?” (2 Kings 3:7). Remembering the family ties the king of Judah shared with the king of Israel (for Jehoshaphat had taken a daughter of Ahab to be the wife of his son), the kings agreed to go to war, and Jehoshaphat said, “I will go up: I am as thou art, my people as thy people, and my horses as thy horses” (2 Kings 3:7).

The Confederacy Between the Kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom (2 Kings 3:8-11a)

The Confederacy Between the Kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom (2 Kings 3:8-11a)

Agreeing to attack Moab by going south to Edom and then northward on the west side of the Dead Sea through Edom, the king of Edom joined the kings of Israel and Judah to war against his northern neighbor (2 Kings 3:8). Yet, seven days into their journey, “there was no water for the host, and for the cattle that followed them” (2 Kings 3:9). Three armies having no water was a crisis only God could resolve, and Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah asked, “Is there not here a prophet of the Lord, that we may inquire of the Lord by him?” (2 Kings 3:11a)

The Prophet Elisha’s Counsel (2 Kings 3:11b-20)

A sad irony is that none of the kings sought the Lord’s blessing, and even Jehoshaphat, the godly king of Judah, failed to call a prophet for counsel before going to war. Like many who profess to be believers, it was only in the extremity of his need that the king of Judah sought the LORD.

A servant of Israel’s king answered the king of Judah and said, “Here is Elisha the son of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands of Elijah” (2 Kings 3:11). Though he was known as Elijah’s servant, Elisha was providentially provided the opportunity to give counsel to three kings who sought his wisdom: “So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him” (2 Kings 3:12).

Evidencing the faith and spirit of Elijah, Elisha rebuked Jehoram, the wicked king of Israel, and said, “What have I to do with thee? get thee to the prophets of thy father, and to the prophets of thy mother [i.e., the false prophets of Baal]. And the king of Israel said unto him, Nay: for the Lord hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab” (2 Kings 3:13).

Elisha then asserted that he would give the word of the LORD, not for Jehoram, but because he had respect for Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah (2 Kings 3:14). Sending for a musician, the prophet delivered a message from the LORD with a song, and instructed the kings, “Thus saith the Lord, Make this valley full of ditches” (2 Kings 3:16).

Though the kings would see no sign of rain, they were to prepare reservoirs to contain the waters the LORD promised He would send for the armies and their animals (2 Kings 3:17). Elisha promised their obedience and step of faith would be rewarded. The LORD would deliver the Moabites into the hands of the kings (2 Kings 3:18-19). The next morning, the kings of Judah, Israel, and Edom found that “the country was filled with water” (2 Kings 3:20).

 Elisha raised the same couple’s son from the dead (2 Kings 4:18-37).

The Battle with Moab (2 Kings 3:21-27)

When the Moabites heard that the kings of Judah, Israel, and Edom came to war against them, they summoned their warriors and prepared for battle (2 Kings 3:21). Early the following day, the Moabites looked across the desert, and “the sun shone upon the water, and the Moabites saw the water on the other side as red as blood” (2 Kings 3:22).

Reflecting the rising sun, the waters in the valley appeared as blood, and the Moabites mistakenly believed the kings’ armies were turned on one another (2 Kings 3:23). When they came upon the Israelite encampment, the soldiers of Israel rose against the Moabites, and drove them back to their cities (2 Kings 3:24-25).

The king of Moab, when he realized the battle was lost, chose seven hundred soldiers and made a failed attempt to break through a line of Edomite soldiers (2 Kings 3:26). In desperation, and apparently to appease his false gods, the king of Moab then sacrificed his eldest son, and the heir to his throne, “and offered him for a burnt offering upon the wall” (2 Kings 3:27).

While the act of human sacrifice was abhorrent to God’s people, it stirred the Moabites to a “great indignation against Israel.” Judah and Edom then “returned to their own land” (2 Kings 3:27).

2 Kings 4

Briefly, notice in 2 Kings 4 that four miracles validated Elisha’s ministry as the prophet of God to Israel.

First, a widow’s oil was multiplied so that she might pay her debts and save her sons from becoming bond slaves (2 Kings 4:1-7). A second miracle blessed a barren woman who served as Elisha’s benefactor, and she and her elderly husband were blessed with a son (2 Kings 4:8-17). A third miracle raised the same couple’s son from the dead (2 Kings 4:18-37).  Finally, Elisha turned a pot of poisoned pottage into one that nourished the “sons of the prophets” (2 Kings 4:38-44).

Closing thoughts –

While the miracles performed by Elisha gained him standing in Israel, they had no lasting effect on moving that nation to turn to the LORD. We are reminded that revival does not come by spectacular events or the performing of miracles but by repentance, brokenness, humility, and obedience.

2 Chronicles 7:14 14If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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