Vol. 5, No. 9
~ Page 15 ~
The king of Syria, in preparing to make war with Israel, was seeking a place to set up camp. When he settled on a tentative spot, it was -- much to the frustration of Syria's monarch -- already known by the Israelites. The king of Israel, you see, received his information from Elisha, who received his information from God (2 Kings 6:8-10).
The king of Syria -- with an assumed anti-supernatural bias -- wondered who was providing Israel with the intelligence. He thought there was a spy among his people (2 Kings 6:11). Somehow, his astute servants realized and reported to him that Elisha the prophet was the cause of Syria's failed secrecy (6:12). Being a man of authority and power, a man used to getting his way, he sent "horses and chariots and a great army" to Elisha's residence (6:13-14). He was apparently aiming to bring what he deemed foolishness to an end. Read the text:
Now the king of Syria was making war against Israel; and he consulted with his servants, saying, "My camp will be in such and such a place." Then the king of Israel sent someone to the place of which the man of God had told him. Thus he warned him, and he was watchful there, not just once or twice. Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was greatly troubled by this thing; and he called his servants and said to them, "Will you not show me which of us is for the king of Israel?" And one of his servants said, "None, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom." So he said, "Go and see where he is, that I may send and get him." And it was told him, saying, "Surely he is in Dothan." Therefore he sent horses and chariots and a great army there, and they came by night and surrounded the city (2 Kings 6:8-14 NKJV).
It is here that the story provides a powerful point for positive Christian living. Any who have ever felt alone in God's service will appreciate the upcoming turn of events. Any who have felt overwhelmed by the wickedness of the world; any who have loved and served the Lord only to be ridiculed by their fellow man; any who have diligently obeyed only to be awarded with temporal, yet ever so real, feelings of social abandonment will cherish the words of Elisha and the deeds of Almighty God.
The servant of Elisha shared the same sense of helplessness. He cried, "Alas, my master! What shall we do?" (6:15). Elisha's words of spiritual confidence ring in the ears of the empathetic, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them" (6:16). Before the servant had opportunity to question Elisha's sanity (not to mention his mathematical ability), Elisha prayed that the eyes of the young man would be opened. When they were, he saw a mountain full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (6:17). Then he knew several things that calmed his fear: He knew he was with the right company; he knew he was serving the right God and he knew he was never outnumbered as long as he kept that up.
What an encouragement to those who similarly feel overwhelmed by the odds against them: For missionaries in lands of hostile leaders and apathetic citizens, for Christians in families of antagonistic unbelievers, for persecuted souls in the midst of agonizing emptiness.
God is with us. He fights for us. As long as we're on his side, there are more of us than there are of them. As long as we're faithful to him, we win.
Those Syrians that day were blinded and brought into Israel's city, Samaria. There, their eyes were opened and they were surprised at their location. Mercifully, Elisha instructed that they be fed, and allowed to return to their people. It is interesting, though, that after all of these occurrences -- which must have been very frightful to them -- the Bible poignantly and simply records, "So the bands of Syrian raiders came no more into the land of Israel" (6:23). God does know how to handle a situation, doesn't he? It behooves us to trust his omniscient ways.