476.) 2 Kings 11

February 28, 2011

The Boy King, Joash

2 Kings 11

(New International Version, ©2010)

Athaliah and Joash

1 When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family.

Athaliah was the daughter of wicked Ahab and Jezebel, and had been given to King Jehoram of Judah as a bride.  Both her husband and her son were kings of Judah.  New King Jehu had killed her mother and all of Ahab’s line, so Athaliah decided to return the favor and tried to kill all of David’s line.

2 But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram and sister of Ahaziah, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes, who were about to be murdered. She put him and his nurse in a bedroom to hide him from Athaliah; so he was not killed. 3 He remained hidden with his nurse at the temple of the LORD for six years while Athaliah ruled the land.

2 Chronicles 22:11 tells us that Jehosheba was the wife of Jehoiada, the high priest.  Josephus says that the child and his nurse were hidden in a room where spare mattresses were kept!

4 In the seventh year Jehoiada sent for the commanders of units of a hundred, the Carites and the guards and had them brought to him at the temple of the LORD. He made a covenant with them and put them under oath at the temple of the LORD. Then he showed them the king’s son. 5 He commanded them, saying, “This is what you are to do: You who are in the three companies that are going on duty on the Sabbath—a third of you guarding the royal palace, 6 a third at the Sur Gate, and a third at the gate behind the guard, who take turns guarding the temple— 7 and you who are in the other two companies that normally go off Sabbath duty are all to guard the temple for the king. 8 Station yourselves around the king, each of you with weapon in hand. Anyone who approaches your ranks is to be put to death. Stay close to the king wherever he goes.”

Jehoiada chose the Sabbath for the day of the coup, because that was the day when the guards changed their shifts and they could assemble two groups of guards at the temple at the same time without attracting attention.
–David Guzik

9 The commanders of units of a hundred did just as Jehoiada the priest ordered. Each one took his men—those who were going on duty on the Sabbath and those who were going off duty—and came to Jehoiada the priest. 10 Then he gave the commanders the spears and shields that had belonged to King David and that were in the temple of the LORD. 11 The guards, each with weapon in hand, stationed themselves around the king—near the altar and the temple, from the south side to the north side of the temple.

12 Jehoiada brought out the king’s son and put the crown on him; he presented him with a copy of the covenant and proclaimed him king.

King George VI on May 12, 1937, United Kingdom

Deuteronomy 17:18 says that the king should have his own copy of the Scriptures, and here we see that Joash got his. This is the basis for the British practice of presenting the monarch with a copy of the Bible during the coronation service.

They anointed him, and the people clapped their hands and shouted, “Long live the king!”

13 When Athaliah heard the noise made by the guards and the people, she went to the people at the temple of the LORD. 14 She looked and there was the king, standing by the pillar, as the custom was. The officers and the trumpeters were beside the king, and all the people of the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets. Then Athaliah tore her robes and called out, “Treason! Treason!”

Remember, the new king is her own grandson!

15 Jehoiada the priest ordered the commanders of units of a hundred, who were in charge of the troops: “Bring her out between the ranks and put to the sword anyone who follows her.” For the priest had said, “She must not be put to death in the temple of the LORD.” 16 So they seized her as she reached the place where the horses enter the palace grounds, and there she was put to death.

Her epitaph could be similar to this one from the Old West:

“He had six bullets but he needed seven.”

Or perhaps something on this order:

Erected to the memory of

John Macfarlane

Drowned in the Waters of Leith

By a few affectionate friends.

Or:

“Here’s all we have to say about her–
The world is better off without her.”

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17 Jehoiada then made a covenant between the LORD and the king and people that they would be the LORD’s people. He also made a covenant between the king and the people. 18 All the people of the land went to the temple of Baal and tore it down. They smashed the altars and idols to pieces and killed Mattan the priest of Baal in front of the altars.

Then Jehoiada the priest posted guards at the temple of the LORD. 19 He took with him the commanders of hundreds, the Carites, the guards and all the people of the land, and together they brought the king down from the temple of the LORD and went into the palace, entering by way of the gate of the guards. The king then took his place on the royal throne. 20 All the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was calm, because Athaliah had been slain with the sword at the palace.

21 Joash was seven years old when he began to reign.

Isaiah 11:6 (English Standard Version)

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.

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Music:

“I’m a Child of the King” sung by The Happy Goodmans.  Sorry, I just can’t help it.  Every so often I have to have some good old gospel music — and who better than the Goodmans?

_________________________

New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
The Boy King.    http://www.bibleschoolresources.net/southernkingdom/joashcrownedking-cp.gif
coronation Bible.     http://www.mauchlinevillage.co.uk/old_photos/coronation_bible.html
Joash crowned king.    http://lavistachurchofchrist.org/Pictures/Divided%20Kingdom%20Artwork/images/joash_crowned_king.jpg
tombstone.    http://www.spraypaintstencils.com/a-zlistings/tombstone-stencil.gif
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475.) 2 Kings 10

February 25, 2011

“The Destruction of the House of Ahab” by Michelangelo, 1511 (Sistine Chapel, Vatican)

2 Kings 10

(New International Version, ©2010)

Ahab’s Family Killed

1 Now there were in Samaria seventy sons of the house of Ahab. So Jehu wrote letters and sent them to Samaria: to the officials of Jezreel, to the elders and to the guardians of Ahab’s children.

These seventy descendants of Ahab are no doubt eager to keep the throne in the family!  And they are in the capital city; Jehu is not.

He said, 2 “You have your master’s sons with you and you have chariots and horses, a fortified city and weapons. Now as soon as this letter reaches you, 3 choose the best and most worthy of your master’s sons and set him on his father’s throne. Then fight for your master’s house.”

4 But they were terrified and said, “If two kings could not resist him, how can we?”

Jehu:  he who is to be feared.  He had already killed King Joram of Israel and King Ahaziah of Judah.

5 So the palace administrator, the city governor, the elders and the guardians sent this message to Jehu: “We are your servants and we will do anything you say. We will not appoint anyone as king; you do whatever you think best.”

6 Then Jehu wrote them a second letter, saying, “If you are on my side and will obey me, take the heads of your master’s sons and come to me in Jezreel by this time tomorrow.”

Now the royal princes, seventy of them, were with the leading men of the city, who were rearing them. 7 When the letter arrived, these men took the princes and slaughtered all seventy of them. They put their heads in baskets and sent them to Jehu in Jezreel.

After the despicable affair of Naboth’s vineyard, Elijah went to King Ahab and announced to him that every male of his descendants would be killed.  Ahab repented and God postponed the fulfillment of that promise until the time of Ahab’s son.

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8 When the messenger arrived, he told Jehu, “They have brought the heads of the princes.”

Then Jehu ordered, “Put them in two piles at the entrance of the city gate until morning.”

9 The next morning Jehu went out. He stood before all the people and said, “You are innocent. It was I who conspired against my master and killed him, but who killed all these? 10 Know, then, that not a word the LORD has spoken against the house of Ahab will fail. The LORD has done what he announced through his servant Elijah.” 11 So Jehu killed everyone in Jezreel who remained of the house of Ahab, as well as all his chief men, his close friends and his priests, leaving him no survivor.

This is one of the cases where the term “overkill” really does apply.  The prophet Hosea says so:

Hosea 1:4-5 (New Living Translation)

And the Lord said, “Name the child Jezreel, for I am about to punish King Jehu’s dynasty to avenge the murders he committed at Jezreel. In fact, I will bring an end to Israel’s independence.  I will break its military power in the Jezreel Valley.”

12 Jehu then set out and went toward Samaria. At Beth Eked of the Shepherds, 13 he met some relatives of Ahaziah king of Judah and asked, “Who are you?”

They said, “We are relatives of Ahaziah, and we have come down to greet the families of the king and of the queen mother.”

14 “Take them alive!” he ordered. So they took them alive and slaughtered them by the well of Beth Eked—forty-two of them. He left no survivor.

15 After he left there, he came upon Jehonadab son of Rekab, who was on his way to meet him. Jehu greeted him and said, “Are you in accord with me, as I am with you?”

“I am,” Jehonadab answered.

“If so,” said Jehu, “give me your hand.” So he did, and Jehu helped him up into the chariot. 16 Jehu said, “Come with me and see my zeal for the LORD.” Then he had him ride along in his chariot.

17 When Jehu came to Samaria, he killed all who were left there of Ahab’s family; he destroyed them, according to the word of the LORD spoken to Elijah.

Servants of Baal Killed

18 Then Jehu brought all the people together and said to them, “Ahab served Baal a little; Jehu will serve him much. 19 Now summon all the prophets of Baal, all his servants and all his priests. See that no one is missing, because I am going to hold a great sacrifice for Baal. Anyone who fails to come will no longer live.” But Jehu was acting deceptively in order to destroy the servants of Baal.

20 Jehu said, “Call an assembly in honor of Baal.” So they proclaimed it. 21 Then he sent word throughout Israel, and all the servants of Baal came; not one stayed away. They crowded into the temple of Baal until it was full from one end to the other. 22 And Jehu said to the keeper of the wardrobe, “Bring robes for all the servants of Baal.” So he brought out robes for them.

23 Then Jehu and Jehonadab son of Rekab went into the temple of Baal. Jehu said to the servants of Baal, “Look around and see that no one who serves the LORD is here with you—only servants of Baal.” 24 So they went in to make sacrifices and burnt offerings. Now Jehu had posted eighty men outside with this warning: “If one of you lets any of the men I am placing in your hands escape, it will be your life for his life.”

25 As soon as Jehu had finished making the burnt offering, he ordered the guards and officers: “Go in and kill them; let no one escape.” So they cut them down with the sword. The guards and officers threw the bodies out and then entered the inner shrine of the temple of Baal. 26 They brought the sacred stone out of the temple of Baal and burned it. 27 They demolished the sacred stone of Baal and tore down the temple of Baal, and people have used it for a latrine to this day.

“Demolition of the sacred stone of Baal” by Michelangelo, 1511 (Sistine Chapel, Vatican)

28 So Jehu destroyed Baal worship in Israel. 29 However, he did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit—the worship of the golden calves at Bethel and Dan.

He got rid of Baal, but he kept the golden calves.  Spurgeon says of Jehu here — “Hating one sin, he loved another.”

30 The LORD said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in accomplishing what is right in my eyes and have done to the house of Ahab all I had in mind to do, your descendants will sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.” 31 Yet Jehu was not careful to keep the law of the LORD, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam, which he had caused Israel to commit.

32 In those days the LORD began to reduce the size of Israel. Hazael overpowered the Israelites throughout their territory 33 east of the Jordan in all the land of Gilead (the region of Gad, Reuben and Manasseh), from Aroer by the Arnon Gorge through Gilead to Bashan.

34 As for the other events of Jehu’s reign, all he did, and all his achievements, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel?

35 Jehu rested with his ancestors and was buried in Samaria. And Jehoahaz his son succeeded him as king. 36 The time that Jehu reigned over Israel in Samaria was twenty-eight years.

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Music:

Time for something a little more uplifting than the deaths of kings and queens and false prophets!  Let’s sing about God!

“How Great Thou Art”  sung here by Daniel O’Donnell.

_________________________

New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
Michelangelo — Ahab.    http://www.christusrex.org/www1/sistine/16-Ahab.jpg
heads in baskets.     http://www.bible-topten.com/murder7.jpg
Michelangelo — Baal.    http://www.wga.hu/art/m/michelan/3sistina/8medalli/03_61ms.jpg

474.) 2 Kings 9

February 24, 2011

“Queen Jezebel being punished by Jehu” by Andrea Celesti

(New International Version, ©2010)

Jehu Anointed King of Israel

1 The prophet Elisha summoned a man from the company of the prophets

According to Jewish tradition, this young prophet was Jonah.

and said to him, “Tuck your cloak into your belt, take this flask of olive oil with you and go to Ramoth Gilead. 2 When you get there, look for Jehu son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi. Go to him, get him away from his companions and take him into an inner room. 3 Then take the flask and pour the oil on his head and declare, ‘This is what the LORD says: I anoint you king over Israel.’ Then open the door and run; don’t delay!”

The current king Joram is the son of Ahab; Ahab’s dynasty is about to come to an end.

4 So the young prophet went to Ramoth Gilead. 5 When he arrived, he found the army officers sitting together. “I have a message for you, commander,” he said.

“For which of us?” asked Jehu.

“For you, commander,” he replied.

6 Jehu got up and went into the house. Then the prophet poured the oil on Jehu’s head

Jehu was a commander in the army of Israel, under King Ahab and his son, King Joram. Jehu was previously anointed as a future king of Israel, who would overthrow the dynasty of Omri and Ahab (1 Kings 19:16-18).  Yet that was a long time previous to this, and now he is anointed again to show that the time of fulfillment of the previous prophecy was now at hand.  He was anointed, but was not to take the throne immediately.  Both Saul and David were anointed as King over Israel before they actually possessed the throne.
–David Guzik

and declared, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anoint you king over the LORD’s people Israel. 7 You are to destroy the house of Ahab your master, and I will avenge the blood of my servants the prophets and the blood of all the LORD’s servants shed by Jezebel. 8 The whole house of Ahab will perish. I will cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free. 9 I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah. 10 As for Jezebel, dogs will devour her on the plot of ground at Jezreel, and no one will bury her.’”

As my mother used to say, “What you put into the lives of others — comes back into your own.”  That is bad news for Ahab and Jezebel.

Psalm 7:14-16 (New Living Translation)

The wicked conceive evil;
they are pregnant with trouble
and give birth to lies.
They dig a deep pit to trap others,
then fall into it themselves.
The trouble they make for others backfires on them.
The violence they plan falls on their own heads.

Then he opened the door and ran.

11 When Jehu went out to his fellow officers, one of them asked him, “Is everything all right? Why did this maniac come to you?”

“You know the man and the sort of things he says,” Jehu replied.

12 “That’s not true!” they said. “Tell us.”

Jehu said, “Here is what he told me: ‘This is what the LORD says: I anoint you king over Israel.’”

13 They quickly took their cloaks and spread them under him on the bare steps. Then they blew the trumpet and shouted, “Jehu is king!”

Jehu Kills Joram and Ahaziah

14 So Jehu son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi, conspired against Joram. (Now Joram and all Israel had been defending Ramoth Gilead against Hazael king of Aram, 15 but King Joram had returned to Jezreel to recover from the wounds the Arameans had inflicted on him in the battle with Hazael king of Aram.) Jehu said, “If you desire to make me king, don’t let anyone slip out of the city to go and tell the news in Jezreel.” 16 Then he got into his chariot and rode to Jezreel, because Joram was resting there and Ahaziah king of Judah had gone down to see him.

17 When the lookout standing on the tower in Jezreel saw Jehu’s troops approaching, he called out, “I see some troops coming.”

“Get a horseman,” Joram ordered. “Send him to meet them and ask, ‘Do you come in peace?’”

18 The horseman rode off to meet Jehu and said, “This is what the king says: ‘Do you come in peace?’”

“What do you have to do with peace?” Jehu replied. “Fall in behind me.”

I have read a couple of different ways to interpret Jehu’s response:
1)  What difference does it make to you?  Why do you care?
2)  How can you talk peace when it is obviously time for war and revolt?

_________________________

The lookout reported, “The messenger has reached them, but he isn’t coming back.”

19 So the king sent out a second horseman. When he came to them he said, “This is what the king says: ‘Do you come in peace?’”

Jehu replied, “What do you have to do with peace? Fall in behind me.”

20 The lookout reported, “He has reached them, but he isn’t coming back either. The driving is like that of Jehu son of Nimshi—he drives like a maniac.”

My father used the expression “driving like Jehu” to describe anyone driving too fast!

21 “Hitch up my chariot,” Joram ordered. And when it was hitched up, Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah rode out, each in his own chariot, to meet Jehu. They met him at the plot of ground that had belonged to Naboth the Jezreelite. 22 When Joram saw Jehu he asked, “Have you come in peace, Jehu?”

“How can there be peace,” Jehu replied, “as long as all the idolatry and witchcraft of your mother Jezebel abound?”

Jehu is overthrowing the current king for the right reasons.

23 Joram turned about and fled, calling out to Ahaziah, “Treachery, Ahaziah!”

24 Then Jehu drew his bow and shot Joram between the shoulders. The arrow pierced his heart and he slumped down in his chariot. 25 Jehu said to Bidkar, his chariot officer, “Pick him up and throw him on the field that belonged to Naboth the Jezreelite. Remember how you and I were riding together in chariots behind Ahab his father when the LORD spoke this prophecy against him: 26 ‘Yesterday I saw the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons, declares the LORD, and I will surely make you pay for it on this plot of ground, declares the LORD.’ Now then, pick him up and throw him on that plot, in accordance with the word of the LORD.”

Jehu sees himself as fulfilling the word of the Lord against the house of Ahab.  And so, at last, Naboth receives justice.

27 When Ahaziah king of Judah saw what had happened, he fled up the road to Beth Haggan. Jehu chased him, shouting, “Kill him too!” They wounded him in his chariot on the way up to Gur near Ibleam, but he escaped to Megiddo and died there. 28 His servants took him by chariot to Jerusalem and buried him with his ancestors in his tomb in the City of David. 29 (In the eleventh year of Joram son of Ahab, Ahaziah had become king of Judah.)

So Jehu has killed the kings of both the Northern Kingdom/Israel and the Southern Kingdom/Judah.  All in a day’s work.

Jezebel Killed

30 Then Jehu went to Jezreel. When Jezebel heard about it, she put on eye makeup, arranged her hair and looked out of a window.

Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief.
–Jane Austen

31 As Jehu entered the gate, she asked, “Have you come in peace, you Zimri, you murderer of your master?”

32 He looked up at the window and called out, “Who is on my side? Who?” Two or three eunuchs looked down at him. 33 “Throw her down!” Jehu said.

So they threw her down, and some of her blood spattered the wall and the horses as they trampled her underfoot.

The desecration of her body shows their complete disrespect for her.

34 Jehu went in and ate and drank. “Take care of that cursed woman,” he said, “and bury her, for she was a king’s daughter.” 35 But when they went out to bury her, they found nothing except her skull, her feet and her hands. 36 They went back and told Jehu, who said, “This is the word of the LORD that he spoke through his servant Elijah the Tishbite: On the plot of ground at Jezreel dogs will devour Jezebel’s flesh. 37 Jezebel’s body will be like dung on the ground in the plot at Jezreel, so that no one will be able to say, ‘This is Jezebel.’”

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Music:

From Revelation 2:20, we learn that Jezebel’s name is used as a synonym for great evil:

Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.

From Wikipedia:

The name Jezebel came to be associated with false prophets, and further associated by the early 20th century with fallen or abandoned women. In Christian lore, a comparison to Jezebel suggested that a person was a pagan or an apostate masquerading as a servant of God.  By manipulation and/or seduction, she misled the saints of God into sins of idolatry and sexual immorality, sending them to hell.   In particular, Jezebel has come to be associated with promiscuity.  In modern usage, the name of Jezebel is sometimes used as a synonym for sexually promiscuous and sometimes controlling women.   In his two-volume Guide to the Bible (1967 and 1969), Isaac Asimov describes Jezebel’s last act: dressing in all her finery, make-up and jewelry, as deliberately symbolic, indicating her dignity, royal status and determination to go out of this life as a Queen.

From 1951, Frankie Laine sings “Jezebel.”

If ever the devil was born,
Without a pair of horns
It was you,
Jezebel, it was you.

If ever an angel fell,
Jezebel,
It was you.
Jezebel, it was you.

If ever a pair of eyes,
Promised paradise.
Deceiving me, grieving me,
Leavin’ me blue.
Jezebel, it was you.

If ever a devil’s plan,
Was made to torment man,
It was you,
Jezebel, it was you.

It would be better I had I never known,
A lover such as you.
Forsaking dreams and all,
For the siren call of your arms.

Like a demon, love possessed me,
You, obsessed me constantly.
What evil star is mine,
That my fate’s design,
Should be…. Jezebel?

If ever a pair of eyes,
Promised paradise.
Deceiving me, grieving me,
Leavin’ me blue.
Jezebel, it was you.

If ever a devil’s plan,
Was made to torment man,
It was you,
Night an’ day, every way.
Jezebel, Jezebel,
Jezebel.

_________________________

New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
Celesti.    http://www.wga.hu/art/c/celesti/qjezabel.jpg
A time for war . . .     http://images.wikia.com/memoryalpha/en/images/4/43/A_Time_for_War_A_Time_for_Peace_cover.jpg
Jehu riding his horse.    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_gjGEFAes7vA/ShQYPyGZ4ZI/AAAAAAAAGxI/5T05Jn1E0aM/s400/jehu+2.jpg
eye makeup.    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2654/3757478700_81d2ae79f2_o.jpg
Jezebel being pushed.     http://www.free-stories.net/images/jezebelbiblestory.jpg

473.) 2 Kings 8

February 23, 2011

“The Abbott Family Farm,” Scott Township, PA, painted by Austin Wooster in 1875

2 Kings 8

(New International Version, ©2010)

The Shunammite’s Land Restored

1 Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, “Go away with your family and stay for a while wherever you can, because the LORD has decreed a famine in the land that will last seven years.” 2 The woman proceeded to do as the man of God said. She and her family went away and stayed in the land of the Philistines seven years.

3 At the end of the seven years she came back from the land of the Philistines and went to appeal to the king for her house and land. 4 The king was talking to Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, and had said, “Tell me about all the great things Elisha has done.”

Some Bible commentators believe that this event may have happened before the events of chapter 5 and Gehazi contracting leprosy; other commentators wonder if perhaps Gehazi had been healed.

5 Just as Gehazi was telling the king how Elisha had restored the dead to life, the woman whose son Elisha had brought back to life came to appeal to the king for her house and land.

Gehazi said, “This is the woman, my lord the king, and this is her son whom Elisha restored to life.” 6 The king asked the woman about it, and she told him.

Then he assigned an official to her case and said to him, “Give back everything that belonged to her, including all the income from her land from the day she left the country until now.”

So the family farm can stay in the family.  As an Iowa farm girl myself, I am glad!

_________________________

Music:

“God Will Take Care of You.”  I can remember my mother singing this sweet song as she worked in the kitchen or the garden.  Here it is sung by Plumb (real name Tiffany Lee), a Christian music artist from Nashville.

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Hazael Murders Ben-Hadad

7 Elisha went to Damascus, and Ben-Hadad king of Aram was ill. When the king was told, “The man of God has come all the way up here,” 8 he said to Hazael, “Take a gift with you and go to meet the man of God. Consult the LORD through him; ask him, ‘Will I recover from this illness?’”

9 Hazael went to meet Elisha, taking with him as a gift forty camel-loads of all the finest wares of Damascus. He went in and stood before him, and said, “Your son Ben-Hadad king of Aram has sent me to ask, ‘Will I recover from this illness?’”

10 Elisha answered, “Go and say to him, ‘You will certainly recover.’ Nevertheless, the LORD has revealed to me that he will in fact die.” 11 He stared at him with a fixed gaze until Hazael was embarrassed. Then the man of God began to weep.

12 “Why is my lord weeping?” asked Hazael.

“Because I know the harm you will do to the Israelites,” he answered. “You will set fire to their fortified places, kill their young men with the sword, dash their little children to the ground, and rip open their pregnant women.”

13 Hazael said, “How could your servant, a mere dog, accomplish such a feat?”

How our perverse pride assists us in underestimating the evil we are capable of!

“The LORD has shown me that you will become king of Aram,” answered Elisha.

14 Then Hazael left Elisha and returned to his master. When Ben-Hadad asked, “What did Elisha say to you?” Hazael replied, “He told me that you would certainly recover.” 15 But the next day he took a thick cloth, soaked it in water and spread it over the king’s face, so that he died. Then Hazael succeeded him as king.

Jehoram King of Judah

King Jehoram of Judah lost some of his borderlands because he followed the evil ways of the kings of Israel.

16 In the fifth year of Joram son of Ahab king of Israel, when Jehoshaphat was king of Judah, Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat began his reign as king of Judah. 17 He was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. 18 He followed the ways of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for he married a daughter of Ahab. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD. 19 Nevertheless, for the sake of his servant David, the LORD was not willing to destroy Judah. He had promised to maintain a lamp for David and his descendants forever.

20 In the time of Jehoram, Edom rebelled against Judah and set up its own king. 21 So Jehoram went to Zair with all his chariots. The Edomites surrounded him and his chariot commanders, but he rose up and broke through by night; his army, however, fled back home. 22 To this day Edom has been in rebellion against Judah. Libnah revolted at the same time.

23 As for the other events of Jehoram’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? 24 Jehoram rested with his ancestors and was buried with them in the City of David. And Ahaziah his son succeeded him as king.

Ahaziah King of Judah

25 In the twelfth year of Joram son of Ahab king of Israel, Ahaziah son of Jehoram king of Judah began to reign. 26 Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem one year. His mother’s name was Athaliah, a granddaughter of Omri king of Israel. 27 He followed the ways of the house of Ahab and did evil in the eyes of the LORD, as the house of Ahab had done, for he was related by marriage to Ahab’s family.

2 Corinthians 6:14 (English Standard Version)

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

28 Ahaziah went with Joram son of Ahab to war against Hazael king of Aram at Ramoth Gilead. The Arameans wounded Joram; 29 so King Joram returned to Jezreel to recover from the wounds the Arameans had inflicted on him at Ramoth in his battle with Hazael king of Aram.

Then Ahaziah son of Jehoram king of Judah went down to Jezreel to see Joram son of Ahab, because he had been wounded.

_________________________

New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
Wooster.    http://www.abbott-lavalle.info/photos/farmpainting-572.jpg
Iowa map.    http://wwp.greenwichmeantime.com/images/usa/iowa.jpg
King Jehoram.     http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_tLPpH-a_EEE/SjUEcu9C3mI/AAAAAAAAElM/rOn52mQvUd8/s320/jehoram+of+judah.jpg
King Ahaziah’s family tree.     http://sites.google.com/site/kjvtoday/_/rsrc/1269507761018/home/translation-issues/forty-and-two-years-old-or-twenty-two-years-old-in-2-chronicles-222/Ahaziah.jpg

472.) 2 Kings 7

February 22, 2011

2 Kings 7

(New International Version, ©2010)

(Remember, the king has just complained that all the troubles of the nation — the military siege against them, the famine weakening them — are from the Lord.)

1 Elisha replied, “Hear the word of the LORD. This is what the LORD says: About this time tomorrow, a seah of the finest flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.”

After the king’s disbelief, Elisha gives the king good news of God’s mercy arriving soon!

2 The officer on whose arm the king was leaning said to the man of God, “Look, even if the LORD should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?”

As I have said before — often we think we are so smart, when it is really just simple disbelief.

“You will see it with your own eyes,” answered Elisha, “but you will not eat any of it!”

The Siege Lifted

3 Now there were four men with leprosy at the entrance of the city gate.

Lepers were not allowed into the city (Leviticus 13:45-46).  Jewish tradition says these four men were Gahazi and his three sons — the Gehazi who was given Naaman’s leprosy after Elisha had healed him.

They said to each other, “Why stay here until we die? 4 If we say, ‘We’ll go into the city’—the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.”

5 At dusk they got up and went to the camp of the Arameans. When they reached the edge of the camp, no one was there, 6 for the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, “Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!” 7 So they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents and their horses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives.

Proverbs 28:1 (New Living Translation)

The wicked run away when no one is chasing them,
but the godly are as bold as lions.

8 The men who had leprosy reached the edge of the camp, entered one of the tents and ate and drank.

Then they took silver, gold and clothes, and went off and hid them. They returned and entered another tent and took some things from it and hid them also.

9 Then they said to each other, “What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.”

10 So they went and called out to the city gatekeepers and told them, “We went into the Aramean camp and no one was there—not a sound of anyone—only tethered horses and donkeys, and the tents left just as they were.” 11 The gatekeepers shouted the news, and it was reported within the palace.

12 The king got up in the night and said to his officers, “I will tell you what the Arameans have done to us. They know we are starving; so they have left the camp to hide in the countryside, thinking, ‘They will surely come out, and then we will take them alive and get into the city.’”

This poor king is so in the habit of finding the negative that he just cannot see a good side!  He travels a road looking for potholes, rather than enjoying the scenery!  His limitation prevents him from understanding the real meaning of the message; he chooses to cling to his interpretation of the news, rather than the divine facts of the matter.

13 One of his officers answered, “Have some men take five of the horses that are left in the city. Their plight will be like that of all the Israelites left here—yes, they will only be like all these Israelites who are doomed. So let us send them to find out what happened.”

At least he has an adviser who can help him see a possibility here . . .

14 So they selected two chariots with their horses, and the king sent them after the Aramean army. He commanded the drivers, “Go and find out what has happened.” 15 They followed them as far as the Jordan, and they found the whole road strewn with the clothing and equipment the Arameans had thrown away in their headlong flight. So the messengers returned and reported to the king. 16 Then the people went out and plundered the camp of the Arameans. So a seah of the finest flour sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley sold for a shekel, as the LORD had said.

_________________________

Music:

Paul Wilbur sings a song that matches up beautifully with today’s story!  “The Shout of El-Shaddai” may have been what the Arameans heard!

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17 Now the king had put the officer on whose arm he leaned in charge of the gate, and the people trampled him in the gateway, and he died, just as the man of God had foretold when the king came down to his house. 18 It happened as the man of God had said to the king: “About this time tomorrow, a seah of the finest flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.”

19 The officer had said to the man of God, “Look, even if the LORD should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?” The man of God had replied, “You will see it with your own eyes, but you will not eat any of it!” 20 And that is exactly what happened to him, for the people trampled him in the gateway, and he died.

_________________________

New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
Isaiah verse.    http://i42.tinypic.com/2196mnq.jpg
lepers finding treasure in the empty tents.    http://www.biblical-art.com/extra/ownpub/public/pd156.jpg
pothole.    http://theexpiredmeter.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/pothole.jpg

471.) 2 Kings 6

February 21, 2011

1 John 4:4 (King James Version) — “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because GREATER IS HE THAT IS IN YOU, THAN HE THAT IS IN THE WORLD.”   Mixed media on canvas by Georgia artist Mark Lawrence.

2 Kings 6

(New International Version, ©2010)

An Axhead Floats

1 The company of the prophets said to Elisha, “Look, the place where we meet with you is too small for us. 2 Let us go to the Jordan, where each of us can get a pole; and let us build a place there for us to meet.”

Elisha’s School of the Prophets is growing and needs a bigger dorm!

And he said, “Go.”

3 Then one of them said, “Won’t you please come with your servants?”

“I will,” Elisha replied. 4 And he went with them.

They went to the Jordan and began to cut down trees. 5 As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron axhead fell into the water. “Oh no, my lord!” he cried out. “It was borrowed!”

This was a significant loss. Iron was certainly present at this time in Israel, but it was not common enough to be cheap.

6 The man of God asked, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float. 7 “Lift it out,” he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it.

from Morning and Evening
by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

GOD MAKES IMPOSSIBLE THINGS POSSIBLE

2 Kings 6:6 — The iron did swim.

The axe-head seemed hopelessly lost, and as it was borrowed, the honor of the prophetic band was likely to be imperilled, and so the name of their God to be compromised. Contrary to all expectation, the iron was made to mount from the depth of the stream and to swim; for things impossible with man are possible with God.

I knew a man in Christ but a few years ago who was called to undertake a work far exceeding his strength. It appeared so difficult as to involve absurdity in the bare idea of attempting it. Yet he was called thereto, and his faith rose with the occasion; God honored his faith, unlooked-for aid was sent, and the iron did swim.

Another of the Lord’s family was in grievous financial straits, he was able to meet all claims, and much more if he could have realized a certain portion of his estate, but he was overtaken with a sudden pressure; he sought for friends in vain, but faith led him to the unfailing Helper, and lo, the trouble was averted, his footsteps were enlarged, and the iron did swim.

A third had a sorrowful case of depravity to deal with. He had taught, reproved, warned, invited, and interceded, but all in vain. The stubborn spirit would not relent. Then came an agony of prayer, and before long a blessed answer was sent from heaven. The hard heart was broken, the iron did swim.

Beloved reader, what is thy desperate case? What heavy matter hast thou in hand this evening? Bring it hither. The God of the prophets lives, and lives to help his saints. He will not suffer thee to lack any good thing. Believe thou in the Lord of hosts! Approach him pleading the name of Jesus, and the iron shall swim; thou too shalt see the finger of God working marvels for his people. According to thy faith be it unto thee, and yet again the iron shall swim.

Elisha Traps Blinded Arameans

8 Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, “I will set up my camp in such and such a place.”

9 The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: “Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there.” 10 So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places.

11 This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, “Tell me! Which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?”

12 “None of us, my lord the king,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.”

13 “Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” 14 Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city.

15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.

16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

_________________________

Music:

Do we believe it?  “Greater Is He That Is In Me (that he that is in the world)” sung by the Talley Trio.

_________________________

17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

“Open my eyes that I may see
glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
place in my hands the wonderful key
that shall unlock and set me free.
Silently now I wait for Thee,
ready, my God, Your will to see;
Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine!”

from Daily Readings from Luther’s Writings,
edited by Barbara Owen

This is the church of the saints, the new creation of God, our brothers and our friends, in whom we see nothing but blessing and nothing but consolation, though not always with the eyes of the flesh but with the eyes of the spirit.  Whose heart will not be lifted up, even in the midst of great evils, when he believes the very truth, namely, that the blessings of all the saints are his blessings, and his evil is also theirs?

Therefore, when we feel pain, when we suffer, when we die, let us turn to this thought, firmly believing and certain that it is not we alone, but Christ and the church who are in pain and are suffering and dying with us.  Christ does not want us to be alone on the road of death, from which all people shrink.  Indeed, we set out upon the road of suffering and death accompanied by the entire church.  Actually, the church bears it more bravely than we do.  Thus we can truthfully apply to ourselves the words Elisha spoke to his fearful servants, “Fear no, for those who are with us are more numerous than those with them.  And Elisha prayed and said, ‘Lord, open the eyes of the young man that he might see.’  And the Lord opened his eyes and he saw.  And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire around Elisha.”

All that remains for us now is to pray that our eyes, that is the eyes of our faith, may be opened that we may see the church around us.

18 As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.

God gives spiritual sight to Elisha’s servant, and physical blindness to the enemies.

19 Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to Samaria.

20 After they entered the city, Elisha said, “LORD, open the eyes of these men so they can see.” Then the LORD opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria.

21 When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?”

22 “Do not kill them,” he answered. “Would you kill those you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master.”

A great English idiom! And here’s another ( in translation!): When I taught English to 9th-grade girls in a private Turkish school in Izmir, one student told the class about her sister who had “dropped” in love!

23 So he prepared a great feast for them, and after they had finished eating and drinking, he sent them away, and they returned to their master. So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.

Famine in Besieged Samaria

(Warning:  The following story is not for the faint of heart.)

24 Some time later, Ben-Hadad king of Aram mobilized his entire army and marched up and laid siege to Samaria. 25 There was a great famine in the city; the siege lasted so long that a donkey’s head sold for eighty shekels of silver, and a quarter of a cab of seed pods for five shekels.

26 As the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried to him, “Help me, my lord the king!”

27 The king replied, “If the LORD does not help you, where can I get help for you? From the threshing floor? From the winepress?” 28 Then he asked her, “What’s the matter?”

She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him today, and tomorrow we’ll eat my son.’ 29 So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him,’ but she had hidden him.”

Deuteronomy 28 contains an extended section where God warned Israel about the curses that would come upon them if they rejected the covenant He made with them. Part of that chapter describes the horrors fulfilled in this chapter: They shall besiege you at all your gates until your high and fortified walls, in which you trust, come down throughout all your land; and they shall besiege you at all your gates throughout all your land which the Lord your God has given you. You shall eat the fruit of your own body, the flesh of your sons and your daughters whom the Lord your God has given you, in the siege and desperate straits in which your enemy shall distress you. (Deuteronomy 28:52-53)

These terrors came upon Israel because they disobeyed, rejected God, and abandoned the covenant He made with them.

–David Guzik

30 When the king heard the woman’s words, he tore his robes. As he went along the wall, the people looked, and they saw that, under his robes, he had sackcloth on his body. 31 He said, “May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if the head of Elisha son of Shaphat remains on his shoulders today!”

32 Now Elisha was sitting in his house, and the elders were sitting with him. The king sent a messenger ahead, but before he arrived, Elisha said to the elders, “Don’t you see how this murderer is sending someone to cut off my head? Look, when the messenger comes, shut the door and hold it shut against him. Is not the sound of his master’s footsteps behind him?” 33 While he was still talking to them, the messenger came down to him.

The king said, “This disaster is from the LORD. Why should I wait for the LORD any longer?”

I read the king’s remark as in the same vein as Job’s wife’s remark — “Curse God and die.”  If the devastation is coming from the Lord, how can I expect the Lord to help alleviate it?  The king has lost sight of some important things.  First, he has forgotten the history of Israel and how God had proved Himself over and over to them with great acts of salvation!  Second, the king has forgotten the sin of the people, and his own sin in particular in leading the people, with the worship of idols.  Finally, the king has forgotten the Lord’s lovingkindness and His longing for the people to be His trusting children.

The message is the same today.  Do we blame God for what goes wrong in our life?  Do we secretly think He could have done a better / kinder / richer / smarter job in our life?  If so, we and the king are standing side-by-side.

_________________________

New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
Lawrence.     http://www.marklawrencegallery.com/
open your eyes.    http://www.lastfm.es/group/Indie+and+Alternative/forum/13943/_/570571/3
kill them with kindness.    http://www.thedailyawe.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/kill-them-with-kindness1.jpg

470.) 2 Kings 5

February 18, 2011

“Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.” Psalm 105:1-2

2 Kings 5

(New International Version, ©2010)

Naaman Healed of Leprosy

1 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram.

According to Jewish tradition, Naaman had shot the arrow that killed King Ahab.

He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the LORD had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.

Ancient leprosy began as small, red spots on the skin. Before too long the spots get bigger, and start to turn white, with sort of a shiny, or scaly appearance. Pretty soon the spots spread over the whole body and hair begins to fall out — first from the head, then even from the eyebrows. As things get worse, finger nails and toenails become loose; they start to rot and eventually fall off. Then the joints of fingers and toes begin to rot and fall off piece by piece. Gums begin to shrink and they can’t hold the teeth anymore, so each of them is lost. Leprosy keeps eating away at the face until literally the nose, the palate, and even the eyes rot — and the victim wastes away until death.
–David Guzik

2 Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

"Naaman's Wife"  by Frank William Warwick Topham

“Naaman’s Wife” by Frank William Warwick Topham (1838-1924)

———-

I love this little nameless girl, who cared for her new master enough to suggest some help and who believed that Elisha could bring healing to him.  But even more, I love this little girl’s parents, who had taught her, at a young age, about the God of Israel and his love and power!  Little did they know that the faith they instilled in her would be inspiring us thousands of years later!

_________________________

Music:

Perhaps this little girl’s mother and father taught her this song!  “This Little Light of Mine” — and Claude-Marie Landre’s rendition is particularly fitting.


_________________________

4 Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. 5 “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. 6 The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.”

7 As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!”

8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”

11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.

Naaman had a script in mind and Elisha did not follow it, so Naaman became angry.  Ah, how our pride will crop up and blind us to simple truth!

13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!”

This simple question has spoken to me many times in my life when I have felt slighted.  If the Lord had asked me to do something difficult, like train to climb Everest, for example — I would willingly practice climbing mountains and building endurance and lifting weights and other physically demanding things.  But all He has asked me is — to continue loving that difficult child in my class, or to forgive my friend who said such an unnecessary and unkind thing about me, or to not be envious when someone else gets what I have wanted, etc.  Can I not do this small thing for the One who died on the cross for me?

Yes, I can.

So I dip myself seven times in the Jordan, asking for God’s grace to help me do what is right and for God’s power to make me clean.  “Lord, I believe — help Thou my unbelief.”

14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.

by Eric de Saussure, 1968

15 Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.”

16 The prophet answered, “As surely as the LORD lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.” And even though Naaman urged him, he refused.

“Elisha Refusing Gifts from Naaman” by Pieter de Grebber, 1630.

God’s grace cannot be purchased; it is always a gift.

17 “If you will not,” said Naaman, “please let me, your servant, be given as much earth as a pair of mules can carry, for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the LORD. 18 But may the LORD forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I have to bow there also—when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the LORD forgive your servant for this.”

19 “Go in peace,” Elisha said.

After Naaman had traveled some distance, 20 Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said to himself, “My master was too easy on Naaman, this Aramean, by not accepting from him what he brought. As surely as the LORD lives, I will run after him and get something from him.”

21 So Gehazi hurried after Naaman. When Naaman saw him running toward him, he got down from the chariot to meet him. “Is everything all right?” he asked.

22 “Everything is all right,” Gehazi answered. “My master sent me to say, ‘Two young men from the company of the prophets have just come to me from the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two sets of clothing.’”

23 “By all means, take two talents,” said Naaman. He urged Gehazi to accept them, and then tied up the two talents of silver in two bags, with two sets of clothing. He gave them to two of his servants, and they carried them ahead of Gehazi. 24 When Gehazi came to the hill, he took the things from the servants and put them away in the house. He sent the men away and they left.

25 When he went in and stood before his master, Elisha asked him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?”

“Your servant didn’t go anywhere,” Gehazi answered.

26 But Elisha said to him, “Was not my spirit with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to take money or to accept clothes—or olive groves and vineyards, or flocks and herds, or male and female slaves? 27 Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever.” Then Gehazi went from Elisha’s presence and his skin was leprous—it had become as white as snow.

1 Timothy 6:10 (English Standard Version)

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

_________________________

from Peculiar Treasures,
by Frederick Buechner

NAAMAN

Naaman was a five-star general in the Syrian army and also a leper.  His wife had working for her a little Jewish slave-girl who mentioned one day that there was a prophet named Elisha back home who could cure leprosy as easily as a toad cures warts.  So Naaman took off for Israel with a letter of introduction from the king and a suitcase full of cash and asked Elisha to do his stuff.

Elisha told him to go dunk in the Jordan seven times, and after some initial comments to the effect that there were rivers back in Syria that made the Jordan look like a cow track, Naaman went and did what he was told.  When he came out, he could have passed for an ad for Palmolive soap.  Naaman was so grateful that he converted on the spot and reached into his suitcase for an inch of fifties, but Elisha said he was a prophet of Yahweh, not a dermatologist, and refused to take a cent.

Elisha had a servant named Gehazi, however, who had different ideas.  He hot-footed it after Naaman and told him that Elisha had changed his mind.  He said that if Naaman would like to make a small contribution to charity, he, Gehazi, would make sure it got into the right hands.  Naaman was only too pleased to hand over the inch of fifties, and Gehazi went home and deposited it in his personal checking account.

When Elisha got wind of it, he told Gehazi that the healing power of God was not for sale to the highest bidder and to press his point home transferred Naaman’s leprosy to him.  For the sake of Naaman’s new-found faith in Yahweh as above all a God of love and mercy, it would be nice to believe that news of Elisha’s overreaction never reached him in Syria.

_________________________

New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
Naaman clean in the water.    http://www.thecatholicsteward.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/naaman-healed.jpg
Topham.   https://iamachild.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/naamans-wife.jpg
little Israelite girl speaks to Naaman’s wife.    http://clipart.christiansunite.com/1297424461/Old_Testament_Clipart/Old_Testament020.jpg
climbing Everest.    http://www.tibet-adventures.com/Images/tibet_adventure_photo_gallery/Climbing/everest_05_243_big.jpg
de Saussure.     http://www.artbible.net/1T/1ki1901_Elijah_Sinai_Elisha/images/20%20DE%20SAUSSURE%20ELISEE%20ET%20NAAMAN.jpg
de Grebber.    http://www.terminartors.com/files/artworks/4/8/6/48632/Grebber_Pieter_de-Elisha_Refusing_Gifts_from_Naaman.jpg
fifty dollar bill.    http://thebsreport.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/50dollarbill-767503.jpg