May 3

Read II Kings 6 -- 8

Ben-hadad, the King of Syria, could not have "forgotten" that, when the Syrian soldiers had attempted to capture the prophet Elisha, they had been miraculously blinded and were then led by Elisha inside the walls of the capital city of Samaria. The soldiers were trapped and at the mercy of the King of Israel. However, at Elisha's command, the king prepared great provision for them: and when they had eaten . . . he sent them away (II Kings 6:23). Yet, just a few years later, Ben-hadad King of Syria gathered all his army, and went up, and besieged Samaria. And there was a great famine in Samaria (6:24-25).

The once-powerful, luxurious, fortress-city of Samaria was faced with all the horrors of an extended famine. To surrender to Syria meant death for King Jehoram (Joram) and slavery for his people. But, remaining within the walls eventually reduced the people to starvation and they were forced to eat the most repulsive and defiling food in order to remain alive. As the King of Israel was passing by upon the wall, there cried a woman to him, saying, Help, my lord, O king (6:26). This ungodly king was finally forced to admit: If the Lord does not help you, how shall I help you? . . . And she answered, This woman said to me, Give your son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow. So we boiled my son, and did eat him: and I said to her on the next day, Give your son, that we may eat him, but she hid her son (6:27-29). These terrible conditions were the result of Israel's disobedience as God had forewarned (Leviticus 26:14-29).

Even though the horrifying news from this begging and starving mother, that she had cannibalized her own son, pierced even the evil heart of Jehoram, his immediate response was to blame the prophet of God. He was ready for God to strike him dead if he didn't execute the prophet who foretold the famine. Jehoram seemed to experience great humiliation about the pitiful situation, for he rent his clothes . . . and the people looked, and, behold, he wore sackcloth (II Kings 6:30) (symbolic of humility and deep distress). Jehoram's torn royal robes revealed sackcloth, which he had attempted to hide from the public. He soon repented of his violent outrage toward Elisha; but, like his father Ahab (I Kings 21:27,29), he humbled himself for only a brief time.

When it appeared there was no hope, the Lord again brought Jehoram face to face with Elisha, who proclaimed: Hear the Word of the Lord . . . Tomorrow about this time a measure of fine flour will be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria (II Kings 7:1). The prophecy was miraculously fulfilled when God, in His great mercy, sent fear into the hearts of the Syrian army and they hurriedly abandoned their camp and supplies so that food was in abundance for all.

Obedient Christians need not fear for tomorrow! Instead, we can rejoice in the promises of God: My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

Christ Portrayed: By Elisha, who wept when he realized what Hazael would do to Israel and its people (II Kings 8:11-12). We are reminded of Jesus as He wept over Jerusalem (Matt. 23:37-38).

Word Studies: 7:5 uttermost part means outskirts, border; 8:11 settled his countenance means stared intensely.

Prayer:

Government Officials: Rep. Ralph Hall (TX), Rep. C.L. Otter (ID), Rep. David Vitter (LA), and Sen. Ron Wyden (OR) · BPM Staff: Barbara Ann Bivens · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Shortwave Radio Outreach · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio broadcast in memory of Jimmie Stephenson · Country: Gambia (1 million) in West Africa · Major languages: English and Mandinka · Religious freedom · 87% Muslim; 10% animism and ancestral spirit worship; 2% Roman Catholic; .7% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Let your prayers be praise to the Lord (Psalms 150:6).

Optional Reading: Romans 6

Memory Verse for the Week: James 5:16