Read 2 Kings 6 -- 8
In Today's Reading:
The ax head made to float; Syrians (Arameans) attack Israel; famine in Samaria; Elisha's prophecy fulfilled; land restored to the Shunammite woman; Hazael, the new king of Syria; Jehoram's wicked reign over Judah; Ahaziah's reign over Judah.
Verse for Today:
Then Elisha said, Hear ye the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord, To morrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel . . . in the gate of Samaria (2 Kings 7:1).
Ben-hadad, the King of Syria, could not have "forgotten" that, when his soldiers attempted to capture the prophet Elisha, they had been miraculously blinded and were then led by Elisha inside the walls of Samaria, the capital city of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. 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 (2 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 protective walls that surrounded the city the people were eventually reduced 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 . . . 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 to day, and we will eat my son to morrow. 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 pitiful conditions were the result of Israel's sins against God Who had forewarned that if His people forsook Him He would forsake them. They were open to attack by their enemies (Leviticus 26:14-39).
The horrifying news from this begging and starving mother, that she had cannibalized her own son, pierced even the evil hardened heart of Jehoram. His immediate desire was to execute the prophet of God who had foretold the famine. Jehoram soon repented of his violent outrage toward Elisha. It appeared there was no hope of survival. But the Lord again brought Jehoram face-to-face with Elisha, who proclaimed: Hear . . . the Word of the Lord . . . To morrow . . . a measure of fine flour [will] be sold for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria (2 Kings 7:1). God, in His great mercy, sent fear into the hearts of the Syrian army and they hurriedly abandoned their camp and supplies so that much food was in abundance for all the city of Samaria and the prophecy of Elisha was miraculously fulfilled.
By Elisha, who wept when he realized what Hazael would do to Israel and its people (2 Kings 8:11-12). We are reminded of Jesus as He wept over Jerusalem. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem . . . how often would I have gathered thy children together . . . and ye would not! (Matthew 23:37-38).
6:1 strait = small; 6:30 within = underneath; 7:5 uttermost part = border; 8:11 settled his countenance = stared intensely; 8:26 daughter = granddaughter.
Government Officials: Rep. Ralph Hall (TX), Rep. C.L. Otter (ID), Rep. David Vitter (LA), and Sen. Ron Wyden (OR) · Pray for the missionary ministries · Country: Congo, Republic of the (2 million) in west-central Africa · Major languages: French and Lingala · Limited religious freedom, but government hostility has lessened · 41% Roman Catholic; 20% fetishism and belief in ancestral spirits; 17% Protestant; 9% cults · Prayer Suggestion: Pray with a heart of righteousness, keeping the truth of God, and know He will hear your prayers (Isaiah 26:2).
Optional Reading: Romans 6
Memory Verse for the Week: Jeremiah 15:16