Thought from Today's Old Testament Passage:
[2 Kings 2:23-24] A careful study of this incident in context shows that it was far more serious than a "mild personal offense." It was a situation of serious public danger, quite as grave as the large youth gangs that roam… American cities. If these young hoodlums were ranging about in packs of fifty or more, derisive toward respectable adults and ready to mock even a well-known man of God, there is no telling what violence they might have inflicted on the citizenry of the religious center of the kingdom of Israel (as Bethel was), had they been allowed to continue their riotous course. Perhaps it was for this reason that God saw fit to put forty-two of them to death in this spectacular fashion (there is no evidence that Elisha himself, in imposing a curse, prayed for this specific mode of punishment), in order to strike terror into other youth gangs that were infesting the city and to make them realize that neither Yahweh Himself nor any of His anointed prophets were to be threatened or treated with contempt.
Certainly from that time on, the whole Israelite community became convinced that Elisha was a true prophet and that he bore an authoritative word from God.
Gleason Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1982), p. 205