The account of the ministry of Elisha is continued yet further through this chapter also, as in the former. He causeth iron to swim. He discloseth the king of Syria's counsel. He smiteth his army with blindness.
2 Kings 6:1
It is more than probable that the place spoken of here, was at Gilgal, for there we find Elisha presiding over the sons of the prophets some time before. See chap. 4:38. But surely the Reader, (if he be acquainted with the Bible) cannot but be put in mind, from the straitening of the sons of the prophets, of that spiritual straitening, it was predicted the sons of the Prince of the prophets, even the Lord Jesus, in after ages should feel, when from flocking to Christ the multitudes should be so great, that there should not be room enough to receive them. Isaiah 49:20-21; Malachi 3:10; Luke 5:1; Mark 3:20.
It will not be doing violence to this passage to look through the servant to his Lord in it. In all my goings forth shall I not say to thee, thou blessed Jesus, go I pray thee with thy servant? Yes! dearest Lord, like Moses would I always seek thy presence. For heaven itself would be darkness without the light of the Lamb. Revelation 21:23; Exodus 33:15.
Observe how very poor the sons of the prophets were. In all ages it hath been so. Hence James calls upon the church to attend to this, as a mark of God's choice; poor of this world, but rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom. James 2:5. It is refreshing to behold the Lord's presence with his sent servants, in working miracles for the confirmation of their faith.
Reader! while you pay a just tribute of praise to the Lord of Elisha, for making him thus instrumental in the deliverance of Israel; shall not our minds be led to reflect how graciously our Jesus, by the sweet, but secret influences of his Spirit, saves us again and again from the stratagems of our great spiritual foe. Oh! who shall say how often, and to what extent this interposing grace and wisdom of our Jesus, is made the cause of numberless redemptions in times of danger, while we are unconscious of it! What a beautiful instance we have of this superintendence of the Lord, in the case of Hagar, Sarah's handmaid; and what a lovely evidence she gives of her faith in beholding it. She called the name of the Lord that spake unto her; Thou God seest me. Genesis 16:13. Reader! keep this in view. Never forget that Jesus is still same; always looking on, always ready to deliver. What a thought is that to refresh my soul! Jesus, my God, seeth me: he is always with me. He knows the path I take. He seeth the approach of every foe. Oh! for strength in the Lord, and in the power of his might!
The mad and childish attempt of the king of Syria to take the prophet, serves to set forth the bitterness of the carnal mind against God and his servants in all ages, for it is always the same, only manifesting itself under different forms and ways. If the king of Syria really believed that Elisha could divulge the thoughts of the king of Syria, so as to deliver Israel; surely he ought to have known that he must be equally competent to know, and to counteract his base design planned against himself.
The dreadful alarm of Elisha's servant, and the perfect composure of Elisha himself, hold forth a precious lesson. In minds of little or no faith, the smallest events, which appears unpromising, excite fear. Alas! what shall we do? But firm, steady, fixed faith in Jesus, passes over all that we can do, to rest upon what the Lord can do. When we behold Jesus for us, and Jesus with us; he alone makes our mountain full of horses of fire, and chariots of fire, and we are enabled in his strength to bid defiance to every foe. Doth not this confirm that precious doctrine of the ministry of angels Hebrews 1:14. But oh! how much greater and sweeter the doctrine of the everlasting presence of Jesus. Matthew 28:20. But, Reader! while attending to this very delightful instruction, arising out of this passage, do not neglect to attend to another. Observe, how at the instance of the prophet's prayer, the eyes of his servant were opened; and the eyes of the Syrians blinded. What is this but a confirmation of what every day, and in every faithful ministry of the word, occurs. Some have their eyes opened to see the wonderous things of God's law. Others remain in total blindness and ignorance, under the most powerful preaching. And is not this a solemn confirmation of the words of our Lord Jesus, when he said; For judgment I am come into this world; that they which see not might see, and that they which see might be made blind. John 9:39.
How sweet a gospel lesson is folded up under these verses! When Jesus brings his enemies under his power; and when their eyes are opened to see how the Lord hath surrounded them, their knees bow before him, and the weapons of sin fall out of their hands: oh! how graciously doth he feed them, and what great and gracious provisions doth he set before them. Yes! dearest Lord Jesus, I will bear testimony to thy clemency, for when thou hadst brought me home to thyself, and made me thy captive in the day of thy power; then it was. O Lord, that I discovered the truth of that blessed scripture: This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them. Luke 15:2.
It should seem that this must have been a long time after what is related in the foregoing verse; probably several years, because that a famine had taken place to lead to it, of which we have no immediate account. And to what an extent must have been this famine, when the head of an ass, which was among the unclean, was sold so high. Dove's dung, it should seem, was the name of some herb, or root, or pulse.
To what a dreadful state was Israel now reduced; but yet not a word of reform. We do not hear of a single soul sending up a cry to heaven. Alas! how sin hardens the mind! And to what a dreadful degree is our nature fallen, when, passing by all natural feelings, such shocking deeds, as are here recorded concerning these women, take place!
Let the Reader mark the blessed properties of distinguishing grace. Oh! how hardened was the king of Israel's heart, to have so soon, forgotten the ministry of Elisha, in bringing the Syrians by blindness into his power. And, yet further: He confesses that he sees God's hand in it, and yet dares to rebel. Reader! pray do not overlook and forget, that by the fall all men are the same. If preventing, and restraining grace hath happily kept you from such presumptuous sins, learn to behold the cause, and give God the glory.
IN the perusal of this chapter, methinks I would behold the prophet Elisha with the greater attention in the several interesting services here recorded of him, by way of having my soul directed, with more awakened earnestness, to contemplate the grace of his heavenly Master. Surely it is refreshing and comfortable, and highly encouraging to the souls of the faithful, when we see the gracious condescension of the Lord in the employment of such men. What a series of servants the Lord hath called forth in his church! And to what a noble, employment have they been called! And when we call to mind the cause of their ministry; and more especially their Employer; how is the mind overpowered in the contemplation of that love of Christ which passeth knowledge. He gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints; for the work of the ministry; for the edifying of the body of Christ; till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.
But is it possible, my soul, to look at these, even all of them, though of the highest order, and pause a moment in the review, without having all the finer affections exercised, and called forth in the contemplation of thee, thou blessed Jesus, thou Prince of prophets, thou Lord of all thy faithful apostles, and of the innumerable host with which thou art encircled on mount Zion, where, as a Lamb that hath been slain, thou still appearest to manifest the everlasting nature of thy priesthood, and the eternal efficacy of thy redemption! Oh! precious Lord God! how do all prophets, priests, and kings sink to nothing before thee! Be thou my unceasing meditation! Teach me, Lord, to behold thee so as to have all my soul's affections drawn out after thee, and unto thee. Oh! for grace to behold the Lord always before me, and to set him on my right hand. May my eyes, by the lively exercise of faith, gaze upon him with unceasing, and increasing, delight, until he shall come to take me home, to behold his glory in one full blaze of everlasting day; and never, never more shall I then take off my ravished eyes from beholding his beauty. Make haste, my Beloved; and be thou like to a roe, or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Kings 6". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany