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2 Kings 6:1-2
There are two conditions of real personal power in the world. One is the power of insight, and it is that which redeems life from being regarded as commonplace. Everything is tinged with heavenliness for those who see heaven's light above all, and the possession of this power gives that dignity of conception to life which is one of the secrets of power. The other condition is the strength of personal assertiveness, the power of personal action. These two gifts Elisha possessed.
But there is a third qualification still which is needed in order that these two powers may be brought into contact with life. Great men are men who are in touch with their own age. A man may have insight and energy of character; but if he have no power of adjusting his capacities in language understood of the men amongst whom he lives, all that power will be thrown away. The scene before us explains that Elisha was largely possessed of this gift. He identifies himself with the men of progress; he allies himself to their individual life. He allows the freest scope of individual activity, but yet preserves them in the great unification of their work. The scene is the type of all great movements, and Elisha shows us the fitting attitude of those who would direct and control such movements.
I. It is not the cry of the Jewish Church only, it is the cry of all ages, "The place is too strait." The history of the Church of Christ is the history of a thousand regrets. The spirit of prejudice surrounds every aspect with which we regard life and Church movement. It is difficult for a man bred in one communion to believe in the types of saintship which have become the favourites of another.
II. Whenever a new doctrine or a new truth has come up in the history of the Church, it has been held in the first instance by men who lived by it and tied their own lives to it. No power of that axe-head slipped off into life's stream. Truth is not a thing of the intellect only; it descends into our moral nature; it grafts upon our affections and conscience. The natural history of a doctrine is this: when men are taking it rightly, using it as for God, rightly handling it, it is a power in their hands. Taken up for its own purposes, for the purpose of evading the claims of God which other truths may be making upon their minds, it then becomes evacuated of its power; it is impotent; it is buried underneath the stream of constantly changing time. When men believed in the inspiration of God and the Bible, it was a power to them; but when this dropped down into a belief that every jot and tittle was part and parcel of God's inspiration, then they merely crystallised into a dogma what was a great and living truth.
III. You are surrounded by workers. Your mind is often disturbed among the many cries and many sounds; but believe it, each of you has your own beam, and God can put into your hand the weapon which you are to use in hewing it down. Go forward, and be not afraid.
Bishop Boyd-Carpenter, Anglican Pulpit of To-Day, p. 157 (see also Contemporary Pulpit, vol. ii., p. 317).
References: 2 Kings 6:1 , 2 Kings 6:2 . J. Menzies, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xx., p. 276. 2 Kings 6:1-7 . A. Edersheim, Elisha the Prophet, p. 185. 2 Kings 6:1-23 . Parker, vol. viii., p. 156. 2 Kings 6:5 . W. Meller, Village Homilies, p. 23; T. Kelly, Pulpit Trees, p. 49.
2 Kings 6:6
These words describe something that happened for the servants of God. Iron does not swim for the servants of evil. No such skill has their master, much as he boasts. But in how many instances has the "impossible" been accomplished by faith and prayer.
I. Notice that these sons of the prophets were industrious. "Take every man a beam." This building had to be put up, and they felt they should like to work at it themselves.
II. They were self-reliant. They did not ask for subscriptions towards building them a larger place. They believed God would bless them if they were bent on doing their utmost.
III. Though self-reliant, these men were not bumptious. They said to the prophet, "I pray thee, be content, and go with thy servants." Do you wonder that he said, "I will go"? Old age likes to be thought fit to go with youth. The men of today have something to learn from the men of the past. The same thing holds good about books and old-fashioned ideas.
IV. These sons of the prophets were honest, if poor. It would be well for Christianity if all its professors felt about debt as the loser of the axe did. It is well for us and a sign of grace when the word "borrowed" calls up a sigh and "Alas!"
V. This story teaches us the danger of loose things. The axe-head was loose, and so flew off; and the wonder is, it did not kill somebody. Loose habits, like our old clothes, fit us easily, but they are dangerous.
VI. What a great deal of trouble is home-made! Many so-called accidents are the result of carelessness.
VII. Notice how the axe was got up again. "He cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; and the iron did swim." Example is better than precept. He did not tell it to swim; he showed it how.
T. Champness, New Coins from Old Gold, p. 222.
References: 2 Kings 6:6 . J. M. Neale, Sermons in Sackville College, vol. iii., p. 93; Preacher's Monthly, vol. vi., p. no. 2 Kings 6:8-23 . Parker, Fountain, April 12th, 1877.
2 Kings 6:15-17
I. The first remark which this incident suggests is as to the heavy pressure of outward and visible things upon us who are still in the body. The young man could see the Syrian host compassing the city to take his master, but nothing besides. Is not this a true parable for us? We talk of living by faith, not by sight, but what truth has it for us? Take the life of any one day; would it be very different if this world were all, if there were no judgment and no eternity? (1) There is the business of life. (2) There are the pleasures of life. (3) There are the trials of life. All these are real things. Engrossed in them, a man will live hemmed in and blocked up by the present and blind to all the realities which are not of earth, and sense, and time.
II. And yet the history before us is designed to show how very near all the while lies another world and another life, altogether of spirit and heaven, and God. It needed just the opening of the eyes, and nothing more, to show this young man a whole concourse of existences and agencies unseen and unsuspected till that moment. If the word of God is true, we are inmates of two worlds: a world seen and a world unseen; a world of time and a world of eternity. We may be walking blindfold in the midst of truths and realities.
III. Such a truth is the revelation of God's providence. If we could see the spiritual world as we see the natural, we should find that every life is held in God's hand, every faculty kept for us by God's keeping, every step taken, every word spoken, and every work done in virtue of a power not our own.
IV. A man passes out of the life of sight into the life of faith by that opening of the eyes of which the text tells. Prayer is the means of passing from a life of sight to a life of faith.
C. J. Vaughan, Contemporary Pulpit, vol. iv., p. no (see also Good Words, 1864, p. 916).
References: 2 Kings 6:16 . R. Heber, Sermons Preached in England, pp. 18, 42. 2 Kings 6:16 , 2 Kings 6:17 . Clergyman's Magazine, vol. ix., p. 84; Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 149.
2 Kings 6:17
The young man looking abroad and seeing nothing but the hills, and the fields, and the Syrian army is a picture of a man without faith. But the same young man looking abroad and seeing not only the hills, and fields, and enemies which everybody saw, but also the flaming host the symbol of God's presence, love, and power is a picture of a man with faith. I wish to make you look at three wide prospects: nature, providence, the Bible. And as you look at each, we will put up the prayer, "Lord, open Thou mine eyes."
I. Our eyes need to be opened to see God in nature God, with His love, and wisdom, and power. One man looks abroad over a piece of God's world and sees neither its beauty nor its Maker in it. A second looks over the same scene and sees the beauty which the first did not see, but yet does not see the Maker. But a third looks, and he is like Elisha's servant: his eyes are opened, and he sees what neither of the others has seen he sees God passing His hand over all and dropping beauty on it from His fingers.
II. We need to have our eyes opened on providence, that in all we undertake and suffer we may see God as our Guide, and trust Him, so that, whatever fortune we may be led into, we may never feel ourselves alone. This will give us courage and comfort such as nothing else can give.
III. We need to have our eyes opened on the Bible. It is a moment never to be forgotten when the truth which has been known and handled like a dry piece of wood for years suddenly flares forth into bright flame; when over the meadows of the Bible, where nothing but ordinary grass appeared before, there start up suddenly the horses and chariots of fire; when this truth, for instance, "My soul is infinitely precious and immortal," thrills through me, and all the world seems as nothing compared with my soul.
J. Stalker, The New Song, p. 75.
References: 2 Kings 6:17 . A. W. Momerie, The Origin of Evil, p. 248; J. Thain Davidson, Talks with Young Men, p. 119; H. P. Liddon, Penny Pulpit, No. 599, and Old Testament Outlines, p. 77; Spurgeon, My Sermon Notes, 1884, p. 91; Husband, Church Sermons, vol. ii., p. 74. 2 Kings 6:17-23 . A. Edersheim, Elisha the Prophet, p. 208. 2 Kings 6:18 . Bennett, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. vii., p. 85; J. M. Neale, Sermons in Sackville College, vol. iii., p. 100. 2 Kings 6:24-31 and 2 Kings 6:32 vii. 2. A. Edersheim, Elisha the Prophet, pp. 219, 230. 2 Kings 6:24-33 and vii. Parker, vol. viii., p. 169. 2 Kings 6:26 . Homiletic Magazine, vol. xv., p. 163. 2 Kings 6:0 Parker, Fountain, May 24th, 1877. 2 Kings 7:2 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxi., No. 1238; J. M. Neale, Sermons in Sackville College, vol. iii., p. 108. 2 Kings 7:3 . Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 73. 2 Kings 7:3-7 . Ibid., Sermons, vol. xxxii., No. 1903. 2 Kings 7:3-9 . A. Edersheim, Elisha the Prophet, p. 242.
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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on 2 Kings 6". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
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