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GOD'S MIRACULOUS DELIVERANCE OF BESIEGED SAMARIA
God continued to love all Israel in spite of their shameful division into two kingdoms and the apostasy in both of them. At first, the apostasy was worse in Northern Israel, but it would eventually destroy both nations (Israel and Judah). And yet God loved them both, showing no partiality whatever to either one. For example, there were two great deliverances of the national capitals, both Samaria and Jerusalem being rescued from threatened destruction by the most astounding miracles. Jerusalem would in time be delivered from the threat of Sennacherib; and in this chapter, Samaria was delivered from Benhadad by an equally astounding wonder.
ELISHA'S PROPHECY OF IMMEDIATE VICTORY FOR SAMARIA
"And Elisha said, Hear ye the word of Jehovah, Tomorrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria. Then the captain on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if Jehovah should make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shall not eat thereof."
If there was ever a prophecy that appeared to be absolutely IMPOSSIBLE of fulfillment, this was it! What the captain meant by his remark to Elisha was: "Your God Jehovah could not make that happen if he opened windows in heaven and rained down food on our city." The unbelief of the king of Israel and his evil court are evident in the conversation here. It is a marvel that the king did not proceed with his intention of executing Elisha, but God restrained him. Elisha promptly added another prophecy that likewise appeared to be IMPOSSIBLE of fulfillment, namely, that the captain would see the fulfillment of the promise of plenty of food within twenty-four hours, but that he would not eat any of it!
THE DESPERATE DECISION OF THE FOUR LEPERS
"Now there were four leprous men at the entrance of the gate: and they said one to another, Why sit we here until we die? If we say, We will enter into the city, then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there; and if we sit still here, we shall die also. Now therefore come, and let us fall unto the host of the Syrians: if they save us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall but die. And they rose up in the twilight, to go unto the camp of the Syrians; and when they were come to the outermost part of the camp of the Syrians, behold, there was no man there."
Never could desperate men have been more favorably surprised than were these four lepers. Expecting, at best, to be imprisoned, but far more likely to be brutally slain, they were astounded to find the camp of the Syrians DESERTED.
Their first concern, of course, was to find some authority to whom they could submit themselves, and that led to their exploration of the entire camp of the Syrians.
THE LORD HAD LIFTED THE SIEGE OF SAMARIA AND HAD ENRICHED IT WITH IMMENSE FOOD SUPPLIES
"For the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host: and they said one to another, Lo, the king of Israel hath hired against us the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us. Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life. And when these lepers came to the uttermost part of the camp, they went into one tent, and did eat and drink, and carried thence silver, and gold, and raiment, and went and hid it; and they came back, and entered another tent, and carried thence also, and went and hid it."
"The outermost part of the camp ... the uttermost part" (2 Kings 7:5,8). Hungry as the lepers doubtless were, they were afraid to enter any of the tents, until, after exploring the whole site of the encampment, they realized that it was totally deserted.
It is foolish to attempt any rational explanation of such wonders as these. No mortal "wise man" should attempt it. He would be a fool to do so. How did God do it? We don't know. For that matter, there are inexplicable wonders in the natural creation that are just as mysterious. For example, the lemmings of New England make a mad dash for Long Island Sound every seven years, drowning the vast majority of them in the sea. The few survivors, within another seven years, restore the astounding numbers of those tiny animals, which then repeat that mad dash to the sea, and that has been going on for thousands of years! When someone is able to explain how God does that, we might listen to his explanation of what happened here.
And that is only one mystery. That of the 17-year cicadas of Northeastern U.S.A. is just as inexplicable.
The conduct of the lepers following their discovery and of their relieving their hunger is understandable. God had suddenly enriched them, rescuing them from their dependence upon the doubtful charities of a starving city. Their humanitarian concern for others soon asserted itself, and they decided to spread the good news in Samaria.
THE LEPERS BROKE THE GOOD NEWS TO THE UNBELIEVING KING
"Then they said one to another, We do not do well; this is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace: if we tarry till the morning light, punishment will overtake us; now therefore come, let us go and tell the king's household. So they came and called unto the porter of the city; and they told them, saying, We came to the camp of the Syrians, and, behold, there was no man there, neither voice of man, but the horses tied, and the asses tied, and the tents as they were. And he called the porters; and they told it to the king's household within. And the king arose in the night, and said unto his servants, I will now show you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we are hungry; therefore have they gone out of the camp to hide themselves in the field, saying, When they come out of the city, we shall take them alive, and get into the city."
God had fulfilled the prophecy of Elisha, but Israel's unbelieving king, instead of praising God for such a marvelous deliverance, went out of his way to deny that the wonder had even happened.
"I will now show you" (2 Kings 7:12) was the king's proud, unbelieving boast, but God showed him instead.
THE INVESTIGATION REVEALED THE REALITY OF THE DELIVERANCE
"And one of his servants answered and said, Let some take, I pray thee, five of the horses that remain, which are left in the city (behold, they are as all left the multitude of Israel that are left in it, they are as all the multitude of Israel that are consumed); and let us send and see. They took therefore two chariots with horses; and the king sent after the host of the Syrians, saying, Go and see. And they went after them unto the Jordan: and, lo, all the way was full of garments and vessels, which the Syrians had cast away in their haste. And the messengers returned and told the king."
The king's investigating party went all the way to the Jordan River and returned, a distance of some forty miles (round trip), which means that the confirmation of the tremendous miracle probably took place in Samaria early in the morning. One can only imagine the panic of all the people and the stampede of the whole city to plunder the rich remains of the Syrian encampment!
THE KING'S FOOLISH ATTEMPT TO TAKE CHARGE
"And the people went out and plundered the camp of the Syrians. So a measure of fine flour was sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, according to the word of Jehovah. And the king appointed the captain on whose hand he leaned to have the charge of the gate: and the people trod upon him in the gate, and he died as the man of God had said, who spake when the king came down to him. And it came to pass, as the man of God had spoken to the king, saying, Two measures of barley for a shekel, and a measure of fine flour for a shekel, shall be tomorrow about this time in the gate of Samaria; and that captain answered the man of God, and said, Now, behold, if Jehovah should make windows in heaven, might such a thing be? and he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof: it came to pass even so unto him; for the people trod upon him in the gate, and he died."
The unbelieving king vainly attempted to control the crowd and even appointed the captain on whose hand he leaned to be in charge of the gate of the city! Vanity of vanities! That royal officer might just as well have tried to stop a stampeding herd of wild buffaloes by getting in front of it! The multitudes rushing to alleviate their desperate hunger simply trampled him to death, fulfilling Elisha's second "impossible prophecy."
Samaria had indeed been brought to the brink of destruction. The people had resorted to eating unclean animals, even asses, and all of the horses in the city except five! It surely seemed as if the city had no option except to surrender to their enemies. And at the very moment when it seemed that all was lost, God delivered them!
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 2 Kings 7". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany