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The ministry of Elisha is continued through this chapter. The prophet, in the midst of dearth, foretelleth an immediate, and incredible plenty. An unbelieving lord treating the prophet's prediction with contempt, Elisha foretells his death, which accordingly takes place.
2 Kings 7:1
I think it is more than probable, that as Elisha had been at prayer for this mercy, he now acted faith upon God's promise of kind answers to prayer, and in the strength of it thus predicted. But observe how he speaks of this great and unexpected mercy in the Lord's name. Reader! it is very precious when, from the lively actings of faith in God's promises in Christ, we can take confidence in a faithful covenant God during dark seasons. It was this that rendered the patriarch's faith so memorable. Romans 4:18-22 .
What a solemn lesson is read to us in the short, but awful history of the unbelieving lord! Reader! depend upon it, that the grossest of all sins is this want of faith in God's Christ. And John tells us the reason of it; he maketh God (says the apostle) a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. 1 John 5:10-11 . And what an awful thought, that after such rich and astonishing mercy and grace, with which the Lord Jehovah hath introduced his dear and only begotten Son, as the salvation of poor sinners, that any sinner should be so daringly wicked and ungrateful, as to disbelieve God, and slight his mercy. Think, Reader! and let the thought be rivetted on your whole soul; how impossible it will be to escape if you neglect so great salvation. Hebrews 2:3 .
Passing by the particulars of this event as an history, I pray the Reader to look beyond the mere letter of the subject, to discover the very sweet, spiritual instruction it contains. In this light perhaps, the Reader will perceive in these men, the state of poor leprous sinners strikingly pointed out. Sin, like the leprosy, shuts out the soul beyond the gate. Every way and all around, nothing in ourselves can bring help. Spiritual death by famine, or the sword, must terminate the sinner's course, if he sits down contented in that state. Whereas, if grace entering the heart prompt him to go to Jesus with even the slenderest degree of faith, saying like these men, If Jesus kills, I can but die; then the poor creature finds a graciousness in the Lord, not only infinitely surpassing all deserts, but all expectations. Dear Lord! who shall describe the extensiveness of thy grace in receiving poor sinners, and eating with them! Luke 15:2 .
How unexpected sometimes is the deliverance of the sinner! How surprised is the soul in the discovery of Jesus and his fulness! And do observe, Reader! how the Lord was pleased to act for the delivery of his people. What terrors and alarms did the Syrians feel, so as to be afraid where no fear was. The Lord had said that he would send the hornet among their enemies, and induce fear and alarm. And here we see it fulfilled. Deuteronomy 7:20 .
When the sinner is brought by the Holy Ghost, into the knowledge and enjoyment of the Lord Jesus, his mind is so engaged, that the treasures he finds he hides from all men's view. But when he calls to mind the perishing state of other sinners, he can no longer eat his morsel alone. His language is then altered, and he cries out under the influence of it; Oh! come hither and hearken all ye that fear God, and I will tell you what he hath done for my soul. Psalms 66:16 .
Observe how closely allied to one another are guilt and unbelief. The king of Israel knew how little he merited mercy from the Lord, and therefore he could not be led to hope, notwithstanding his servant the prophet had taught Israel to expect some great deliverance, that it would be bestowed. Reader! this is the case, more or less, with every sinner. Conscious that we merit not the Lord's favor, and measuring God's dealings by our own, we slight the declarations of his grace. Jesus sweetly, graciously, tenderly, tells us, that he came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. But alas! unbelief robs Jesus of his glory, and our souls of their happiness. And thus, like the poor king of Israel, to the very last we know not how to give the Lord the credit of his free grace and salvation!
With what caution and fear did the king of Israel and his poor besieged army proceed in this business! With what doubts and misgivings, do sinners, when first coming to the Lord Jesus, seek his face! Oh! for faith in full confidence, to come to the Lord Jesus, and cast the whole soul Upon him! the sale of the flour and the barley corresponding to the prophet's prediction, shows how the mercy was from the Lord, and how plentiful a mercy it was. A measure of flour was somewhat more than a peck. And a shekel was not much more in value than about two shillings of our money. Here, indeed, the subject of plenty to the famished, as it relates to the body, falls far short of the gospel fullness to famishing souls; for the grace which is imparted according to the measure of the gift of grace, is without money and without price.
The sad event in the death of this unbelieving lord, is very particularly related by the sacred historian, to show that no word of the Lord can fall to the ground. And it is a point of the most solemn consideration, that the very name Jehovah hath taken in the scriptures to show, that he is God in a covenant way, carries with it the most decided assurance that the Lord must be as faithful to all the denunciations of his wrath, as to all the gracious promises of his love. Reader! do not overlook, or forget this! Read these solemn scriptures upon this point, and may the Lord suitably impress them upon our minds. Mark 16:16 ; John 3:36 .
READER! let us in the view of this siege of Samaria behold a lively emblem of the soul's distressed state by reason of sin. Alas! what a famine, not of bread and of water, but of all spiritual comfort, ease, or satisfaction. In the contemplation of the unexpected deliverance is not Jesus and his great salvation beautifully represented! how graciously discovered! how unexpectedly found! the soul of the sinner, like the leprous man while going from one tent to another, in the discoveries of Jesus's love can hardly be brought to think it real. How is it, Lord! he continually cries out, as he enters into the enjoyments of salvation, how is it dearest Jesus, that thou hast manifested thyself unto me and not unto the world.
But oh! Reader, let us also learn from the awful history of the unbelieving lord, what everlasting dangers sinners are exposed to, and what everlasting horrors they must ultimately fall in; when neither the gift of the Father in his dear Son, nor Jesus's love in the free-gift of himself, can work upon the hardened heart to believe unto salvation. What aggravated misery will that be to the unawakened, unregenerated heart, to have lived under the sound of the gospel, but never regarded its gracious calls! to have seen, like this unbelieving lord, the plenty and fulness of redemption, but never to have partaken of it. Oh! dearest, blessed, precious Jesus! add a blessing to all thy finished work, and give me not only to see and to hear with the outward means, but to taste and enjoy the blessed inward power of thy saving truth to the salvation of my soul!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Kings 7". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany