A Thorn in a King’s Side

In the Old Testament, the Children of Israel had their ups and downs with God.  Sometimes they showed tremendous faith and sometimes they showed their lack.  I confess I can say the same about me.  Along with ups and downs, they seemed to have a prophet around trying to keep them on the right path or to get back on it.  One of those prophets whom you can read about in II Kings was Elisha.

One of the stories starring Elisha can be found in II King 6:9-23.  The Syrian king had become a thorn in Israel’s side.  The Syrian king would soon have a thorn of his own — the Lord’s prophet.

The Syrian King was putting up a fight against Israel.  He was personally involved in the battle plans such as where to camp his troops.  God granted Elisha the ability to know what the King’s “encampment” plans were and the prophet sent word to the king of Israel to beware of those places where the Syrians would be.  Elisha reminded me of a spy because the prophet was providing the Israeli king with enemy information (as spy agencies would call “intelligence information”).  The Syrian King detected something just wasn’t right.  It caused him to wonder if there was a spy in his midst of servants and demanded to know who among them was on Israel’s side.

One of the servants swore it was none of them.  He claimed it was Israel’s prophet, Elisha, who put a buzz in the King of Israel’s ears of what the Syrian King’s plans were for camping.  It was as if Elisha was outside the king’s bedroom door listening in through a peephole.

The Syrian King took his servant’s word for it that it was all Elisha’s fault.  He asked them to go and spy to find out where Elisha was.  It was told to the king that Elisha was living in Dothan.  He didn’t waste any time gathering horses, chariots, and a great host of soldiers to make their way to Dothan and surround the place.

In Dothan, Elisha’s servant got up real early and looked outside.  What he saw shook him to the core.  The city was surrounded by Syrian soldiers on horses and chariots.  He asked Elisha basically what on earth are we gonna do now.

Elisha was not shaking in his boots like his servant.  He sought to calm his servant down telling him:  “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” (II Kings 6:16)  Elisha said a prayer for his own servant asking his servant’s eyes be opened so that he may see for himself what he saw.  The young man’s eyes were opened and saw the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.  No doubt that calmed the young servant down.

After his servant was calmed down, Elisha prayed again asking that the enemy soldiers be smitten with blindness.  The Lord granted Elisha’s request and so all the Syrian soldiers were struck blind — a case of mass blindness!

Elisha, following God’s direction, went out to these blind soldiers and gave them directions to find the man they were looking for.  Real smart on Elisha’s part!  The Syrian army was being led blind by the man they were looking for.  It’s amazing what one can do when they were following the Lord’s directions!  Elisha led the blind as a bat soldiers to Samaria, the stronghold city under the control of the Israelites.  Elisha again prayed asking the Lord to give the men their sight back.  After the Lord opened their eyes, they were surely grateful for their sight back but not so grateful that they were in the thick of it in Israel’s territory.  They found themselves captives and at the mercy of Israel’s king.

If you can imagine, it was like U.S. soldiers waking up in the Kremlin or in front of the North Korean dictator’s palace.

The Israelites  had to have been delighted that the enemy fell right into their hands without them lifting a finger.  I could imagine them letting out a chuckle or laughing their heads off at the Syrian soldiers’ predicament.  The King of Israel asked Elisha if he should smite them.  He understandably wanted to since the Syrian king had been a thorn in his side.  I give credit to Israel’s King for asking the prophet before acting on his own.

Elisha did not give the answer the King wanted, but he gave the right answer.  He told the King to let them go back to where they came from.  They had not been taken down by the sword and bow of the Israelites.  This had all been the Lord’s doing and told the King to have his men to give the Syrians bread and water before sending them back to their master.  After the Syrians had their bellies filled, they were sent away and went back to the Syrian king whom I sure was disappointed at their post-battle report.  For a while, the Syrian bands did not enter the land of Israel.  They would be back, but for a spell, there was a break from Syrian invasions.

Elisha did what all good prophets should do:  pray to the Lord and follow His instructions.  He prayed before each action he took from the One who made him a prophet in the first place.  He sets a good example for all believers to seek the Lord’s will first before stepping into it.

The Psalmist reminds me of Elisha where he wrote in Psalms 71:7 “I am as a wonder unto many; but thou art my strong refuge.”  Elisha was strong, smart, and decisive.  All because he leaned on the Lord instead of himself.  If Elisha had done it HIS way, leaving the Lord out of it, the Syrian king wouldn’t have had a prophet for a thorn in his side.







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