|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
13:10-19 Jehoash, the king, came to Elisha, to receive his dying counsel and blessing. It may turn much to our spiritual advantage, to attend the sick-beds and death-beds of good men, that we may be encouraged in religion by the living comforts they have from it in a dying hour. Elisha assured the king of his success; yet he must look up to God for direction and strength; must reckon his own hands not enough, but go on, in dependence upon Divine aid. The trembling hands of the dying prophet, as they signified the power of God, gave this arrow more force than the hands of the king in his full strength. By contemning the sign, the king lost the thing signified, to the grief of the dying prophet. It is a trouble to good men, to see those to whom they wish well, forsake their own mercies, and to see them lose advantages against spiritual enemies.
Verse 15. - And Elisha said unto him, Take bow and arrows. The prophet was moved, no doubt, by a sudden inspiration he was bidden to assure the weeping king of victory - speedy victory-over Syria. The defense of Israel would not fail because he - a mere weak instrument by whom God had been pleased to work - was taken from the earth. God would bless the king's own efforts. "Take bow and arrows," he exclaims under the prophetic afflatus. "Take them at once into thine hands, and do my bidding." Words would not have been enough; greater assurance and conviction was produced when prophecy took the shape of a symbolical action (comp. 1 Samuel 15:27; 1 Kings 11:30; Isaiah 20:3; Jeremiah 13:1-11; Jeremiah 18:3, 4, etc.). So the Spirit of the Lord moved the prophet to the performance of a symbolical act, or set of acts, which the historian now proceeds to describe. And he took unto him how and arrows. Joash would take these from the hands of his attendants, who might be carrying his own special weapons after him, as was the practice in Persia ('Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 4. p. 161), or who would at any rate have arms of their own, since they would wait upon him not merely as attendants, but as guards.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Elisha said unto him, take bow and arrows,.... The usual instruments of war in those days: and he took unto him bow and arrows; which though they might not be had in the house of the prophet, he could have some from his guards that attended him.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
15-18. Take bow and arrows—Hostilities were usually proclaimed by a herald, sometimes by a king or general making a public and formal discharge of an arrow into the enemy's country. Elisha directed Joash to do this, as a symbolical act, designed to intimate more fully and significantly the victories promised to the king of Israel over the Syrians. His laying his hands upon the king's hands was to represent the power imparted to the bow shot as coming from the Lord through the medium of the prophet. His shooting the first arrow eastward—to that part of his kingdom which the Syrians had taken and which was east of Samaria—was a declaration of war against them for the invasion. His shooting the other arrows into the ground was in token of the number of victories he was taken to gain; but his stopping at the third betrayed the weakness of his faith; for, as the discharged arrow signified a victory over the Syrians, it is evident that the more arrows he shot the more victories he would gain. As he stopped so soon, his conquests would be incomplete.
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