2 Kings 6:8-23
Then the king of Syria warred against Israel, and took counsel with his servants, saying, In such and such a place shall be my camp.…
Then the King of Syria warred against Israel, etc. In these sixteen verses we have four subjects worth looking into - wickedness thwarted, timidity dispelled, supernatural power manifested, and revenge overcome.
I. WICKEDNESS THWARTED. The King of Syria had determined on an enterprise of bloodshed and wickedness. He had made all arrangements, fixed on the place for his camp. "In such and such a place shall be my camp." Bat Elisha thwarted the bloody purpose of the Syrian king by informing the Israelitish monarch, Jehoram, of the very place where the Syrians had determined to encamp. His words are, "Beware that thou pass not such a place; for thither the Syrians are come down." The king attended to the prophet's directions, "and saved himself there, not once nor twice." Terrible was the disappointment of the Syrian monarch. "The heart of the King of Syria was sore troubled for this thing; and he called his servants, and said unto them, Will ye not show me which of us is for the King of Israel? And one of his servants said, None my lord, O king: but Elisha, the prophet that is in Israel, telleth the King of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber." Observe:
1. That wicked men are most secretive in their purposes. It would seem that the plans of the King of Syria's bloody enterprise were known only to his most confidential officers, and that they were revealed to them in his bedchamber. There, and perhaps there only, did he detain them, and perhaps with closed doors and soft whisperings. Wicked men, in order to get on in the world, are bound to be secretive. And the more wicked they are, the more necessary for them is this secretiveness. Were dishonest doctors, lawyers, tradesmen, merchants, statesmen, to be open and candid, revealing all that is nefarious in their aims, they would fall into poverty and universal contempt. The good alone can afford to be open and candid; the wicked are bound to be hypocrites if they would live.
2. That none of their purposes are so secret as to escape the notice of Almighty God. How came Elisha to know them? He was far away from the monarch's bedchamber - away in Israel. It was Elisha's God who made the communication to him. Solemn thought. There is One who knoweth what is in man - in every man. He reads all secrets; he "understandeth our thoughts afar off."
3. The revelations of a wicked man's secrets will frustrate his designs. It did so in the case of this king.
II. TIMIDITY DISPELLED. When the Syrian monarch learnt that Elisha was in Israel, he dispatched a spy to find him out; and when he discovered that he was in Dothan, "he sent thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about." All this struck a panic into the heart of Elisha's servant, and he cried out, "Alas, my master! how shall we do?" How did Elisha relieve his servant of this terrible fear? By assuring him that there were more on their side than on the side of their enemies. "Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them." This assurance he gave not merely with words, but by ocular demonstration. "And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha." It is generally supposed that the reference is here to angels "that excel in strength;" they are in truth the body-guard of the good. They are more in their number than our foes, superior in their power, in their invincible determination, in their authority too. But to see them we must have our spiritual eyes open as the prophet's eyes were now. Faith in the wonderful resources which Heaven has provided for the good will dispel all fear.
III. SUPERNATURAL POWER MANIFESTED. Supernatural power is here manifested:
1. In opening the eyes of the prophet's servant.
2. In bringing under his notice the mountain which was full of horses and chariots of fire.
3. In smiting with blindness the army of Syria. "And when they came down to him [that is, the Syrian army], Elisha prayed unto the Lord, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.' These armed legions, whose eyes were glaring with vengeance before, were now in midnight darkness. In this state Elisha becomes their guide and conducts them to Samaria, and when they had come there another supernatural act was performed in the restoration of their sight, and then they beheld their terrible position. "Behold, they were in the midst of Samaria," in the hands of the King of Israel.
IV. REVENGE OVERCOME. The King of Syria, hearing that Elisha had revealed his murderous plan to the monarch of Israel, and had thus thwarted the purpose and the plan of his campaign, was fired with indignation, and sent to Dothan "horses, and chariots and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about." How furiously we may suppose revenge flamed in every member of the army as well as in the soul of their royal master, as they "compassed the city about!" And this feeling would no doubt be intensified when they found that Elisha had betrayed them into the hands of their enemies. They were in the midst of Samaria, within the very grasp of the King of Israel, and at his mercy. How would Elisha advise the King of Israel to treat these revengeful legions now? "And the King of Israel said unto Elisha, when he saw them, My father, shall I smite them? shall I smite them?" What was the prophet's advice? Did he say, "Destroy them?" No. He answered, "Thou shalt not smite them." Did he say, "Spare their lives, but make them slaves, take them into captivity and make them beasts of burden?" Did he say, "Deprive them of all food, and starve them to death?" No; he said, "Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink, and go to their master. And he prepared great provision for them: and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master." What was the result of this generous treatment? Did they go away with the old passion of vengeance burning in them? Away to reorganize themselves in greater numbers and with greater force to make another attack? No. Here is the result: "So the bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel." The magnanimous kindness extinguished the flames and paralyzed the arms of revenge, so that they came no more into the land of Israel. This is the Divine way, nay, the only way, of conquering our enemies. Evil can only be overcome by good. The most glorious victory over an enemy is to turn him into a friend. - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then the king of Syria warred against Israel, and took counsel with his servants, saying, In such and such a place shall be my camp.