So there was a great famine in Samaria. Indeed, they besieged the city so long that a donkey's head sold for eighty shekels of silver, and a quarter cab of dove's dung sold for five shekels of silver.
I. A CITY IN DISTRESS. Once more the people of Samaria were in great straits. A besieging army was at their gates, and, most terrible of all, the horrors of famine were within their walls. They were reduced to the greatest extremities. The women were actually beginning to cook and eat their own children. Whichever way they looked, the prospect was dark. To open the gates to the Syrians meant death or captivity. And the longer they remained within their walls, the more certainly death and starvation stared them in the face. See here the evil result of forsaking God. To such extremities they had brought themselves by their own sins. They had forsaken the living God, and now their false gods were not able to help them in the day of their calamity. It is an evil day in a man's history when he turns his back upon God's Word, upon God's commandments, upon God's Son. As it often happens, their calamities had hardened their hearts and blinded their eyes. There was one man in their midst who had often before proved a wise counselor and friend. They had Elisha, the man of God, in their city - the man who, by counseling them to make the valley full of ditches, had delivered the Moabites into their hands; the man, too, who had revealed Benhadad's secrets, and smitten the Syrian army with blindness. But they had forgotten all that. Instead of locking to Elisha for guidance or help, they blame him for all their troubles. How often does it happen that, when people get into difficulties, they throw the blame upon others! When troubles and difficulties come upon us, our first business should be to search our own hearts and lives, and see whether the trouble may not be of our own causing.
II. A PROPHET IN DANGER. The king was a partaker in the wickedness of the people. He encouraged the prevailing idolatry. Now he shares their suffering. But he never thinks of looking to God for deliverance. He never thinks of humbling himself before God, and confessing his sins. On the contrary, he shows a disposition to cast the blame both on God and on his prophet. When the poor woman in her hunger and distress called to him for help, he answered, "If the Lord do not help thee, whence shall I help thee? out of the barnfloor, or out of the winepress?" Though he wore sackcloth, the outward sign of mourning or penitence, there was no sign of inward penitence or humility in his heart. How blind and infatuated he is in his anger and defiance! He threatens to take away the prophet's life. Jezebel had once said to Elijah, "So let the gods do to me and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them [the prophets whom she had slain] by tomorrow about this time." So here Jehoram says, "God do so and more also to me, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat shall stand on him this day." Even Jezebel's threat had apparently more reason for it than Jehoram's. Elijah had undoubtedly slain the prophets of Baal. But in this case Elisha was innocent of any charge. Jehoram quite gratuitously holds him responsible for the famine in Samaria, and threatens to take away his life. But man proposes and God disposes. Although Elisha is in danger, he is never in dismay. When the king's messenger came to take off his head, Elisha bade the elders to hold the messenger fast at the door till the king himself, who was close behind, should arrive. Elisha had had dealings with Jehoram before. He would hear his sentence from the king himself, if at all. Well for those who, like Elisha, live near to God. "Serve the Lord in fear," said John Knox on his death-bed," and the flesh will not fear death." Dangers do not distress them; death brings no dismay. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." - C.H.I.
And there was a great famine in Samaria.
I. THAT WHATEVER EVIL IS SENT UPON A COUNTRY, IS SENT BY GOD. This is confirmed by a passage in the prophet Amos (Amos 3:6), in which the prophet says, "Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?" Here is a great king, with a mighty army, to beset a nation, nominally for his own purpose, after the designs of his own heart, without any reference to God at all; but in reality, simply and plainly accomplishing what God has commanded and declared beforehand should be done. Then you know the history of the plagues of Egypt, the manner in which the locusts were sent upon the land, and the way in which "there were lice in all their quarters." God sent them there; He having determined that evil should come upon the people.
II. THAT WHEREVER SIN ABOUNDS, JUDGMENT IS TO BE EXPECTED. But God has positively declared that sin shall be punished. "Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished." Men may use all their wisdom; but their wisdom is utter folly.
III. THAT NOTWITHSTANDING SIN IS TO BE FOLLOWED BY JUDGMENT, YET JUDGMENT IS GOD'S "strange work."
IV. THAT DOUBTING GOD'S WILLINGNESS TO SHOW MERCY, PROVOKES THE LORD. So that you perceive, the determination of God is, that men shall, sooner or later, acknowledge Him: while on the other hand, we know that belief honours Him. (H. M. Villiers, M. A.).
(H. M. Villiers, M. A.).
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