Hills full of horses and chariots of fire
Exegesis of 2 Kings 6 : 8 – 23
Elisha Traps Blinded Arameans
8 Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, “I will set up my camp in such and such a place.”
9 The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: “Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there.” 10 So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places.
King of Aram
11 This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, “Tell me! Which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?”
12 “None of us, my lord the king,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.”
13 “Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” 14 Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city.
15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.
16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
18 As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.
Leading blinded Arameans into Samaria
19 Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to Samaria.
20 After they entered the city, Elisha said, “Lord, open the eyes of these men so they can see.” Then the Lord opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria.
21 When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?”
22 “Do not kill them,” he answered. “Would you kill those you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master.”
23 So he prepared a great feast for them, and after they had finished eating and drinking, he sent them away, and they returned to their master. So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory. +++
In this paper, we are going to look at how hermeneutics is used to provide a greater understanding of Scriptures and to apply the Biblical teachings accurately to our present situation. This will be accomplished by the exegesis on 2 Kings 6:8-23.
In this process, we will follow Dr. Jeff Weima’s guide to Biblical Hermeneutics and Exegesis, dividing the study into four main areas: the grammatical, the literary, the historical and the theological elements.
1. Grammatical Element
1.1 Verses 8-12 : “The king of Syria warred against Israel” — This seems to have been a sort of guerrilla warfare, carried on by predatory inroads on different parts of the country. Elisha apprised King Jehoram of the secret purpose of the enemy; so, by adopting precautionary measures, he was always enabled to anticipate and defeat their attacks.
The frequency of his disappointments having led the Syrian king to suspect some of his servants of carrying on a treacherous correspondence with the enemy, he was informed about Elisha, whose apprehension he forthwith determined to effect.
This resolution was, of course, grounded on the belief that however great the knowledge of Elisha might be, if seized and kept a prisoner, he could no longer give information to the king of Israel.
1.2 Verse 13 : “Dothan” — or, “Dothaim,” a little north of Samaria.
1.3 Verse 15 : “his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?” — When the Syrian detachment surrounded the place by night, for the apprehension of the prophet, his servant was paralyzed with fear. This was a new servant, who had only been with him since servant Gehazi‘s dismissal and consequently had little or no experience of his master‘s powers. His faith was easily shaken by so unexpected an alarm.
1.4 Verse 17 : “Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see” — The invisible guard of angels that encompass and defend us (Psalm 34:7). The opening of the eyes, which Elisha prayed for, were those of the Spirit, not of the body – the eye of faith sees the reality of the divine presence and protection where all is vacancy or darkness to the ordinary eye.
The horses and chariots were symbols of the divine power (2 Kings 2:12); and their fiery nature denoted their supernatural origin; for fire, the most ethereal of earthly elements, is the most appropriate symbol of the Godhead [Keil].
1.5 Verse 18 : “Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness” — not a total and material blindness, for then they could not have followed him, but a mental hallucination (Genesis 19:11) so that they did not perceive or recognize him to be the object of their search.
1.6 Verses 19a : “This is not the way, neither is this the city”— This statement is so far true that, as he had now left the place of his residence, they would not have got him by that road. But the ambiguity of his language was purposely framed to deceive them; and yet the deception must be viewed in the light of a stratagem, which has always been deemed lawful in war.
1.7 Verse 19-23 : “he led them to Samaria” — When they were arrived in the midst of the capital, their eyes, at Elisha‘s request, were opened, and they then became aware of their defenceless condition, for King Jehoram had received private premonition of their arrival. The king, so far from being allowed to slay the enemies who were thus unconsciously put in his power, was recommended to entertain them with liberal hospitality and then dismiss them to their own country.
This was humane advice; it was contrary to the usage of war to put war captives to death in cold blood, even when taken by the point of the sword, much more those whom the miraculous power and providence of God had unexpectedly placed at his disposal.
In such circumstances, kind and hospitable treatment was every way more becoming in itself, and would be productive of the best effects. It would rebound to the credit of the true religion, which inspired such an excellent spirit into its professors; and it would not only prevent the future opposition of the Syrians but make them stand in awe of a people who, they had seen, were so remarkably protected by a prophet of the Lord. The latter clause of 2 Kings 6:23 shows that these salutary effects were fully realized. A moral conquest had been gained over the Syrians.
2. Literary Element
With over 40 different authors, the Bible is made up of a variety of writing styles. Literary genre describes the type of literature that is similar in content, tone, or structure. For hermeneutics, literary genre helps us know how to read and understand the text better. For instance, a history book wouldn’t be read and understood in the same way as poetry. By knowing the literary genre, one is more prepared for observation, and verses are better understood within their context.
The main genres found in the Bible are these: law, history, wisdom, poetry, narrative, epistles, prophecy and apocalyptic literature.
The Genre of 1 and 2 Kings is that of History. Other Biblical books like Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Acts are also predominately history. Knowledge of secular history is crucial, as it dovetails perfectly with biblical history and makes interpretation much more robust. These are stories of what God did to and through people. They may not have a moral or direct teaching as they record history whether good or bad. The stories emphasize God’s nature and revelation and teach in a manner that no other literary genre can. In it we find that God is the heroic protagonist! He is the Sovereign Lord! However, some stories will be difficult to understand; we are not always told how and why God did things.
3. Historical Element
The Book of 2 Kings is a history of Israel’s and Judah’s kings. Until King Solomon died, there was one nation called Israel. But after his death, the nation was divided into two kingdoms. The southern kingdom was called Judah. The northern kingdom was usually called Israel. The Bible author of 2 Kings writes about the events in both of these kingdoms in turn. The author writes much about the kings that affected the religion in each kingdom. In 1 Kings, the author said a lot about the prophet called Elijah. In 2 Kings, he says a lot about another prophet called Elisha.
The author of 2 Kings believes that the people should obey the laws in the Book of Deuteronomy. The important question is whether they did so or not. His opinion about them depends on that. In the northern kingdom called Israel, all the kings refused to obey God’s law. They did not give honour to God at Jerusalem. They worshipped false gods. These kings were evil men; and most people in that kingdom imitated their behaviour. While in the southern kingdom called Judah, the behavior of the kings and the people varied. Some of them obeyed God’s law; but many did not. In the end, the rulers of both kingdoms became very evil. So God allowed their enemies to attack them and to defeat them. This happened because the kings and the people refused to obey God.
In 2 Kings 6: 8-23, the chosen passage calls to our attention to the hostilities that Israel was experiencing with the king of Aram (Syria). The principle source of these hostilities continued in the form of invading bands or plundering parties who would make border raids against the people of God (verse 23) rather than an invasion of an organized Syrian army as mentioned in 2 Kings 6:24 onwards.
4. Theological Element
Interpreting Scripture with Scripture
There are four prominent theological elements present in the Scripture passage of 2 Kings 6: 8-23.
First, the Lord will judge His people when they disobey and turn their backs on Him (verse 8).
The Israelites’ unfaithfulness was reflected in the evil idolatry of the kings and resulted in God exercising His righteous wrath against their sin and rebellion. In Deuteronomy 11:28 (NIV), the Scriptures says of “the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.” The Lord is a jealous God and idol worshipping is an abomination to the Lord.
Second, the words of the true prophets of God always come to pass.
Because the Lord always keeps His word, so too are the words of His prophets always true. The prophetic words of Elisha came to pass (Verses 9-14). Prophet Elisha was sharing Syria’s war plans with the King of Israel. Elisha’s knowledge came from God directly. In Numbers 12:6 (NIV), the Lord says that “When there is a prophet among you, the Lord will reveal Himself to them in visions and speak to them in dreams.” And in Isaiah 44:26a, it is the Lord “who carries out the words of his servants and fulfils the predictions of his messengers.” When the King of Syria discovered that Elisha was doing this, he became Elisha’s enemy. He sent soldiers to capture him.
We need to realize that when we do what is righteous and true, we will also make enemies. We must make sure however that what we are doing what is right. 1 Peter 2:19-20 states that, “For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.”
Third, the Lord is faithful and will protect His people (verses 15-20).
In His faithfulness He remembered His promise to David as in 2 Samuel 7:10-11, the Lord promised that, “And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies”. And in Lamentations 3:22-23 the words of Prophet Jeremiah further affirmed that “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassion never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Despite the disobedience of the people of God and the evil kings who ruled them, the Lord did not bring David’s family to an end. He will always protect His people because of His faithfulness and covenant with the people of God.
Fourth, is to LOVE our enemies.
Elisha “blessed” his enemies by feeding them and sending them home in peace (verses 22-23). In Matthew 22:37-40, the Lord Jesus Christ taught us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” And who are our neighbors? They included our enemies as well.
5. Sermon Outline
Title : God is Always With Us – Be Courageous
Bible Passage – 2 Kings 6 : 8-23
As Christians, we will have enemies for the sake of Christ. In 2 Timothy 3:12 the Scripture clearly tells us that, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
Therefore, how we deal with our enemies will be an indication of how closely we are walking with God. Enemies tend to scare us, but God wants us to be courageous and strong before them.
Proverbs 29:25 states that the fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.
The prophet Elisha is our role model for being fearless and courageous before our enemies. We can learn from his life and the challenges he faced against the enemies.
THE MESSAGE :
1. ELISHA’S PROBLEM WAS CAUSED BY TRUTH AND RIGHTEOUSNESS – Verses 8-14
Elisha was sharing Syria’s war plans with the King of Israel. Elisha’s knowledge came directly from God. When the King of Syria discovered that Elisha was doing this, he became Elisha’s enemy. He sent soldiers to capture and apprehend him.
Elisha got in trouble for doing what was right. We need to realize that when we do what is right, we will also make enemies. We must make sure however that we are doing what is right in the Lord (1 Peter 3:16-17, 4:15-16).
2. HIS PROTECTION CAME FROM GOD – Verses 15-17
Elisha was not upset because he knew God was protecting him. He asked God to show his servant the great heavenly host that had them protected.
We must remember that God has promised to protect us and He is able to take care of us even through difficult and “impossible” circumstances (Isaiah 41:10, 1 John 4:4, Hebrews 2:13-14, Jeremiah 32:27).
3. HIS PRAYERS CLIMAXED IN VICTORY – Verse 18
Prophet Elisha’s prayer that his enemies would become blind was answered. This prayer did not result in permanent difficulty for his enemies, but enabled him and the people of God to be delivered from their power. We must trust that God will answer our prayers just like Prophet Elisha (Luke 18:1, James 5:16-18).
4. HIS PLAN CALLED FOR LOVING OUR ENEMIES – Verses 19-23
Elisha “blessed” his enemies by feeding them and sending them home in peace.
Our Lord Jesus Christ expects us to act in like fashion (Matthew 5:43-48, Matthew 22:37-40, Romans 12:18-21 and 1 John 4:8). The end result of the kindness Elisha showed was a cessation of raids made on Israel’s towns.
How often do we have eyes, and yet do not see? We see the problems, the opposition and the people who oppose us clearly. Yet we sometimes have trouble seeing beyond our adversity to the resources and faithfulness God can provide to us. Sometimes God’s resources will enable us to emerge on top. Often God will just enable us to survive the onslaught. Sometimes God will simply give us strength to maintain a Christ-like spirit in the midst of abuse and ill-treatment at the hands of others. Yet, the resources of God are there, even if we can’t always see them.
Trusting God even when we cannot see the chariots of fire on the mountain is spiritual sight. We call it faith! Faith in the living God!
Furthermore, we as Christians, we have His Word and the Holy Spirit to guide us and warn us when we are up against our enemies. Like the prophets of old, His Word is trustworthy and always speaks the truth. God’s faithfulness to His people will never fail, even when we do. God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble (Psalms 46:1).
In the Bible, Christ Jesus is our Victory. In Him we have everything we need for the life now and the hereafter. He has promised to be with us till the very end of age. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He is the Alpha and Omega. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He alone is worthy of our worship.
Author’s Note : Hello friends, this is another assignment submitted to CLI. I have posted it here for believers everywhere and seekers of the truth. Not perfect but I tried my very best. God’s Word is so RICH. I am glad that I have completed it. Be Blessed as I share it with you. Praise the Lord! Bro Chim. June 2013
Christian Leaders Institute (CLI)
Hermeneutics and Exegesis – Paper # 2
Works Cited :
1. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible 2 Kings 6