Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jul 1 2019 - 2 Kings 6:24-7:20 – Siege of Samaria

Israel and Aram were at war again and the Arameans laid siege to Samaria, the capital city of the kingdom of Israel. The siege lasted so long that people were reduced to eating donkey's heads. But matters were to get worse. A woman appealed to the king for help: she and a neighbour agreed to cook and eat her son one day and to do the same with the neighbour's son on the next day. They ate the first boy, but now the neighbour was hiding her son. The narrative does not tell us whether the boys had already died of hunger; even if that were the case, the story is truly horrific.

When Jehoram, king of Israel heard the story he was not only deeply upset, he was angry and seemed to blame Elisha for the siege. To understand this we need to go back to 2 Kings 6:8-23 which we skipped over in our readings. The king of Aram feared that Elisha the prophet had the power to discern his war plans. He therefore sent soldiers to capture Elisha but they were struck blind by the Lord. Elisha then led them into Samaria where their eyes were opened to find themselves in the enemy capital. The king of Israel wanted to kill them but Elisha stopped him. Instead they were treated to a great feast before being sent back to their king. Now the king was besieging Samaria with a far larger company of his soldiers. If Elisha had not treated the previous soldiers with such kindness, the king of Aram might never have besieged the city. Jehoram, king of Israel, is now after Elisha's head.

A messenger was sent to Elisha who, rather than worrying for his life, sent back a message to the king saying that tomorrow the siege will be over and food will be plentiful. This word from the Lord seemed incredible to the messenger who was the right-hand-man of the king. Elisha replied that he will see it but will not taste any of the good things that God will provide the following day.

Chapter seven records how the Lord caused the Aramean army, "to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, ‘Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!’" (7:6). The army took fright and fled leaving their tents and all their belongings behind. Later, four lepers from Samaria, arguing that they would die if they remained in the city, went out to the Aramean camp to beg for food. There they found the Aramean's tents full of provisions, but no soldiers in them. At first they began to eat the food and drink the wine – they had quite a party – but then one of them said, "What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves… Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace" (7:9). And that's what they did.

The king sent a scouting party to the Aramean camp to discover whether this strange message was true. When the scouts returned to the city and spread the news, all the inhabitants rushed out of the city to plunder the Aramean camp. In the rush, the king's messenger who was standing in the gateway was crushed to death. As Elisha had said, he had witnessed God's provision for the starving city but he had not lived to taste any of it.

The Lord had rescued Samaria from the army of the king of Aram. But God has rescued us from a far greater enemy; he has rescued us from sin and death through the Lord Jesus Christ. More than that, he has "opened the floodgates of heaven" and has poured out his blessings upon us, the blessings of forgiveness, reconciliation with God, acceptance into the family of his children, the blessing of Christian fellowship, the gift of his Spirit, the hope of glory and much more besides. This is a day of good news. The challenge for us is whether we, like those lepers in today's passage, will be convinced that we do wrong when we keep this blessing to ourselves. We need to tell others the good news. Someone has said that evangelism – sharing the good news of God's salvation with someone else – is just one beggar telling another where they can find food.

Father God, we thank you for your salvation and the abundant blessings you have poured out upon us in the Lord Jesus. Help us to share the good news of your salvation with others that they too may share in the riches of your grace and live to praise you.

Peter Misselbrook