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12th April

2 Kings 4-7; Psalm 102

Bible in a Year
6 minutes
In this article
12th April

2 Kings 4-7; Psalm 102

Bible in a Year
6 minutes


So far in 1-2 Kings, we've read through Solomon's reign, the splitting of the kingdom, and the era of kings and prophets. Solomon's reign began with eliminating his rivals. He then asked God for wisdom, which led to peace and prosperity in Israel. Solomon built the temple and his palace but disobeyed God by accumulating wealth, horses, and marrying foreign wives, leading to idol worship.

God told Solomon his kingdom would be divided after his death: Israel in the north under Jeroboam and Judah in the south under Rehoboam. Jeroboam's led the northern tribes in worship to other gods. After Jeroboam, leaders like Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri, and Ahab followed in Israel, all doing evil. In Judah, Rehoboam also did evil, as did his son Abijam. Then came Asa, who returned the people to God but relied on Syria instead of God when attacked. He was replaced by his son Jehoshaphat.

The story shifted to Elijah, a prophet who condemned Ahab for idolatry and predicted a drought. Elijah performed miracles, defeated Baal's prophets, and fled from Jezebel. He met God, anointed new leaders, and chose Elisha as his successor. Elisha condemned Ahab for seizing Naboth's vineyard. Ahab died in battle, succeeded by Ahaziah, then Jehoram. Yesterday we read as Elijah was taken to heaven, and Elisha stepped up to fill his place. We saw Elisha performing many of the miracles Elijah had done. The northern and southern kings, Jehoram and Jehoshaphat, banded together to fight against Moab. While it looked like they were winning the battle turned when the king of Moab sacrificed his own son.

2 Kings 4-7

We continue on with more of Elisha's ministry. We see a hugely compassionate side to Elisha through his miracles. Each miracle he performs is in response to a need he sees in front of him.

A widow comes to him, in debt, and worried that her children were going to be taken into slavery. He performs a miracle that allowed her to multiply the small amount of oil that she had, so that she could sell it and pay off her debts. This parallels the miracle we saw Elijah perform for the widow of Zarephath in 1 Kings 17:8-16. There Elijah provides enough oil and flour to sustain the widow and her son. Here, Elisha provides enough oil for the widow to sell to others and make a profit.

In his travels, he meets a wealthy woman, who generously feeds him whenever he passes by, and builds an extension on her house so that he would have a room to stay. Wanting to bless her, he finds out she has no children. She was likely barren. So he performs a miracle, opens up her womb, and allows her to have a child.

Later, that child dies, and she comes to Elisha grieving. Seeing her sorrow is once again moved by compassion. He comes back and raises the child from the dead. This parallels the miracle we saw Elijah performing raising the widow’s son in 1 Kings 17:17-24. There Elijah raised a young boy from the dead. Here Elisha first opens the womb of a barren womb so she could give birth, then raised the young boy when he died.

Later, when he's with some fellow prophets, they make a stew to eat. But one prophet picks up some wild vegetables, not realising they're poisonous, and throws them into the stew. Realising that the stew is deadly, all the men refuse to eat it, so Elisha performs a miracle and cleans the stew of all death so they can eat it again.

Then another time a man came to bring Elisha an offering of some bread and grain and Elisha tells him to give it to the prophets. The man points out that there is not enough bread to go around and so Elisha performs a miracle so that not only is there enough, but there's some left other.

Next up, a man called Naaman was the commander of the king of Syria's army, but he also had leprosy. In one of their raids against Israel, they picked up a little girl who became a servant to Naaman's wife. The little girl mentioned that if Naaman went to see Elisha, he would heal him.

So Naaman is sent off, first to the king of Israel, then to Elisha. But rather than meeting him face to face, Elisha sends a messenger to tell him to wash seven times in the river Jordan. At first, Naaman was angry that Elisha wouldn't see him personally, but his servant encouraged him to do what Elisha said. As soon as he did, he was healed.

Going back to Elisha, he committed his life to the God of Israel. Naaman then asks Elisha for two mule loads of earth. At this time, the way people saw the gods was geographic. Each god was a god over a specific geographic domain, like Moab, or Egypt, or Syria. Yahweh, the God of the Bible, the God of Israel. This was because he had disinherited the rest of the earth back in Genesis 11.

That’s not to say that Yahweh only had authority in Israel. The Exodus showed us he could enter the territory of other gods and defeat them on their own land. But it does mean, for the time, that Yahweh’s presence was reserved for his land.

Because this land belonged to Yahweh, Naaman’s hope was that if he took some of the land with him, he could take Yahweh with him. That way when he goes back to his land, where Rimmon was the geographic god, and his master offers sacrifices in the temple of Rimmon, Naaman will have the dirt of Yahweh to hold on to and Yahweh would be with him.

In these stories, we see not only is Elisha a prophet who is powerful, he is often moved by compassion for the widow, the hungry, and the foreigner.

Unfortunately, the servant of Elisha, Gehazi, gets greedy and chases down Naaman, asking him for money and clothes. When Elisha finds out what he has done, he curses him with the very leprosy he had just healed from Naaman. This is followed by a story where Elisha causes a missing axe head to float so it could be found.

The king of Syria starts warring against Israel, but Elisha tells the king about the Syrians’ plans before they do them. On hearing this, the Syrians hunt down Elisha, who blinds them and leads them into the hands of the king of Israel. As a demonstration of power, the king then feeds them and sends them home unhurt.

But then the king of Syria, Ben-hadad, gathers his army and sieges Samaria, the capital of Israel. The city quickly runs out of food and we read how the people resort to cannibalism, eating their own children to survive. It's awful. And you might think, how can God just let this happen? But the reality is he gave them plenty of warning.

We read back in Deuteronomy 28 the curses of disobedience. The people of Israel were warned that if they continually disobeyed and sinned against God, things would get worse and worse for them. Deuteronomy 28:53 even predicted that there would be sieges so bad that the people would end up eating their own children.

But despite this, we see that God is in control. The king tries to arrest and kill Elisha, but Elisha refuses to come out. He tells the commander who came to arrest him that by the next day there would be an abundance of food, and that the commander would see it but not eat it.

The next day some lepers offered themselves up to the Syrians, only to find that God had tricked them and chased them away. These lepers then alerted the town to all the food and wealth that the Syrians had left behind.

The commander tried to manage the people coming in and out to get food, but they trampled him to death in their hurry, just as Elisha predicted. Even in these dark times, even after all the disobedience of the people, God was still in control and God will still fight for them.

Psalm 102

This psalm is attributed to ‘one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the Lord’. There’s been much discussion about who this might be, but no concrete answers have emerged. It falls into the category of lament psalm.

Psalm 102:1-2 - Opening request

Psalm 102:3-11 - Complaint

Psalm 102:12-17 - Declaration of trust

Psalm 102:18-22 - Declaration of trust for future generations

Psalm 102:23-28 - Final complaint, request, and declaration of trust

The psalmist opens with the request for God to listen. They ask that God hear them and show up. Then we get to the complaint. The psalmist feels like they are wasting away. Their days are like smoke easily blown away. Their bones crumbling and turning to ash like they’ve been burnt in a furnace. Their heart is like grass that’s been cut and withered away.

The psalmist is weak, wasting away, and lonely. They are surrounded by enemies who curse and taunt them. And all of this is because of God’s indignation and anger. To the psalmist, it feels like God is the one punishing them.

And then the psalmist encourages themself with truth about God. He is enthroned forever as king. There will come a time again when God will have pity on Jerusalem and restore her. Once again, nations will fear the Lord’s name and Jerusalem will be the pinnacle of his glory, because he hears the prayers of those in need.

The psalmist then looks forward to future generations. They want them to know that the Lord looks down from heaven and sees those captive and hurting and sets them free. There will come a time when all people and kingdoms come together to worship the Lord.

Finally, the psalmist turns back to their own situation. God has broken their strength and shortened their days. They ask God to lengthen their life, for God is eternal. He created the heavens and the earth. Both of those will one day perish but God will remain for God has no end. Because of this, those who are loyal to God can be confident he will always be there for them.

Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.

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