Bible Commentary: 2 Kings 6:8-23

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2 Kings 6:8-23

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Servant Sees and Enemy Blinded 

Second Kings 6:8-23 gives us a powerful example of God's supernatural help and His law in action. Ben-Hadad II, king of Syria, while at war with Israel, becomes aware that the prophet Elisha receives supernatural insight from God about the king's actions. He therefore sends an army into the city of Dothan in Israel to capture the prophet. Elisha's servant becomes afraid when, early in the morning, he sees the city surrounded by the Syrian army with their horses and chariots. Elisha, though, prays to God to open his servant's eyes, and he sees "the mountain...full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha" (verse 17). God had sent an angelic army to protect His servants.

Since God is the same yesterday, today and forever (see Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8), and since God is impartial (Acts 10:34), we can have trust and confidence that He will grant the same kind of protection to His servants today. Jesus Christ knew that the Father would have sent Him more than 12 legions of angels—72,000 of them—to protect Him from the armed multitude sent to apprehend Him if that had been God's will at the time (Matthew 26:53). Christ had been assisted and protected and even strengthened by angels throughout His human life (Matthew 4:11; Luke 22:43). He reassured His servants that they too would have angelic protection in their lives (Matthew 18:10). Sometimes, people actually meet angels without even realizing it (Hebrews 13:2). None of this is meant to imply that God's servants have a guarantee against suffering or even martyrdom. Rather, whatever happens to His people is according to His strict allowance. And God will always use His infinite power in our best interests.

Answering Elisha's prayer, God strikes the Syrians with some sort of temporary blindness, and Elisha leads them right to the camp of the army of Israel. The king of Israel, Jehoram, wonders whether he should kill the Syrians, but Elisha instructs him to "set food and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master" (2 Kings 6:22). Jehoram heeds this advice and prepares "a great feast for them." The result is amazing. After they returned to the king of Syria, "the bands of Syrian raiders came no more into the land of Israel" (verse 23). While this may have been due to fear over the supernatural intervention they had witnessed, it is likely that a lessening of ill will was also a factor. When they could have been slaughtered, they were instead fed and freed.

The Bible tells us to provide our enemy with food and drink when he hungers and thirsts. The lesson here is not one of satisfying the demands of an invading host. Rather, it is that of showing mercy to an enemy who is at our mercy. When we do so, the enemy may become ashamed of his unkindness toward us and possibly even change his attitude (Romans 12:20). In fact, if our ways please God (and it is pleasing to God when we love our enemies and do good to them; Luke 6:35), He will make our enemies to be at peace with us (Proverbs 16:7). The episode in 2 Kings 6 is a powerful example that we can rely on this promise.