Sometime later, Ben-Hadad king of Aram mobilized his entire army and marched up and laid siege to Samaria. There was a great famine in the city; the siege lasted so long that a donkey’s head sold for eighty shekels of silver, and a quarter of a cab of seed pods for five shekels. 2 Kings 6:24-25 NIV
Per time in the life of the Israelites, they always had one nation or the other which saw it as their responsibility to continually wage war against Israel. If it wasn’t the Philistines, it will be the Egyptians, or the Babylonians, or the Arameans (i.e., the Syrians). Our passage of focus today is on the Aramean wars and the lessons learnt therein.
The first tactic the king of Aram devised for conquering Israel was the principle of ambush. He made plans with his military generals as to where they would set up their camp and so come upon the Israelites unawares. Their plans were solid, strong and well-laid. They would have succeeded if not for the prophet in Israel. Elisha, was a major stumbling block in whatever the enemy wanted to do to Israel and to those around him. He was a bulwark of defense for God’s people. On account of his relationship with God and his availability for God to use, he became the conduit through which God’s people experienced the power of God. One of the miracles he had done earlier was to cause an iron axe-head to float – a feat that was impossible by every natural means.
The prophet, Elisha, always revealed to the king of Israel what the Aramean king and his generals were planning. That way, the king of Israel never fell into the trap of the king of Aram. This troubled the Aramean king so much that he began to suspect sabotage from his military officers. However, one of the men replied him as follows, “It’s not us, my Lord the king. Elisha, the prophet in Israel, tells the king of Israel even the words you speak in the privacy of your bedroom!” 2 Kings 6:12 NLT
Thus, the Aramean king gave orders for the arrest of the prophet. He did not send merely two or three men; rather, he sent a great army with chariots and horses to come and arrest Elisha. It was supposed to be a hopeless situation for the prophet, with no way of escape. The commander of the army, Naaman, may have pleaded with the king on behalf of Elisha, but he was adamant.
The prophet’s servant had come out to do some things when he lifted his eyes and sighted a great host of military men approaching Elisha’s house; and he knew immediately that there was problem somewhere. He ran back into the house to call Elisha’s attention; “Oh sir!”, he exclaimed, “what shall we do now?” As far as he was concerned, the matter was impossible for Elisha to escape. However, the prophet was not perturbed. He had already seen them coming, and was adequately prepared for them. Elisha was not perturbed because there was something he knew, that his servant did not know.
Fear and courage are both products of knowledge. There is something that you will know now, and fear will grip your heart. There is also something that you will know now, and every fear will disappear from your heart. “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” 2 Kings 6:16 NLT. He then prayed and asked the Lord to open his servant’s eyes so that he could see. The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire. Those that were with them, were indeed greater than those that were against them. Instantly, every fear left him.
Elisha played a game with those soldiers. He struck them blind, led them to the center of the city where the king of Israel received them, served them food and let them return to their master. Of course, the matter shook the king of Aram to the bones, such that he had no option than to return to his land.
What of you? Are there fears in your heart? Fear of the future, or fear of the unknown, or fear of the spirit forces? Are you afraid of failure, or of death? Please note that every fear has an answer – knowledge, and knowledge comes through prayer and the word of God. I remember those days when I was afraid of death by accident. The reason was not far-fetched. The two roads I navigated to my place of work daily were notable for killing people on a daily basis. That season, there was almost no day that you don’t hear stories of or actually see accidents that occurred on any of those roads. One of the roads went through a valley and every vehicle that passed there risked skidding off the road into the valley, as there were no side blocks to demarcate the road from the deep valley. The other one was so bad that it became notorious for heavy duty vehicles whose brakes refused to engage racing off and crushing a private car or a bus with many people inside. When one of my friends lost his life on one of those roads, I became more afraid. Until one day when I was reading the scriptures, and I came across this passage in the NIV translation:
“Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death.” Psalms 68:20
That day, it became clear to me that I cannot die by accident. Even if my vehicle falls into the valley, I will escape alive. For from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death. The roads are better now, and we’ve continued to plough on them; but no matter what, God’s word has not changed. – from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death.
Any area of life where you are experiencing fear and anxiety, I encourage you to take it to the Lord in prayer, with His word before you. When your eyes are opened and the knowledge of God infuses into you. That fear will leave you; and with courage and faith present in your heart, you will surely overcome no matter the environment.
After some time, the king of Aram came to attack Israel again. In characteristic manner as the devil who never gives up in his pursuit of a Christian’s life even when he has been defeated, this king came bringing a different strategy. This time, instead of an ambush, he came with a siege. He blocked the entrance into Israel such that no one could export, import or do business at the gates. This strategy was a quiet and patient strategy which resulted in hunger and famine in the land of Israel as the siege lasted.
The famine got to a point where two women connived to kill and eat their sons just to survive. Even the king of Israel was helpless. Permit me to say here that sometimes kings can be helpless. We find it very easy to blame everything on the king, but while he should indeed take responsibility, the true responsibility was to lie with the prophet of God in the land – the one who had the blessed privilege of accessing God’s heart. Matters got to a head one day when the king of Israel threatened to kill prophet Elisha for his inability to proffer solution to the famine. The dynamics of what God did that day is to remain a lesson for the generations to come on how to navigate tough times and hard seasons.