2 Kings 7

Prayer

Father, You have preserved for us in Your Scriptures, ways You have handled the unbelief of men. Be merciful to us; we have weaknesses similar to those who have preceded us. We ask for grace; give us the ability to unite faith to what we know, hear and read of You.

Today’s Hymn

Carl C. Boberg

Words: Carl G. Boberg, in Mönsterås-Tidningen, 1886 (O Store Gud); translated from Swedish to English by Stuart K. Hine: This hymn took a circuitous route to reach its present form in English. A generation after Boberg wrote the Swedish original, the words were translated into German in 1907, and quickly became popular in Germany. In 1927, the German version was translated into Russian, and Hine, a missionary in the Ukraine, heard it. He began the English translation some time later while in Carpathia, later adding the second and third verses, which contained much of his own original thought. Verse four came from Hine's pen in 1948, and, in leaf­let form, the hymn came to the attention of George Beverly Shea during the Billy Graham Crusade of 1954. After that, it became a favorite through­out the English speaking world.

HOW GREAT THOU ART
Click here for tune.

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed:

Refrain

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:
How great thou art! How great thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:
How great thou art! How great thou art!

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze:

Refrain

And when I think that God, his Son not sparing,
Sent him to die, I scarce can take it in,
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin:

Refrain

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration,
And there proclaim, “My God, how great thou art!”

Refrain

Optional extra verses:

3a. O, when I see ungrateful man defiling
This bounteous earth, God’s gifts so good and great,
In foolish pride God’s holy name reviling
And yet, in grace, his wrath and judgment wait:

3b. When burdens press, and seem beyond endurance,
Bowed down with grief, to him I lift my face,
And then in love he brings me sweet assurance,
“My child! for thee sufficient is my grace”

Thought Provoker

This passage is a chronicle of truly remarkable Providential events whereby God sustained His servants in this period of national declension. This was an exceptional period of God’s dealings with His covenant people. It was exceptional because of God’s use of what we consider to be supernatural events to meet His peoples’ needs. There is nothing supernatural for God. The laws which He built into the natural creation do not regulate Him. He does as He pleases and nothing restrains Him. Yet, in His ordinary interaction with the recipients of His grace, God works through the laws of His creation and not in contradiction of them. Nonetheless, He remains the same. His commitment to His people remains the same as well. Therefore, we learn crucial realities about God and about the way He sustains His cause in the earth from this passage.

A few questions for reflection in working through this text would be:

a. What do we learn about God in this chapter?

b. What do we learn about the difficulties of serving Him in this world?

c. What do we learn about ourselves?

Dad’s Study

Ask your family to listen for repeated information in the narrative (v.1-2 & v.18-19) as you read chapter 7 to them.

This chapter tells of the miraculous manner in which God protected, delivered and preserved Israel. The story begins with a proclamation of the Word of the Lord, the officer’s response and Elisha’s response to the officer v.1-2. Then follows the account of how God preserves Israel by the use of the reasoning and actions of four lepers and one servant. The story ends by telling us the officer died as Elisha informed him v.17. The Word of the Lord, the officer’s response and Elisha’s response to the officer is repeated v.18-19. Then it is stated again that the officer died v.20.

Discuss with your family the reasoning of both the lepers of Samaria (7:3-4) and the king’s servant (7:13). The leper’s circumstances caused them to place some hope in the mercy of the Armeneans v.3-4. The servant’s circumstances caused him to place some hope in the accuracy of the lepers’ report v.13.

The siege of Samaria by the Arameans was accompanied by a famine in Samaria. Donkey’s heads and dove’s dung sold for a high price 6:24-25. Cannibalism was practiced 6:28-29. The people lost hope.

Ask your family:

1.) How did the conditions in Samaria affect the officer? He asked, Behold, [if] the LORD would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? 7:1-2

2.) What contrast exists in the actions of the lepers and the servant with the response of the officer? The lepers and the servant, driven by ‘hope’ in man, acted prudently. The official, in reception of the Word of the Lord, spoke in unbelief.

3.) What does the contrast of characters in the story communicate? The positioning of the officer’s unbelief against the prudent actions of the lepers and servant highlights the evil of unbelief and the necessity of judgment.

In a similar manner, the comparison of the announcement of the birth of John the Baptist with the announcement of the birth of Jesus teaches the appropriate response to the Word of the Lord. Zacharias became mute because he did not believe the words spoken to him by Gabriel. In contrast, Mary’s response to Gabriel was “be it done to me according to your word”. The announcement of the births of John the Baptist and of Jesus demonstrated unbelief and faith, respectfully. Therefore, we learn from the death of the official in 2 Kings 7, as we do from the ‘muteness’ of Zacharias in Luke 1, that faith must be added to the proclaimed Word of the Lord.

Click here for Matthew Henry’s Commentary.

Truth in Practice

We need to take care of ourselves, for ourselves. We don’t want to be like the officer in 2 Kings or Zacharias in Luke 1.

We should ask ourselves, “Do I have an evil, unbelieving heart?” It is possible to hear the Word of God in private, family and corporate worship and to not unite, in a saving manner, faith to it. The death of the officer appears either harsh (if you view his lack of faith a minor thing) or outdated (since the event occurred so long ago in ‘Old Testament’ times). But don’t let this kind of reasoning deceive you. In addition, do not allow your experiences, of both common grace and a delay in the judgment of God upon sins, be reasons you allow your sin to continue to harden you against the warnings of a future judgment. Death and eternal damnation are realities. You are at severe risk of the same destruction as the officer if you find yourself not uniting faith to the Word of God.

We should ask ourselves, “Do I believe but need help with my unbelief?” It is possible to hear the Word of God in private, family and corporate worship and to not unite, in a sanctifying manner, faith to it. The ‘muteness’ of Zacharias due to his unbelief you may dismiss as inconsequential – he regained his ability to speak. However, realize that Zacharias’ unbelief delayed to him the blessing of proclaiming the glory and grace of God – as Mary declared. In addition, his unbelief denied him the convenience (blessing) of the ability to conduct normal conversation for nine months. Is the lost of a commonly experienced gift such as speech inconsequential?

All that we need for our salvation and sanctification is preserved in our Bible. We must care for ourselves by being conscious of how we approach our listening and reading of the Bible. Right now, do you need to cry out to God for help because your heart is not stirred up with affection, uniting your faith to what you are hearing?

We pray again: Father, You have preserved for us in Your Scriptures, ways You have handled the unbelief of men. Be merciful to us; we have weaknesses similar to those who have preceded us. We ask for grace; give us the ability to unite faith to what we know, hear and read of You.

Octave Bourgeois – Greenville, SC

Catechism

Question 37

Q. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection

A. At the resurrection, believers being raised up in glory (1 Cor. 15:43), shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment (Mt .10:32), and made perfectly blessed both in soul and body in the full enjoying of God (1 John 3:2) to all eternity (1 Th. 4:17).