2 Kings 13

Prayer

Lord, help me to see more clearly my weakness yet Your strength, my impurity yet Your perfection, my inability yet Your sufficiency. Teach me to depend always on You, for when I am faithless, You remain faithful. For that attribute, Lord, is the very fabric of Your character.

Today’s Hymn

Nikolaus L. von Zinzendorf

Words: Nikolaus L. von Zinzendorf, 1739 (Christi Blut und Gerechtigkeit); first published in the eighth appendix to his Das Gesang-Buch der Gemeine in Herrn-Huth.; translated from German to English by John Wesley, Hymns and Sacred Poems, 1740, alt.

JESUS, THY BLOOD AND RIGHTEOUSNESS
Click here for tune.

Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
‘Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.

Bold shall I stand in Thy great day;
For who aught to my charge shall lay?
Fully absolved through these I am
From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.

The holy, meek, unspotted Lamb,
Who from the Father’s bosom came,
Who died for me, e’en me to atone,
Now for my Lord and God I own.

Lord, I believe Thy precious blood,
Which, at the mercy seat of God,
Forever doth for sinners plead,
For me, e’en for my soul, was shed.

Lord, I believe were sinners more
Than sands upon the ocean shore,
Thou hast for all a ransom paid,
For all a full atonement made.

When from the dust of death I rise
To claim my mansion in the skies,
Ev’n then this shall be all my plea,
Jesus hath lived, hath died, for me.

This spotless robe the same appears,
When ruined nature sinks in years;
No age can change its glorious hue,
The robe of Christ is ever new.

Jesus, the endless praise to Thee,
Whose boundless mercy hath for me-
For me a full atonement made,
An everlasting ransom paid.

O let the dead now hear Thy voice;
Now bid Thy banished ones rejoice;
Their beauty this, their glorious dress,
Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness.

Thought Provoker

Have you ever read a book and suddenly, arrived at a scene that at first seemed to be out of place? Have you ever traveled down a road and passed by something that seemed to be not where it should be? Have you ever watched a television program and suddenly, an incident arose that seemed ill positioned? It caught your attention but seemed to be so awkwardly out of place. So it is as we consider today’s passage in 2 Kings 13. For several chapters, numerous kings are highlighted (unfortunately, so too are their evil deeds), yet in the midst of 2 Kings 13, a brief break in the pattern occurs, only to revert once again in the chapters to follow to the listing of kings and their “de-accomplishments.”

Dad’s Study

This break in pattern centers around the death of the prophet Elisha, who at this juncture is some eighty years old. Tucked where it is, this account seems misplaced, awkward in its sudden inclusion. 1 Kings 13:14 opens: “Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died.” Several verses later, 13:20 informs us: “And Elisha died, and they buried him.” In between, a significant and symbolic story unfolds concerning the dying Elisha and Joash, the king of Israel. Though perhaps at first odd in its placement, this brief interlude surrounding the death of Elisha points us to the supremacy of God as contrasted with the deficiency of man.

Though Elisha is dying, the Lord strengthens him enough to expose King Joash to a divinely sent object lesson. Elisha instructs the king to take a bow and shoot an arrow out the window. With the king’s hand on the bow and Elisha’s hand on the king’s, the bow is fired and the arrow lunges to the east, the direction of the enemy. Then Elisha instructs the king to shoot on the ground, which the king proceeds to do, albeit only three times. This stirs the ire of Elisha: “And the man of God was wroth with him, and said, ‘Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice'” (13:19). Because the king stopped at shooting three arrows, his victories over Syria would stop at three. But if he had only continued to fire arrows, his victories would have continued and total conquest the result. But the king relied upon his own strength and his own wisdom – for this he would miss out on God’s blessing.

Click here for Matthew Henry’s Commentary.

Truth in Practice

Several practical truths resonate from this brief discourse between the prophet and the king, which help us as fathers to point our children to the supremacy of God in contrast to the deficiency of man.

1. Though God’s messenger is hindered with sickness, God’s message will always reach its intended target with His intended results (“not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy … (His) washing … (His) renewing” – Titus 3:5).

2. Elisha’s positioning of his hands on King Joash’s hands as the arrow was shot from the bow symbolizes that the source of victory is divine, not human (“The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety or deliverance is of the Lord” – Proverbs 21:31).

3. Nevertheless, obedience is man’s responsibility, as evidenced by the command to the king to shoot arrows at the ground (“But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” – James 1:25).

“And Elisha died, and they buried him” (2 Kings 13:20), yet the power of God did not falter one iota (Read 13:20-21). Wise is this reminder: “There are no great men of God but there is a great God in men!” For you see, it is all about Him, not us; His plan, not ours! Even when it seems, at first, out of place.

Pastor Jim Stevanus – Wabash, IN

Catechism

Question 38

Q. What shall be done to the wicked at their death?

A. The souls of the wicked shall at their death be cast into the torments of hell (Luke 16:22-24), and their bodies lie in their graves till the resurrection and judgment of the great day (Ps. 49:14).