1-6 The Temperance for Judgment
Here we find the story of one woman who finds relief in the time of judgment. The thing to note about this section is that it is not necessarily chronological. I’m suggesting that it is inserted to tell a story of the king whose temperament became ripe for judgment. There are three attitudes related to us about the northern king, king Joram within 2½ chapters. Let me try and explain.
Seven of the king’s twelve years of ruling were spent dealing with this famine. The famine actually begins back in chapter 4. This incident in chapter 8 had to have happened before Gehazi was hit with leprosy, as the king neither would nor could have anything to do with a leper. We also know from chapter 4 that Elisha had become well connected with king Joram and is able to get this woman anything she could request. First, we witness of the king…
An Attitude of Wonder
The king had this “Attitude of Wonder” about Elisha. He had experienced the answer to victory with Jehoshaphat in a battle against Moab. He knew that Elisha had healed Naaman’s leprosy. He also knew Elisha had rescued him from a Syrian assassination plot then eventually delivered blinded enemy captives into his hands. The king was impressed.
NIV 4 The king was talking to Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, and had said, “Tell me about all the great things Elisha has done.”
It’s like they were sitting around a campfire eating Smores and telling the tall tales of Elisha. I’m sure the king could not believe what he heard as Gehazi informed him of the dead son brought back to life.
An Attitude of Welcome
And as Gehazi is telling the story who should show up? Well miracle of miracles, the woman herself. What an “Attitude of Welcome” she received in the midst of the story.
NIV 5 Just as Gehazi was telling the king how Elisha had restored the dead to life, the woman whose son Elisha had brought back to life came to beg the king for her house and land. Gehazi said, “This is the woman, my lord the king, and this is her son whom Elisha restored to life.”
At some moments, timing is everything in life and this woman’s timing was perfect. What her return to Israel reveals was the present condition of this king’s heart. Elisha was a welcome story and this woman fit perfectly into the king’s present perspective and attitude toward Elisha.
NIV 6 The king asked the woman about it, and she told him. Then he assigned an official to her case and said to him, “Give back everything that belonged to her, including all the income from her land from the day she left the country until now.”
And as long as everything went smoothly, any friend of Elisha’s is a friend of mine! And then something happened. There was a notable change in the attitude of the king toward Elisha.
An Attitude of Wretchedness
We discover an “Attitude of Wretchedness.” A new famine in the city of Samaria as a result of the Syrian blockade produced an amazing nightmare for king Joram. A definite change in his temperament could be seen. The major turning point in this narrative seems to result from a conversation with two women, who the king discovers, had cannibalized a child. Instead of holding the woman accountable he projects the culpability toward Elisha and ultimately God.
NIV 2 Kings 6:31 He said, “May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if the head of Elisha son of Shaphat remains on his shoulders today!”
This “Attitude of Wretchedness” rears its ugly head and those words, eventually, Joram the king will wish he never had uttered. It’s because of that attitude God raises up tools of judgment. Part 3 continues the topic.
J. Robert Hanson