Elisha prophesies plenty. (1,2) The flight of the Syrian army. (3-11) Samaria plentifully supplied. (12-20)
Verses 1-2 Man's extremity is God's opportunity of making his own power to be glorious: his time to appear for his people is when their strength is gone. Unbelief is a sin by which men greatly dishonour and displease God, and deprive themselves of the favours he designed for them. Such will be the portion of those that believe not the promise of eternal life; they shall see it at a distance, but shall never taste of it. But no temporal deliverances and mercies will in the end profit sinners, unless they are led to repentance by the goodness of God.
Verses 3-11 God can, when he pleases, make the stoutest heart to tremble; and as for those who will not fear God, he can make them fear at the shaking of a leaf. Providence ordered it, that the lepers came as soon as the Syrians were fled. Their consciences told them that mischief would befall them, if they took care of themselves only. Natural humanity, and fear of punishment, are powerful checks on the selfishness of the ungodly. These feelings tend to preserve order and kindness in the world; but they who have found the unsearchable riches of Christ, will not long delay to report the good tidings to others. From love to him, not from selfish feelings, they will gladly share their earthly good things with their brethren.
Verses 12-20 Here see the wants of Israel supplied in a way they little thought of, which should encourage us to depend upon the power and goodness of God in our greatest straits. God's promise may be safely relied on, for no word of his shall fall to the ground. The nobleman that questioned the truth of Elisha's word, saw the plenty, to silence and shame his unbelief, and therein saw his own folly; but he did not eat of the plenty he saw. Justly do those find the world's promises fail them, who think that the promises of God will disappoint them. Learn how deeply God resents distrust of his power, providence, and promise: how uncertain life is, and the enjoyments of it: how certain God's threatenings are, and how sure to come on the guilty. May God help us to inquire whether we are exposed to his threatenings, or interested in his promises.
2 Kings 7:1-16 . ELISHA PROPHESIES INCREDIBLE PLENTY IN SAMARIA.
1. Hear ye the word of the Lord--This prediction, though uttered first to the assembled elders, was intimated to the king's messengers, who reported it to Jehoram ( 2 Kings 7:18 ).
To-morrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, &c.--This may be estimated at a peck of fine flour for a dollar, and two pecks of barley at the same price.
in the gate of Samaria--Vegetables, cattle, all sorts of country produce, are still sold every morning at the gates of towns in the East.
2. a lord on whose hand the king leaned--When an Eastern king walks or stands abroad in the open air, he always supports himself on the arm of the highest courtier present.
if the Lord would make windows in heaven--The scoffing infidelity of this remark, which was a sneer against not the prophet only, but the God he served, was justly and signally punished (see 2 Kings 7:20 ).
3. there were four leprous men--The account of the sudden raising of the siege and the unexpected supply given to the famishing inhabitants of Samaria, is introduced by a narrative of the visit and discovery, by these poor creatures, of the extraordinary flight of the Syrians.
leprous men at the entering in of the gate--living, perhaps, in some lazar house there ( Leviticus 13:4-6 , Numbers 5:3 ).
5. they rose up in the twilight--that is, the evening twilight ( 2 Kings 7:12 ).
the uttermost part of the camp of Syria--that is, the extremity nearest the city.
6, 7. the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots--This illusion of the sense of hearing, whereby the besiegers imagined the tramp of two armies from opposite quarters, was a great miracle which God wrought directly for the deliverance of His people.
8-11. these lepers . . . did eat and drink--After they had appeased their hunger and secreted as many valuables as they could carry, their consciences smote them for concealing the discovery and they hastened to publish it in the city.
10. horses tied, and asses tied, and the tents as they were--The uniform arrangement of encampments in the East is to place the tents in the center, while the cattle are picketed all around, as an outer wall of defense; and hence the lepers describe the cattle as the first objects they saw.
12-15. the king . . . said unto his servants, I will now show you what the Syrians have done--Similar stratagems have been so often resorted to in the ancient and modern wars of the East that there is no wonder Jehoram's suspicions were awakened. But the scouts, whom he despatched, soon found unmistakable signs of the panic that had struck the enemy and led to a most precipitate flight.
2 Kings 7:17-20 . THE UNBELIEVING LORD TRODDEN TO DEATH.
17. the king appointed the lord on whose hand he leaned,--&c. The news spread like lightning through the city, and was followed, as was natural, by a popular rush to the Syrian camp. To keep order at the gate, the king ordered his minister to keep guard; but the impetuosity of the famishing people could not be resisted. The lord was trodden to death, and Elisha's prophecy in all respects accomplished.