2 Kings 7



The Siege Lifted (7:1-20)

1-2 King Joram had just appeared before Elisha and the elders and had asked: “Why should I wait for the LORD any longer?” (2 Kings 6:33). Here Elisha gives him the answer: the king only needed to wait one more day; then the Lord would provide so much food that the prices for staples like flour and barley would plummet.29

Elisha’s statement was so unbelievable that the officer on whose arm the king was leaning“that is, the king’s personal attendant—said, in effect, that such a thing was impossible (verse 2). But he should have known that with God nothing is impossible (Mark 10:27; Luke 1:37). Elisha told the officer that he would indeed witness the appearance of food with his own eyes, but he wouldn’t get to eat any of it—a prediction which came true just as Elisha had said30 (see verse 17).

3-7 In the rest of the chapter, the writer describes how this “impossible” event took place. God often chooses the weak,the lowly and the despised to carry out His plans (1 Corinthians 1:27-29). Here, too, He chose four men with leprosy to be His instruments. They had been staying at the entrance of the city gate, because people with infectious skin diseases were not allowed inside the city (Leviticus 13:4546). Thinking they were about to die anyway and had nothing to lose, the four decided to surrender to the Arameans who were besieging the city. But when they reached the Aramean camp, no one was there! (verse 5).

In verses 6-7, the writer informs us that the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of a huge army approaching; they assumed the Israelites had found some kings of other nations to come to their rescue. So the Arameans fled in great haste, leaving all their provisions behind.

8-11 The four men with leprosy entered the abandoned Aramean camp; they must have felt like four kids in a candy shop. But soon they realized that they, as fellow Israelites, should share their good fortune with the starving inhabitants of the city, lest divine punishment overtake them (verse 9). It’s interesting to speculate what would have happened if they had not gone back and reported the good news; it’s likely the Israelites in the city would have starved to death—and with abundant provisions within reach!

12-20 When he heard that the Aramean camp was abandoned, King Joram suspected a trap. So he sent out a few men to confirm the report of the four men with leprosy. When the king’s men returned and confirmed the report, the people rushed out through the city gate to plunder the Aramean camp. In doing so, they trampled to death the officer to whom Elisha had said, “You will see it . . . but you will not eat any of it” (verses 2,17). In this way, everything that Elisha had prophesied came true, exactly as he had said. God had demonstrated once again that Israel’s deliverance was a gift of grace; He was giving the Israelites yet another chance to repent and turn back from their idolatrous ways.

Three other aspects of this chapter deserve special mention. First, we should notice that God waited until the Israelites had reached the limit of their endurance before He acted to deliver them. God often comes to our aid only when we have no strength left; He does this so that we will understand that He alone is our Savior and Sustainer.

The second notable aspect of this chapter concerns the change in attitude of the four men with leprosy. They said, “This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves . . . Let’s go at once and report. . .” (verse 9). This is a timeless word for Christians in every age: we have good news—the Gospel—to report! Christ never intended that we should keep Him to ourselves. If we do not share Christ’s blessings with others, we shall lose them. Even those four men with leprosy can teach us that!

The third notable aspect of this chapter concerns the king’s officer, on whose arm [the king] leaned (verse 17). He was an important man, and yet he came suddenly to his end. As one commentator has written: “He whom the king leaned upon, the people trod upon.” This officer stood before Elisha, the man of God, and yet rejected his message. He heard the good news and even saw God’s deliverance, but he died before he could enjoy it. We say this to everyone who has heard the message of Christ: do not delay; accept Him now, before it is too late.