And he [Elisha] said, Take the arrows. And he [the king of Israel] took them. And he said unto the king of Israel, Smite upon the ground. And he smote thrice, and stayed. — 2 Kings 13:18
When I was in my mid-teens, I played on an organized baseball team. Generally I played first base, but occasionally I was directed to a position in the outfield. Although I was far from being a superstar, I had a lot of fun, and I always gave the game my very best effort.
After all these years, one particular game is still vivid in my mind. I was in the unfamiliar position of centerfielder when a long fly ball was hit over my head. I turned backward and ran as fast as I could, pushing with every muscle in my body to position myself so I could snag that ball. At the last moment I reached out as far as I could, and — wonder of wonders — I caught it! Of all the surprised people on the field that day, I undoubtedly was the most surprised of all!
Amazing things can happen when we give our best. In our text today, however, King Joash did not give that kind of effort. Joash was visiting the Prophet Elisha, who was on his death bed, and Elisha instructed the king to do a couple of unusual things. First, they together shot an arrow out of the open window. Elisha explained that this was prophetic of how God would deliver the Israelites from their oppressor, the Syrians. Next, Joash was instructed to take a handful of arrows and hit them against the ground, symbolic of Israel thrusting down Syria. Instead of following through vigorously, however, Joash responded in a half-hearted manner. By responding in this way, he forfeited the opportunity to win lasting victory over Syria. Israel would win some individual victories, but long-term peace would be denied them.
Today, we can learn a lesson from Joash’s half-heartedness. Whatever God asks us to do, let us be sure to do it with all of our might. Let’s not stop with a cursory effort, but invest ourselves wholeheartedly! We will receive the blessing for seizing that golden opportunity and speaking up at the right time, or for remaining on our knees in prayer a little longer — until the answer comes!
Our best may not seem like much, but it is of great value in God’s eyes! Let’s determine today to give it to God — in whatever we do. In the long run, we will be glad that we did.
In this chapter, the focus again is on the Northern Kingdom of Israel. It gives the record of the reigns of Jehoahaz (814-798 B.C.) and Jehoash (798-782 B.C.), who was also known as Joash. Little is said of King Jehoahaz, other than the indictment, “he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD.” Because the ruler led the way, the vast majority of the people followed him in doing evil. Yet there was a remnant that truly followed the Lord.
A weak ruler, Jehoahaz was unable to stand against the encroachment of Syria. Verse 3 tells us that because of the wickedness of Jehoahaz, God allowed the Syrians under King Hazael and later under his son, Ben-hadad, to torment Israel. Under the domination of Syria, the military strength of Israel was reduced to a mere fragment of what it had been. When Jehoahaz sought the Lord for help, God gave him a measure of deliverance, delaying His judgment. However, Jehoahaz’s seeking for the Lord did not involve repentance; he and the Israelites continued in their sin.
Jehoahaz’s son, Joash (also called Jehoash, and not to be confused with Judah’s King Joash, who reigned at the same time) followed in the ways of his father, though he had seen the Lord deliver the land when his father had cried out to God, and he was aware of the godly witness of Elisha. Since the prophet was near death, Joash paid him a final visit. Though Joash had not followed Elijah’s counsel, perhaps he regretted losing the man of God, his only connection with God in time of crisis.
Elisha instructed the king to “open the window eastward.” This would have been toward the area where Syria occupied land belonging to Israel (see 2 Kings 10:32-33). Striking the ground with the arrows represented smiting Syria. Elisha’s anger over Joash’s half-hearted response seems to indicate that Joash understood the symbolic action, but still failed to show a determined endorsement of God’s plans.
Verses 20 and 21 once again demonstrate the power of God which had rested upon Elisha. After Elisha died and had been buried in a sepulcher, a band of marauders had to bury one of their own in a hurry, and threw him into Elisha’s sepulcher. Immediately the dead man “revived, and stood up on his feet.”
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. The reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah
H. Jehoahaz of Israel (13:1-9)
1. The character of Jehoahaz’s reign (13:1-3)
2. The Syrian oppression (13:4-7)
3. The death of Jehoahaz (13:8-9)
I. Jehoash of Israel (13:10-25)
1. Jehoash’s reign and death (13:10-13)
2. Elisha’s prediction of victory over Syria (13:14-19)
3. Elisha’s death (13:20-21)
4. Hazael’s death (13:22-24)
5. Jehoash’s victories over Ben-hadad (13:25)
It is always best to follow God’s instructions completely and with all of our hearts. We will not regret it!