But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD, that we may enquire of the LORD by him? And one of the king of Israel’s servants answered and said, Here is Elisha the son of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands of Elijah. — 2 Kings 3:11
Years ago, when I was a young Christian, a situation developed that caused disagreement between some acquaintances of mine. As I listened to the differing opinions, I found myself getting caught up in the conflict and, before long, I realized it was having a negative effect on me spiritually.
Thankfully, I chose to go to my pastor for counsel, instead of letting wrong attitudes fester and grow in my heart. My pastor gave me sound Biblical advice about praying and trusting the Lord, and assured me that God would intervene and take care of this particular situation if we prayed about it. My pastor’s encouraging words that day caused me to search my heart and resolve to detach myself from the matter. Many times over the years, when other situations have surfaced, I have remembered my pastor’s wise counsel, and I have learned to put my trust in the One who can truly resolve any conflict or circumstance that comes my way.
In today’s text, when Israel’s armies reached a place in the desert where there was no water for them and their livestock, Jehoram was convinced that God had put them in this position so they would be defeated by the Moabites. Jehoshaphat, a godly king, asked to consult with a prophet to get counsel from the Lord. When he heard that Elisha was in their midst, Jehoshaphat was encouraged because “the word of the LORD is with him” (verse 12). He knew God’s prophet would be the person to deliver God’s message.
Elisha told the kings to dig the valley full of ditches, and God would supply water in the ditches for them to drink. With Jehoshaphat’s encouragement, the kings heeded Elisha’s advice, and they were spared from certain disaster. Not only were they given water to drink, but when the Moabites saw the water, they thought it was blood from the armies of Israel, Judah, and Edom fighting against each other. The Moabites then came to plunder the slain, and were attacked and defeated by Jehoram’s coalition.
To overcome and prosper in our Christian walk, it is essential that we get our guidance from God’s Word and prayer. At times it can be spiritually beneficial to seek godly counsel from a pastor, Sunday school teacher, or faithful brother or sister in Christ. As we learn to seek out Biblical counsel, God will guide and direct us through every circumstance, and we will triumphantly prevail over any obstacle the devil may try to use against us.
Jehoram was the son of Ahab and Jezebel, and he reigned in Israel from 852 to 841 B.C. Although he attempted to eradicate Baal worship, Jehoram continued to endorse the sins of Jeroboam by sanctioning the worship of idols. When the Northern Kingdom of Israel split from the Southern Kingdom of Judah, Jeroboam, who ruled the Northern Kingdom, was instrumental in turning the hearts of Israel away from God by instituting the worship of golden calves, and discouraging the people from traveling to Jerusalem to worship the true God. When Jehoram became king, he “cleaved unto the sins of Jeroboam” (verse 3).
During Ahab’s reign, Moab was controlled by Israel and paid annual tribute of 100,000 lambs and the wool of 100,000 rams. After Ahab’s death, Mesha, the king of Moab, rebelled against Israel and refused to pay tribute. Jehoram chose to go to war with Moab to try to bring them into submission, and he persuaded Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah (also a vassal nation of Israel), to join with him in battle. In turn, Jehoshaphat enlisted the help of Edom, a nation controlled by Judah.
Jehoram chose to take the longer route to Moab, traveling through Judah to the southern end of the Dead Sea and along the northwestern border of Edom. This was perhaps done to avoid the more fortified cities in the northern portion of Moab, or to circumvent the rougher terrain they would have encountered had they taken the shorter route. The usual water supply that they had counted on had dried up and after seven days of traveling this route, the armies ran out of water. Jehoram lost hope and blamed God for their predicament, but Jehoshaphat turned to the Lord for help. When Jehoshaphat asked for a prophet of the Lord to consult with, the three kings were referred to Elisha, who apparently had been led by the Lord to be in the area at this time.
Elisha had little regard for Jehoram because of his affinity with idol worship and his obvious lack of faith in God. However, because Jehoshaphat was a godly king, Elisha agreed to seek God’s help for their dilemma. The Hebrew word for minstrel signified a player on a stringed instrument such as a harp or lute (small guitar). In Old Testament times, music sometimes accompanied a prophetic message. While the minstrel played, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Elisha, and he told the kings to fill the valley with ditches and the Lord would provide water. Elisha also told the kings that God would give them victory over the Moabites, and that they were to completely destroy every Moabite city, cut down every good tree, plug up every well, and ruin every good piece of land with stones to make it unsuitable for farming. The kings obeyed Elisha’s instructions and the next day, at the time of the morning sacrifice, the ditches were filled with water from the south even though there had not been a local rainstorm.
When Mesha, the king of Moab, heard that the kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom were going to fight against his people, he ordered all who were able to put on armor, from the youngest to the oldest, to prepare to fight. As the Moabites stood at their border and viewed the valley where the Israelite coalition encamped, they did not know that God had sent water — they expected to see a dry valley. As they looked at the water flowing through the ditches with the morning sunrays shining down, it looked like blood. They concluded that the three armies had turned on each other and self-destructed. The Moabites left their secure place in the mountains and went to the valley to raid the “defeated” armies, only to find themselves attacked by the Israelite coalition. The Moabite army fled, and Jehoram’s coalition pursued them, fulfilling Elisha’s instruction to utterly destroy Moab.
In desperation, the king of Moab offered his oldest son as a burnt sacrifice to his god, Chemosh, to gain his favor. This horrific sacrifice was done in full view of the Israelite coalition, and the Bible says, “There was great indignation against Israel” (verse 27). While Bible scholars are not sure exactly what it meant by this phrase, the situation caused Israel to withdraw, and they never regained control of Moab as a tributary nation.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. The reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah
B. Jehoram of Israel
1. The character of Jehoram’s reign (3:1-3)
2. The revolt of Moab (3:4-27)
a. The rebellion of Moab (3:4-12)
b. The counsel of Elisha (3:13-20)
c. The defeat of Moab (3:21-27)
When circumstances come our way that threaten to overwhelm or derail us, we can look to God’s Word and the wise counsel of those who are faithful in their Christian walks. They will be able to point us in the right direction.