Verse 8 or Verse 9?

1 Then Elisha said, Hear ye the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord, To morrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria. Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the Lord would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof. And there were four leprous men at the entering in of the gate: and they said one to another, Why sit we here until we die? If we say, We will enter into the city, then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there: and if we sit still here, we die also. Now therefore come, and let us fall unto the host of the Syrians: if they save us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall but die. And they rose up in the twilight, to go unto the camp of the Syrians: and when they were come to the uttermost part of the camp of Syria, behold, there was no man there. For the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host: and they said one to another, Lo, the king of Israel hath hired against us the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us. Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life.

And when these lepers came to the uttermost part of the camp, they went into one tent, and did eat and drink, and carried thence silver, and gold, and raiment, and went and hid it; and came again, and entered into another tent, and carried thence also, and went and hid it. Then they said one to another, We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace: if we tarry till the morning light, some mischief will come upon us: now therefore come, that we may go and tell the king’s household. 10 So they came and called unto the porter of the city: and they told them, saying, We came to the camp of the Syrians, and, behold, there was no man there, neither voice of man, but horses tied, and asses tied, and the tents as they were. 11 And he called the porters; and they told it to the king’s house within. 12 And the king arose in the night, and said unto his servants, I will now shew you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we be hungry; therefore are they gone out of the camp to hide themselves in the field, saying, When they come out of the city, we shall catch them alive, and get into the city. 13 And one of his servants answered and said, Let some take, I pray thee, five of the horses that remain, which are left in the city, (behold, they are as all the multitude of Israel that are left in it: behold, I say, they are even as all the multitude of the Israelites that are consumed:) and let us send and see. 14 They took therefore two chariot horses; and the king sent after the host of the Syrians, saying, Go and see.

Have I gone from verse 8 to verse 9?! I recognized some of my tendencies in II Kings 7. It is the story of Ben-Hadad laying siege to Samaria. The four lepers realized staying in Samaria meant death by starvation, but if they would surrender to the Arameans maybe the Arameans would be kind and let them live. Taking the risk, they left their home and went to the camp outside their besieged city.

They discovered a camp which was full of treasures and no people present to protect or guard it. They responded like most of us would. They started eating, drinking, and gathering treasures. They cleaned out one tent and hid their riches. Going to the next tent, they did the same thing. Makes one wonder where they hid the valuables? How and where do you hide so much “stuff?” In a cave? Or in a hole in the ground? There they were going from tent to tent having a good time. Maybe even thanking God for their good fortune.

So many times, this is where I find myself. “I need to get while the getting is good.” “Do what I can to get all I can.” I bustle about doing my thing, building my empire. I do actually desire to advance God’s kingdom in all the ways I can. Too often I get distracted and find myself stuck in verse 8. My flesh always has good reason for me to store up more, or for me to get a bigger (you name it). I don’t really need it but, you know, “I deserve it.” This unfortunately stops God’s blessing from getting passed on to others.

Thankfully the story does not stop in verse 8, and as we follow our King, He will lead us to a greater purpose. We wonder how the lepers could so quickly forget what they just came from? Did they not think about all the needy people nearby? In verse 9 they come to their senses. They admit they are not doing right and they change. They go back to their city and share the good news.

These same questions apply to us, and it seems they are questions we should be constantly asking ourselves. Do I remember what He has saved me from? Do I see the needy people? Let’s give all we have in as many ways as we can to build His kingdom. God has blessed us so we bless others, not so we “hide” the treasure. We are surrounded with so many good things to get involved in and ways we can use our resources to advance the kingdom. God’s heart for the lost is clear. As long as our focus does not turn inward, we also will have a heart like His. God help us use the resources He has blessed us with to bless others.  

-Arlin Horst

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