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Scripture Commentary — 2 Kings 6:8-23

Elisha proclaims “…they that be with us are more than they that be with them…”

2 Kings 6 —  Elisha and his servant

Verse 6:8

  • “…warred…” —  A war council, Syria was warring against Israel.

Verse 6:9  

  • “…man of God…” — Who is a man of God?  Mosiah 3:19 distinguishes between a natural man and a ‘saint’.  A ‘saint’ uses the power of the Atonement, is child-like, submissive, humble, meek, etc.  Elisha, Gordon B. Hinckley, Thomas S. Monson !!  Do we need to be a prophet to be a ‘man of God’?  No!
  • “…sent unto the king…” — He warned him, but why and how did he know about the Syrians’ whereabouts?  PRAYER, REVELATION!
  • “…pass not…” — How did Elisha know?  Spies?  NO.  No indication he was told to watch.  Doctrine and Covenants 58:27 states that men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness.  That certainly describes Elisha!
  • The king and the prophet’s relationship — What a difference from today’s world.  Church and state are never to meet.

Verse 6:10

  • “…saved himself…” — He gave great heed to the prophets’ words!  How about us today?  At least three times the Syrian king’s plans were foiled.  Follow the prophet!  Does this verse imply guerilla-type warfare on the part of the Israelites?

 Verse 6:11

  • “…sore troubled…which of us is for the king of Israel…” — Which one of us is a traitor?  Sorely troubled?  Very understandable.

Verse 6:12

  • “…the prophet that is in Israel…” — This servant knew about and respected the prophet!  Neither the king nor his servants doubted that the prophet could discern their thoughts!  Who was this servant that recognized Elisha as a prophet?  Persons with spiritual sensitivity are everywhere.
  • “…words thou speakest in thy bedchamber…” — Can we imagine the prayers of Elisha that led to this incredible inspiration?  The revelation and inspiration included specific locations and movements of troops!  How focused are our prayers?

Verse 6:13

  • “…that I may fetch him…” — Not kill him, or harm him, or imprison him.  The king had respect for Elisha.  Perhaps the king hoped to have Elisha on his side?  Apparently the Syrian king had no doubts that Elisha was indeed a prophet, or at least prophetic.“…

Verse 6:14

  • “…great host…” — Why would a powerful king and ruler send many men, horses, and chariots for ONE man?  The reputation of God’s prophet must have influenced that decision.  How are WE viewed by those who know of our lives and doings?  Can others sense that we have God’s power resting upon us?

Verses 6:15

  • “…risen early…” — Doctrine and Covenants 88:124, good things happen when we are up and about and alert in the early mornings.
  • “…how shall we do?” — What do we do now?  This servant was a good follower.  At times we follow, but we should always be prepared to lead.  Nephi is a wonderful example of this principle.  He was an excellent follower of his own father, but he became a magnificent leader as the mantle fell on his shoulders.

Verse 16

  • “…fear not:” — see Doctrine and Covenants 6:34-36, ‘…let earth and hell combine against thee, for if ye are built upon my rock…’
  • “…they that be with us…’ — who are ‘THEY’?  The members of the Godhead, ministering angels.  See 1 Nephi 4:1 (the Lord is mightier than fifty, mightier than tens of thousands.  Was it a matter of manpower, or ‘he with the most soldiers wins’?  No.  This was a vision for the servant.  Even now, are there more with ‘us’ than are with ‘them’?  Two people can accomplish anything, as long as one of them is the Lord.

Verse 17

  • “…Elisha prayed and said ‘Lord’…” — he acknowledged the source of his power.  Moses forgot this principle when he smote the rock and took the credit (Numbers 20:10).
  • They were encompassed about by a vast host of soldiers, and even in that threatening situation Elisha took the time to teach a humble servant a divine principle.  This is similar to the Lord taking time to heal the woman with an issue of blood even though there was urgency to get to Jairus’ home, and also the time that I witnessed President Gordon B. Hinckley take the time to personally visit with a handicapped, disabled little scout at a district jamboree, despite the fact that thousands of scouts and their leaders were waiting for him to speak.
  • “…open his eyes that he may see…” — ‘…he that hath eyes to see, let him see…”  (Matthew 13:15-17)  This would be a ‘spiritual’ opening of the eyes (Doctrine and Covenants 76:19).  “There may be times when we, like the servant, find ourselves struggling to see how God is working on our lives, times when we feel that we are under siege.  At those times we must wait and trust in God and in His timing, because we can trust His heart with all of ours.”  Michelle D. Craig
  • “…horses and chariots…” — Why?  see verse 14; the servant could relate to horses and chariots, seeing that they were surrounded by them.  Who would have been occupying the places in the chariots?  See Doctrine and Covenants 84:88 (“…mine angels round about you…”). Are we surrounded by the hosts of heaven?  Indeed, if we merit such a blessing.  Psalms 34:7 says, “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.”
  • “…round about Elisha…” — why not ’round about THEM’?  Properly, the focus was on the prophet!

Verse 18

  • “…when they came down to him…” — the miracle occurred at the very last moment!  Why?  To test the faith of the servant?  The enemy was blinded AFTER they had surrounded Elisha.   Do we have the faith to ‘wait upon the Lord’?
  • “…prayed unto the Lord…” —  this faithful prophet always recognized the source of his strength and power; he sought the Lord’s will always.
  • “…smite this people with blindness…” — Elisha had a plan!  He had prepared himself and studied it out in his mind.
  • Why did the Lord send heavenly chariots and horses if blindness was going to used?  It was for the servant’s sake.  The Lord ‘strengthened the feeble knees’.
  • “…according to the word of Elisha…” — The Lord honors our righteous desires and pleas, but always in accordance with His will (“…if I ask not amiss…”, see 2 Nephi 4:35).

Verse 19

  • “…not the way…follow me…I will bring you…” — Lies?  Not really, because he led them.  Symbolic of the Savior leading the ‘blind’.
  • “…follow me…” — they ‘symbolically’ followed the prophet.  We are blind also and must follow the prophet.
  • “…Samaria…” — the distance from Dothan to Samaria is about 10 miles.  Why would an army of blind men follow one man?  Imagine being newly blind, helpless, not knowing that the man leading them could also heal them.  There was a great power at work here.  This should be our attitude also.

Verses 20

  • “…Lord…” — he unfailingly recognized the source of this power.
  • “…that they may see…” — how many times has this same prayer been offered, by missionaries, by prophets, by parents, by loved ones?
  • “…in Samaria…” — have our eyes been ‘opened’ and we have found ourselves in places where we should not be?

 Verse 21

  • “…my father….” — the king had respect for the prophet.
  • “…smite them…?” — he says it twice.  Is he anxious to slaughter the enemy?  Prophet (wisdom) versus King (lust for victory).

Verse 22

  • “…not smite them…” — compassion, yes, but other benefits: 1) they would return to their king and tell of the humane treatment they received  2) they would tell their king and their families of the ‘miracle’ that occurred, and thus would become ‘missionaries’ for the cause of righteousness 3) they would all become living witnesses of the power of Jehovah 4) they perhaps would become ‘reluctant’ soldiers from that point forward  5) what harm could have resulted from the merciless slaughter of defenseless men?

Verse 23

  • “…great provision…” — how easy is it to ‘serve our enemies’?
  • “…came no more…” — the desired miracle occurred!

Lessons to be learned from this amazing experience:

  • We have forces of good surrounding us at all times.
  • People with spiritual sensitivity are all around us.
  • We are the Lord’s army!  An army of one?  No.  We are in His yoke with Him.
  • Follow the prophet and focus on the prophet.
  • Spiritual eyes can see much!  Open them!
  • Our leaders are inspired and have the gift of discernment.

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