Cannibals, Lepers, and Good News
II Kings 6 takes place in the days of the prophet Elijah. King Jehoram led the Northern Kingdom of Israel when the nation was divided. At this moment, Israel was engaged in a war against Syria. Amid this historical backdrop, we find three enduring principles that resonate with us today, which can guide us through life's challenges and enhance our relationship with God.
Problems Tend to Cause More Problems
Our story in II Kings 6:24 starts while Samaria, the capital of Israel, is under siege by the Syrian army. Famine soon follows, leading to desperation and a cascade of other problems. As one issue begets another, leprosy compounds the existing troubles.
The people had to put up with helpless leadership. While King Jehoram's subjects are starving, he makes a show of humbling himself by putting on sackcloth as a sign of repentance (II Kings 6:30). However, he soon resorts to blaming others, even deciding that Elisha should be beheaded (II Kings 6:31). In his desperation, he shifts the blame from himself to God, a common human response to problems. This tendency to deflect responsibility is not unique to political leaders; we all sometimes look for a scapegoat when things go wrong. We must remember that assigning blame rarely solves problems. Acknowledging our role in the situation is a more productive approach.
Meanwhile, the intensity of the famine continued to increase. While people were looking to eat donkeys heads and dove droppings (II Kings 6:25), they ended up resorting to cannibalism (II Kings 6:28-29). Desperation has a tendency to lead to terrible solutions, often causing even more problems to arise. When life's challenges pile up, our judgment becomes clouded and we may grasp at solutions that ultimately make matters worse. During difficult times, we must exercise caution and not rush into hasty decisions. Knee-jerk reactions rarely lead to positive outcomes, and patience is often the best course of action.
Help Often Comes from Unexpected Places
In the latter part of the story, we see that help arrives from the most unlikely sources. Four lepers, with nothing to lose, venture into the Syrian camp only to find it abandoned (II KIngs 7:1-8). They decide to share this good news with the gatekeepers of the city (II Kings 7:10-11), allowing for the salvation of Samaria.
This reminds us that God's intervention may not always take the form we expect. In the face of life's challenges, we must trust in God's plan even when it doesn't align with our expectations. God's ways are higher than our ways, and we need to place our faith in His ultimate wisdom.
Hope Must Be Shared
The lepers' decision to share their discovery with the city underscores the importance of spreading hope and good news (II Kings 7:9). No one in the besieged city was aware the Syrian encampment had been abandoned. And why did the army retreat? Because God intervened and made a way for the salvation of His people (II Kings 7:6-7).
In a world filled with problems and negative news, we have the power to be bearers of good tidings. Proverbs tells us that a "good word makes the heart glad" (Proverbs 12:25) and "a good report makes the bones healthy" (Proverbs 15:30). God still intervenes today allowing for the salvation of lost souls.
In life, problems often lead to more problems, but hope can arise from the most unexpected places. Remember to trust in God's plan, even when it doesn't align with your expectations. Let us resolve to be the source of this good news in a world that desperately needs it.