The Armies of the Kings Supplied With Water

2 Kings 3  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 7
We do not find Elisha the sport of wicked kings as Elijah had been. No rude hand of theirs prevails against him; but their fate, the rather, hangs on his word, and the power of God that was with him.
Three of them are brought to the brink of destruction, with all their armies. But the word of the Lord, by him, changes the scene: distress of nations, with perplexity, is turned into victory and spoils.
But here we have something to notice.
The king of Judah is here found in bad company. This confederacy with the apostate house of Ahab was a symptom of sad unguardedness in Jehoshaphat. Nay, it was more—it was conferring with flesh and blood in a very evil way. But, in the divine grace, occasions are allowed to manifest the hidden life that was in him. Trouble surprises him, and then the voice of his better nature is heard: “Is there not here a prophet of the Lord besides, that we may inquire of the Lord by him?” This shows the uneasiness of the renewed mind of Jehoshaphat in such a scene as the present, though in an unwatchful moment he had consented to it. And it was in the Lord’s goodness to send the trouble, that the life which was indeed in him might appear. (See 1 Kings 22:77And Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the Lord besides, that we might inquire of him? (1 Kings 22:7).)
This is comforting to us. But there is something further in this narrative.
Elisha finds, when in the presence of these kings, that he cannot readily prophesy. Jehoshaphat may claim the word of the Lord from him, it is true, for Jehoshaphat is the Lord’s servant, but Jehoshaphat is not where he should be, and the Spirit in Elisha is checked.
This is solemn. A minstrel must be brought, before the Spirit in the prophet can have His full and graceful flow.
What a rebuke to the king of Judah this was! What a rebuke to any saint that another finds the Spirit in him restrained in his presence! Is not this often so? Does not our fleshliness interrupt the fine, free and easy current of the Spirit, and has not the minstrel still to be thus called for? Some delay, some effort, something incidental, is to be exercised or suffered by those who are spiritual, before all can be in tune again.
So it was here, and so oftentimes is it yet. This was the symptom of Jehoshaphat’s bad condition, but of Elisha’s heavenly-mindedness. Had Elisha been less in communion, he would not have stood in such need of the minstrel. Had he been in the flesh, and not in the Spirit, he would not have felt the breach that Jehoshaphat, now in the flesh, was occasioning. His heavenliness of mind may be known by this sensitiveness, and the need that he had of restoration. Jesus had continually to call for the minstrel. His communion met its constant hindrance here, even from His own, who understood neither His joys nor His sorrows. He had to leave them; He had to rise before day and continue all night to go into a solitary place for prayer to God. It was the perfectness of His communion that made this necessary. He needed the minstrel. Had He been on ground nearer the earth, He would not have been so quick in feeling the earthliness of all around Him; but He knew it all by the deepest contrast with it all in His own soul. The charm and melody of His own converse with the Father restored Him—in that sense restored Him.
Such was the blessed Master, the pattern of all perfections; and such, in his measure, was Elisha His servant. A mere instrument of divine power, or of a spiritual gift, may perform its part or exercise itself anywhere with equal freedom. Balaam is not hindered by the presence of Balak and the altars from uttering his prophecies, for he is merely an instrument—a carnal material, as it were—through which another breathes. But where a renewed mind is the instrument, this cannot be. It will be alive in its own proper affections and in its own sensitive holiness all the while it is used as an instrument of power.
And such was Elisha. He cannot but be grieved at the scene before him. Jehoshaphat ought not to have been there; and Elisha must let him know that he himself must enter it in another way altogether. A saint is called to serve or testify in places of deepest defilement. But he can never be there with his sympathies, or the fellowship of his soul.
It was Elisha’s praise, as a saint, to be thus like his Lord—to be quick in feeling the weight and pressure of such a scene as this, where another saint was walking in the flesh and not in the Spirit. And how we should covet this, beloved! to so live and move, and have our being in the sanctuary, that the unclean could not touch it unperceived!