The Syrian Host Struck Blind

2 Kings 6:8‑23  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 8
I have already observed that testimony against evil, and consequent suffering, marked the history of Elijah; power, and the gracious use of it, the ways of Elisha. According to this, many instances of combined power and grace in Jesus stand reflected in the doings of Elisha.
In the scene that lies before us here, we have recollections of our Lord strongly brought to mind. He had twelve legions of angels at command, had He pleased; and so a mountain full of horses and chariots wait on our prophet. The simplicity of his faith is very remarkable: he needed not prayer for himself; he had already seen the “chariots of Israel, and the horsemen thereof” (2 Kings 2:12), and rested in the certainty that they were, at any time, ready for his use—and now in the time of his need, he knows that they are at hand.
He has not ,therefore, to pray for himself. All he does is to desire for his servant that he may stand on the same elevation of faith.
Elisha had seen, as I said, these horses and chariots of Israel already. He knew that the God of Jeshurun rode on the heavens for Jeshurun’s help, and he would have his servant’s thoughts, in the present hour of danger, full of the same sense of this divine security. These chariots and horses of fire which fill the mountain, and which in the day of the translation of Elijah were accompanied by a whirlwind, were, I doubt not, a host or constellation of angels, those heavenly creatures, which, excelling in strength, stand in the presence of God, or go forth to minister on account of those who are heirs of salvation. For of them we read that God “maketh His angels spirits [winds] and His ministers a flame of fire”; and again, “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels.” At the divine behest, they get ready to serve in whatever the exigency of the saint, or the occasion under the throne of God, may require. They formed a traveling chariot to convey Elijah to heaven, and to carry Lazarus to Abraham’s bosom. They now form chariots of war, when Elisha is beleaguered by the hostile bands of Syria. Either singly or in company they visit the elect on earth, and either alone or in concert celebrate the joy of heaven in the audience of the earth. They have drawn the sword to smite a guilty city, or with the strong hand of love dragged the too-reluctant one forth from the doomed city. They are either as winds or as fire. They are messengers of mercy, and executors of judgment, as “the Lord” who “is among them” may command. They attended on Mount Sinai when the law was published, and they hovered over the fields of Bethlehem when Jesus was born. And here, in their order and strength, they are as a wall of fire, a wall of salvation, round about our prophet.
Very blessed all this is. And still more blessed to know, that before long, the hidden glories, which are now only known to such faith as Elisha’s, will become the manifested things. The threatenings of the enemy, the noise and the din and the clang of arms, which are the present, apparent things, full of fears and sorrows for the heart, shall have rolled by, like the past thunderstorm, to leave the sunshine the brighter.
But there is more than this calmness and certainty of faith. We have traces of the power and of the grace of Jesus in this path of our prophet. “When the wicked even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.” Thus David spake concerning Jesus (Psa. 27). And accordingly, in the garden, when the band of men and officers came to lay hold on Him, “As soon then as He had said unto them, I am He, they went backward, and fell to the ground” (John 18). So here with our prophet. The bands of Syria came to Dothan to fetch him, but the Lord smote them with blindness, as they were making ready to make him their prey.
Thus the glory of power in the Lord was reflected in Elisha. But the measures of this glory were again, as we have seen before, diverse. Elisha sought the Lord’s power in this; Jesus stands in that of His own Person, and the enemy equally bows before it. “As soon as He had said unto them, I am He, they went backward, and fell to the ground.”
But there is the grace, as well as the power, of the Son of God here. The Lord, in His day, refuses to break the bruised reed, or to quench the smoking flax, nor lets the untimely zeal of a disciple call down fire from heaven upon His despisers. He refuses to use His strength and authority even for the righteous judgment of His foes. ( See Matthew 12.) He will not strive nor cry, nor let His voice be heard in the streets, but, “suffering thus far,” He overcomes evil with good. And so Elisha. He had the bruised reed, the smoking flax, at his mercy, but he will not break nor quench it. “My father, shall I smite them?” says the king, as he had the Syrian bands caught in the net of Samaria. But the prophet answered, “Thou shalt not smite them... set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink, and go to their master.”
Blessed and precious expression of the mind of God! What constellations of moral glories shine in His ways! And these ways of the Lord, in combined power and grace, get their image in these ways of this honored prophet. How much he was in the intimacy of God, if I may so speak! How fully in His friendship, knowing His secrets! And how largely does his history illustrate those words, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing but, He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). He knew of mountains of strength and salvation that were altogether invisible to others: he knew of abundance at the doors tomorrow, though today all was famine and death in the city. And if he be not told everything (such was the marvelous condescending love of the Lord to him, and with which his soul was familiar), it is rather his wonder (see 2 Kings 4:27). And so of each of us (not honored prophets, but the weakest saints), it may as really be said, “We have the mind of Christ.” Oh, for power in our souls to value such goodness in Him, and such dignity and blessing for us!