Category Archives: II Kings

Stop it!

II Kings 17:14

But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their fathers, who did not trust in the Lord their God.  NIV

Sometimes (read, “often”) worries are of our own making.

I looked up “stiff-necked” in my NIV concordance.  It’s two Hebrew words.  The first is translated hard, harsh, cruel, stubborn and difficult … but it can also mean, interestingly, “distressed.”  The second, not surprisingly, means, “neck,” and there’s a note there that says, “to be stiff of neck means to be obstinate, stubborn, implying rebellion.”

They would not listen … they were stubborn … they also were, no doubt, distressed.

God tells us over and over again not to worry.  He tells us the right things to be focused on … trusting Him, serving Him, fellowshipping with others.  And yet, sometimes, worry still calls me … much like the sins discussed in this chapter of II Kings must have called the Israelites.

Months ago, one of my dearest friends sent me a link to a video on YouTube.

The clip, titled simply “Stop It,”  features Bob Newhart, one of my very favorite comedians.  He’s playing a familiar role as a psychologist, and he’s counseling a young woman.  It is a perfect illustration of today’s reminder.

Just LISTEN to what God is telling you.  TRUST Him.  Stop doing whatever else it is that is getting in the way of those two things, just stop it!

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Sometimes, “poor baby” just won’t cut it

2 Kings 8: 14

Then Hazael left Elisha and returned to his master.  When Ben-Hadad asked, “What did Elisha say to you?”  Hazael replied, “He told me that you would certainly recover.” NIV

I found this verse by plugging “worry” into Bible Gateway.com and searching, “The Message,” which translates this verse, “Hazael left Elisha and returned to his master who asked, “So, what did Elisha tell you?”  “He told me, ‘Don’t worry, you’ll live.'” MSG

This is part of the story that I looked at a few weeks ago.

Ben-Hadad is king, and he is sick.  So sick, that he fears that he will die.  When he hears that Elisha, the famous prophet, is somewhere near, he sends his servant to inquire of the prophet whether the king will survive what is ailing him.

Ben-Hadad is no doubt sick.  He’s also scared and worried — which likely isn’t helping his condition.

He wants someone to tell him that everything will be ok … preferably someone with a direct line to God, who will surely know the truth.

How often do we do that?  We are scared and worried, and we look for reassurance … from someone, anyone, who will tell us that everything will be all right.

Don’t get me wrong … I’m a firm believer in “poor baby.”  Sometimes, when things are going really, really poorly, I just need to dump all that out on someone that I love and hear them say, “poor baby.”  This is accompanied by an obligatory hug, after which I usually feel much better.

But, while “poor baby” is momentarily soothing, it doesn’t really change or fix anything.  Our only source of true comfort is found in our Heavenly Father.  And, we don’t have to wait for a prophet to visit the neighborhood.  Through Christ, we have the privilege of going directly to God, who has proven himself flawlessly trustworthy.

That’s a reason not to worry, and that’s what I’ll think about today.

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It would just upset you …

II Kings 10-11

Elisha answered, “Go and say to him, “You will certainly recover, but the Lord has revealed to me that he will in fact die.”  He stared at him with a fixed gaze until Hazael felt ashamed.  The the man of God began to weep. NIV

This morning, I began to worry.  I’ve been working my way through the listings of the word “fear” in my King James concordance, and the end of that list is in sight.  But, I’ve found only 201 reminders not to worry … 164 short of my goal.  While I haven’t counted how many “fear nots” are left, I can see that there are less than 164 remaining.

Certainly, fear is not the only synonym for worry, so, I think I’ll leave the fear list for a while and explore some other avenues to find reminders.

I went back to Bible Gateway.com, where I plugged in “worry,” and asked the computer to search The Message.  In that translation, verse 10 reads, “Elisha answered, ‘Go and tell him, “Don’t worry, you’ll live.”  The fact is though — God showed me — that he’s doomed to die.'” MSG

This is a pretty interesting story.  Elisha is a prophet who is clearly in close communion with God.  He’s been able to raise people from the dead, and he can see the future.

He can see the future …

Earlier in this chapter, the Bible tells us that the King of Aram is ill.  When the King hears that Elisha is near, he sends Hazael with gifts for the prophet and he tells him to find out if the king will recover from the illness.

Hazael does as he is told, and that brings us to today’s reminder.

When I first read this verse, I was confused … I didn’t remember the end of the story, and, without that, this first verse makes no sense.  Bottom line — the illness doesn’t kill the king — Hazael does.  He smothers him with a wet blanket.  Then Hazael becomes King.

This takes me back to verse 11.  Elisha wept, because, we learn in verse 12, while he is gazing at Hazael, God shows him what Hazael will do.  Apparently, he will be a very destructive King, and this saddens Elisha greatly.

He can see the future — good and bad — and it upsets him.

I’ve learned that my desire to see — and not just to see but also to control — the future, was at the heart of my worry problem.  As I’ve worked through this study, day by day, I am in awe of the wisdom of how God has set this up.  My life unfolds for me moment by precious moment.  I don’t know what’s around the next corner, and, as I’ve learned to trust God, I find that I don’t need to.

I’ve always felt that people in general, have one of three life orientations:

  • They look back — “remember when we used to …”
  • They look to the future — “I can’t wait until we …”
  • Or, they live in the moment — “Look at that sunrise!”

Before I began this project, I prided myself in my forward looking approach.  I thought that those who looked back were missing the point and that those who lived in the moment were unfocused.

I’ve been humbled by this process.  I was wrong.  Living in the moment is a glorious, wonderful experience.  One that I could not have appreciated without everything that has happened in my life over the last couple of years.

I don’t want to see the future anymore.  It is likely that it would just upset me.

I’m delighted in this moment, on this gorgeous, cool morning, with a splendid cup of coffee.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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There are more on our side than on their side

2 Kings 6:15-17

When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city.  “Oh my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked.  “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered.  “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”  And Elisha prayed,”O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.”  Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

I don’t know very much about Elisha.  I know that he was an Old Testament prophet and a man of God, and I know that he had the power to perform miracles.  Earlier in this chapter, it is explained that Elisha knew the  plans of the king of Aram to harm the king of Israel.  Elisha warned the king of Israel so that he could evade the trap.  This made the king of Aram very angry, and when he found out that Elisha was the source of the information supplied to the king of Israel, the king of Aram sent “an impressive fighting force” to Dothan, where Elijah was staying.  Verse 14 says, “they came by night and surrounded the city.”

Wow.

When I think about the servant’s experience in the context of my daily life, it must have been like getting out of bed and finding an entire army between me and the coffee maker.  That would be worrisome.

But, the best part is what comes next.  I love the way the Message translates verse 16, “Don’t worry about it — there are more on our side than on their side.” MSG

Now, if I’m that servant, I’m thinking, “There’s just me — here in my pajamas — and all of these soldiers and horses are in the kitchen — counting you, there are two of us … why should I not be worried?”

But Elisha asks God to open the servant’s eyes, and the army of horses and chariots and fire that is protecting Elisha is revealed to him.

Wow.

I wonder, could Elisha see this army all the time?  Was the army always there?  Or, did they just show up when Elisha really needed them?  I don’t know the answers to these questions.

But, I do know that as a Christian, I have a power within me that is much greater than that contained in my physical body.  I have been in-dwelt  with the Holy Spirit of God, I am a child of God, and He will never leave me or forsake me.

What if I had Elisha’s vision?  What if I could actually see the power of God going before me, or the hand of God supporting me in times of stress?  Would that make it easier to trust God?  I am thinking that it might.  But, I also think that trust earned in that way would not be as precious as the trust that comes with true faith.

I will think about that today.

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