Sharing the Good News

KEY VERSE: “They said one to another, We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace: if we tarry till the morning light, some mischief will come upon us: now therefore come, that we may go and tell the king’s household.” —II Kings 7:9


SAMARIA WAS IN the throes of a great drought brought on by the siege of the armies of King Benhadad of Syria. As the siege continued, the famine became so severe that a donkey’s head, the worst part of the animal, cost eighty pieces of silver, and half a pound of dove’s dung cost five pieces of silver. (II Kings 6:24,25) People were starving, and the lack of food had created the collapse of a stable economy. King Jehoram of Samaria, shamefully weak in faith, asked Elisha the prophet why he should hope any longer for the Lord to deliver the people from this painfully distressing plight.

Elisha answered, “Listen to what the Lord says! By this time tomorrow you will be able to buy in Samaria ten pounds of the best wheat or twenty pounds of barley for one piece of silver.” The attendant of the king said to Elisha, “That can’t happen—not even if the Lord himself were to send grain at once!” “You will see it happen, but you won’t get to eat any of the food,” Elisha replied.—vss. 1,2, Today’s English Version

The account continues, tracing the movement of four discouraged lepers sitting outside the city gates. They asked one another why they should sit there until they died of starvation. “We might as well go out and surrender to the Syrian army. If they let us live, so much the better; but if they kill us, we would have died anyway. That evening they went out to the camp of the Syrians, but to their amazement, no one was there—the camp was completely deserted!

‘That night, the Lord had made a noise in the camp of the Syrians which sounded like the advance of a large army with horses and chariots, and the Syrians thought that King Jehoram had hired Hittite and Egyptian kings and their armies to attack them. So that evening the Syrians had fled for their lives, abandoning their tents, horses, donkeys, and leaving the camp just as it was. When the four men reached the edge of the camp, they went into one of the tents, ate and drank what was there, carried off silver and gold and clothing they found, and went off to hide it. They returned, entered another tent, and plundered that one too. Then one said to another, ‘We should not be doing this! We have good news, and we should not keep it to ourselves. If we keep it secret and wait until morning to tell it, that would be a shame to us. Let us go right now and tell the king’s officers!’ So they left the Syrian camp, went back to Samaria, and made it known to the guards at the gates: that they had gone to the Syrian camp; they did not see or hear anybody; the horses and donkeys have not been untied, and the tents are just as the Syrians left them.”—vss. 3-10, TEV

The news was spread about and it was finally reported in the palace. Although it was still night the king got out of bed and said to his officials, “I’ll tell you what the Syrians are planning! This is a trick! They know about the famine here, so they have left their camp to go and hide in the countryside. They think that we will leave the city to find food and then they will take us alive and capture the city.” (vs. 12, TEV) One of the king’s counselors said that the people in the city are doomed anyway, like those that have already died, so let’s send some men and horses out to see what has happened to the Syrian army. The king agreed and sent them forth with instructions to find an explanation of the enemy’s mysterious disappearance. The scouting party confirmed the report of the lepers and when they brought back the news, it prompted the whole city to rush out and plunder the Syrian camp. As the Lord had said, ten pounds of the best wheat or twenty pounds of barley were sold for one piece of silver.

The king of Samaria put the city gate under the command of the officer who was his personal attendant. The crowd at the gate was so great that the officer was trampled to death by the people, and he died just as Elisha had predicted.—vss. 13-17

Dawn Bible Students Association
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