And while he was still speaking with them, the messenger came down to him and said, This trouble is from the LORD! Why should I wait for the LORD any longer? – 2 Kings 6:33
Friday, October 10, 2014
The Price of an Ass's Head
I have a translation that gives that question as “why should I trust the Lord”, and to wait upon the Lord is to depend upon Him. We don’t “wait” upon the Lord unless we have faith and trust that He will intervene on our behalf, that somehow He will resolve the situation in accordance with His divine and perfect will.
In this case, the city of Samaria was under a prolonged siege that resulted in great suffering for those within the walls. And there was a great famine in Samaria, as they besieged it, until a donkey's head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and the fourth part of a kab of dove's dung for five shekels of silver (2 Kings 6:25). Bird poop soup. I'd say the donkey head was a deal. People resorted to cannibalism (vv 26-29), which is one of the curses that God pronounced for disobedience and apostasy. Israel was guilty of spiritual adultery, and they were reaping what they had sown.
We know, as I was saying a couple of days ago, when we are off course. It bothers us. We feel guilty and alienated from God. If, while we are in this state of mind, something bad happens to us, our inclination is to believe that we are being punished for our moral failure. While it is very true that sin is the seed of destruction, it's not that God is sitting on His throne just waiting for us to slip up so He can teach us a lesson we won't forget. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? (Ezekiel 18:23) -- though He does, perhaps, find humor in our grandiosity, vanity, and arrogance sometimes (Psalm 2:4).
One thing we should note is that Elisha and his followers were also within the walls of Samaria. It is important to examine ourselves, but we are not always at fault. Sometimes we are simply caught up in the larger scheme of things. From that point of view, we are not suffering for our own sins but as inhabitants of a fallen world or an apostate nation. When a nation begins to reap what it has sown, more than ever, Christians in that country must be salt and light. Whether we live or die, whether we are afflicted, persecuted or struck down, we must continue to trust completely in the Lord and in His goodness while offering hope to those around us, encouraging them to turn to the Savior.
A second point is that those who wish to continue in their pursuit of wickedness are apt lay blame upon the righteous. King Jehoram, faced with the desperation of his people, swears that the prophet Elisha will be put to death. His thinking seems to be that Elisha has it in for him and Israel. Elisha and the Jehovah crowd were clearly intolerant of the Samaritan lifestyle. Telling people the truth can be dangerous. Having our illusions and delusions stripped away can make us angry and cause us to denounce those who bring the message when it ought to cause us to abandon our comfortable lies and repent.
When we find ourselves in difficulty and recognize, even subconsciously, that the fault lies in ourselves and not the stars, we may assume that God has abandoned us. After all, we have, by our own decisions and actions, turned from Him, from His law and His truth. Why should we then expect Him to help us? Yet God is compassionate and forgiving. He waits for us even when we are unwilling to wait for Him. He is merciful and ready, always, to welcome us back if we will lay aside our pride with its self-consciousness and shame and humble ourselves in seeking Him. He will not be hard to find. The Cross makes our reconciliation possible, and its redemptive worth knows no bounds.