As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord , “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked. Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to Samaria. After they entered the city, Elisha said, “ Lord , open the eyes of these men so they can see.” Then the Lord opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria. When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?” “Do not kill them,” he answered. “Would you kill those you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master.” So he prepared a great feast for them, and after they had finished eating and drinking, he sent them away, and they returned to their master. So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory. – 2 Kings 6:18-23
Ah Star Wars….the first Star Wars came out when I was in High School and I thought it was the coolest movie ever. I saw it 15 times in the theater and dreamed of travelling in space while I slept out on our deck looking up at the stars. Obi-Wan Kenobi was one of my favorite characters. He was cool under pressure and of course he had “the force” — that nebulous power of the universe which could make things happen. The “force” was convenient in that it did not really require anything of the person wielding it. Luke just turned off his targeting computer and boom the death star was destroyed, Darth Vader was spiraling into a sequel, and Chewy was getting a salon treatment for the award ceremony.
God does not work like the impersonal force of Star Wars. He works through people and the relationships He has with them. Elisha has a close relationship with God and when the army of Aram came down to conquer Israel and kill him He asked for help and God showed up. Elisha said something similar to what Obi-Wan Kenobi said when the storm troopers were searching for R2D2…”these are not the droids you are looking for…” “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” Elisha leads the soldiers right into the heart of Samaria and then has God open their eyes. I suspect they were somewhat surprised to find themselves in the middle of their enemy’s city.
This is where the passage gets a little strange. The King of Israel, who has up to this point not been the most faithful follower of God, calls Elisha “father” and then asks him if he should kill the soldiers. Why would the King of Israel, whose father and mother tried to have Elisha killed, call Elisha father? Perhaps the king of Israel has finally figured out who the real king of Israel is and who represents Him. Elisha tells the king to give the soldiers food and water, a feast in fact, then sends them home to bear witness to the powerful foe they are up against (God not the king) if they attack Israel again. This works and the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel.
I am struggling to pull a deeper meaning out of this. Perhaps the most important lesson is the faith that Elisha showed in asking God to show up when faced with soldiers marching down on him. That sort of faith is difficult and requires much practice during times when the stakes are not so high. Elisha also provides a good example of grace by sending the men back unharmed. It was an elegant solution to a prickly problem which in the past would have probably been solved with a sword. The king also seems to be “grabbing a clue” where God is concerned. He actually asks Elisha, and God, for advice rather than blundering off into the desert on his own.
Prayer: God help us to build our faith strong through practice so that when we are called upon to have great faith we are prepared.