2 Kings 7
Relief is here brought to Samaria and her king, when the case is, in a
manner, desperate, and the king despairing.
I. It is foretold by Elisha, and an unbelieving lord shut out from the
benefit of it,
2 Kings 7:1,2.
II. It is brought about,
1. By an unaccountable fright into which God put the Syrians
(2 Kings 7:6),
which caused them to retire precipitately,
2 Kings 7:7.
2. By the seasonable discovery which four lepers made of this
(2 Kings 7:3-5),
and the account which they gave of it to the court,
2 Kings 7:8-11.
3. By the cautious trial which the king made of the truth of it,
2 Kings 7:12-15.
III. The event answered the prediction both in the sudden plenty
(2 Kings 7:16),
and the death of the unbelieving lord
(2 Kings 7:17-20);
for no word of God shall fall to the ground.
|Elisha Foretells the Relief of Samaria.
||B. C. 891.|
1 Then Elisha said, Hear ye the word of the LORD; Thus saith
the LORD, To morrow about this time shall a measure of fine
flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a
shekel, in the gate of Samaria.
2 Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of
God, and said, Behold, if the LORD would make windows in
heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see
it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.
I. Elisha foretels that, notwithstanding the great straits to which the
city of Samaria is reduced, yet within twenty-four hours they shall
2 Kings 7:1.
The king of Israel despaired of it and grew weary of waiting: then
Elisha foretold it, when things were at the worst. Man's extremity is
God's opportunity of magnifying his own power; his time to appear for
his people is when their strength is gone,
When they had given over expecting help it came. When the son of
man comes shall he find faith on the earth?
The king said, What shall I wait for the Lord any longer? And
perhaps some of the elders were ready to say the same: "Well," said
Elisha, "you hear what these say; now hear you the word of the
Lord, hear what he says, hear it and heed it and believe it:
to-morrow corn shall be sold at the usual rate in the gate of Samaria;"
that is, the siege shall be raised, for the gate of the city shall be
opened, and the market shall be held there as formerly. The return of
peace is thus expressed
Then shall the people of the Lord go down to the gates, to buy
and sell there.
2. The consequence of that shall be great plenty. This would, in time,
follow of course, but that corn should be thus cheap in so short a time
was quite beyond what could be thought of. Though the king of Israel
had just now threatened Elisha's life, God promises to save his life
and the life of his people; for where sin abounded grace doth much
II. A peer of Israel that happened to be present openly declared his
disbelief of this prediction,
2 Kings 7:2.
He was a courtier whom the king had an affection for, as the man of his
right hand, on whom he leaned, that is, on whose prudence he much
relied, and in whom he reposed much confidence. He thought it
impossible, unless God should rain corn out of the clouds, as once he
did manna; no less than the repetition of Moses's miracle will serve
him, though that of Elijah might have served to answer this intention,
the increasing of the meal in the barrel.
III. The just doom passed upon him for his infidelity, that he should
see this great plenty for this conviction, and yet not eat of it to his
comfort. Note, Unbelief is a sin by which men greatly dishonour and
displease God, and deprive themselves of the favours he designed for
them. The murmuring Israelites saw Canaan, but could not enter in
because of unbelief. Such (says bishop Patrick) will be the portion of
those that believe not the promise of eternal life; they shall see it
at a distance--Abraham afar off, but shall never taste of it; for they
forfeit the benefit of the promise if they cannot find in their heart
to take God's word.
|The Siege of Samaria Raised.
||B. C. 891.|
3 And there were four leprous men at the entering in of the
gate: and they said one to another, Why sit we here until we die?
4 If we say, We will enter into the city, then the famine is
in the city, and we shall die there: and if we sit still here, we
die also. Now therefore come, and let us fall unto the host of
the Syrians: if they save us alive, we shall live; and if they
kill us, we shall but die.
5 And they rose up in the twilight, to go unto the camp of the
Syrians: and when they were come to the uttermost part of the
camp of Syria, behold, there was no man there.
6 For the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise
of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great
host: and they said one to another, Lo, the king of Israel hath
hired against us the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the
Egyptians, to come upon us.
7 Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their
tents, and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it
was, and fled for their life.
8 And when these lepers came to the uttermost part of the camp,
they went into one tent, and did eat and drink, and carried
thence silver, and gold, and raiment, and went and hid it; and
came again, and entered into another tent, and carried thence
also, and went and hid it.
9 Then 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.
10 So they came and called unto the porter of the city: and
they told them, saying, We came to the camp of the Syrians, and,
behold, there was no man there, neither voice of man, but
horses tied, and asses tied, and the tents as they were.
11 And he called the porters; and they told it to the king's
We are here told,
I. How the siege of Samaria was raised in the evening, at the edge of
(2 Kings 7:6,7),
not by might or power, but by the Spirit of the Lord of hosts, striking
terror upon the spirits of the besiegers. Here was not a sword drawn
against them, not a drop of blood shed, it was not by thunder or
hailstones that they were discomfited, nor were they slain, as
Sennacherib's army before Jerusalem, by a destroying angel; but,
1. The Lord made them to hear a noise of chariots and horses.
The Syrians that besieged Dothan had their sight imposed upon,
2 Kings 6:18.
These had their hearing imposed upon. For God knows how to work
upon every sense, pursuant to his own counsels as he makes the
hearing ear and the seeing eye, so he makes the deaf and the
Whether the noise was really made in the air by the ministry of angels,
or whether it was only a sound in their ears, is not certain; which
soever it was, it was from God, who both brings the wind out of his
treasures, and forms the spirit of man within him. The sight
of horses and chariots had encouraged the prophet's servant,
2 Kings 6:17.
The noise of horses and chariots terrified the hosts of Syria. For
notices from the invisible world are either very comfortable or very
dreadful, according as men are at peace with God or at war with him.
2. Hearing this noise, they concluded the king of Israel had certainly
procured assistance from some foreign power: He has hired against us
the kings of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians. There
was, for aught we know but one king of Egypt, and what kings there were
of the Hittites nobody can imagine; but, as they were imposed upon by
that dreadful sound in their ears, so they imposed upon themselves by
the interpretation they made of it. Had they supposed the king of Judah
to have come with his forces, there would have been more of probability
in their apprehensions than to dream of the kings of the Hittites
and the Egyptians. If the fancies of any of them raised this
spectre, yet their reasons might soon have laid it: how could the king
of Israel, who was closely besieged, hold intelligence with those
distant princes? What had he to hire them with? It was impossible but
some notice would come, before, of the motions of so great a host; but
there were they in great fear where no fear was.
3. Hereupon they all fled with incredible precipitation, as for their
lives, left their camp as it was: even their horses, that might have
hastened their flight, they could not stay to take with them,
2 Kings 7:7.
None of them had so much sense as to send out scouts to discover the
supposed enemy, much less courage enough to face the enemy, though
fatigued with a long march. The wicked flee when none pursues.
God can, when he pleases, dispirit the boldest and most brave, and make
the stoutest heart to tremble. Those that will not fear God he can make
to fear at the shaking of a leaf.
II. How the Syrians' flight was discovered by four leprous men. Samaria
was delivered, and did not know it. The watchmen on the walls were not
aware of the retreat of the enemy, so silently did they steal away. But
Providence employed four lepers to be the intelligencers, who had their
lodging without the gate, being excluded from the city, as ceremonially
unclean: the Jews say they were Gehazi and his three sons; perhaps
Gehazi might be one of them, which might cause him to be taken notice
of afterwards by the king,
2 Kings 8:4.
1. How these lepers reasoned themselves into a resolution to make a
visit in the night to the camp of the Syrians,
2 Kings 7:3,4.
They were ready to perish for hunger; none passed through the gate to
relieve them. Should they go into the city, there was nothing to be
had there, they mist die in the streets; should they sit still, they
must pine to death in their cottage. They therefore determine to go
over to the enemy, and throw themselves upon their mercy: if they
killed them, better die by the sword than by famine, one death than a
thousand; but perhaps they would save them alive, as objects of
compassion. Common prudence will put us upon that method which may
better our condition, but cannot make it worse. The prodigal son
resolves to return to his father, whose displeasure he had reason to
fear, rather than perish with hunger in the far country. These lepers
conclude, "If they kill us, we shall but die;" and happy they who, in
another sense, can thus speak of dying. "We shall but die, that is the
worst of it, not die and be damned, not be hurt of the second death."
According to this resolution, they went, in the beginning of the night,
to the camp of the Syrians, and, to their great surprise, found it
wholly deserted, not a man to be seen or heard in it,
2 Kings 7:5.
Providence ordered it, that these lepers came as soon as ever the
Syrians had fled, for they fled in the twilight, the evening twilight
(2 Kings 7:7),
and in the twilight the lepers came
(2 Kings 7:5),
and so no time was lost.
2. How they reasoned themselves into a resolution to bring tidings of
this to the city. They feasted in the first tent they came to
(2 Kings 7:8)
and then began to think of enriching themselves with the plunder; but
they corrected themselves
(2 Kings 7:9):
"We do not well to conceal these good tidings from the community
we are members of, under colour of being avenged upon them for
excluding us from their society; it was the law that did it, not they,
and therefore let us bring them the news. Though it awake them from
sleep, it will be life from the dead to them." Their own
consciences told them that some mischief would befal them if they acted
separately, and sought themselves only. Selfish narrow-spirited people
cannot expect to prosper; the most comfortable advantage is that which
our brethren share with us in. According to this resolution, they
returned to the gate, and acquainted the sentinel with what they had
(2 Kings 7:10),
who straightway brought the intelligence to court
(2 Kings 7:11),
and it was not the less acceptable for being first brought by
|Samaria Plentifully Supplied.
||B. C. 891.|
12 And the king arose in the night, and said unto his servants,
I will now show you what the Syrians have done to us. They know
that we be hungry; therefore are they gone out of the camp to
hide themselves in the field, saying, When they come out of the
city, we shall catch them alive, and get into the city.
13 And one of his servants answered and said, Let some take,
I pray thee, five of the horses that remain, which are left in
the city, (behold, they are as all the multitude of Israel that
are left in it: behold, I say, they are even as all the
multitude of the Israelites that are consumed:) and let us send
14 They took therefore two chariot horses; and the king sent
after the host of the Syrians, saying, Go and see.
15 And they went after them unto Jordan: and, lo, all the way
was full of garments and vessels, which the Syrians had cast
away in their haste. And the messengers returned, and told the
16 And the people went out, and spoiled the tents of the
Syrians. So a measure of fine flour was sold for a shekel, and
two measures of barley for a shekel, according to the word of the
17 And the king appointed the lord on whose hand he leaned to
have the charge of the gate: and the people trode upon him in the
gate, and he died, as the man of God had said, who spake when the
king came down to him.
18 And it came to pass as the man of God had spoken to the
king, saying, Two measures of barley for a shekel, and a measure
of fine flour for a shekel, shall be to morrow about this time in
the gate of Samaria:
19 And that lord answered the man of God, and said, Now,
behold, if the LORD should make windows in heaven, might such a
thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes,
but shalt not eat thereof.
20 And so it fell out unto him: for the people trode upon him
in the gate, and he died.
Here we have,
I. The king's jealousy of a stratagem in the Syrian's retreat,
2 Kings 7:12.
He feared that they had withdrawn into an ambush, to draw out the
besieged, that they might fall on them with more advantage. He knew he
had no reason to expect that God should appear thus wonderfully for
him, having forfeited his favour by his unbelief and impatience. He
knew no reason the Syrians had to fly, for it does not appear that he
or any of this attendants heard the noise of the chariots which the
Syrians were frightened at. Let not those who, like him, are
unstable in all their ways, think to receive any thing from God;
nay, a guilty conscience fears the worst and makes men suspicious.
II. The course they took for their satisfaction, and to prevent their
falling into a snare. They sent out spies to see what had become of the
Syrians, and found they had all fled indeed, commanders as well a
common soldiers. They could track them by the garments which they threw
off, and left by the way, for their greater expedition,
2 Kings 7:15.
He that gave this advice seems to have been very sensible of the
deplorable condition the people were in
(2 Kings 7:13);
for speaking of the horses, many of which were dead and the rest ready
to perish for hunger, he says, and repeats it, "They are as all the
multitude of Israel. Israel used to glory in their multitude, but
now they are diminished and brought low." He advised to send five
horsemen, but, it should seem, there were only two horses fit to be
sent, and those chariot-horses,
2 Kings 7:14.
Now the Lord repented himself concerning his servants, when he saw that
their strength was gone,
III. The plenty that was in Samaria, from the plunder of the camp of
2 Kings 7:16.
Had the Syrians been governed by the modern policies of war, when they
could not take their baggage and their tents with them they would
rather have burnt them (as it is common to do with the forage of a
country) than let them fall into their enemies' hands; but God
determined that the besieging of Samaria, which was intended for its
ruin, should turn to its advantage, and that Israel should now be
enriched with the spoil of the Syrians as of old with that of the
Egyptians. Here see,
1. The wealth of the sinner laid up for the just
and the spoilers spoiled,
2. The wants of Israel supplied in a way that they little thought of,
which should encourage us to depend upon the power and goodness of God
in our greatest straits.
3. The word of Elisha fulfilled to a tittle: A measure of fine flour
was sold for a shekel; those that spoiled the camp had not only
enough to supply themselves with, but an overplus to sell at an easy
rate for the benefit of others, and so even those that tarried at
home did divide the spoil,
God's promise may be safely relied on, for no word of his shall fall to
IV. The death of the unbelieving courtier, that questioned the truth of
Elisha's word. Divine threatenings will as surely be accomplished as
divine promises. He that believeth not shall be damned stands as
firm as He that believeth shall be saved. This lord,
1. Was preferred by the king to the charge of the gate
(2 Kings 7:17),
to keep the peace, and to see that there was no tumult or disorder in
dividing and disposing of the spoil. So much trust did the king repose
in him, in his prudence and gravity, and so much did he delight to
honour him. He that will be great, let him serve the public.
2. Was trodden to death by the people in the gate, either by accident,
the crowd being exceedingly great, and he in the thickest of it, or
perhaps designedly, because he abused his power, and was imperious in
restraining the people from satisfying their hunger. However it was,
God's justice was glorified, and the word of Elisha was fulfilled. He
saw the plenty, for the silencing and shaming of his unbelief, corn
cheap without opening windows in heaven, and therein saw his own
folly in prescribing to God; but he did not eat of the plenty he saw.
When he was about to fill his belly God cast the fury of his
wrath upon him
and it came between the cup and the lip. Justly are those thus
tantalized with the world's promises that think themselves tantalized
with the promises of God. If believing shall not be seeing, seeing
shall not be enjoying. This matter is repeated, and the event very
particularly compared with the prediction
(2 Kings 7:18-20),
that we might take special notice of it, and might learn,
(1.) How deeply God resents out distrust of him, of his power,
providence, and promise. When Israel said, Can God furnish a table?
the Lord heard it and was wroth. Infinite wisdom will not be
limited by our folly. God never promises the end without knowing where
to provide the means.
(2.) How uncertain life and the enjoyments of it are. Honour and power
cannot secure men from sudden and inglorious deaths. He whom the king
leaned upon the people trod upon; he who fancied himself the stay and
support of the government was trampled under foot as the mire in the
streets. Thus hath the pride of men's glory been often stained.
(3.) How certain God's threatenings are, and how sure to alight on the
guilty and obnoxious heads. Let all men fear before the great God, who
treads upon princes as mortar and is terrible to the kings of