2 Kings 6:24 Some time later King Ben-hadad of Aram mustered his entire army; he marched against Samaria (the capital of northern Israel) and laid siege to it. 25 As the siege continued, famine in Samaria became so great that a donkey’s head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and one-fourth of a kab of dove’s dung for five shekels of silver. 26 Now as the king of Israel was walking on the city wall, a woman cried out to him, “Help, my lord king!” 27 He said, “No! Let the Lord help you. How can I help you? From the threshing floor or from the wine press?” 28 But then the king asked her, “What is your complaint?” She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give up your son; we will eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.’ 29 So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, ‘Give up your son and we will eat him.’ But she has hidden her son.” 30 When the king heard the words of the woman he tore his clothes—now since he was walking on the city wall, the people could see that he had sackcloth on his body underneath— 31 and he said, “So may God do to me, and more, if the head of Elisha son of Shaphat stays on his shoulders today.” 32 So he dispatched a man from his presence. Now Elisha was sitting in his house, and the elders were sitting with him. Before the messenger arrived, Elisha said to the elders, “Are you aware that this murderer has sent someone to take off my head? When the messenger comes, see that you shut the door and hold it closed against him. Is not the sound of his master’s feet behind him?” 33 While he was still speaking with them, the king came down to him and said, “This trouble is from the Lord! Why should I hope in the Lord any longer?”
This is a heartbreaking story, particularly as it relates to the two women and their sons. I’ve never known that kind of hunger, but I can only imagine how desperate one must be to eat one’s own child. It seems this story moved the king deeply – and drove him to begin placing blame. At first it appears he’s going to blame Elisha, but v.33 makes it plain who the king believes is responsible for the plight of Israel. It is the Lord.
“Why should I hope in the Lord any longer?“
That’s a painful statement isn’t it? It reflects the experience of one who has pleaded with the Lord for relief, but has received none. I think we humans can only hope for so long and then we lose hope. There have been times in my life when I’ve run out of hope. When I’ve felt myself give up on the inside. When a crisis of faith has pushed me too far. But as I sit here writing this morning I also recall how the Lord has always picked me up from that low place. I have not been left with my face in the dust forever. It’s as the Lord says through the prophet Isaiah:
“… but those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not grow weary. They shall walk and not faint.”
Lord this morning I pray for those with our faces in the dust. Bear us up, O God. Rescue us from the dark and desperate places. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.