Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 117

2 Kings 1–5, Proverbs 6

Bible text(s)

Elijah and King Ahaziah

1After the death of King Ahab of Israel, the country of Moab rebelled against Israel.

2King Ahaziah of Israel fell off the balcony on the roof of his palace in Samaria and was seriously injured. So he sent some messengers to consult Baalzebub, the god of the Philistine city of Ekron, in order to find out whether or not he would recover. 3But an angel of the LORD commanded Elijah, the prophet from Tishbe, to go and meet the messengers of King Ahaziah and ask them, “Why are you going to consult Baalzebub, the god of Ekron? Is it because you think there is no god in Israel? 4Tell the king that the LORD says, ‘You will not recover from your injuries; you will die!’ ”

Elijah did as the LORD commanded, 5and the messengers returned to the king. “Why have you come back?” he asked.

6They answered, “We were met by a man who told us to come back and tell you that the LORD says to you, ‘Why are you sending messengers to consult Baalzebub, the god of Ekron? Is it because you think there is no god in Israel? You will not recover from your injuries; you will die!’ ”

7“What did the man look like?” the king asked.

8“He was wearing a cloak made of animal skins, tied with a leather belt,” they answered.

“It's Elijah!” the king exclaimed.

9Then he sent an officer with fifty men to get Elijah. The officer found him sitting on a hill and said to him, “Man of God, the king orders you to come down.”

10“If I am a man of God,” Elijah answered, “may fire come down from heaven and kill you and your men!” At once fire came down and killed the officer and his men.

11The king sent another officer with fifty men, who went up and said to Elijah, “Man of God, the king orders you to come down at once!”

12“If I am a man of God,” Elijah answered, “may fire come down from heaven and kill you and your men!” At once the fire of God came down and killed the officer and his men.

13Once more the king sent an officer with fifty men. He went up the hill, fell on his knees in front of Elijah, and pleaded, “Man of God, be merciful to me and my men. Spare our lives! 14The two other officers and their men were killed by fire from heaven; but please be merciful to me!”

15The angel of the LORD said to Elijah, “Go down with him, and don't be afraid.” So Elijah went with the officer to the king 16and said to him, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Because you sent messengers to consult Baalzebub, the god of Ekron — as if there were no god in Israel to consult — you will not get well; you will die!’ ”

17Ahaziah died, as the LORD had said through Elijah. Ahaziah had no sons, so his brother Joram succeeded him as king in the second year of the reign of Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah.

18Everything else that King Ahaziah did is recorded in The History of the Kings of Israel.

Elijah is Taken Up to Heaven

1The time came for the LORD to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elijah and Elisha set out from Gilgal, 2and on the way Elijah said to Elisha, “Now stay here; the LORD has ordered me to go to Bethel.”

But Elisha answered, “I swear by my loyalty to the living LORD and to you that I will not leave you.” So they went on to Bethel.

3A group of prophets who lived there went to Elisha and asked him, “Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master away from you today?”

“Yes, I know,” Elisha answered. “But let's not talk about it.”

4Then Elijah said to Elisha, “Now stay here; the LORD has ordered me to go to Jericho.”

But Elisha answered, “I swear by my loyalty to the living LORD and to you that I will not leave you.” So they went on to Jericho.

5A group of prophets who lived there went to Elisha and asked him, “Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master away from you today?”

“Yes, I know,” Elisha answered. “But let's not talk about it.”

6Then Elijah said to Elisha, “Now stay here; the LORD has ordered me to go to the River Jordan.”

But Elisha answered, “I swear by my loyalty to the living LORD and to you that I will not leave you.” So they went on, 7and fifty of the prophets followed them to the Jordan. Elijah and Elisha stopped by the river, and the fifty prophets stood a short distance away. 8Then Elijah took off his cloak, rolled it up, and struck the water with it; the water divided, and he and Elisha crossed to the other side on dry ground. 9There, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what you want me to do for you before I am taken away.”

“Let me receive the share of your power that will make me your successor,” Elisha answered.

10“That is a difficult request to grant,” Elijah replied. “But you will receive it if you see me as I am being taken away from you; if you don't see me, you won't receive it.”

11They kept talking as they walked on; then suddenly a chariot of fire pulled by horses of fire came between them, and Elijah was taken up to heaven by a whirlwind. 12Elisha saw it and cried out to Elijah, “My father, my father! Mighty defender of Israel! You are gone!” And he never saw Elijah again.

In grief, Elisha tore his cloak in two. 13Then he picked up Elijah's cloak that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14He struck the water with Elijah's cloak, and said, “Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” Then he struck the water again, and it divided, and he walked over to the other side. 15The fifty prophets from Jericho saw him and said, “The power of Elijah is on Elisha!” They went to meet him, bowed down before him, 16and said, “There are fifty of us here, all strong men. Let us go and look for your master. Maybe the Spirit of the LORD has carried him away and left him on some mountain or in some valley.”

“No, you must not go,” Elisha answered.

17But they insisted until he gave in and let them go. The fifty of them went and looked high and low for Elijah for three days, but didn't find him. 18Then they returned to Elisha, who had waited at Jericho, and he said to them, “Didn't I tell you not to go?”

Miracles of Elisha

19Some men from Jericho went to Elisha and said, “As you know, sir, this is a fine city, but the water is bad and causes miscarriages.”

20“Put some salt in a new bowl, and bring it to me,” he ordered. They brought it to him, 21and he went to the spring, threw the salt in the water, and said, “This is what the LORD says: ‘I make this water pure, and it will not cause any more deaths or miscarriages.’ ” 22And that water has been pure ever since, just as Elisha said it would be.

23Elisha left Jericho to go to Bethel, and on the way some boys came out of a town and made fun of him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they shouted.

24Elisha turned round, glared at them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. Then two she-bears came out of the woods and tore 42 of the boys to pieces.

25Elisha went on to Mount Carmel, and later returned to Samaria.

War between Israel and Moab

1In the eighteenth year of the reign of King Jehoshaphat of Judah, Joram son of Ahab became king of Israel, and he ruled in Samaria for twelve years. 2He sinned against the LORD, but he was not as bad as his father or his mother Jezebel; he pulled down the image his father had made for the worship of Baal. 3Yet, like King Jeroboam son of Nebat before him, he led Israel into sin, and would not stop.

4King Mesha of Moab bred sheep, and every year he gave as tribute to the king of Israel 100,000 lambs, and the wool from 100,000 sheep. 5But when King Ahab of Israel died, Mesha rebelled against Israel. 6At once King Joram left Samaria and gathered all his troops. 7He sent word to King Jehoshaphat of Judah: “The king of Moab has rebelled against me; will you join me in war against him?”

“I will,” King Jehoshaphat replied. “I am at your disposal, and so are my men and my horses. 8What route shall we take for the attack?”

“We will go the long way, through the wilderness of Edom,” Joram answered.

9So King Joram and the kings of Judah and Edom set out. After marching for seven days, they ran out of water, and there was none left for the men or the pack animals. 10“We're done for!” King Joram exclaimed. “The LORD has put the three of us at the mercy of the king of Moab!”

11King Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there a prophet here through whom we can consult the LORD?”

An officer of King Joram's forces answered, “Elisha son of Shaphat is here. He was Elijah's assistant.”

12“He is a true prophet,” King Jehoshaphat said. So the three kings went to Elisha.

13“Why should I help you?” Elisha said to the king of Israel. “Go and consult those prophets that your father and mother consulted.”

“No!” Joram replied. “It is the LORD who has put us three kings at the mercy of the king of Moab.”

14Elisha answered, “By the living LORD, whom I serve, I swear that I would have nothing to do with you if I didn't respect your ally King Jehoshaphat of Judah. 15Now get me a musician.”

As the musician played his harp, the power of the LORD came on Elisha, 16and he said, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Dig ditches all over this dry stream bed. 17Even though you will not see any rain or wind, this stream bed will be filled with water, and you, your livestock, and your pack animals will have plenty to drink.’ ” 18And Elisha continued, “But this is an easy thing for the LORD to do; he will also give you victory over the Moabites. 19You will conquer all their beautiful fortified cities; you will cut down all their fruit trees, stop all their springs, and ruin all their fertile fields by covering them with stones.”

20The next morning, at the time of the regular morning sacrifice, water came flowing from the direction of Edom, and covered the ground.

21When the Moabites heard that the three kings had come to attack them, all the men who could bear arms, from the oldest to the youngest, were called out and stationed at the border. 22When they got up the following morning, the sun was shining on the water, making it look as red as blood. 23“It's blood!” they exclaimed. “The three enemy armies must have fought and killed each other! Let's go and loot their camp!”

24But when they reached the camp, the Israelites attacked them and drove them back. The Israelites kept up the pursuit, slaughtering the Moabites 25and destroying their cities. As they passed a fertile field, every Israelite would throw a stone on it until finally all the fields were covered; they also stopped up the springs and cut down the fruit trees. At last only the capital city of Kir Heres was left, and the slingers surrounded it and attacked it.

26When the king of Moab realized that he was losing the battle, he took 700 swordsmen with him and tried to force his way through the enemy lines and escape to the king of Syria, but he failed. 27So he took his eldest son, who was to succeed him as king, and offered him on the city wall as a sacrifice to the god of Moab. The Israelites were terrified and so they drew back from the city and returned to their own country.

Elisha Helps a Poor Widow

1The widow of a member of a group of prophets went to Elisha and said, “Sir, my husband has died! As you know, he was a God-fearing man, but now a man he owed money to has come to take away my two sons as slaves in payment for my husband's debt.”

2“What shall I do for you?” he asked. “Tell me, what have you got at home?”

“Nothing at all, except a small jar of olive oil,” she answered.

3“Go to your neighbours and borrow as many empty jars as you can,” Elisha told her. 4“Then you and your sons go into the house, close the door, and start pouring oil into the jars. Set each one aside as soon as it is full.”

5So the woman went into her house with her sons, closed the door, took the small jar of olive oil, and poured oil into the jars as her sons brought them to her. 6When they had filled all the jars, she asked if there were any more. “That was the last one,” one of her sons answered. And the olive oil stopped flowing. 7She went back to Elisha, the prophet, who said to her, “Sell the olive oil and pay all your debts, and there will be enough money left over for you and your sons to live on.”

Elisha and the Rich Woman from Shunem

8One day Elisha went to Shunem, where a rich woman lived. She invited him to a meal, and from then on every time he went to Shunem he would have his meals at her house. 9She said to her husband, “I am sure that this man who comes here so often is a holy man. 10Let's build a small room on the roof, put a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp in it, and he can stay there whenever he visits us.”

11One day Elisha returned to Shunem and went up to his room to rest. 12He told his servant Gehazi to go and call the woman. When she came, 13he said to Gehazi, “Ask her what I can do for her in return for all the trouble she has had in providing for our needs. Maybe she would like me to go to the king or the army commander and put in a good word for her.”

“I have all I need here among my own people,” she answered.

14Elisha asked Gehazi, “What can I do for her then?”

He answered, “Well, she has no son, and her husband is an old man.”

15“Tell her to come here,” Elisha ordered. She came and stood in the doorway, 16and Elisha said to her, “By this time next year you will be holding a son in your arms.”

“Oh!” she exclaimed. “Please, sir, don't lie to me. You are a man of God!”

17But, as Elisha had said, at about that time the following year she gave birth to a son.

18Some years later, at harvest time, the boy went out one morning to join his father, who was in the field with the harvest workers. 19Suddenly he cried out to his father, “My head hurts! My head hurts!”

“Carry the boy to his mother,” the father said to a servant. 20The servant carried the boy back to his mother, who held him in her lap until noon, at which time he died. 21She carried him up to Elisha's room, put him on the bed and left, closing the door behind her. 22Then she called her husband and said to him, “Send a servant here with a donkey. I need to go to the prophet Elisha. I'll be back as soon as I can.”

23“Why do you have to go today?” her husband asked. “It's neither a Sabbath nor a New Moon Festival.”

“Never mind,” she answered. 24Then she had the donkey saddled, and ordered the servant, “Make the donkey go as fast as it can, and don't slow down, unless I tell you to.” 25So she set out, and went to Mount Carmel, where Elisha was.

Elisha saw her coming while she was still some distance away, and said to his servant Gehazi, “Look — there comes the woman from Shunem! 26Hurry to her and find out if everything is all right with her, her husband, and her son.”

She told Gehazi that everything was all right, 27but when she came to Elisha she bowed down before him and took hold of his feet. Gehazi was about to push her away, but Elisha said, “Leave her alone. Can't you see she's deeply distressed? And the LORD has not told me a thing about it.”

28The woman said to him, “Sir, did I ask you for a son? Didn't I tell you not to raise my hopes?”

29Elisha turned to Gehazi and said, “Hurry! Take my stick and go. Don't stop to greet anyone you meet, and if anyone greets you, don't take time to answer. Go straight to the house and hold my stick over the boy.”

30The woman said to Elisha, “I swear by my loyalty to the living LORD and to you that I will not leave you!” So the two of them started back together. 31Gehazi went on ahead and held Elisha's stick over the child, but there was no sound or any other sign of life. So he went back to meet Elisha and said, “The boy didn't wake up.”

32When Elisha arrived, he went alone into the room and saw the boy lying dead on the bed. 33He closed the door and prayed to the LORD. 34Then he lay down on the boy, placing his mouth, eyes, and hands on the boy's mouth, eyes, and hands. As he lay stretched out over the boy, the boy's body started to get warm. 35Elisha got up, walked about the room, and then went back and again stretched himself over the boy. The boy sneezed seven times, and then opened his eyes. 36Elisha called Gehazi and told him to call the boy's mother. When she came in, he said to her, “Here's your son.” 37She fell at Elisha's feet, with her face touching the ground; then she took her son and left.

Two More Miracles

38Once, when there was a famine throughout the land, Elisha returned to Gilgal. While he was teaching a group of prophets, he told his servant to put a big pot on the fire and make some stew for them. 39One of them went out in the fields to get some herbs. He found a wild vine, and picked as many gourds as he could carry. He brought them back and sliced them up into the stew, not knowing what they were. 40The stew was poured out for the men to eat, but as soon as they tasted it they exclaimed to Elisha, “It's poisoned!” — and wouldn't eat it. 41Elisha asked for some meal, threw it into the pot, and said, “Pour out some more stew for them.” And then there was nothing wrong with it.

42Another time, a man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing Elisha twenty loaves of bread made from the first barley harvested that year, and some freshly-cut ears of corn. Elisha told his servant to feed the group of prophets with this, 43but he answered, “Do you think this is enough for a hundred men?”

Elisha replied, “Give it to them to eat, because the LORD says that they will eat and still have some left over.” 44So the servant set the food before them, and, as the LORD had said, they all ate and there was still some left over.

Naaman is Cured

1Naaman, the commander of the Syrian army, was highly respected and esteemed by the king of Syria, because through Naaman the LORD had given victory to the Syrian forces. He was a great soldier, but he suffered from a dreaded skin disease. 2In one of their raids against Israel, the Syrians had carried off a little Israelite girl, who became a servant of Naaman's wife. 3One day she said to her mistress, “I wish that my master could go to the prophet who lives in Samaria! He would cure him of his disease.” 4When Naaman heard of this, he went to the king and told him what the girl had said. 5The king said, “Go to the king of Israel and take this letter to him.”

So Naaman set out, taking 30,000 pieces of silver, 6,000 pieces of gold, and ten changes of fine clothes. 6The letter that he took read: “This letter will introduce my officer Naaman. I want you to cure him of his disease.”

7When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes in dismay and exclaimed, “How can the king of Syria expect me to cure this man? Does he think that I am God, with the power of life and death? It's plain that he is trying to start a quarrel with me!”

8When the prophet Elisha heard what had happened, he sent word to the king: “Why are you so upset? Send the man to me, and I'll show him that there is a prophet in Israel!”

9So Naaman went with his horses and chariot, and stopped at the entrance to Elisha's house. 10Elisha sent a servant out to tell him to go and wash himself seven times in the River Jordan, and he would be completely cured of his disease. 11But Naaman left in a rage, saying, “I thought that he would at least come out to me, pray to the LORD his God, wave his hand over the diseased spot, and cure me! 12Besides, aren't the rivers Abana and Pharpar, back in Damascus, better than any river in Israel? I could have washed in them and been cured!”

13His servants went up to him and said, “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something difficult, you would have done it. Now why can't you just wash yourself, as he said, and be cured?” 14So Naaman went down to the Jordan, dipped himself in it seven times, as Elisha had instructed, and he was completely cured. His flesh became firm and healthy, like that of a child. 15He returned to Elisha with all his men and said, “Now I know that there is no god but the God of Israel; so please, sir, accept a gift from me.”

16Elisha answered, “By the living LORD, whom I serve, I swear that I will not accept a gift.”

Naaman insisted that he accept it, but he would not. 17So Naaman said, “If you won't accept my gift, then let me have two mule-loads of earth to take home with me, because from now on I will not offer sacrifices or burnt offerings to any god except the LORD. 18So I hope that the LORD will forgive me when I accompany my king to the temple of Rimmon, the god of Syria, and worship him. Surely the LORD will forgive me!”

19“Go in peace,” Elisha said. And Naaman left.

He had gone only a short distance, 20when Elisha's servant Gehazi said to himself, “My master has let Naaman get away without paying a thing! He should have accepted what that Syrian offered him. By the living LORD, I will run after him and get something from him.” 21So he set off after Naaman. When Naaman saw a man running after him, he got down from his chariot to meet him, and asked, “Is something wrong?”

22“No,” Gehazi answered. “But my master sent me to tell you that just now two members of the group of prophets in the hill country of Ephraim arrived, and he would like you to give them 3,000 pieces of silver and two changes of fine clothes.”

23“Please take 6,000 pieces of silver,” Naaman replied. He insisted on it, tied up the silver in two bags, gave them and two changes of fine clothes to two of his servants, and sent them on ahead of Gehazi. 24When they reached the hill where Elisha lived, Gehazi took the two bags and carried them into the house. Then he sent Naaman's servants back. 25He went back into the house, and Elisha asked him, “Where have you been?”

“Oh, nowhere, sir,” he answered.

26But Elisha said, “Wasn't I there in spirit when the man got out of his chariot to meet you? This is no time to accept money and clothes, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and cattle, or servants! 27And now Naaman's disease will come upon you, and you and your descendants will have it for ever!”

When Gehazi left, he had the disease — his skin was as white as snow.

More Warnings

1Have you promised to be responsible for someone else's debts, my child? 2Have you been caught by your own words, trapped by your own promises? 3Well then, my child, you are in that person's power, but this is how to get out of it: hurry to him, and beg him to release you. 4Don't let yourself go to sleep or even stop to rest. 5Get out of the trap like a bird or a deer escaping from a hunter.

6Lazy people should learn a lesson from the way ants live. 7They have no leader, chief, or ruler, 8but they store up their food during the summer, getting ready for winter. 9How long is the lazy man going to lie in bed? When is he ever going to get up? 10“I'll just take a short nap,” he says; “I'll fold my hands and rest a while.” 11But while he sleeps, poverty will attack him like an armed robber.

12Worthless, wicked people go around telling lies. 13They wink and make gestures to deceive you, 14all the while planning evil in their perverted minds, stirring up trouble everywhere. 15Because of this, disaster will strike them without warning, and they will be fatally wounded.

16-19There are seven things that the LORD hates and cannot tolerate:

    a proud look,
    a lying tongue,
    hands that kill innocent people,
    a mind that thinks up wicked plans,
    feet that hurry off to do evil,
    a witness who tells one lie after another,
    and someone who stirs up trouble among friends.

Warning against Adultery

20Do what your father tells you, my son, and never forget what your mother taught you. 21Keep their words with you always, locked in your heart. 22Their teaching will lead you when you travel, protect you at night, and advise you during the day. 23Their instructions are a shining light; their correction can teach you how to live. 24It can keep you away from bad women, from the seductive words of other men's wives. 25Don't be tempted by their beauty; don't be trapped by their flirting eyes. 26A man can hire a prostitute for the price of a loaf of bread, but adultery will cost him all he has.

27Can you carry fire against your chest without burning your clothes? 28Can you walk on hot coals without burning your feet? 29It is just as dangerous to sleep with another man's wife. Whoever does it will suffer. 30People don't despise a thief if he steals food when he is hungry; 31yet if he is caught, he must pay back seven times more — he must give up everything he has. 32But a man who commits adultery hasn't any sense. He is just destroying himself. 33He will be dishonoured and beaten up; he will be permanently disgraced. 34A husband is never angrier than when he is jealous; his revenge knows no limits. 35He will not accept any payment; no amount of gifts will satisfy his anger.

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