2Ki 13:14 Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died. And Joash the king of Israel came down unto him, and wept over his face, and said, O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.
2Ki 13:15 And Elisha said unto him, Take bow and arrows. And he took unto him bow and arrows.
2Ki 13:16 And he said to the king of Israel, Put thine hand upon the bow. And he put his hand upon it: and Elisha put his hands upon the king's hands.
2Ki 13:17 And he said, Open the window eastward. And he opened it. Then Elisha said, Shoot. And he shot. And he said, The arrow of the LORD'S deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria: for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou have consumed them.
2Ki 13:18 And he said, Take the arrows. And he took them. And he said unto the king of Israel, Smite upon the ground. And he smote thrice, and stayed.
2Ki 13:19 And the man of God was wroth with him, and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice.
2 Kings 13:15-18
Take bow and arrows — Hostilities were usually proclaimed by a herald, sometimes by a king or general making a public and formal discharge of an arrow into the enemy’s country. Elisha directed Joash to do this, as a symbolical act, designed to intimate more fully and significantly the victories promised to the king of Israel over the Syrians. His laying his hands upon the king’s hands was to represent the power imparted to the bow shot as coming from the Lord through the medium of the prophet. His shooting the first arrow eastward - to that part of his kingdom which the Syrians had taken and which was east of Samaria - was a declaration of war against them for the invasion. His shooting the other arrows into the ground was in token of the number of victories he was taken to gain; but his stopping at the third betrayed the weakness of his faith; for, as the discharged arrow signified a victory over the Syrians, it is evident that the more arrows he shot the more victories he would gain. As he stopped so soon, his conquests would be incomplete.
As the king was told that the arrow shot off signified a victory over the Syrians, he ought to have shot off all the arrows, to secure a complete victory over them. When, therefore, he left off after shooting only three times, this was a sign that he was wanting in the proper zeal for obtaining the divine promise, i.e., in true faith in the omnipotence of God to fulfil His promise.
(Note: “When the king reflected upon the power of the kings of Syria, since he had not implicit faith in Elisha, he thought that it was enough if he struck the earth three times, fearing that the prophecy might not be fulfilled if he should strike more blows upon the ground.” - Clericus.)
Elisha was angry at this weakness of the king's faith, and told him that by leaving off so soon he had deprived himself of a perfect victory over the Syrians.
Application of this, the lesson to all of us. I am taking this form BI, the Bible Illistrator commentary, a huge volume, free in E-Sword. It is a differnt commentary, it gives applications by ministers and scholars. What you are about to read is very long, but it is worth reading every word. I will give my own words at the end. ;
2 Kings 13:15-19
And Elisha said unto him, Take bow and arrows.
The king’s arrows
Elisha was lying ill on his deathbed. His long career of usefulness and blessing was drawing to a close. He was held in great honour, not only by the people but by the king, and when it was known that he was coming to the end of his career King Joash came to see him, and when he came into the room, and saw the prophet lying there, looking so frail and weak, the young king was greatly affected. He burst into tears, and cried aloud, “O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.” Now Joash was neither a good nor a great man, but he was still young and not yet hardened, and he had no doubt a sudden vision of something of the meaning of the great value of Elisha to the kingdom. Elisha was a man of deeds, and he called the young man to his composure by saying to him, “Take bow and arrows.” For a moment Elisha is king, and the king is his servant, and the king turns and takes up a bow and arrows.
1. God’s hand on ours is our only guarantee of success. When Elisha had young King Joash take up the bow and arrows and place the arrow on the string and make ready to shoot, he put his own hands over the hands of the king to illustrate and impress upon the mind of this young ruler that if he gave himself to earnest, resolute attack upon the enemies of God and of His people the hand of God should be with him as a guarantee of victory. The lesson is as important for us as it was for Joash. God calls ‘every one of us to fight His enemies and the enemies of mankind. And there is that other warfare in our own hearts, that campaign against our personal besetting sins. God’s hand must be on our hand if the arrow shall find its mark and do its execution.
2. We are to smite sin utterly. God seeks to deliver us entirely from sin, but we may limit the deliverance of God by our own conduct. When the prophet told the young king to shoot his arrow eastward towards his Syrian enemy, he exclaimed, “The arrow of the Lord’s deliverance.” But when, to test the young king, he told him to take up the arrows and smite on the ground with them, his heart was heavy and his soul indignant as he noticed that he struck half-heartedly and that after only three strokes he turned about in a lifeless sort of way as if looking for further directions. Let us not fail of this great lesson, God seeks our complete deliverance from sin.
He desires that every enemy which troubles us and hinders us from working out the great purposes to which we are called of Jesus Christ shall be consumed and destroyed. But let us never forget that whether or not this is accomplished depends at the last upon us. It is a solemn thing that we, by our nerveless will, by our flabby lack of purpose, by our mushy indecision may thwart the purpose of Almighty God and continue to live lives far beneath our privilege. Let us smite, and smite, and smite, and yet again, smite, until every wicked passion, until every evil appetite, until every besetting sin shall be smitten to the death in our hearts and Jesus shall be crowned Lord over all.
3. There is no greater danger to the Christian than lack of persistence. Over and over again is this urged upon us in the Bible. Joash failed for lack of persistence. Many a Christian in these later centuries has failed because he gave up in despair by the way.
4. We are in great danger of being too easily satisfied. It may be that King Joash thought that three victories over Syria would be enough. It was not in him to rise up to a high ideal of his mission or to grasp the fulness of God’s willingness to make him not only the great King of Israel but the great king of all the world. Because he was easily satisfied his career was short and disgraceful. (L. A. Banks, D. D.)
Poverty of faith ensures but partial success
We may take this closing incident in the life of Elisha, as an illustration of the warfare between the soul and its enemies, and the conditions upon which complete victory is achieved.
1. Israel. Redeemed out of Egypt, in Canaan, where they might have lived in the enjoyment of triumph over all foes. Not in absolute exemption from conflict, but trusting in God and obeying Him, they would never have known defeat. They disbelieved, disobeyed, and as a consequence, there was failure and defeat. Type of a soul which has passed out of death (Egypt) into life (Canaan). But it has left its first love, in which it might have abode in the joys of continuous victory.
2. Israel’s enemies. Syria in particular. We find ourselves attacked from different quarters at the same time.
3. Promised deliverance.
(a) A definite deliverance—“from Syria.”
(b) A Divine deliverance—“The Lord’s deliverance.”
Spiritual deliverance is promised us. Definite promises of deliverance from the dominion, love and pollution of sin.
4. The king’s error. He erred in not resolving on, and expecting, complete success. “He smote thrice, and stayed.” He, as it were, “limited the Holy One of Israel.” He certainly manifested a lack of faith and of courage. In the spiritual life we should aim at, and expect, complete success. Be satisfied with nothing short of this. Not to rest while a single foe has a footing in the territory which belongs to God. We are to be “more than conquerors.”
5. The king’s partial success. Elisha would not have been “wrath” had there not been good cause. Elisha was God’s messenger. As when he declared that there should be plenty in Samaria within a given time, and the lord of the court was held guilty for not believing the message, so here. On account of weak faith, we are often only partially successful against our spiritual enemies. Would Naaman have been cured of his leprosy had he dipped in Jordan but thrice, and then stayed?
6. The king’s loss through unbelief. He was not aware, possibly, of the grandeur of the opportunity. Perhaps he treated the prophet’s simple message with contempt—obeying him merely to indulge the whim of an old and dying man—failing to look beyond the prophet to God who sent him. Perhaps we stumble sometimes at the message because we look no farther or higher than the messenger. He is not talented, famous, but coarse, etc. The king suffered. So do we when this spirit is indulged. (J. E. Robinson.)
There are two acts in this wonderful event. The first concerns the shooting of the arrow of deliverance, a symbolic and prophetic act; the second concerns the smiting on the ground with arrows, also symbolical, but providing as well a test of the character, of the zeal, and of the faith of the King of Israel. Now concerning these two acts and the several scenes in them let us speak as God may guide us.
I. Shooting the arrow of deliverance. Notice,
1. A call to action. “Take bow and arrows,” said the dying prophet. There is a deal of meaning wrapped up in this apparently simple suggestion. Elisha had come to a full end, and like a shock of corn that was fully ripe he was now bending towards the sharpened sickle. The king, who was not remarkable all the years of his life for his devotion to God or to His prophets, is now found trembling and weeping by the side of the sick servant of Jehovah. Then it is that the dying prophet, with more faith and hope and vigour in him even at the last article than the sinful king in his prime and power, exclaims as it were, “Weep not, tremble not, faint not, fear not; I am going, but God is with you. God buries His workmen, but He carries on His work. I die, but God will surely visit you. Do not let this sad event unduly depress you. I must die, for my time has come; but so long as you live, live to purpose, take bow and arrows, let not your hands hang down. Go forth to the battle yet again, and believe in the God to whom I have so long, though vainly, pointed you; for He is the Lord God of Hosts, the God of battles still. Dry up your tears; forsake your grief; take bow and arrows; arm yourself; go forth into the fight, and the Lord my God shall be with you.”
2. I notice next that Elisha gives to the king several strict injunctions; indeed, the detail to which he condescends is most remarkable. All through these verses we find a long list of instructions and commands. “Take bow and arrows.” “Put thine hand upon the bow.” “Open the window eastward.” “Shoot.” “Take the arrows.” “Smite upon the ground.” The dying prophet instructs the king in all the minutiae of his immediate duty. The wisest of us need to be divinely directed.
3. Then followed on the king’s part implicit obedience. “Take,” said the prophet; “and he took.” So it is throughout. “Put thine hand upon the bow;” “and he put his hand upon it.” “Open the window;” “and he opened it.” “Shoot;” “and he shot.” “Smite;” “and he smote.” All through there is a corresponding obedience on the king’s part to the arrangement and suggestion of the prophet. So should it ever be with us and God. Let His imperative be answered by obedient indicative on our part.
4. There follows a hint as to the necessity for personal interest and effort. Read the 16th verse.
5. There was Divine co-operation, for we read “Elisha put his hands upon the king’s hands:”
6. Notice next that the window had to be opened. He said, “Open the window eastward. And he opened it.” In other words, every obstruction and possible hindrance has to be got rid of. You see the importance of this.
7. Then at last they come to the decisive action. All the rest has been preliminary and preparatory.
II. The second act, the smiting with the other arrows. This was a symbolical act, as was the first. The flight of the single arrow through the open lattice must have been readily understood by the king, for it was the custom there and then, as in other lands and times, to throw down the gage of battle, or to hurl a dart, the signal of the war. God has shot out of every window of this Tabernacle arrows of deliverance, if I may so speak; but with this purpose, that we ourselves shall follow up those tokens, and hope and believe that they were prophecies and promises with meaning which must meet with further fulfilment. It remains for us to shoot the other arrows, for we have a quiver full of them.
The command was to smite with them on the ground. You see the meaning of that. It is as though Elisha said, “The arrow of God’s deliverance has gone forth; it has already found its mark and done its work. You have now, if you will but believe it, these Syrians crouching at your very feet. God has already humbled them, and they are now at your mercy. Smite upon the ground. They are already at your feet. God has delivered them into your hands. Smite! Smite!” The king obeys, but with too little zeal. (T. Spurgeon.)
I will never forget the first time I heard a great sermon on this part of the bible. It stayed with me all these years, but it spoke new and fresh, I was spoken to, and so will you.
WE have all at times, not gained the victory, due to a lack of faith.
This is faith building stuff. Spiritual warfare stuff, a powerful message to us all.
I am guilty of not pursuing as I should, not stepping up to the plate with spiritual arrows in my hand. I also have struck the ground only three times, little did I know, it was not enough.
This speaks about not giving up, gaining ground, battling for, and by the lord. How often do we think that praying about something three times is enough? How often do we do what we think we should and no more? It takes blood, sweat and tears.
It is very easy to think we gained victory in an area to find out we should have gained complete victory over the enemy of our soul and ourselves. Think if we do not give up, cave in, call it quits, O' let us left up our feeble hands and bend our weak knees. The lord only has good planed for us and yet we settle for less. I am talking about spiritual things, and monetary, as we must have needs meet, but mostly spiritual things, because that is all that matters, all we may have, a thief can steal, and moth and rust can consume.
The lord is saying, 'beloved in these uncertain times, look not at these events and tremble, fix your gaze on me and pursue, even while darkness prevails in this world, our light, Jesus Christ, must out shine the darkness.
We are to be strong and do great exploits, yet few in the body of Christ are doing no exploits at all. Living life, just doing enough to get by and ease our concise. A fast prayer, a devotion, a fast chapter of the bible, and out the door...
Beloved, the lord has a call on your life, he has called you to do something, live holy and overcome besetting sins, the lord has so much more for you, if you would just start to do it, you would see the lord move, stronger and stronger, as he takes us from Glory to Glory and Faith to Faith.
Go deeper in the lord today, do not settle for stale bread, when we can have living bread, full of live, faith and victory.
Think on this beloved and may we all learn, it is time to pursue the enemy.