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CHAPTER VI.

In this chapter, we have, I. A further account of the wondrous works of Elisha.

1. His making iron to swim, v. 1-7. 2. His disclosing to the king of Israel the secret counsels of the king of Assyria, v. 8-12. 3. His saving himself out of the hands of those who were sent to apprehend him, v. 13-23. II. The besieging of Samaria the Syrians, and the great distress the was reduced to,

v. 24-33. The relief of it is another of the wonders wrought by Elisha's word. which we shall have the story of in the next chapter. Elisha is still a great

blessing both to church state, both to the sous prophets and to prince.

ND the sons

of the prophets said unto Elisha,

A

thee is too strait for us.

e Is 59. 2, 3. Hos. 10. 13. f Num. 12. 10. c. 15. 5. a c. 4. 38. fraud, by which he had imposed not only upon the prudence of Naaman, but upon Elisha's spirit of discerning, as Ananias and Sapphira upon the apostles. (2.) He denied it; he went in, and stood before his master, ready to receive his orders; none looked more observant of his master, though_really none more injurious to him; he thought, as Ephraim, I am become rich, but they shall find no iniquity in me, Hos. 12. 8. His master asked him, where he had been. "No where, sir," (said he,) out of the house." Note, One lie commonly begets another: the way of that sin is downhill; therefore dare to be true. II. The punishment of this sin. Elisha immediately called him to an account for it; and observe,

1. How he, was convicted. He thought to impose upon the prophet, but was soon given to understand that the Spirit of prophecy could not be deceived, and that it was in vain to lie to the Holy Ghost. Elisha could tell him, (1.) What he had done, though he had denied it. "Thou sayest thou wentest no whither; but went not my heart with thee?" v. 26. Was Gehazi yet to learn that prophets had spiritual eyes; or could he think to hide any thing from a seer, from him with whom the secret of the Lord was? Note, It is folly to presume upon sin, in hopes of secrecy. When thou goest aside into any by-path, does not thy own conscience go with thee? Does not the eye of God go with thee? He that covers his sin, shall not prosper; particularly, a lying tongue is but for a moment, Prov. 12. 19. Truth will transpire, and often comes to light strangely, to the confusion of those that make lies their refuge. (2.) What he designed, though he kept that in his own breast. He could tell him the very thoughts and intents of his heart, that he was projecting, now that he had got these two talents, to purchase ground and cattle, to leave Elisha's service, and to set up for himself. Note, All the foolish hopes and contrivances of carnal worldlings are open before God. And he tells him also the evil of it, "Is it a time to receive money? Is this an opportunity of enriching thyself? Couldest thou find no better a way of getting money, than by belying thy master, and laying a stumbling-block before a young convert?" Note, Those that are for getting wealth at any time, and by any ways and means whatsoever, right or wrong, lay themselves open to a great deal of temptation. They that will be rich, (per fas, per nefas; rem, rem, quocunque modo rem -by fair means, by foul means; careless of principle, intent only on money,) drown themselves in destruction and perdition, 1 Tim. 6.9. War, and fire, and plague, and shipwreck, are not, as many make them, times to get money. It is not a time to increase our wealth, when we cannot do it but in such ways as are dishonourable to God and religion, or injurious to our brethren, or the public. 2. How he was punished for it. The leprosy of Naaman shall cleave to thee, v. 27. If he will have his money, he shall take his disease with it, Transit cum onere-It passes with this encumbrance. He was contriving to entail lands upon his posterity; but, instead of them, entails a loathsome disease on the heirs of his body, from generation to generation. The sentence was immediately executed on himself; no sooner said than done, he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow. Thus he is stigmatized and made infamous, and carries the mark of his shame wherever he goes: thus he loads himself and family with a curse, which shall not only for the present proclaim his villany, but for ever perpetuate the remembrance of it. Note, The getting of treasures by a lying tongue, is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death, Prov. 21. 6. Those who get wealth by fraud and injustice, cannot expect either the comfort or the continuance of it. What was Gehazi profited, though he gained his two talents, when thereby he lost his health, his honour, his peace, his service, and, if repentance prevented not, his soul for ever? See Job 20. 12, &c.

2 Let us go, we pray thee, unto Jordan, and take thence every man a beam, and let us make us a place there, where we may dwell. And he answered, Go ye.

NOTES TO CHAPTER VI

V. 1-7. Several things may be observed here, I. Concerning the sons of the prophets, and their condition and character. The college here spoken of, seems to be that at Gilgal, for there Elisha was, ch. 4. 38, and it was near Jordan; and, probably, wherever Elisha resided, as many as could of the sons of the prophets, flocked to him for the advantage of his instructions, counsels, and prayers. Every one would covet

3 And one said, Be content, I pray thee, and go with thy servants. And he answered, I will go. 4 So he went with them. And when they came to Jordan, they cut down wood.

5 But as one was felling a beam, the axe-head fell into the water and he cried, and said, Alas, master! for it was borrowed.

6 And the man of God said, Where fell it? And he showed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; and the iron did swim.

7 Therefore said he, Take it up to thee. And 8 Then the king of Syria warred against Israel,

b c. 5. 23. iron. c c. 2. 21.

to dwell with him, and be near him. Those that would be teachers, should lay out themselves to get the best advantages for learning. Now observe,

The

1. Their number increased, so that they wanted room. place is too strait for us, v. 1. A good hearing! For it is a sign many are added to them. Elisha's miracles, doubtless, drew in many; perhaps they increased the more now that Gehazi was cashiered, and, it is likely, a more honest man put in his room, to take care of their provisions, for it should seem by that instance, ch. 4. 43, that Naaman's case was not the only one in which he grudged his master's generosity.

2. They were humble men, and did not affect that which was gay or great. When they wanted room, they did not speak of sending for cedars, and marble stones, and curious artificers, but only of getting every man a beam, to run up a plain hut or cottage with. It becomes the sons of the prophets, who profess to look for great things in the other world, to be content with mean things in this.

3. They were poor men, and men that had no interest in great ones. It was a sign that Joram was king, and Jezebel ruled too, else the sons of the prophets, when they wanted room, would have needed only to apply to the government, not to consult among themselves about the enlargement of their buildings. God's prophets have seldom been the world's favourites. Nay, so poor were they, that they had not wherewithal to hire workmen, (but must leave their studies, and work for themselves,) no, nor to buy tools, but must borrow of their neighbours. Poverty then is no bar to prophecy.

4. They were industrious men, and willing to take_pains; they desired not to live, like idle drones, (idle monks, I might have said,) upon the labours of others, but only desired leave of their president to work for themselves. As the sons of the prophets must not be so taken up with contemplation, as to render themselves unfit for action; so much less must they so indulge themselves in their ease, as to be averse to labour. He that must eat or die, must work or starve, 2 Thes. 3. 8, 10. Let no man think an honest employment either a burden or a disparagement.

5. They were men that had a great value and veneration for Elisha; though they were themselves prophets, they paid much deference to him. (1.) They would not go about to build at all, without his leave, v. 2. It is good for us all to be suspicious of our own judgment, even when we think we have most reason for it, and to be desirous of the advice of those who are wiser and more experienced; and it is especially commendable in the sons of the prophets, to take their fathers along with them, and to act in all things of moment under their conduct, permissu superiorum-by permission of their superiors. (2.) They would not willingly go to fell timber without his company: "Go with thy servants, (v. 3;) not only to advise us in any exigence, but to keep good order among us, that, being under thine eye, we may behave as becomes us." Good disciples desire to be always under good discipline.

6. They were honest men, and men that were in care to give all men their own. When one of them, accidentally fetching too fierce a stroke, (as those that work seldom are apt to be violent,) threw off his axe head into the water, he did not say, "It was a mischance, and who can help it? It was the fault of the helve, and the owner deserves to stand to the loss." No, he cries out with deep concern, Alas! master, for it was borrowed, v. 5. Had the axe been his own, it would only have troubled him, that he could not be further serviceable to his brethren; but now, beside that it troubles him that he cannot be just to the owner, to whom he ought to be not only just, but grateful. Note, We ought to be as careful of that which is borrowed, as of that which is our own, that it receive no damage, because we must love our neighbour as ourselves, and do as we would be done by. It is likely, this prophet was poor, and had not wherewithal to pay for the axe, which made the loss of it so much the greater trouble. To those that have an honest mind, the sorest grievance of poverty is, not so much their own want and disgrace, as their being by it rendered unable to pay their just debts.

II. Concerning the father of the prophets, Elisha.

1. That he was a man of great condescension and compas

and took counsel with his servants, saying, in such and such a place shall be my *camp.

9 And the man of God sent unto the king of Israel, saying, Beware that thou pass not such a place; for thither the Syrians are come down.

10 And the king of Israel sent to the place which the man of God told him and warned him of, and saved himself there, not once nor twice.

11 Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was sore troubled for this thing; and he called his servants, and said unto them, Will ye not show me which of us is for the king of Israel?

12 And one of his servants said, None, my lord, O king: but Elisha, the prophet that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bed-chamber?

13 And he said, Go and spy where he is, that I may send and fetch him. And it was told him, saying, Behold, he is in Dothan.

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sion; he went with the sons of the prophets to the woods, when they desired his company, v. 3. Let no man, especially no minister, think himself too great to stoop to do good, but be tender to all.

2. That he was a man of great power; he could make iron to swim, contrary to its nature, (v. 6,) for the God of nature is not tied up to its laws. He did not throw the helve after the hatchet, but cut down a new stick, and cast it into the river; we need not double the miracle, by supposing that the stick sunk to fetch up the iron, it was enough that it was a signal of the divine summons to the iron to rise. God's grace can thus raise the stony iron heart, which is sunk into the mud of this world, and raise up affections, naturally earthly, to things above.

V. 8-12. Here we have Elisha, with his spirit of prophecy, serving the king, as, before, helping the sons of the prophets; for that, as other gifts, is given to every man to profit withal; and whatever abilities any man has of doing good, he is by them made a debtor both to the wise and unwise. Observe here,

1. How the king of Israel was informed by Elisha of all the designs and motions of his enemy, the king of Syria, more effectually than he could have been by the most vigilant and faithful spies. If the king of Syria, in a secret council of war, determined in what place to make an inroad upon the coasts of Israel, where he thought it would be the greatest surprise, and they would be least able to make resistance, before his forces could receive his orders, the king of Israel had notice of them from Elisha, and so had opportunity of preventing the mischief; and this, many a time, v. 8-10. See here, (1.) That the enemies of God's Israel are politic in their devices, and restless in their attempts, against him. They shall not know, nor see, till we come into the midst among them, and slay them, Neh. 4. 11. (2.) All those devices are known to God, even those that are deepest laid. He knows not only what men do, but what they design, and has many ways of countermining them. (3.) It is a great advantage to us, to be warned of our danger, that we may stand upon our guard against it. The work of God's prophets, is to give us warning; if, being warned, we do not save ourselves, it is our own fault, and our blood will be upon our own head. The king of Israel would regard the warnings Elisha gave him of his danger by the Syrians, but not the warnings he gave him of his danger by his sins. Such warnings are little heeded by the most; they will save themselves from death, but not from hell.

zance.

2. How the king of Syria resented this. He suspected treachery among his senators, and that his counsels were betrayed, v. 11. But one of his servants that had heard, by Naaman and others, of Elisha's wondrous works, concludes it must needs be he that gave this intelligence to the king of Israel, v. 12. What could not he discover, who could tell Gehazi his thought? Here, a confession of the boundless knowledge, as, before, of the boundless power, of Israel's God, is extorted from Syrians. Nothing done, said, thought, by any person, in any place, at any time, is out of the reach of God's cogni

14 Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about.

could he be so weak as to imagine that he would not discover the designs laid against himself? And that, having interest enough in heaven to discover them, he would not have interest enough to defeat them? Those that fight against God, his people, and prophets, know not what they do.

II. The grievous fright which the prophet's servant was in, when he perceived the city surrounded by the Syrians, and the effectual course which the prophet took to pacify him, and free him from his fears. It seems, Elisha used his servant to rise early, that is the way to bring something to pass, and to do the work of a day in its day. Being up, we may suppose he heard the noise of soldiers, and, thereupon, looked out, and was aware of an army compassing the city, (v. 15,) with great assurance, no doubt, of success; and that they should have this troublesome prophet in their hands presently. Now observe, 1. What a consternation he was in; he runs straight to Elisha, to bring him an account of it, "Alas, master," (said he,) "what shall we do? We are undone it is to no purpose to think either of fighting or flying, but we must unavoidably fall into their hands." Had he but studied David's Psalms, which were then extant, he might have learned not to be afraid of ten thousands of people, (Ps. 3. 6,) no, not of a host encamped against him, Ps. 27. 3. Had he considered, that he was embarked with his master, by whom God had done great things, and whom he would not now leave to fall into the hands of the uncircumcised, and who, having saved others, no doubt would save himself, he had not been thus at a loss. If he had only said, What shall I do? it had been the more excusable, and like that of the disciples, Lord, save us, we perish; but he needed not to put his master in, as in distress, nor to say, What shall we do? 2. How his master quieted him; (1.) By word: what he said to him, (v. 16,) is spoken to all the faithful servants of God, when without are fightings and within are fears; "Fear not, with that fear which has torment and amazement, for they that be with us, to protect us, are more than they that be against us, to destroy us; angels, unspeakably more numerous; God, infinitely more powerful." When we are magnifying the causes of our fear, we ought to possess ourselves with clear, and great, and high thoughts of God, and the invisible world. If God be for us, we know what follows, Rom. 8. 31. (2.) By vision, v. 17. [1] It seems, Elisha was much concerned for the satisfaction of his servant. Good men desire, not only to be easy themselves, but to have those about them easy. Elisha had lately parted with his old man, and this, being newly come into his service, had not the advantage of experience; his master was therefore desirous to give him other convincing evidence of that omnipotence which employed him, and was therefore employed for him. Note, They whose faith is strong, ought tenderly to consider and compassionate those who are weak, and of a timorous spirit, and to do what they can, to strengthen their hands. [2.] He saw himself safe, and wished no more than that his servant might see what he saw, a guard of angels round about him; such as were his master's convoy to the gates of heaven, were his protectors against the gates of hell: chariots of fire, and horses of fire. Fire is both dreadful and devouring; that power which was engaged for Elisha's protecI. The great force which the king of Syria sent to seize Eli- tion, could both terrify and consume the assailants. As angels sha. He found out where he was, at Dothan, (v. 13,) which are God's messengers, so they are his soldiers, his hosts, (Gen. was not far from Samaria; thither he sent a great host, who 32. 2,) his legions, or regiments, (Matt. 26. 53,) for the good were to come upon him by night, and to bring him dead or of his people. [3] For the satisfaction of his servant, there alive, v. 14. Perhaps he had heard that when only one captain needed no more than the opening of his eyes; that therefore he and his 50 men were sent to take Elijah, they were baffled in the prayed for, and obtained for him, Lord, open his eyes that he attempt, and therefore he sent an army against Elisha, as if may see. The eyes of his body were open, and with them he the fire from heaven that consumed 50 men, could not as easily saw the danger, "Lord, open the eyes of his faith, that with consume 50,000. Naaman could tell him that Elisha dwelt not them he may see the protection we are under." Note, First, in any strong hold, nor was attended with any guards, nor had The greatest kindness we can do for those that are fearful and any such great interest in the people, that he needed to fear a faint-hearted, is, to pray for them, and so to recommend them tumult among them; what occasion then was there for this to the mighty grace of God. Secondly, The opening of our great force? But thus he hoped to make him sure, especially eyes will be the silencing of our fears; in the dark we are most coming upon him by surprise. Foolish man! Did he believe apt to be frightened; the clearer sight we have of the sovethat Elisha had informed the king of Israel of his secret coun-reignty and power of heaven, the less we shall fear the calamisels or not? If not, what quarrel had he with him? If he did, ties of this earth.

V. 13-23. Here is,

15 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?

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CHAPTER VII.

the words of the woman, that he rent his clothes: and he passed by upon the wall, and the people Relief is here brought to Samaria and her king, when the case was, in a manner, looked, and, behold, he had sackcloth within upon his flesh.

desperate, and the king despairing. I. It is foretold by Elisha, and an unbeliev ing lord shut out from the benefit of it, v. 1, 2. II. It is brought about, 1. By an unaccountable fright which God put the Syrians into, (v. 6,) which caused them to retire precipitately, . 7. 2. By the seasonable discovery which four lepers made of this, (v. 3-5,) and the account they gave of it to the court, v. 8-11. 3. By the cautious trial which the king made of the truth of it, v. 12-15. Lastly, The event answered the prediction both in the sudden plenty, (v. 16,) and the death of the unbelieving lord, (v. 17-20,) for no word of God shall fall to the ground.

31 Then he said, God "do so and more also to me, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat shall stand on him this day.

32 But Elisha sat in his house, and the elders sat with him: and the king sent a man from

him, but were the messenger came to him, he said to the elders, See ye how this son of a murderer hath sent to take away mine head? look, when the messenger cometh, shut the door, and hold him fast at the door: is not the sound of his master's feet behind him?

33 And while he yet talked with them, behold, the messenger came down unto him: and he said, Behold, this evil is of the LORD; what should I wait for the LORD any longer?

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HEN

Hear ye

T Thus saith the Liga, fhe word of the LORD 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.

3 And there were four leprous men at the en

a ver. 18, 19. which belonged to the king, leaning upon his hand, c. 5. 18. b Gen. 7. 11. Mal. 3. 10. c ver. 17, 20.

one poor woman: scarcity sometimes follows upon great plenty; we cannot be sure that to-morrow shall be as this day, Is. 56. 12. Ps. 30. 6. 2. He acknowledges himself thereby disabled to help, unless God would help them. Note, Creatures are helpless things without God, for every creature is that, all that, and only that, which he makes it to be. However, though he cannot help her, he is willing to hear her ; (v. 28,) “What ails thee? Is there any thing singular in thy case, or dost thou fare worse than thy neighbours?" Truly yes; she and one of her neighbours had made a barbarous agreement, that, all provisions failing, they should boil and eat her son first, and then her neighbour's; hers was eaten, (who can think of it without horror!) and now her neighbour hid hers, v. 28, 29. See an instance of the dominion which the flesh has got above the spirit, when the most natural affections of the mind may be thus overpowered by the natural appetites of the body: see the word of God fulfilled; among the threatenings of God's judgments upon Israel for their sins, this was one, (Deut. 28. 53-57,) that they should eat the flesh of their own children, which one would think incredible, yet it came to pass.

III. The king's indignation against Elisha, upon this occasion; he lamented the calamity, rent his clothes, and had sackcloth upon his flesh, (v. 30,) as one heartily concerned for the misery of his people, and that it was not in his power to help them; but he laments not his own iniquity, nor the iniquity of his people, which was the procuring cause of the calamity; he is not sensible that his ways and his doings have procured this to himself; this is his wickedness, for it is bitter; the foolishness of man perverts his way, and then his heart frets against the Lord; instead of vowing to pull down the calves of Dan and Bethel, or letting the law have its course against the prophets of Baal, and of the groves, he swears the death of Elisha, v. 31. Why, what is the matter? What has Elisha done? His head is the most innocent and valuable in all Israel, and yet that must be devoted, and made an anathema. Thus in the days of the 2. A peer of Israel, that happened to be present, openly depersecuting emperors, when the empire groaned under any ex- clared his disbelief of this prediction, v. 2. He was a courtier traordinary calamity, the fault was laid on the Christians, and whom the king had an affection for, as the man of his right they were doomed to destruction, Christianos ad leones-Away.hand, on whom he leaned, that is, on whose prudence he much with the Christians to the lions. Perhaps Jehoram was in this relied, and in whom he reposed much confidence; he thought heat against Elisha, because he had foretold this judgment, or it impossible, unless God should rain corn out of the clouds, as had persuaded him to hold out, and not surrender, or rather, once he did manna; no less than the repetition of Moses's mibecause he did not, by his prayers, raise the siege, and relieve racle will serve him, though that of Elijah might have served to the city, which he thought he could do, but would not; whereas answer this intention, the increasing of the meal in the barrel. till they repented and reformed, and were ready for deliverance, 3. The just doom passed upon him for his infidelity, that he they had no reason to expect that the prophet should pray for it. should see this great plenty for his conviction, and yet not eat IV. The foresight Elisha had of the king's design against of it to his comfort. Note, Unbelief is a sin by which men him; (v. 32,) he sat in his house well composed, and the elders greatly dishonour and displease God, and deprive themselves of with him well employed, no doubt, while the king was like a wild the favours he designed for them; the murmuring Israelites saw bull in a net, or like the troubled sea when it cannot rest; he Canaan, but could not enter in because of unbelief; such, (says told the elders there was an officer coming from the king to cut Bishop Patrick,) will be the portion of those that believe not off his head, and bade them stop him at the door, and not let the promise of eternal life, they shall see it at a distance, Abrahim in, for the king his master was just following him, to revoke ham afar off, but shall never taste of it; for they forfeit the the order, as we may suppose. The same spirit of prophecy benefit of the promise, if they cannot find in their heart to take that enabled Elisha to tell what was done at a distance, author- God's word. ized him to call the king the son of a murderer, which, unless we could produce such an extraordinary commission, it is not for us to imitate; far be it from us to despise dominion, and to speak evil of dignities. He appeals to the elders, whether he had deserved so ill at the king's hands; see whether in this he be not the son of a murderer? For, what evil had Elisha done? He had not desired the woful day, Jer. 17. 16.

V. The king's passionate speech, when he came to prevent the execution of his edict for the beheading of Elisha; he seems to have been in a struggle between his convictions and his corruptions, knew not what to say, but, seeing things brought to the last extremity, he even abandons himself to despair, (v. 33,) This evil is of the Lord: therein his notions were right, and well applied; it is a general truth, that all penal evil is of the Lord, as the First Cause, and Sovereign Judge, (Am. 3. 6,) and this we ought to apply to particular cases; if all evil, then this evil, whatever it is, we are now groaning under; whoever are the instruments, God is the principal Agent of it; but his inference from this truth was foolish and wicked, What should I

wait for the Lord any longer? When Eli, and David, and Job, said, It is of the Lord, they grew patient upon it, but this bad man grew outrageous upon it; "I will neither fear worse, for worse cannot, nor expect better, for better never will come; we are all undone, and there is no remedy." It is an unreasonable thing to be weary of waiting for God, for he is a God of judgment, and blessed are all they that wait for him.

NOTES TO CHAPTER VII,

66

V. 1, 2. Here, 1. Elisha foretels that notwithstanding the great straits that the city of Samaria was reduced to, within 24 hours they should have plenty, v. 1. The king of Israel despaired of it, and grew weary of waiting: Elisha said this, then, 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, Deut. 32. 36. When they had given over expecting help, it came: When the Son of man comes, shall he find faith on the earth? Luke 18. 8. The king said, What should 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 ye the word of the Lord, hear what he says, hear it and heed it, hear it and believe it; to-morrow, corn shall be sold at the usual rate in the gate of Samaria;" that is, (1.) 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, Judg. 5. 11, 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 more abound.

V. 3-11. We are here told,

I. How the siege of Samaria was raised in the evening, at the edge of night, (v. 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, (ch. 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 blind, Ex. 4. 11. 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; whichsoever it was, it was from God, who both brings the wind out of his treasures, and formeth the spirit of man within him. The sight of horses and chariots had encouraged the prophet's servant,

and they said one to another, | 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 him, 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 house within.

tering in of the gate
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 fail 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

d Lev. 13. 46. e Esth. 4. 16. Luke 15. 17, 18. f 2 Sam. 5. 24. c. 19. 7. Job 15. 21. c. 3. 22, &c. 1 Kings 10. 29. i Ps. 14. 5. 48. 4-6. 68. 12. Prov. 21. 1.

(ch. 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.

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 and see.

1. How these lepers reasoned themselves into a resolution to make a visit in the night to the camp of the Syrians, v. 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 must 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 mend 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,

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 king.

k Lev. 19. 18. Prov. 11. 26. 1 Esth. 4. 14. we shall find punishment. m 2 Sam. 18.26. t in it.

to their great surprise, found it wholly deserted, not a man to be seen or heard in it, v. 5. Providence ordered it, that these lepers came as soon as ever the Syrians were fled, for they fled in the twilight, (the evening twilight,) v. 7, and in the twilight the lepers came, (v. 5;) and so no time was lost.

2. Hearing this noise, they concluded the king of Israel had certainly procured assistance from some foreign power; he has 2. How they reasoned themselves into a resolution to bring hired against us the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the tidings of this to the city; they feasted in the first tent they Egyptians; there was, for aught we know, but one king of came to, (v. 8,) and then began to think of enriching themselves Egypt, and what kings there were of the Hittites no body can with the plunder: but they correct themselves; (v. 9,) “We imagine; but as they were imposed upon by that dreadful do not do well, to conceal those good tidings from the community sound in their ears, so they imposed upon themselves by the in- we are members of, under colour of being avenged upon them terpretation they made of it. Had they supposed the king of for excluding us their society; it was the law that did it, not Judah to have come with his forces, there had been more of they, and therefore let us bring them the news; though it awake probability in it, than to dream of the kings of the Hittites, and them from sleep, it will be life from the dead to them." Their the Egyptians; if the fancies of any of them raised this spectre, own consciences told them that some mischief would befall them yet their reasons might soon have laid it: how could the king if they acted separately, and sought themselves only; selfish of Israel, who was closely besieged, hold intelligence with those narrow-spirited people cannot expect to prosper, the most comdistant princes? What had he to hire them with? It was im-fortable prosperity is that which our brethren share with us in. possible but some notice would come, before, of the motions of According to this resolution, they returned to the gate, and acso great an host; but there were they in great fear, where no fear quainted the sentinel with what they had discovered, (v. 10,) who straightway brought the intelligence to court, (v. 11,) and it was never the less acceptable for being first brought by lepers. V. 12-20. Here is,

was.

3. Hereupon they all fled with incredible precipitation, as for their lives, left their camp as it was, and even their horses, that might have hastened their flight, they could not stay to take with them, v. 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; as for them that will not fear God, he can make them fear at the shaking of a leaf.

I. The king's jealousy of a stratagem in the Syrians' retreat; (v. 12,) he feared they withdrew 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 his attendants heard the noise of the chariots which the Syrians were frightened at. Let II. How the Syrians' flight was discovered by four leprous not those who, like him, are unstable in all their ways, think to men. Samaria is delivered and does not know it; the watch-receive any thing from God; nay, a guilty conscience fears the men on the walls were not aware of the retreat of the enemy, so worst, and makes men suspicious. silently did they steal away; but Providence employs four lepers to be the intelligencers, who had their lodging without the gate, being excluded the city, as ceremonially unclean: the Jews say they were Gehazi and his three sons; perhaps Gehazi might be one of them, which might make him taken notice of after-by the garments which they threw off, and left by the way, for ward by the king, ch. 8. 4. See here, their greater expedition, v. 15. He that gave this advice, seems very sensible of the deplorable condition the people were in, (v. 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 minished and brought low; he advised to send five horsemen, but it should seem, there were only two fit to be sent, and those chariot horses, v. 14. Now the Lord repented himself concerning his servants, when he saw that their strength was gone, Deut. 32. 36.

II. The course they took for their satisfaction, and to prevent their falling into a snare; they sent out spies to see what was become of the Syrians, and found they were all fled indeed, commanders as well as common soldiers; they could track them

III. The plenty that was in Samaria, from the plunder of the camp of the Syrians, v. 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 burned them, (as it is common to do with the forage of a country,) than let them fall into their enemies' hands; but God intended 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 those of the Egyptians. Here see, 1. The wealth of the sinner laid up for

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