2 Kings 13:15-19
And Elisha said to him, Take bow and arrows. And he took to him bow and 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.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Elisha said unto him, Take bow and arrows. And he took unto him bow and arrows.