The Small Gains of the Irresolute
2 Kings 13:15-19
And Elisha said to him, Take bow and arrows. And he took to him bow and arrows.…

We have here a more than commonly graphic page of Holy Scripture. A young king grieving over the death bed of an often neglected prophet; the feeble hands of the old saint laid on the vigorous hands of his sovereign, as they held the familiar arrows and bow; the swift course of one arrow shot by Divine direction towards the land of a dangerous enemy; the handful of arrows struck a scanty number of times on the ground by the unbelieving youth; and the wrath of the patriotic prophet (compare the anger of Christ, of whom Elisha may have been a type, Mark 3:5), who longed for a widespread deliverance throughout the Holy Land. It is a picturesque story, but more than picturesque. It may be reckoned a parable as well as a tale. For —

I. THERE WAS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY. Though Joash was undeserving (ver. 11, "he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord") God was graciously ready to grant him complete escape from impending evil (the arrow of the Lord's deliverance, ver. 17); even as helpless sinners have offered to them, through Divine mercy, present pardon and holiness here, the earnest of complete salvation hereafter.

II. THE IMPROVEMENT OF THAT OPPORTUNITY REQUIRED A PERSONAL EFFORT. And Joash was experiencing a measure of religious revival. His visit to the old prophet woke up stirring associations (tears rolled down his checks as he cried, "My father," etc., ver. 14). Much as the anniversary of a confirmation vow, a return after absence to a religious home, or the voice of a forgotten counsellor once more heard, may touch affectingly the conscience of a backslider. But —

III. THE INADEQUATE EFFORT OF LITTLE FAITH HAD A CORRESPONDINGLY SLIGHT RESULT. Perhaps Joash thought the striking of arrows on the ground too trivial an action for very frequent repetition; perhaps he did not wish his companions to suppose him very obedient to a religious teacher; perhaps he was languid from the mere habit of attending to all sacred duties listlessly; perhaps he was in a hurry to be gone to some other occupation. But want of trust in the Divine revelation must have been the main cause of his curtailed exertion. And the measure of his receiving was proportioned to the small measure of his seeking. God faithfully gave him three victories, after his three strokes, but only three (ver. 25). Too many have in like manner lessened the measure of their peace, holiness, and hope, by not perseveringly using means of grace which might be vastly profitable.

(D. D. Stewart, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Elisha said unto him, Take bow and arrows. And he took unto him bow and arrows.

WEB: Elisha said to him, "Take bow and arrows;" and he took to him bow and arrows.

The Lord's Arrow of Victory
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