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  • William T. Howe Ph.D.

June 13, 2023

The Bible Edge

Everyone needs an Edge, Believers can have a Bible Edge

II Kings 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.


The man of God in today’s verse is Elisha, the other man is Joash, the twelfth king of Israel. Syria was a long-time enemy of Israel, all the way back to the book of Judges. David battled with them, Solomon did too, now, it was Joash’s turn. The history between Israel and Syria is sorted at best, suffice it to say that there was no love lost there; they were bitter enemies.


Elisha was sick, a sickness that would soon take his life. Joash came to visit him, to the point of crying over him, calling the man of God, “The chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof.” Whatever that means, it sure sounds important. During this visit Elisha told the king to take his bow, which he did, then the prophet put his hands on the king’s hands and together they shot an arrow out of a window. Afterward, Elisha told the king: 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. Then, as a test of Joash’s zeal, Elisha asked the king to take his arrows and smite the ground. The king smote the ground with the arrows three times and then he stopped. Elisha did not tell him to stop, he just stopped. Because he stopped the man of God told him: 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.


The lack of zeal cost Joash the opportunity for complete victory over the Syrians which continued to be a thorn in Israel’s side for years and years to come. Joash was a great person as far as the world is concerned, as all kings were and are, but he lacked zeal. When Elisha told him to smite the ground, he should have continued until the man of God told him to stop. When they shot the arrow out of the window that was a sign or promise that God would be with the king in battle. The extent of victory over the enemy though, depended upon the king’s continual work and dedication to the task. God would be with him, but he had to do his part which was the actual doing of it.


Many today expect our Lord God to do everything, all the hard work. Frankly, our Father in Heaven promises every believer that He will be with them, especially through the power of the Holy Ghost. But every believer must learn from Joash’s failing. We must be zealous in doing our part, all the while trusting the Lord to do His part. This is why it is good to zealously pray as though everything is up to God but also zealously work as if it were all up to us. Of course, salvation is all His doing, we cannot earn that by works. As the old hymn says, “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe, sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.”


Let’s end with a quote from Mark Twain. “If a person is not fired with enthusiasm, that person should be fired with enthusiasm.” This lesson is learned from a king that lacked zeal.


William T. Howe, Ph.D.

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