WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
JUNE 23, 2020
TOPIC: BE A RESPONSIBLE AND RESPONSIVE LEADER
BY T. O. BANSO
“Then the king said to her, ‘What is troubling you?’ And she answered, ‘This woman said to me, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.’ So we boiled my son, and ate him. And I said to her on the next day, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him’; but she has hidden her son” (2 Kings 6:28-29 New King James Version).
In 2 Kings 6, when Ben-Hadad, king of Syria, gathered all his army, and went up and besieged Samaria, there was a great famine in Samaria. It was so severe that a donkey’s head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and one-fourth of a kab of dove droppings for five shekels of silver (verses 24-25). That must have been very expensive.
The situation was so bad that two women were involved in cannibalism. They agreed to kill and eat their sons. They had actually eaten the son of one of them. We probably would not have known about this crime if not that one of them reneged on the agreement to hand over her son next to be killed and eaten. They were fighting over this matter when the king of Israel, whose name is not mentioned, was passing by on the wall, and one of the women cried out to him for help.
Some Bible commentaries say the king was Jehoram (2 Kings 3:1) also called Joram. However, the Contemporary English Version, in its footnotes, says the king was probably Jehoahaz or Jehoash, but possibly even Joram. Whatever was his name, the Bible says he was the king of Israel.
The king, already overwhelmed by the trouble in the land, responded to the woman’s cry for help. Obviously, out of frustration, he told the woman if the LORD didn’t help her, where could he find help for her. He asked if she thought he would find help for her from the threshing floor or from the winepress.
The king said so because there was no harvest; therefore, nothing was going on at the threshing floor or the winepress. There was no grain or wine. Nevertheless, he asked her what was troubling her. “And she answered, ‘This woman said to me, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.’ So we boiled my son, and ate him. And I said to her on the next day, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him’; but she has hidden her son” (2 Kings 6:28-29 New King James Version).
The king was shocked to hear the severity of the impact of the ‘lockdown’. Many times leaders are not so much in touch with the reality of the condition of their people. They might know the economy is bad, there is unemployment, and so on, but they are ignorant of the seriousness of the impact of all this on the people they lead.
Wise leaders devise means of getting factual and first hand information from the people. They do not sit down in their offices, and rely on the information provided by their officials. Most often, these statistics are far from the realities.
We don’t know what brought the king out that day that he was walking along the wall of the city. If he had not, he wouldn’t have known that the situation was that bad in Samaria. His officials might just be telling him what he liked to hear, as many government officials do today, engaging in sycophancy and flattery.
They deceive and confuse leaders for their personal benefits, while many of their citizens are dying of poverty and diseases. This shouldn’t be. But this king got first hand feedback, not a watered down report or distorted facts.
2 Kings 6:30-31 says, “When the king heard this, he tore his clothes in despair. And as the king walked along the wall, the people could see that he was wearing sackcloth underneath next to his skin. ‘May God kill me if I don’t execute Elisha son of Shaphat this very day” (New King James Version). Did you see the reaction of the king? The king was moved by the plight of his people and angry about the situation.
I’m not saying this king is a model to emulate. The Bible does not tell us why he threatened to kill Prophet Elisha. Different reasons have been suggested. But could it be that he was transferring his anger at Elisha for being a man of God who had power to end the famine, as Elijah did, but had not done so while his people were suffering untold hardship?
Though he was wrong for threatening to kill Elisha, one must commend his anger at the unbearable condition of his people, which, as we shall see later, led to the change he wanted. That is the difference between this king and some leaders today. They are comfortable with the suffering of their people.
They don’t feel it’s wrong that their people are dying of hunger, diseases, violence, and other evils. They don’t become sober and angry like this king. Therefore, they don’t do anything or enough to change their conditions. They don’t know what true leadership is. Nero fiddles while Rome burns!
The king, in anger, decided to do something, though drastic, about the unfortunate situation in Samaria. 2 Kings 6:32 says, “Elisha was sitting in his house at a meeting with the leaders of Israel when the king sent a messenger to summon him. But before the messenger arrived, Elisha said to the leaders, ‘A murderer has sent a man to kill me. When he arrives, shut the door and keep him out. His master will soon follow him’” (New Living Translation).
This king didn’t just send a messenger to summon Elisha; he went to his house himself. That shows how serious he was. While Elisha was still talking, the messenger arrived. The king also arrived and said, “It is the LORD who has brought this trouble on us! Why should I wait any longer for the LORD?” (Verses 33 New Living Translation).
Obviously, he was speaking out of desperation; he was becoming impatient. He accused the LORD of being responsible for their calamity and probably, that was why he had threatened to kill Elisha, as the LORD’s representative in their midst. But the king had forgotten that the LORD had warned the Israelites long before then that if they disobeyed His Word, one of the consequences would be famine.
In fact, the LORD warned them that they would be under the enemies’ siege, suffer hunger and engage in cannibalism, a grave sin we saw those two women commit, which triggered the king’s action to seek an end to the famine. Leviticus 26:29 and Deuteronomy 28:53-57 record the LORD’s warning that the Israelites would eat the flesh of their sons and daughters as a consequence of disobedience to Him.
It must have sounded unbelievable when the LORD said this. However, it happened. Not only in the case of these women, but sometimes later in the history of the children of Israel. Ezekiel 5:10 says concerning Jerusalem, “Therefore fathers shall eat their sons in your midst, and sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments among you, and all of you who remain I will scatter to all the winds” (New King James Version).
Lamentation 2:20a seems to capture the practice of cannibalism as the people of Jerusalem suffered for their rebellion against God. “See, O LORD, and consider! To whom have You done this? Should the women eat their offspring, the children they have cuddled?” (Lamentation 2:20a New King James Version). Therefore, cannibalism, because of famine, was a consequence of the rebellion of the people against the LORD.
Let’s go back to the story of the king and Elisha. After the king had gotten to Elisha’s house and accused the LORD of being responsible for their calamity, Elisha prophesied an end to the famine. Evidently, he did that not because the king had threatened to kill him.
“Then Elisha said, ‘Hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the LORD: ‘Tomorrow about this time a seah of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, at the gate of Samaria’” (2 Kings 7:1 New King James Version). May the LORD give the nations of the earth leaders who will not go to sleep while their people suffer, but will labour to take steps that will improve their welfare. Suppose this king had done nothing, would Elisha had given this prophecy?
Unfortunately, the king’s Personal Assistant disbelieved what Elisha said. He said the prophecy couldn’t happen even if the LORD opened the windows of heaven. He went too far! Did he think the LORD was like his helpless principal, the king? Elisha gave him an appropriate reply. He told him that he would see it with his eyes, but he would not eat of it (verse 2).
Exactly what Elisha said happened. The famine ended the next day. The Syrians fled. The ‘lockdown’ was lifted! There was a miraculous, abundant supply of food. However, the people trampled on the king’s unbelieving Personal Assistant in the gate and he died.
No witch will kill your children. Don’t be that witch! May the LORD give nations, organizations, institutions, etc. leaders who will really serve the people, improve their welfare and respond to their needs. May that be you at whatever level of leadership you are. Moreover, may you not doubt the Word of the LORD as the king’s Personal Assistant did.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible believing and Bible teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: I shall not be a wicked father/mother; I won’t harm or kill my child. Father, cause responsible and responsive leaders to emerge in the nations of the earth; make room for them at all levels.
(For over 300 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit: www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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