WISDOM FOR LIVING DEVOTIONAL
SEPTEMBER 6, 2020
TOPIC: RESPONSIBLE AND RESPONSIVE LEADERSHIP
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. That was a lot of money then.
The situation was so bad that two women were involved in cannibalism. They plotted 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 his own son next to be killed and eaten. They were fighting over this matter when the king of Israel was passing by on the wall when one of the women cried out to the king for help.
The king, who was 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. Would he find help from the threshing floor or from the winepress?
The king said so because there no harvest therefore nothing was going on in the threshing floor or winepress. Nevertheless, he wanted to hear out this woman and asked 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 that the impact of the ‘lockdown’ was as severe as that. Many times leaders are not so much in touch with the reality of the condition of the people. They might know the economy is bad, there is unemployment, and so on, but they are ignorant of the gravity of the impact of all this on the people they lead.
Wise leaders devise the means of getting factual first-hand information from the people, not sit down in their offices and being fed with statistics, looking at charts and listening to PowerPoint presentations that 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 the Samaria. His officials might just be telling him lies he liked to hear as many government officials today do, engaging in sycophancy and flattery.
They deceive and confuse leaders for their personal benefits, while the majority of the people 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 got angry about the situation.
I am not saying this king is a good king to emulate. The Bible does not tell us why he threatened to kill the prophet Elisha. Different reasons have been suggested. But could it be that he was transferring his anger on Elisha for being a man of God who had the 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 planning to kill Elisha, one must commend his anger at the unbearable condition of his people, which, as we shall see later, ended in 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 see anything wrong that their people are dying of hunger, diseases, violence, and other evils. They don’t get angry like this king. Therefore, they don’t do anything to change the condition. This is because 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 his domain. 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 you how serious and decisive this king was. While Elisha was still saying this, the messenger arrived. Apparently almost immediately, the king, too, 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 wanted to provoke Elisha to act swiftly and call on his God, whom he believed was responsible for the calamity. Probably that was why he had threatened to kill Elisha, as the representative and voice of God in their midst. But the king had forgotten that God had warned the Israelites long before then that if they disobeyed His Word, one of the consequences is famine.
In fact, God warned them that they would suffer hunger so much that they would engage in cannibalism, a heinous 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 God’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 Samaria, 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 (Judah) 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 God’s people against God.
Let’s go back to the story of the king and Elisha. After Elisha had gotten his house and accused God of being responsible for their calamity, Elisha prophesied an end to the famine. Apparently, he did that because the king had faith in the power of God to end the famine, not because he 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 day and night to take steps that improve their welfare. Suppose this king had done nothing, would Elisha had given this prophecy?
Unfortunately, the king’s Personal Assistant not only disbelieved what Elisha said, but he also said went too far to mock the LORD by asking that if the LORD would make windows in heaven, could this thing be? Elisha replied to him that he would see it with his eyes, but he would not eat out 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 and the people trampled on the king’s doubting personal assistant in the gate and he died.
May the LORD give our nations, organizations, institutions, etc. leaders who will really serve the people, improve their welfare, and respond to their needs. May that be you, whatever the level of leadership you are. Moreover, may you not doubt the Word of God 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. Father, I believe Your Word; I will not doubt Your Word.
(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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