2 Kings 13:14 Now Elisha was suffering from the illness from which he died. Jehoash king of Israel went down to see him and wept over him. “My father! My father!” he cried. “The chariots and horsemen of Israel!”
Two things strike me about this. The first is the very practical matter that everyone dies of something, even a great prophet like Elisha. He had seen Elijah taken up directly to heaven in a chariot of fire and a whirlwind, (2 Kings 2:11) but he left this world in a much more pedestrian fashion. The second thing is that he was honored enough that King Jehoash came to see him on his deathbed, and spoke to him exactly the same words that he is recorded as having said when Elijah was taken from him. (2 Kings 2:12) Addressing an older, respected man as “My father” is common in many cultures, but the reference to “the chariots and horsemen of Israel” seems more unique. I would think that it was an acknowledgment that the power of God was manifested through that person to protect the nation from its enemies. Jehoash was probably more interested in what Elisha represented militarily than he was in what God might speak to him about his personal life through Elisha. We all tend to look at people and circumstances through the filter of how they will meet our preconceived goals, and in the process miss what God wants to do for us that we haven’t imagined. In this particular story, the king didn’t see the point in the symbolic act of striking the ground with the arrows, and so limited the blessing to himself and the nation. (verses 18-19) We are to acknowledge the people God uses to speak into our lives, but not try to determine ahead of time what or how He is going to speak or act.
Various things about this seem very relevant to me. I am quite aware of my own mortality, being in the middle of treatment for a basal cell carcinoma, having already outlived my father by eight years. Likewise, I feel very respected by many, though I certainly haven’t earned the sort of status Elisha had. I couldn’t count how many times I have spoken the Word of the Lord to people and they simply haven’t received it, because it wasn’t what they expected or what they wanted. At the same time, I have turned deaf ears to what God was saying to me more times than I could count as well. I am not to accuse others without acknowledging my own failures. I am to be an example, both of speaking the Word of the Lord and of listening to and obeying what God says, so that those in my care may be strengthened to walk in all that God has for them, for His glory.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You that I’ve been asked to speak at an ordination next month. I pray that I would say exactly what You intend, and that the reception and response would be exactly as You desire, so that the Body of Christ may be built up for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!