Miracle in the Desert

But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there no prophet of the LORD here, through whom we may inquire of the LORD?”

An officer of the king of Israel answered, “Elisha son of Shaphat is here. He used to pour water on the hands of Elijah.”

Jehoshaphat said, “The word of the LORD is with him.” So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him.

Elisha said to the king of Israel, “Why do you want to involve me? Go to the prophets of your father and the prophets of your mother.”

“No,” the king of Israel answered, “because it was the LORD who called us three kings together to deliver us into the hands of Moab.”

 Elisha said, “As surely as the LORD Almighty lives, whom I serve, if I did not have respect for the presence of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I would not pay any attention to you. But now bring me a harpist.”

While the harpist was playing, the hand of the LORD came on Elisha and he said, “This is what the LORD says: I will fill this valley with pools of water. For this is what the LORD says: You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink.  This is an easy thing in the eyes of the LORD; he will also deliver Moab into your hands. 19 You will overthrow every fortified city and every major town. You will cut down every good tree, stop up all the springs, and ruin every good field with stones.” (2 Kings 3:11–19)

Since Joram worshipped Baal and had priests and prophets of Baal working for him, the prophet Elisha couldn’t understand why Joram didn’t just seek guidance from them. Joram’s insistence on hearing from Elisha indicated that he understood Baal was useless. Like his father Ahab, he didn’t take Baal as seriously as he did the one true God, Yahweh.

God does not speak very loud. Elisha’s master, the prophet Elijah, had once discovered that God did not speak in earthquakes, but instead in a “still small voice.” Elisha was angry. He did not like Joram—a wicked king, and he did not like the king of Edom, a pagan king. Following the example of King Saul, who had David play music when he felt bad, Elisha listened to music in order to calm himself and get himself out of his bad mood long enough that he could focus on listening to God instead of his own raging thoughts.

So Elisha finally heard God and shared God’s plan with the three kings—who believed God and acted accordingly. Moab was defeated and put back in its place, though the Moabite king survived after he sacrificed his own son as a burnt offering.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm a deacon at Quartz Hill Community Church. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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