Why didn’t the king hit harder?


Our text for August 26, at the Red Brick Church will be 2 Kings 13:14-19. Here is a question to meditate on going into the sermon.

First, a little background. With the impending death of the anointed prophet, Elisha, the otherwise evil Joash (2 Kings 13:11) grew desperate at the thought of facing his enemies without God’s blessing. He visited a dying Elisha who promised victory over Syria. Elisha then gave this instruction:

And [Elisha] said, “Take the arrows,” and he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground with them.” And he struck three times and stopped. Then the man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck down Syria until you had made an end of it, but now you will strike down Syria only three times.” 2 Kings 13:18-19

There was nothing magic about striking the ground (as there is nothing “magic” about baptism or communion!). The exercise was an opportunity for Joash to show trust in the gracious blessing of the God of Israel. Joash took three feeble swipes at the ground. God’s judgment was severe.

Thinking about the narrative, it’s worth considering – – – why was it that Joash didn’t respond with energy to God’s Word spoken through the prophet? Why did he not hit the ground harder?

My family already discussed this one at the dinner table. Jamie and our children came up with some good ideas. But what do you think? Why didn’t the king hit harder?