Archive for April 18th, 2017
(This passage is also referenced in 2 Chronicles21:18-22:6)
“He stared at him with a fixed gaze until Hazael felt ashamed”. Hazael, a high courtier to King Ben-Hadad, arrives to speak to Elisha with a large camel train with fine wares. He has one simple question to ask the prophet Elisha; will the king recover from his illness? Elisha replies that the king certainly will recover, but he also tells him that the king will die. What does Elisha see when he “stared at him with a fixed gaze” in 8:11? Many writers have been linked to the saying that the eyes are windows to the soul. Can Elisha see into his soul and what lies there? Verses such as this in Matthew 6:22, “The eye is the lamp of the body” suggest that Elisha cannot see into Hazael’s soul however fixed his gaze, but he can and does have prophetic knowledge from God.
Hazael is uncomfortable and ashamed by Elisha’s gaze and Elisha weeps for what is revealed to him. If Hazael is offended by the claim that he has violence in his future and uncomfortable by Elisha’s stare, he has the opportunity at this point to confront himself and the integrity of any plans he may or may not already have. He still has free will over his future actions and at no point does Elisha say that the king’s death will be as a result of assassination by Hazael’s hand. God knew what Hazael would do, but revealing that the king will die does not mean Hazael HAS to have a hand in making it happen. However, the very next day Hazael places a cloth over the king’s face ‘so that he died’ and thus Elisha’s prophesy comes to pass.
“Then the man of God began to weep”. Elisha’s knowledge comes with great grief and he is in no way reconciled to the sin that will follow. In 2 Chronicles 21:18 we learn that Jehoram dies in great pain, and his descendant “did evil in the eyes of the Lord” (22:4). The reign of Hazael, and of the other leaders mentioned in the rest of this passage are violent and offensive to God. Elisha’s weeping shows not only his compassion, but the compassionate and caring heart of God for His people.
Father God, we know your great compassion for those who suffer and Your great mercy and love for Your people. Thank You for words of prophesy and for what they show us about You and Your will. Help us to know when to speak out Your words and when to stay silent. In Your name. Amen.