I wonder if there are any redemptive/historical lessons from an ax head floating? And believe it or not, I found a commentary that makes that connection! Others I read try to take some moral or practical lesson from it, which is really annoying. This guy’s argument makes sense because the Jordan River is not just any river; it has a critical role in the history of redemption. Not only does it separate the promised land from the not-promised land, but the people of God go through the waters as they enter the promised land, a type of baptism. And Elijah and Elisha both go through it on dry land, back and forth, to end the former’s ministry, and the latter to start his. And I like the idea of the ax head related to judgment because of the verse in Deuteronomy.
The next miracles are works that include all Israel. The Arameans are planning on taking out Israel, but God through Elisha won’t let that happen. When they surround the city, Elisha’s servant freaks out, but Elisha shows him the true nature of this battle:
16 He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
There is an entire unseen world that most people just assume doesn’t exist. God has legions at his disposal to carry out his will for his people Israel, and of course his church. This is not revealed to us very often, but we know it exists. So Elisha prays for the Aramean army to be blinded, which I think in context doesn’t mean they can’t see anything, but that they are blinded to the presence of the army or people of Israel. He leads them to Semaria and then their eyes are opened. The king of Israel asks Elisha if he should slaughter them, but Elisha on the contrary prepare a great feast for them and then lets them go. Smart move. Because of this the army of Aram quit harassing Israel. God saved them yet again.
Aram doesn’t hold off forever, so maybe it wasn’t a good idea to let the army of Israel’s enemy go. The rest of chapter 6 and 7 tell the sordid story of a terrible famine in Samaria caused by the Aramean army laying siege to the city; the people are so hungry some actually commit cannibalism. The king of Israel, who interestingly is not named throughout these chapters, is pissed. When he hears about this cannibalism, that things have gotten so desperate for the people, he says:
30 When the king heard the words of the woman, he tore his clothes—now he was passing by on the wall—and the people looked, and behold, he had sackcloth beneath on his body— 31 and he said, “May God do so to me and more also, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat remains on his shoulders today.”
He sees it as Elisha’s fault that this is happening, which it is. Elisha’s hanging out with his guys, the elders, and they hear the King is coming after him, and the text isn’t clear who says it, but someone says this trouble is “from the Lord.” And of course, the Lord will fix it. The Lord sends some kind of vision on the Arameans of advancing armies, and they flee their camp leaving everything behind. The siege over, the people of Israel loot the camp and get what they need to start living again.
The story is told as a tale of unbelief. Elisha says, basically, that there will be so much stuff, that tomorrow everything will be selling for basically pennies, supply and demand. Previously it had said that a donkey’s head was incredibly expensive because of the siege, so now everything sells cheaply, thus the siege will be over. An officer of the king says that is impossible, and Elisha tells him:
“You shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat of it.”
The man was trampled to death by people clamoring for all the goodies. Moral of the story? Do not question the word of God through the man of God. The Lord will always take care of his people. They can not only trust in his power, but in his good intentions toward them. How much more should we who live on the other side of the resurrection, who are in Christ, with the Bible, the record of God’s work and power in history so easily available to us, completely and unequivocally trust in our Almighty and Sovereign God.