What to Get the Man of God Who Has Everything (Kings 2 8)

In chapter 8 of Kings 2 Elisha, the man of god about town (godabout as opposed to gadabout?), has got his work cut out for him. The king of the Philistines is afflicted with some sort of sickness (likely syphilis) and wants Elisha to tell him whether he’ll live or die. To butter him up, he sends a little gift. Or, rather, forty camel loads of goods from Damascus (this is something I write on my Christmas list every year hoping to encourage my family members to get me something other the plethora of bath products I usually receive). Smooth.

Elisha relays his prophecy to Hazael, the king’s servant. He says, “Go say to him, ‘You shall certainly recover’; but the Lord has shown me that you shall certainly die” (Kin 2 8:10). Does he mean the king is going to die soon or in the way in which we all do, that is, eventually, at some point so far in the future that it’s not worth thinking about right now lest we all descend into an intractable existential paroxysm?

At a recent wedding (at which I was flying solo) a gentleman approached me and asked if I was alone. My reply? It was: “Aren’t we all alone? I mean, like, really”. That was the end of that conversation. Existential buzzkill. Bad move, KG.

Turns out, what Elisha was prophesizing was that the king would indeed recover from his sickness but Hazael would kill him and take over as king. It’s kind of funny: Hazael kills the king in the only way a trained servant could – murdering him but also trying to make him comfortable, oddly enough. “But on the morrow he took the coverlet and dipped it in water and spread it over his face, till he died” (Kin 2 8:15). That sounds nice. It was probably a hot, steamy day and the cool water would have been much appreciated, despite the circumstances.

Two gadabouts.

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Published in: on July 24, 2011 at 1:59 am  Leave a Comment  
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