The Bible is filled with odd or unordinary stories. Even when it’s a story we know very well, it usually is not ordinary when we really think about it. God doesn’t usually work with the ordinary or “expected” way of doing things. He’s not limited that way. In 2 Kings 13 we find one such story.
In this account, the king goes to Elisha and seems to be distressed about the war situation with the Syrians. Elisha used a bow and arrows to portend the king’s victory. He had the king shoot an arrow out the window. Elisha then told him that this symbolized that he would have victory. Then Elisha commanded to beat the ground with the other arrows. The king beat the ground three times and stopped. Elisha rebuked the king for not hitting the ground more, and told him that he would only defeat the Syrians three times.
Now, at first glance, this account seems strange- and slightly unfair to the king. Right? I mean, Elisha didn’t tell the king to hit the ground indefinitely. Isn’t that like some trick question?
Whenever we examine the Bible, we must always understand who God is. Obviously God was directing this exchange, and told the prophet what to do. God was in no way unfair or “illogical.” If the king was rebuked, then the king must have been wrong. Honestly, I was always puzzled by this account, but I believe the Lord has explained this a little to me.
If you look at the actions here like a metaphor, it becomes very clear. First, the king is told to shoot an arrow out the window. He obeys. His obedience is rewarded by confirmation of victory, and he is told that the arrows symbolize God’s deliverance. Next, the king is told to beat the ground. He obeys, but not enough. Think about it. If you knew that your immediate actions were a picture of your ultimate success, wouldn’t you do everything you could to succeed? Of course! This king was not thorough in his obedience. He quit before God was satisfied.
So what is the lesson we can learn from this story?
When God tells you to do something, do it. And keep doing it.
If a commander tells a soldier to stand up, the soldier stands- and he remains standing. Imagine if a general told a soldier to stand up, and the soldier stood and then sat down. I don’t think that soldier would be rewarded for his “obedience.” Just like that, we won’t be rewarded if we take God’s commands flippantly or only partially follow them.
I challenge you, if God directs you to do something- DO IT! And do not stop until he directs you differently. An ancient king lost much because he did not obey God completely. Let us not make the same mistake. Let us continue to do what God commands, or in other words- Keep hitting the ground!