By Raymond Harris
Regarding Scripture: II Kings 13.10-25
Note to the Reader – I encourage you to invest additional time reading the Books of Kings in conjunction with this article.
Asking for Too Little
Have you ever found yourself in a position of receiving the very thing you asked for? Receiving from the giver your very request and the giver having had no hesitation and no strings attached? I have. It is a most interesting, yet odd feeling. I would have to say that had I known that the giver of the gift was going to give so easily, I would have asked for a bigger gift. Now this is not to say I did not appreciate the gift, but if I had known before hand that “money was no object” I am almost certain that my request would have changed.
Joash: King of Israel
While Joash was King of Israel, the Northern Kingdom; Judah being the Southern Kingdom, even though it is reported that he did evil in the sight of Jehovah,1 he was given a great gift of victory.2 It is not the fact that he was given victory that is so interesting, it is the manner in which he was given that victory.
Joash traveled to visit the ailing and dying Elisha, while there Joash seems to have asked for a blessing on Israel’s army.3 Remember that Elisha is a prophet, a holy man of Jehovah, and can bestow blessings. After Joash’s simple request, Elisha had him get his bow and arrows.4 Elisha prepared the room for Joash to release the arrows from the bow by having the east window opened, and informed Joash to shoot.5 As the arrow left the room through the east window, Elisha said, “[Jehovah’s] arrow of victory, the arrow of victory against Aram! You will defeat Aram completely at Afek!”6
From this statement it is difficult to imagine what might of have gone through Joash’s mind. Perhaps he was thinking that the one arrow was sufficient evidence that his request for a blessing on Israel’s army had been granted. But something interesting occurred following Elisha’s declaration of victory. Elisha stated, “Take the arrows.” then Elisha commanded Joash to “Strike the ground.”7 The statement and command do not sound too strange, but Elisha’s reaction to Joash’s three arrows is what is strange.
We are told that the man of God, Elisha, became very angry with Joash.8 From Elisha’s statement we can understand his anger against Joash. Elisha stated, “You should have struck the ground five or six times; then you would have defeated Aram completely. As it is you will defeat Aram only three times.”9 Scripture records Joash only shooting three arrows, but it seems that Elisha expected Joash to put more arrows into the ground that only three. From Elisha’s declaration it seems that Joash’s quiver had at least six arrows, perhaps more. But Joash effectively limited his victory, by releasing only a limited number of arrows. The end of the chapter closes revealing that Joash recaptured Israel’s cities, but his victory was limited.10 The lesson to learn is that while Jehovah grants victory, victory can be limited based upon the disposition of the requestor.
Gentiles, Grafted in Disciples11
Sometimes it is easy to fall into the same situation as Joash. This writer is not referring to the spiritual failure of Joash – his willingness to maintain the worship of the Golden Calves. Instead, it is his disposition when asking Jehovah for help. Through Elisha, Joash is permitted to ask for victory, but limits himself. There may be a variety of reasons for this; one reason being stated earlier. But ask yourself, if you are a believer in Jehovah, have you limited your blessings based upon your request?
The reality is that there are hurts in life. When we ask people to help us, generally there is one of two responses: yes or no. Sometimes we receive a “yes” and the “yes” may fail to meet our expectation. Other times, we receive a flat “no” and our hope is dashed. When we experience such things time and again, we begin to have our expectations lowered and rejection alert heightened. So, at best, we run the risk of becoming timid in the request – thinking that we are inadequate and unworthy.
Interestingly enough, disciples are taught to ASK: Ask, Seek, Knock.12 It is evident from prayers and discussions that disciples do this: they do Ask, they do Seek, and they do Knock. But sometimes disciples limit their blessings from Jehovah’s because they ask once, twice, maybe thrice, but countless times? Sometimes they seek, but they seek shyly wanting but not really expecting. And sometimes the disciple knocks, but knocks timidly as if they are intruding in on Jehovah’s life.
I really like the way in which the Complete Jewish Bible translates that same passage13 it says, “Keep asking… keep seeking… keep knocking…” which is vastly different than the King James. We need to keep on asking, seeking and knocking. And when we are given “face time” let us not be like Joash who limited his blessings, let us use all the arrows in the quiver; and then find more arrows to be shot out the window. Jehovah gives, and gives abundantly. While humanity is devious and limited, Jehovah is straightforward and unlimited. We limit his gifts when we limit our requests. Let us not ask for partial victory or for a portion of anything. Instead, let us ask for full victory and a full measure from the Giver of Good and may the Lord abundantly bless us.
1. “Did Evil.” II Kings 13.11; NASB.
2. “Victory.” II Kings 13.17; NASB.
3. “Joash travels to Elisah.” II Kings 13.14; NASB.
4. “Get the bow and arrows.” II Kings 13.15; NASB.
5. “Preparation and Release.” II Kings 13.16-17a; NASB.
6. “Victory Declaration.” II Kings 13.17b; Quote: CJB; Link: NASB.
7. “Command for Arrows.” II Kings 13.18; Quote: CJB; Link: NASB.
8. “Elisha’s anger with Joash.” II Kings 13.19a; NASB.
9. “Elisha’s declaration to Joash.” II Kings 13.19b; Quote: CJB; Link: NASB.
10. “Limited Victory.” II Kings 13.24-25; NASB.
11. “Gentiles, Grafted in Disciples.” Romans 11.17; NASB.
12. “ASK: Ask, Seek, Knock.” Matthew 7.7-11; NASB.
13. See Endnote 12.