In 2 Kings 6, we learn that “King Ben-hadad of Aram mobilized his entire army and besieged Samaria. As a result there was a great famine in the city. After a while even a donkey’s head sold for two pounds of silver, and a cup of dove’s dung cost about two ounces of silver” (verses 24 and 25, NLT). Samaria was experiencing a great lack because of the siege. It had sent their economy into a tailspin. Even the cheapest things money could buy were priced outrageously. The attitude within the country was one of defeat; there was no anticipation of victory. There was no hope.Chapter 7 begins with the prophet Elisha delivering a message: “Hear this message from the LORD! This is what the LORD says: By this time tomorrow in the markets of Samaria, five quarts of fine flour will cost only half an ounce of silver, and ten quarts of barley grain will cost only half an ounce of silver.” He prophesied that the lack would turn to plenty – that the land would become outrageously plentiful. Where previously two ounces of silver bought a cup of dove’s dung cost, now only a half ounce of silver would buy five quarts of fine flour or ten quarts of barley grain. It was an unbelievable prophecy to the man who heard it. And I suppose it’s understandable that he didn’t believe Elisha because he had been living without hope. He had been living with the expectation of defeat, not the anticipation of victory.

Fast forward to verse 17 and you’ll read “So everything happened exactly as the man of God had predicted.” Now that’s an economic turnaround.

What I find so interesting in this story is what happened between verses 1 and 17 – the way God turned the economy around. He caused the Aramean army “to hear the clatter of speeding chariots and the galloping of horses and the sounds of a great army approaching….So they panicked and fled into the night, abandoning their tents, horses, donkeys, and everything else, and they fled for their lives” (verses 6 and 7). The entire army that had set up the siege around Samaria heard so much noise that they thought Samaria had hired another army to defend the city and they panicked and fled for their lives. Let’s call that miracle #1.

We’ll call miracle #2 the fact that none of the Samaritans heard anything! They didn’t even know that the army had fled! In fact, there were four lepers sitting outside the city gates and they didn’t hear anything either. They continued to live under the siege mentality and finally came to the point where they said “Why should we sit here waiting to die? We will starve if we stay here, and we will starve if we go back into the city. So we might as well go out and surrender to the Aramean army. If they let us live, so much the better. But if they kill us, we would have died anyway” (verses 3 and 4). Obviously, the four lepers didn’t hear the sound heard by the Arameans and thought the Arameans were still in their tents.

So the lepers went into the Arameans camp and found it…abandoned! They went back to Samaria and told the gatekeepers who shouted the news to the palace. The king was also still living under the siege mentality. Scripture says that he “got out of bed in the middle of the night and told his officers, ‘I know what has happened. The Arameans know we are starving, so they have left their camp and have hidden in the fields. They are expecting us to leave the city, and then they will take us alive and capture the city'” (verse 12). It’s clear from the rest of the narrative that both the king and his officers thought the Arameans were still in the area, waiting to capture them. Listen to the defeat in one of his officers’ words “We had better send out scouts to check into this. Let them take five of the remaining horses. If something happens to them, it won’t be a greater loss than if they stay here and die with the rest of us” (verse 13). Again, he fully expected, anticipated, that they would all die.

But we’ve read to the end and know that the Arameans, indeed, had abandoned everything as they ran in fear for their lives. And before the day was over, as the Samaritans appropriated the abandoned property of the Arameans, two ounces of silver bought much, much more than it had the evening before. Let’s put it into dollars and cents. If an ounce of silver cost $20, last night a cup of dove’s dung cost $40 and a donkey’s head cost $640. Tonight, you can buy five quarts of fine flour or ten quarts of barley grain for $10. I’d rather be living today than yesterday!

There is so much that can be learned from this story, but I’d like to focus on only three things.

1) We are in a time when our economy is causing many to become afraid. God can change that overnight, by causing things to happen that none of us would expect, anticipate, or even think possible. The Samaritans did not anticipate that God would scare off their enemies. They had lost all hope of it happening. They believed they were going to die.

2) We can live our lives looking at the circumstances around us and become like the lepers, the king and all the other residents of Samaria believing that we have been defeated, that we will die; or we can live our lives knowing that our God can do great and mighty and unexpected things to save us. He has proven Himself in this regard – the birth, life and death of Jesus was unexpected, even though it was anticipated. The Israelites were looking for a Messiah to come; they were anticipating it. Yet Jesus was not what they expected, nor was His death the manner in which they expected to be saved.

3) God often, typically, uses the unexpected to bring about our deliverance. In Samaria, he used the four lepers – men who were not even allowed into the city to save the city from starvation and death. And of course, he used the totally unexpected invisible chariots and horses to strike fear into the Arameans.

I don’t know in what manner my needs will be met in the coming months, but I know where the provision will come from – from a God who loves me intensely and who is unbelievably creative and able to change my situation overnight. So I choose to live in hope instead of defeat. How about you?

2 Responses to “What a Difference a Day Makes!”
  1. Timaaaa says:

    I really liked this post. Can I copy it to my site?
    Thank you in advance.

    Sincerely, Timur.

  2. Sandy says:

    I’ve visited your site! Lots of translation will be required, but I’d be blessed to have you include this post on your site. Grace & peace, Sandy

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