2 Kings 1-2 Elijah and Elisha
We continue with the ministry of Elijah, now joined by Elisha. Their great work—and ours—is to labor against society’s relentless evil. In chapter 1, Elijah informs king Ahaziah (son of Ahab) that he will soon die. But the king rejects Elijah’s prophecy and sends fifty officers to arrest him. Elijah tells the men that he is “a man of God,” then calls down fire from heaven which kills them all. See 1 Nephi 22:16-17, wherein the Lord’s saints of the last days are promised preservation, “even unto the destruction of their enemies by fire.”
In 2:1-6 Elisha, showing his devotion to Elijah and knowing that he will soon be taken into heaven, accompanies Elijah from Gilgal to Bethel, then to Jericho, then to the Jordan River (a trek of about 25 miles total). They meet 50 “sons of the prophets” (verse 7; a stark distinction from the fifty officers who tried to arrest Elijah in chapter 1). They and Elisha watched the following take place:
- What miracle did the Lord perform through Elijah in verse 8?
- What did Elisha ask of Elijah in verses 9? About whom would you want to say this?
- We don’t know if verse 11 is literal (chariot and horses of fire; whirlwind) but we do know that Elijah was taken into heaven without tasting death—known as being “translated.” This was so that he would be in the body to appear on the Mount of Transfiguration to the Savior and to Peter, James, and John (Matthew 17:1-5; to confer sealing keys upon the apostles [nobody was resurrected before Jesus, and at this time He was still in his mortal state, thus Elijah must appear in the body]).
- We also know that Elijah appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836 and bestowed the sealing keys (D&C 110:13-16). This is the same Elijah who’s coming in the last days was prophesied by Malachi (Malachi 4:5-6) and is still anticipated by practicing Jews worldwide.
- What was Elisha’s reaction to Elijah’s translation, in verse 12? What possession of Elijah did Elisha retain? (verse 13).
- What happened next, in verses 14-15?
- What is Elisha’s next miracle, in Jericho? (verses 19-22).
- Elisha has begun what becomes a 50-year ministry in Israel.
2 Kings 4; 6-7 So Many Miracles
These three chapters contain a small collection of miracles at the hand of Elisha. Study the following:
- The miracle bestowed upon the widow who could not pay her husband’s debts (4:1-7). Note the widow’s exact obedience to Elisha’s instructions.
- The miracle in the life of the Shunammite woman (4:8-17). Note her extreme kindness to Elisha and his servant Gehazi.
- The second miracle granted to the Shunammite woman (4:18-37). She praised God in His gifts to her, and also trusted Him in spite of her loss.
- The miracle of feeding the sons of the prophets (4:38-41) It takes faith to obey the prophet and eat food that had been considered “death.”
- The miracle of feeding the people (4:42-44). As with most prophets, in the works that Elisha bring forth, he is a type and foreshadowing of Christ.
- Note that these five miracles benefitted a widow, a childless woman, and people suffering through a “dearth” (famine).
- The miracle while cutting down wood (6:1-7). This does not appear to be a miracle to bless a downtrodden person who is in great need, but rather a “miracle of convenience,” showing that the Lord also cares about our everyday inconvenient losses and reversals.
- The miracle of revelation during a time of war (6:8-12). Our God is omniscient and can reveal truth to us.
- The miracle when the king of Syria wanted to capture Elisha (6:13-18). We must never forget that “they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (verse 16; in verses 19-23 the Syrian armies were then led away, given bread and water, and allowed to return home; they never returned to fight Israel). In what ways do you know that the Lord is with you?
- The miraculous fulfillment of Elisha’s prophecy during a time of famine (7:1-16). Even when all appears hopeless, the Lord can provide, in His own way.
2 Kings 5 Naaman the Leper
Why do you think the story of Naaman and Elisha is so often repeated? Read verses 1-14 carefully, looking for gospel lessons in the words and actions of the following: The little maid of Israel (verses 3-4); the king of Syria (verses 5-6); the king of Israel (named Jehoram; verse 7); Elisha (verses 8-10); Naaman (verse 11-12, 14); and Naaman’s servants (verse 13). What gospel lessons did you find that you can apply in your life?
The rest of the story—not often recounted—is found in verses 15-27:
- Naaman shared with Elisha his new-found testimony of the Lord and his power, and offered a “blessing” (gift or reward) to Elisha, in return for being healed of his leprosy.
- Elisha refused to accept any reward, so instead Naaman requested of Elisha his approval for Naaman to take back to Syria “two mules’ burden” of Israelite earth.
- Naaman explained the reason for this request, saying that back home in Syria, whenever the king invited him to worship with him at the altar of Rimmon (a false god of the Syrians; Naaman would not be free to decline), Naaman would have some dirt from Israel to kneel on and he could thus worship Jehovah in his heart. And Naaman promised Elisha that he would never again make any “burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the Lord” (verses 17-18).
- So Naaman left to return to Syria, and then Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, had an idea: Because Naaman had come with gifts to exchange for his healing, Gehazi decided to catch up with Naaman and say that Elisha was in need of some money and clothing. Naaman graciously gave Gehazi more than he had asked, which Gehazi intended to keep for himself.
- When Gehazi returned home, Elisha asked him where he had been. Gehazi lied and said he hadn’t been anywhere. Read verses 26-27 to see Elisha’s reply and the punishment upon Gehazi.
2 Kings 8-16 Additional Scriptures of Interest
Interesting or valuable references that are outside of the Come, Follow Me chapters include:
- 2 Kings 8:1-6; more blessings for the Shunammite woman (introduced in chapter 4).
- 2 Kings 8:7-19; chapters 9-10; the wicked rule of kings in both Judah and Israel continues, but the Lord will not destroy the royal line in Judah because of the promise to David that a “light” (Jesus Christ; 8:19) would come through Judah.
- 2 Kings 11:1-12; continuing wickedness and intrigue regarding the kings of Judah, but the child Joash/Jehoash—in the line of David and the ancestry of Christ—is saved from death, thus preserving the royal line; the house and altars of false gods are broken down.
- 2 Kings 12; Joash/Jehoash is instructed by the priest Jehoiada and is a righteous king in Judah, but is eventually slain by his own servants.
- 2 Kings chapters 13-16; the prophet Elisha dies; wicked kings continue to reign in both Israel and Judah; unauthorized changes are made in the temple at Jerusalem.
- 2 Kings 15:29; in about 738 BC, the Assyrians attacked the northern kingdom of Israel and took away many as captives.