“Then Elisha told the king to take the other arrows and strike the ground with them. The king struck the ground three times, and then stopped. 19 This made Elisha angry, and he said to the king, “You should have struck five or six times, and then you would have won complete victory over the Syrians; but now you will defeat them only three times.” “(2 Kings 13:18-19 GNT)
When Jehoash the king of Israel visits the dying prophet Elisha, he may well have been more concerned about the threat from Syria than Elisha’s impending demise. Nevertheless, Elisha leaves him with one last prophecy – the king is told the strike the ground with the arrows, purposely he is not told how many times to do this.
It seems that the king is markedly unenthusiastic about this and only strikes the ground three times – enough to appear compliant with overdoing it! Elisha is angry about this apparent lack of trust and humility on the part of the king and points out the ramifications – God’s intervention in supporting Israel against Syria will be limited to three victories rather than total defeat.
Does this ask us about how enthusiastic we are in following the guidance of God? Jehoash may have felt a bit foolish hitting the ground with arrows and put little faith and effort into it. If we say that we trust in the Lord – how would it be measured in our compliance and enthusiasm in following his instructions?
Had Jehoash put more into being obedient, his victory over his enemy would have been complete, but now he would have but three victories and the conflicts will continue – and still do!!
The Lord will give victory to those who trust and obey in their service beyond what might be an acceptable minimum … so often the number three!!
God is worthy of our best!!
So Elijah went to Zarephath, and as he came to the town gate, he saw a widow gathering firewood. “Please bring me a drink of water,” he said to her. 11 And as she was going to get it, he called out, “And please bring me some bread, too.”
12 She answered, “By the living Lord your God I swear that I don’t have any bread. All I have is a handful of flour in a bowl and a bit of olive oil in a jar. I came here to gather some firewood to take back home and prepare what little I have for my son and me. That will be our last meal, and then we will starve to death.”
13 “Don’t worry,” Elijah said to her. “Go on and prepare your meal. But first make a small loaf from what you have and bring it to me, and then prepare the rest for you and your son. 14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The bowl will not run out of flour or the jar run out of oil before the day that I, the Lord, send rain.’”(1 Kings 17:10-14 GNT)
The widow of a member of a group of prophets went to Elisha and said, “Sir, my husband has died! As you know, he was a God-fearing man, but now a man he owed money to has come to take away my two sons as slaves in payment for my husband’s debt.”
2 “What shall I do for you?” he asked. “Tell me, what do you have at home?” “Nothing at all, except a small jar of olive oil,” she answered.
3 “Go to your neighbors and borrow as many empty jars as you can,” Elisha told her. 4 “Then you and your sons go into the house, close the door, and start pouring oil into the jars. Set each one aside as soon as it is full.”
5 So the woman went into her house with her sons, closed the door, took the small jar of olive oil, and poured oil into the jars as her sons brought them to her. 6 When they had filled all the jars, she asked if there were any more. “That was the last one,” one of her sons answered. And the olive oil stopped flowing. 7 She went back to Elisha, the prophet, who said to her, “Sell the olive oil and pay all your debts, and there will be enough money left over for you and your sons to live on.” (2 Kings 4:1-7 GNT)