Scripture Focus: 2 Kings 1:13-15
13 So the king sent a third captain with his fifty men. This third captain went up and fell on his knees before Elijah. “Man of God,” he begged, “please have respect for my life and the lives of these fifty men, your servants! 14 See, fire has fallen from heaven and consumed the first two captains and all their men. But now have respect for my life!”
15 The angel of the Lord said to Elijah, “Go down with him; do not be afraid of him.” So Elijah got up and went down with him to the king.
Reflection: The Tale of Three Captains
By Jon Polk
2 Kings opens with a story reminiscent of a classic fable: there’s a king, a tragic accident, a trio of warriors, and a wise sage on a hilltop.
First, be reminded of what a rotten king Ahaziah was. The book of 1 Kings ends with this unflattering assessment of his reign, “He did evil in the eyes of the Lord.” His father was Ahab, widely recognized as the worst king of Israel, so Ahaziah’s apple didn’t fall far from the proverbial tree.
Ahaziah suffered an injury after falling from the upper room of his palace in Samaria. He sent a delegation to inquire of the god Baal-Zebub whether he would recover. The messengers never made it to their destination, however. They were intercepted by the bold prophet Elijah.
Elijah delivered a stinging rebuke and prophecy to be relayed to the king. “You’ve rejected the God of Israel, so you turn to the god of the Philistines? You wanted to know if you will recover from your injuries? Be warned, death is coming for you.”
Incensed, Ahaziah asked who had sent the message. From the description, he immediately knew who it was. “Ah yes, that’s Elijah. Send a company of fifty men to bring him to me.”
The first company captain approached Elijah, now sitting on the top of a hill, with scorn, “Man of God, the king says to come at once.”
You can hear the mockery in Elijah’s response, “Oh, you call me a man of God? Well, if I am, may fire come down from heaven and consume your company.” And so it did.
The king sent a second company of fifty men. The second company captain called to Elijah with equal disdain, “Man of God, the king calls for you.”
Surprise, surprise. Second verse, same as the first. Elijah called down fire on company number two.
The third company captain took a decidedly different approach, “Man of God, please respect my life and these fifty men! We are your servants!” This time, Elijah acquiesced and went along to deliver his prophecy directly to the king himself.
How often do we approach God with the same attitude of Ahaziah and the first two company captains, demanding that our needs be met or our questions be answered?
May we learn from the example of the third company captain who recognized that God cannot be ordered around. Let us approach God humbly, with respect, acknowledging our station as beloved children of God.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Proclaim the greatness of the Lord our God and worship him upon his holy hill; for the Lord our God is the Holy One. — Psalm 99.9
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.
2 Kings 1 (Listen 3:13)
Psalms 45 (Listen 2:17)
This Weekend’s Readings
2 Kings 2 (Listen 4:26) Psalms 46-47 (Listen 2:15)
2 Kings 3 (Listen 4:29) Psalms 48 (Listen 1:28)
Read more about A King’s Vanity and a Slap in the Face
Are we any better than Ahab?
Do we surround ourselves with voices that only tell us what we want to hear?
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