If you feel like you are lost at sea and your boat has started to sink, don’t panic but try to keep it afloat by scooping as much water as possible. You never know how near your help might be. I love a story from the Bible, in 2nd Kings chapter 7, about four courageous lepers, who saved Samaria from certain demise, when Ben-Hadad king of Syria gathered his army and besieged Samaria, at a time of great famine. The situation got so bad in besieged Samaria, that a donkey’s head was sold for eighty shekels of silver and one -fourth of a kab of dove droppings for five shekels of silver.The intensity of the famine in Samaria at that time is best captured in 2nd Kings 6:26-30.
26 Then, as the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried out to him saying, “Help , my lord, O king !”
27 And he said, “If the LORD does not help you, where can I find help for you? From the threshing floor or from the winepress?”
28 Then the king said to her, “What is troubling you?” And she answered , “This woman said to me, ‘Give your son , that we may eat him today, and we will eat mine tomorrow.’ “So we boiled my son, and ate him. And I said to her on the next day, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him’; but she has hidden her son.”
30 Now it happened, when the king heard the words of the woman, that he tore his clothes; and as he passed on the wall, the people looked , and there underneath he had sackcloth on his body.
This was the sorry state of Samaria as all its inhabitants stared death in the face through starvation. On the other hand, death awaited them if they dared go out of the gates of Samaria since they could certainly be killed by the Syrian army. So it seems that King Ben-Hadad and his army chose to condemn the people of Samaria to a slow and torturous death through starvation instead of attacking and killing them. Donkey meat was a rare delicacy only the rich could afford. People fed on dove droppings and when worse came to worst,as seen in verse 28 and 29 above, women offered their children for slaughter. They boiled and ate them in order to survive!
There were four lepers at the entrance who were obviously outcasts that nobody wanted to associate with them. The verses that I love most in this story are:
(2nd Kings7:3-4 )
3 “…and they said to one another, ” Why are we sitting here until we die?”
4 ” If we say, ‘we will enter the city,’ the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. And if we sit here, we die also. Now therefore, come let us surrender to the army of the Syrians. If they keep us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall only die.”
It takes great courage and faith to make a decision like the one made by the four lepers. It was a big gamble of faith and I am sure this is what God wants us to do whenever we are faced with situations of enormous dilemma. We MUST make a courageous decisions!
God must have been pleased by the courageous move of faith that the lepers made because the story goes on that: (2nd Kings 7:5-7)
5 And they rose at twilight to go to the camp of the Syrians; and when they had come to the outskirts of the Syrian camp , to there surprise no one was there.
6 For the Lord had caused the army of the Syrians to hear the noise of chariots and the noise of horses – the noise of a great army; so they said to one another, “Look, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians to attack us!”
7 Therefore they arose and fled at twilight , and left the camp intact – their tents, their horses, and their donkeys- and they fled for their lives.
Can you imagine the intensity of fear that gripped the Syrian army that they didn’t even have time to remember that they had horses? It was so compelling and urgent that they had to flee on foot !I like this part,”-and they fled for their lives” hahaha! You can’t avoid laughter when you picture a situation where four hapless lepers send a whole army scampering helter-skelter fleeing for their dear lives! That is what God can do if we only take a courageous step of faith. The four neglected and despised lepers ended up saving the whole city of Samaria from inevitable starvation.
After eating and drinking to their fill, the four lepers carried silver, gold and clothing from the tents in the deserted Syrian army camp and went and hid them. They instantly became rich! But they were not selfish people because in chapter chapter 7 we are told:
” Then they said to one another, ‘we are not doing right. This is a day of good news, and we remain silent. If we wait till morning light, some punishment will come upon us. Now therefore, come, let us go and tell the king’s household.” And so they went to the gates of the city and gave the gatekeepers the good news ” And the gatekeepers called out, and they told it to the king’s household inside.
At first the King did not believe the news thinking that it was a trick the Syrians were playing on them so that they could catch the people of Samaria alive as they went to get food. But after sending messengers to confirm the truth, he was convinced. It must have been a great day for the people of Samaria since we see in chapter7 verse 16 that “Then the people went out and plundered the tents of Syrians. So a seah of fine flour was sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel …” Just like the man of God Elisha had predicted a day earlier. It looks funny that four despised lepers could save a whole city without lifting a finger!. This story indeed shows the mighty power of God.