When Elisha was in his last illness, King Jehoash of Israel visited him and wept over him. “My father! My father! I see the chariots and charioteers of Israel!” he cried.
Elisha told him, “Get a bow and some arrows.” And the king did as he was told. Elisha told him, “Put your hand on the bow,” and Elisha laid his own hands on the king’s hands.
Then he commanded, “Open that eastern window,” and he opened it. Then he said, “Shoot!” So he shot an arrow. Elisha proclaimed, “This is the Lord’s arrow, an arrow of victory over Aram, for you will completely conquer the Arameans at Aphek.”
Then he said, “Now pick up the other arrows and strike them against the ground.” So the king picked them up and struck the ground three times. But the man of God was angry with him. “You should have struck the ground five or six times!” he exclaimed. “Then you would have beaten Aram until it was entirely destroyed. Now you will be victorious only three times.”
(2 Kings 13:14-19)
At least forty-three years had passed since Elisha was last mentioned in Scripture (9:1), when he anointed Jehu king (841 b.c.). Jehoash’s reign began in 798 b.c. Elisha was highly regarded for his prophetic powers and miracles on Israel’s behalf. Jehoash’s cry, “My father! My father! I see the chariots and charioteers of Israel,” echoes the words Elisha spoke as Elijah was taken to heaven (2 Kings 2:12). Jehoash feared Elisha’s death because he ascribed the nation’s well-being to Elisha rather than to God. Jehoash’s fear reveals his lack of spiritual understanding.
When Jehoash was told to strike the ground with the arrows, he did it only halfheartedly. As a result, Elisha told the king that his victory over Aram would not be complete.
Receiving the full benefits of God’s plan for our lives requires us to receive and obey God’s commands fully. If we don’t follow God’s complete instructions, we should not be surprised that his full benefits and blessings are not present. Is there an area in your life in which God is calling you to radical obedience? If you’re tempted toward halfhearted obedience, ask God for the courage to fully commit yourself.