Loving Your Enemy into Discomfort
2Kings 6:20 As soon as they entered Samaria, Elisha said, “O LORD, open the eyes of these men so that they may see.” The LORD opened their eyes, and they saw that they were inside Samaria. 21 When the king of Israel saw them he said to Elisha, “Father, shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?” 22 He answered, “No! Did you capture with your sword and your bow those whom you want to kill? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink; and let them go to their master.” 23 So he prepared for them a great feast; after they ate and drank, he sent them on their way, and they went to their master. And the Arameans no longer came raiding into the land of Israel.
The king of Aram had come to attack Elisha but God had provided a way of rescue. Elisha prayed and God surrounded him with his own guard of protection. When the eyes of the people were opened they were stunned by what they saw surrounding them. But then they were blinded and Elisha led them into Samaria. They had no idea where they were going, that they were being led into a potential ambush.
The king of Israel had never expected the Aramean army to simply waltz into his territory in a state of confusion. He could have easily killed them all, and yet, Elisha stopped him. The king showed great respect for Elisha and called him “Father.”
Elisha reminded the king that the army was captured, not because of his great military might, but because of the power of God. Then he suggested something most unusual, an act which would foreshadow the teachings of Christ — he suggested that they love the enemy!
Instead of any form of punishment, they prepared for them a great feast. They gave them food and drink and treated them well and then sent them on their way. They loved them into discomfort and they left and did not return to raid the land. There was a period of peace between the two nations.
This incident is very unusual in the Old Testament period of time. Loving the Aramean army certainly did not seem normal.
Loving our enemies may not seem like the normal thing to do. We are built with a “fight or flight” response and our natural tendency is to want to go to battle. This is true personally and even corporately and yet there is something stunning in this story.
Elisha depended on prayer and God’s intervention to bring about the victory. There’s a deep level of trust that must exist for this to become a reality. Quite possibly we don’t experience God’s victory in our lives and we resort to the “fight or flight” because we don’t trust God to take care of things.
When the king wanted to finish off the victory which God had already provided in his own way — by killing the men — Elisha stopped him. The king was obedient to the words of Elisha and participated in loving the enemy. This must have been quite difficult for the king but he must have also had great faith in Elisha and Elisha’s God. Doing something completely out of character is only possible when we have the faith to believe that God is the one doing the leading, and we believe that God can do it!
The Aramean soldiers must have been terrified, expecting to be killed. Can you imagine their discomfort at having a party thrown for them! Our own enemies are probably waiting for a negative response from us. Jesus encourages us to throw them a party. Love our enemies. Pray for them. Seek them out. Help them in their time of need.
The Arameans went away with such discomfort that they didn’t return. There was peace.
When we love our enemies, peace just might break out. It’s God’s plan. Why not give it a try.
Lord, we pray for your peace today. Amen.