Today's devotion from 2 Kings 7-8. Chapters 7 and 8 paint a beautiful picture in contrast. As the reading begins, we see Elisha promising relief to come. The people are in a desperate way. Food is gone. The siege has taken a massive toll on the people. We've already seen the lengths to which some people went to eat. Now, Elisha speaks for God in declaring that it is almost over. However, some question the prophet's word.
Unbelief and mocking often go together (see Psalm 1). Yet God will not be mocked, which leads to Elisha's prophecy, "You shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat of it."
From there the text seems to take a jump down a rabbit trail, but it's not. We enter into the musings of some lepers debating their best chances. Stay and die. Enter the city and die. Go to the Syrian camp and die. Hmmm. Decisions. They decide that the Syrians might be more merciful than starvation, so they head in that direction. When they get there they find God's word fulfilled. The enemy is gone, but his rations remain!
When the king gets word of this, he is also unbelieving. Even though everything Elisha has foretold had come to pass, the king still refuses to believe. Eventually, he sends messengers who affirm the tale, and the people spring into action, inadvertently killing the captain. He saw it, but didn't eat it.
On the other hand, chapter 8 begins with our dear friend, the Shunammite woman. She too has seen Elisha's powers of prophecy. So when he tells her to flee the coming famine, she didn't squabble with him. She left her people and went to sojourn in the land of the Philistines for seven years. When she returned, just the retelling of her testimony was enough to see to it that her lands were returned to her, and all the produce the land would have yielded while she was gone. Her faithfulness continues to be rewarded.
Faithfulness doesn't always equal material gain. Being friendly to a preacher doesn't ensure that God will give you a child, or bring the dead to life. Obeying Him doesn't mean you'll always get your land back. But her tale is woven throughout the life of Elisha to contrast the faithless leaders of Israel. You may never be a king or a captain, but that doesn't mean your anonymity is a negative. In her uncelebrated faithfulness we have more to thankful for than in all the lives of any of the kings at this time.