Today we are reading the history of two famines. The first famine, the siege of Samaria, was the result of an enemy army entering Israel and besieging Samaria. Distress at the hand of enemies is prophesied for Israel from the curse which Moses placed upon Israel for not obeying the Torah of the LORD:
“But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you. … The LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them; and you shall become troublesome to all the kingdoms of the earth.” Deu 28:15, 25
The second famine is one which the LORD called for, to come upon Israel for seven years (2 Kin 8:1). Famine is one of the curses that was to come upon Israel if they would not be careful to obey the Torah of the LORD:
“And the heavens which are over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you shall be iron. The LORD will change the rain of your land to powder and dust; from the heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed.” Deu 28:23-24
But what I find interesting, is that in the midst of the deserved consequences which Israel was suffering because of her sin of forsaking the LORD God and serving Baal, and the sin of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, are the pictures of underserved kindness and grace which the LORD extends to Israel!
Who was praying, on their face before YHVH, for the lifting of the siege of Samaria? Perhaps the elders of Israel were, and that is what they were doing with Elisha in his house (2 Kin 6:32). If so, we have a nation on a road that it does not desire to be on, because of its king, despite the desire of the country’s elders and people. But we don’t know. In any case, the LORD defeated the army of the Syrians supernaturally, and caused them to flee, leaving all their food and their goods behind, so that the siege and the famine was lifted.
And in the second famine, the seven- year famine, the Shunammite woman who had cared for Elisha under her own roof every time he passed by her, was forewarned of the famine that was coming, so that she could take precautions and preserve her life and her son’s life. So just as in the case of Noah, and Lot, judgment was decreed, but the LORD cared for His own through that judgment, so that they did not suffer the effects of it.
Not only that, but when the Shunammite woman returned, the LORD restored to her her house and lands, and all the increase of her land from the time that she was gone. He gave her above and beyond what she was asking the king for. It was not a coincidence that Gehazi was telling the king about this woman, right at the time she came to the king for the restoration of her property!
In face of impossible odds, and in the face of even His own judgment which He has ordained, the LORD pours grace out onto the undeserving, and cares for His own — in the Old Testament, not only the New!