Elijah and Elisha

Thise devotional is written by Heidi Watt. Heidi is married to Joseph Watt and absolutely LOVES the autumn.

2 Kings 2:23-25

Elisha Is Jeered

23 From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. "Get out of here, baldy!" they said. "Get out of here, baldy!" 24 He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys. 25 And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria.


Bethel meaning 'House of God', at this time had become a religious place of Idolatry. It is the place of Jeroboam I's golden calf shrine, which Jeroboam, in 1 Kings 12 says brought the Israelites out of Egypt (It was God). A lot of the people in Bethel don't like Elisha as he is prophet of the LORD and they worship idols.

In this passage the boys jeered at Elisha saying 'Go up you bald head!' (ESV) suggesting that they want to him to ascend like Elijah did, (2:1-17) because they wanted to get rid of him. The Hebrew word for the boys mocking him is 'naar', which covers the age range from 12 - late 40's even, so they may not be as young as the passage suggests.

Elisha curses the boys and God brings the bears upon them. But why, I hear you ask? Elisha is a prophet of the LORD, so to insult God's prophet, is to insult God! Leviticus 26 sheds some light on this. At the beginning of chapter 26, God lays out his blessings for Israel, if they are obedient but then goes on to lay down the curses for if they are disobedient from verse 14. Leviticus 26.22 writes :

22 I will send wild animals against you, and they will rob you of your children, destroy your cattle and make you so few in number that your roads will be deserted.

The young men's sin was disrespecting a prophet of God. Sin is always met with judgement, in this case - bears. We do not need to fear the same judgement because Jesus has taken judgement upon himself. We only need to accept his grace.

What interests me in this passage isn't the bears nor the fact there's some guys shouting 'baldy' at Elisha, but actually how Elisha remains so calm. He doesn't react to the huge group of young men shouting abuse at him (which I personally would find very scary). He knows God is with him and also knows the authority he has as a prophet of God. He remains calm knowing God will fight his battles. There is and will always be persecution for Christians because people don't like Jesus. Elisha, in this moment, reminds us to keep our eyes fixed on God and to abide in him, knowing he will keep us safe and fight our battles.

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