2 Kings. vii. 18 — 20. And it cavie to pass, as the man of God
had spoken to the king, saying, Two measures of barley for a
shekel, and a measure of fine flour for a shekel, shall be to-
morrow, about this time, in the gate of Samaria : and that
lord amwered the man of God, and said, ow, behold, if the
Lord should make windows in heaven, might such a thing beP
And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but
shalt not eat thereof And so it fell out unto him : for the peo-
ple trode upo?i him in the gate, and he dud.
THIS is a repetition of what had been said in the
two first verses of this chapter ; or rather it is a
renewed recital of the prediction, as accomplished in
all its parts. ow we are not to imagine that this
repetition was without design. It was doubtless in-
tended to call our attention to the history in a more
peculiar manner, that we might observe it carefully
throughout. In truth, it is a singularly instruc-
tive history, especially as discovering to us, what
we propose distinctly to consider, the folly and danger
of unbelief.
I. The folly of unbelief-
Faith appears to many to be a weak credulity ;
and unbelief, a discreet estimate of causes and effects.
Sceptics look with contempt upon Believers, even as
this nobleman did upon the prophet, for expecting
himself, and teaching others to expect, so incredible
an event, as that which he foretold. But this his-
tory rebukes the folly of such conceited men. They
imagine that they have sufficient reason for their
unbelief: but this history shews us, that all those
things which are supposed to justify unbelief, are, in
fact, no grounds for it at all. There are three grounds
in particular, which, as most commonly urged in its
dejfence, it will be proper for us to consider : —
1 . The extremity of our case —
[Many, both under temporal and spiritual distresses, will
say, that there is no hope ; and that to expect relief under such
circumstances as theirs would be the height of presumption. But
can any state be more desperate than that of Samaria at this
time ? The famine was so grievous, that things which would not
have been deemed fit for food at other times, were made articles
of subsistence ; nor could they be procured but at a most exor-
bitant price. Yea, so extreme was the pressure of their hunger,
that a woman, who had agreed with another to boil their child-
ren for their mutual support, came to the king, to complain of
the other woman for having hid her child, instead of giving it up
according to their agreement, after having already fed upon the
child of the complainant "*. Can any case be more extreme than
this ? We are almost ready to justify the nobleman who doubted
the possibility of plenty being restored to the city in so short a
time as twenty-four hours. But there are no circumstances under
which God cannot interpose with effect''. On the contrary, he is
pleased frequently to let our troubles advance so as to appear
irremediable, on purpose that his power may be the more mag-
nified in our deliverance'^.]
2. Our great unworthiness —
[It is nothing but pride, under the semblance of humility,
that leads any upright person to be discouraged by a sense of
» Ch. vi. 25—29. with Deut. xxviii. 56, 57. ^ Isai. lix. 1.
•^ Deut. xxxii. 36.
138 2 KIGS, VII. 18—20. [252.
his uinvorthiuess. If a man live in wilful and allowed sin, he
doubtless can expect nothing at the hands of God : but, if he
desire to be delivered from all sin, the deeper his sense is of his
own unworthiness, the more readily will he find acceptance in
the sight of God. The truth is, that God gives freely according
to his own sovereign will and pleasure ; and often makes his
*' grace to abound most where sin has most abounded." To
whom did he send the promise recorded in our text ? To Jeho-
ram, an idolatrous king of Israel. And under what circum-
stances did he send the promise ? It was, when this wicked
prince, instead of being humbled by his distresses, took occasion
from them to rage still more against the God of Israel; and im-
mediately after he had, with bitter imprecations, resolved to
murder the Lord's prophet that very day'^. Yes to that very
murderer, at the moment he was about to commit the murder,
was that promise given ! It is scarcely possible to conceive a
state of greater unworthiness than his : vet, behold, to himj I
say again, was the promise given. Who then that desires an
interest in the Lord's promises, has any reason to despond on
account of his unworthiness ?]
3. The want of any visible means of relief — ¦
[The nobleman doubted whether the prediction could be
verified, even if the Lord should open the windows of heaven,
and rain down wheat and barley upon them, as he did manna in
the wilderness. And as there was no hope of such an interpo-
sition, he concluded the prediction to be false. But what if he
could see no way of relief : was God at any loss for means
whereby to accomplish his own purposes ? The Syrians shall be
struck with a panic, and with perfect infatuation shall desert
their camp and every thing in it. Still the purpose is but half
effected : for, how shall the people in the city know the state of the
Syrian camp ? Four lepers perishing with hunger, shall go over
to the Syrians, to cast themselves upon their mercy ; and they
shall find the whole camp forsaken, and report it in the besieged
city : and thus shall perfect plenty be afforded them even in the
space of a few hours. What then cannot God effect for us ?
Whether our distress be of a temporal or spiritual nature, he can
in a moment " supply our wants," and far " exceed all that we
pan ask, or even think." " Is there any thing too hard for God ?"]
If in this history we see the folly of unbelief, we
behold no less,
II. The danger of it — •
Unbelief is justly most offensive to God —
[Its very nature is to doubt the power or veracity of God,
And is this a light offence ? See how greatly he was offended at
" Ch. vi. 31,32.
it in his people of old^: and doubtless he will be still more
offended at us on account of it, in proportion as his mercy and
truth manifested to us in the gift of his dear Son, have exceeded
all that he has ever shewn to mankind from the foundation of the
world ]
In the history before us we see how certainly, and
how awfully, it shall be punished — •
[The moment that the nobleman had expressed his con-
tempt of God's promise, his doom was sealed, and his punish-
ment declared. But the nobleman, being high in the confidence
of his prince, was invested with authority to controul and regu-
late the disposal of the spoil : consequently, if there were any
one person in the city that was sure to enjoy the newly-acquired
plenty, it was he. Yet, behold, the very means which seemed
almost sure to defeat the divine purpose, were instrumental to
its accomplishment : for the extreme eagerness of the people to
obtain the food, occasioned him to be thrown down, and to be
trodden to death under their feet. Yes; so had God threatened j
and " so it fell out unlo him."
Say then, ye who promise yourselves impunity in sin, whether
" God's word shall stand, or yours ?" Shall it not " fall out unto
you as God has said ?" Yes, it shall : and " unbelievers shall
assuredly take their portion at the last in the lake that burneth
with fire and brimstone*^." See what became of those who
doubted God's word in Paradise s, or of the Antediluvian infidels'",
or of the unbelieving Israelites in the wilderness'! did not God's
threatened vengeance fall on them ? " Beware then, all of you,
lest you also perish after the same example of unbelief''." Whe-
ther God promise or threaten, it shall surely come to pass ac-
cording to his word : " If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful :
he cannot deny himself."
We may even notice some resemblance between the doom of
that nobleman, and that which awaits the unbelieving world at
large : " He saw the promised blessing, but he did not taste of
it." And will it not be thus in that great and awful day when
all shall stand at the judgment-seat of Christ ? Those on the
left hand of the Judge shall see the blessedness of his believing
people, but shall not taste of it : on the contrary, whilst God's
faithful people shall be admitted to a full enjoyment of their pro-
mised inheritance, the whole assembly of unbelievers shall b^
bidden to " depart accursed into everlasting burnings."]
Application —
[Consider now how you are affected by the word of God
* Ps.lxxviii. 40, 41. . ^ Rev. xxi. 8.
e Gen. iii. 6, l6— ip, 24, '' 2 Pet. iii. 3—6.
' Heb. iii. 18, IQ. See also especially Zech. i. 6.
" Heb.iv. 11. '2 Tim. ii. 13.
140 "2 KIGS, VIII. 12. [253.
does it come with weight and authority to your minds, as if you
saw it about to be accomplished before your eyes ? Is it a fixed
principle with you, that " not one jot or tittle of that word can
fail ?" This is what God expects at our hands : he expects us to
" tremble at his word™;" to entertain no doubt of its accom-
plishment, but to " be strong in faith, giving glory to God." On
that he suspends his bestowment of further blessings": and, for
the most part, he will make the strength of our faith to be the
measure of his communications".
Consider more particularly, how you are affected with all those
*' great and precious promises which he has given us" in Ciirist
Jesus. Are you enabled to receive them " without staggering
at them through unbelief ?" This is your duty, this your pri-
vilege, this the pledge and earnest of all that God himself can
bestow upon you.]
"" Isai. Ixvi. 2. ° Jam. i. 6, 7. " Matt. viii. 13.

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