|International Bible Studies|
LESSON FOR JULY 22, 1979
How to Treat Your Enemies
MEMORY SELECTION: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” —Matthew 5:44
SELECTED SCRIPTURE: II Kings 6:8-10, 15-23
WE ARE impressed by the divine commandment of love, as pointed out in the memory selection. Indeed, who could argue against such instruction as recorded by Matthew? Although we must acknowledge that few have ever practiced this law of love toward their enemies, we believe that in God’s due time the whole world of mankind will be given ample opportunity to learn the ways of truth and righteousness under the favorable terms of the millennial kingdom of Christ.
The scripture reading in II Kings concerns the historical account in connection with Syria’s attempt to invade Israel. The king evidently believed that there were perhaps traitors amongst his own counselors. “Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was sore troubled for this thing; and he called his servants, and said unto them, Will ye not show me which of us is for the king of Israel?”—II Kings 6:11
Then, turning in answer to the king, “one of his servants said, None, my lord, O king: but Elisha, the prophet that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber.” (vs. 12) Thus having volunteered the answer, the king’s servant pointed the finger of blame directly at the Prophet Elisha.
Armed with this information, the king advanced plans for a contingent of soldiers to go to Dothan, capture Elisha, and bring him back to the camp of the Syrians. The soldiers traveled under darkness of night and surrounded the small city of Dothan, where Elisha was staying.
The following morning Elisha’s servant awoke to find them encircled by the enemy, and he ran in fear to warn his master. Elisha, in turn, seemed to be completely unperturbed by the whole matter. “And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.”—vs. 16
This must indeed have sounded like a strange answer to Elisha’s servant. But here we are given an insight into the marvelous working power of God. It was at this point that the prophet of God prayed that the servant’s eyes should be opened so that he could see the vision of angels, together with chariots and horses—and with the appearance of fire. “And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.”—vs. 17
Elisha and his servant went out to meet the Syrian soldiers, and again Elisha prayed to God. This time, however, the prophet prayed that God would blind the eyes of the soldiers. Again his prayer was answered. Elisha met the guard and told him that he knew the man they were seeking and that he would lead them to him. The blinded Syrians then followed Elisha and his servant for several miles, right into the capital city of Samaria. Then Elisha prayed that their eyes should again be opened, and they found themselves surrounded by the army of Israel, together with the king at their head. They realized that the prophet of God had tricked them. Israel’s king was prepared to kill the Syrians, but Elisha intervened and insisted that the men be treated as guests. A feast was made, and the men were returned to Syria unharmed.
The effect of treating their enemies kindly resulted in there being no further attacks by Syrians into Israel’s territory for a long time. Love proved to be the great conquering power.
There is a lesson that all the Lord’s people may learn from this. Let us come to appreciate the love of God more and more, and especially as we see that the days are evil. In due time the kingdom of Christ will be established over all the earth, and if we be found faithful we may have the great privilege of assisting mankind back to truth and righteousness. Let us press on toward the mark of that glorious prospect!