The Eyes of Gehazi – Part Ten

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Meeting the King

Bringing a message to a King from a person not completely approved of by the King in question is a tricky art-form that I, with my upbringing among the common people, had no training in. So my task was a difficult one for me to reconcile myself to. Fortunately I had plenty of time to think the process through because the journey from Dan to Samaria took a number of days. I was surprised to discover that though I was not well known like the Prophet, there were still people waiting to feed and house me in every city I passed through around the time of nightfall. I cannot even begin to explain to you how this could have happened unless it had been truly the hand of The God. Eventually I arrived in Samaria, nervous and worn out, but strangely excited about the mission I must accomplish. The Prophet told me to simply announce myself at the city gate and someone would take me to the King. I followed this recommendation and was surprised to find that the results were exactly as the Prophet had described. I was efficiently ushered from the gate into a pleasant waiting area inside a structure that was clearly the King’s residence. This room must have been designed for heads of state or powerful dignitaries to keep them calm and happy while they waited on the arrival of the King. Beautiful young women who served the King came in and out of the room with food and drink. The chair in which I rested was very comfortable and allowed me to recline while I waited. This is a life that I could aspire to! I thought. Finally, a tall official with a long, reddish-colored beard who was dressed in the livery of the King arrived. The King awaits the servant of the Prophet, he said gesturing for me to accompany him. Please follow me, he continued, so I did exactly that. After my short meeting with the King, the young official of the King’s court led me back to the gate of the city. Please continue your journey in peace, oh servant of the Prophet, he said in a very kind tone. I passed through the city gate, loaded with provisions given me by servants of the king and departed for Dothan, as the Prophet had requested. It was somewhat stunning how rapidly this had all occurred. My appointment with the King had been exceedingly short and to the point and as such was a very strange ten minutes. The lives of noble-born people were and still are so puzzlingly different from mine. During the entire time we were in the same room, the King never spoke directly to me. Instead, he spoke to me through the bearded young man who presented me to him. Likewise, the official relayed my responses to the King’s questions. I recall that our meeting began with a statement something like the following. Oh! the King uttered, staring idly out the window. I see we have here the servant of that annoying Prophet that is constantly making my life difficult. Please ask him what his business is. I responded nervously to the bearded official without even glancing at the King. The message from my master, I said, is that he is aware of all the plans of the King of Syria, which of course is a gift provided to our nation by The God. Syria is fully knowledgeable of your travel plans and understands that you will be proceeding to Shiloh to celebrate a feast in two weeks. The Syrian army intends to ambush you on the highway. The Prophet says that if you bypass the highway and proceed through a less direct route that the King of Syria will fail to intercept you and will return home to Syria in shame in front of his army. At this point, the King gave a small wave, as one might swat away a flying insect and thanked his official for relaying my message. He then promptly exited the room and my audience was over. I was surprised to realize that the King’s assistant was already beginning to gently escort me out of the palace towards the gates of the city. I apologize for the King’s lack of decorum, the young man stated as we walked. He just truly can’t stand your master but he knows that he needs him. As I reflect back on this time of my life, I’m struck by the manner in which The God maintained this strange tension between Elisha and the King. I imagine the purpose of this was to protect the King from his evil desires while continuing to preserve the opportunity for him to repent of them. I understand this better now, because I believe The God effectively did the same thing in my life, perhaps expecting that I would eventually make the choices in my life that pleased Him instead of myself. After this meeting, I began to realize how this very strange relationship that existed between the King and my master governed much of what happened in Israel. Pondering this puzzle kept my mind occupied as I walked down the dusty road towards Dothan, the new donkey provided to me by the King’s servants in tow. After my return from delivering the message to the King, I proceeded to get back into the rhythm of my role serving the Prophet. There were many great and surprising things I saw him do during this time. We did not stop in one place for long, for the Prophet continually felt led to travel between the cities in the Northern Kingdom. We spent much time in Bethel, Dothan, and Samaria, among other places. We heard word from the Sons of the Prophets that as the Prophet had foretold, the King of Syria had returned to Damascus in shame. He had bet too much of his prestige on this attempt to overthrow Israel by ambushing the King of Israel’s procession to Shiloh. I smiled at this news, for I took pride in my participation in delivering the message. In time, the Prophet detected another plan being conceived by the King of Syria to besiege Samaria and I was dispatched to the King once again. This time the message involved an alert to the King regarding the exact time the army of Syria would be moving stealthily through a very narrow pass in the mountains. The King treated me the same way as he did the first time I brought him a message, but he did seem to listen. We learned a few months later from the roving Sons of the Prophets about the trap that Israel laid for Syria that destroyed nearly half of the Syrian army and sent the rest running home to Damascus. Over the next few years, this happened two to three more times. This must have caused great consternation in the King of Syria’s heart, but he had specific reasons why conquering Israel was important to him, and as such, he was unable to back off.

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