STUDY | Spend the week studying 2 Kings 6:24–7:20. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
DETERMINE | Which discussion points and study questions will work best for your group.
PRAY | Pray for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members, and their openness to God’s Word.
LANDING POINT | God is in control of my desperate situation and always works for my ultimate good and His glory.
Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion
- Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
- No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
- No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
- Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group.
As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
A GOD FOR YOU
Sometimes we find ourselves in situations that make us feel desperate. Desperate situations are part of life; everyone—believer or not—faces them. They come with living in a broken world where things go wrong or don’t work out as planned. They can come when others oppose you. Sometimes we only have ourselves and our sinful choices to blame for our desperate situation.
The Old Testament prophet Elisha lived in Israel at a time when God’s people were turning away from God and turning to other “gods” (or idols) for answers, comfort, and satisfaction. Our day is no different. We still chase after idols and ask them to do what only God can do.
If you’re a child of God, God is for you. If God, the Sovereign Ruler of the universe, is for you, then who in the world can be against you? God is unstoppable. He is in control of your desperate situation and always works for your ultimate good and His glory.
Q: When was the last time you were in a situation that felt desperate? Describe the thoughts and feelings you experienced during that time.
Q: Which “gods” do people turn to for answers, comfort, and satisfaction today?
Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.
Syrians (or Arameans) had been raiding parts of Israel off and on for some time, but now the king summons all his power for a full-blown invasion. Syria besieges Samaria, and the king’s mighty army encamps around the city, preventing the Israelites from going to their fields or trading for goods. What results is a great famine in Samaria. As Israel’s king passes on the city wall a woman tells him how, fearing starvation, she and another woman killed her son and ate him. When the king hears this, he tears his clothes and cries out in rage, “Off with the prophet Elisha’s head! He’s to blame for all this!”
Read: 2 Kings 6:24–7:20. Split into pairs and retell the story in your own words.
Q: Rather than blame others, how could the king have responded differently?
Elisha is in trouble. The king has put a bounty on his head. If God doesn’t intervene, the prophet will most certainly lose his head. But Elisha isn’t afraid. He gives a prophecy to the city elders and to the king’s messenger sent to assassinate him that the next day they would have more than enough provision for the people. The messenger thinks this is ridiculous, but Elisha assures him, saying, “You’ll see it with your own eyes, but you won’t enjoy it.”
Then the story shifts to four lepers standing by the gate at the entrance of the city. One of them says, “Should we just stay here until we die? Let’s go to the Syrian camp. They may spare us or kill us.” They all agree to go. As they approach the camp they notice something strange. The camp is silent. Dead silent. Deserted. The Lord caused the Syrians to hear the sound of chariots and horses coming their way, sending this great army running for their lives. In their haste, they had left everything behind.
With no one around, the lepers take to the spoils—food, drink, silver and gold, and clothing. But one of them says, “This isn’t right. This is a day of good news. Let’s go tell the king what has happened.” The lepers go to the king and, eventually, their report is confirmed. The siege is lifted and everything Elisha promised—down to the smallest detail—comes to pass.
Q: What can you learn from Elisha’s response in a desperate situation?
Q: Recall a time when God delivered you from something. What did that teach you about Him?
Select 2-3 questions from this section to answer.
UNDERSTAND YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES
There is always hope in our desperation. Everything God allows to happen in our lives has a purpose. We may not understand His purposes for a long time (if ever), but God wants us to understand our circumstances with our focus fixed on Him. Instead of letting a desperate situation make us fearful and hopeless, we should expect God to show up. It as an opportunity for Him to demonstrate that He is in control and will provide for us.
Q: What’s one thing you can do this week to fix your focus on God, not your problems?
LISTEN TO GOD
When things got desperate for the Israelites, Elisha and the city elders turned to the Lord and waited for Him to speak. And God spoke. He promised to end the famine and He did it. The messenger who doubted God’s word spoken through Elisha didn’t get to enjoy God’s provision. He was trampled by the people at the city gate.
When we’re desperate, we often listen to ourselves more than we listen to God. We doubt and we worry, which only makes us feel more desperate. However, when we listen to God, we find true rest, even in the midst of a desperate situation. Don’t let your doubts and worries trample over you. Turn to God and listen for His truth and His promises to be revealed.
Q: By what means does God speak to you in your life?
TRUST HIS FAITHFULNESS AND TIMING
One of the main points of the story is that God is always in control. Every move in the story demonstrates how God uses people and situations to bring about His purposes. All of this is, ultimately, to make God more magnificent and glorious. It’s only afterward that the Israelites were able to see and understand all God did.
We can trust that God is faithful and that His timing is always perfect. When we’re desperate, we can become impatient. We want God to show up now. We want Him to relieve the pain, take us out of the difficulty, or give us answers. But God doesn’t work according to our timetable. He works according to His. So often, God uses our waiting to shape us and refine our character as we rely on Him.
Q: What can keep you from trusting God and being faithful in desperate situations?
Q: How does waiting shape your character?
Select 1 question from this section to ask your group.
A GREATER DELIVERANCE
Elisha is a great example of faithfulness in the face of desperation. In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus Christ faced a desperate situation. The sin of the world and the thought of going to the cross weighed on Him so heavily that His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground (Luke 22:44).
Jesus had a choice. He could forgo the cross and save Himself or endure the cross and save us. He chose the cross. He chose to be delivered to His death so we could be delivered from our greatest enemies, sin and death. Jesus was faithful in His hour of desperate anguish in the garden.
HE UNDERSTOOD His circumstances. The cross was the only way to solve the problem of sin.
HE LISTENED to the Father and was obedient (“not my will, but Yours be done,” Luke 22:42).
HE TRUSTED God’s faithfulness and timing to bring about good through His suffering and death (“for the joy that was set before [Jesus] endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb. 12:2).
Q: What truth statement can you tell yourself the next time you feel desperate?
Q: God can take any circumstance and use it for our good and His glory. How can this truth be helpful in the midst of a desperate situation?
Pray over any areas in your life where you or someone you know feels desperate. Recall the truth that God is in full control of His situation and always works our situations for our good and His glory.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
- Read Romans 8:31–39 and reflect on what it means that God is for you, because you are His child.
- Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their lives.
Elisha, the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah, was a 9th-century Israelite prophet who succeeded Elijah (see 2 Kings 2:15-25) and worked closely with many of Israel’s kings as a prophet and statesman. His ministry lasted from the reign of Ahab (approx. 850 B.C.) to Joash (798 B.C.). He asked for a double portion of God’s Spirit (2 Kings 2:9) and his life was marked by numerous miracles God performed through him (e.g., the healing of Naaman [2 Kings 5:1-27] and the vision of the chariots of fire and the blinding of the Syrian army [2 Kings 6:8-23]).1
A King’s Rage
When Israel’s king (Jehoram) sees just how terrible things had become for Israel, he tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth, which were signs of mourning. However, his response to blame Elisha and want him dead showed that he wasn’t truly repentant.
Significance of the Lepers
“As lepers they had to live outside the city (Lev 13:46), but they stayed near the gate to beg for food. Ironically, just as the once-leprous Naaman [see 2 Kings 5:1–27] led Syria to many victories over Israel, so now these lepers will lead Israel’s looting of Syria’s army.”2
1. J. Randall O’Brien, “Elisha,” ed. Chad Brand et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 481–482.
2. Paul R. House, 1, 2 Kings, vol. 8, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 280.