Hills Full of Horses
By Major Sharon Robertson –
The Aramean soldiers moved silently on Dothan, darker shadows stealing through the dark night. “Arrest the prophet! His message must be stilled!”
In the gray of first light, Elisha’s servant reconnoitered. The city was surrounded. Faint with terror, he reported back to the prophet:
“Oh, my lord, what shall we do?”
“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those that are with us are more than those that are with them!” And Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
It is easy to pass over this passage in 2 Kings 6:8-18 without giving it the attention it deserves. We have gotten used to looking at the narratives of the Old Testament as stories of how God used to work. We tend to forget that the Word of God is an active force–it is intended to teach us how he can and does work! Too often we, who consider ourselves students of the Word, read the Scriptures superficially, as if we were engaged in a religious exercise rather than studying a practical guide for daily living. We fail to master the invaluable lessons God intends us to learn, because we don’t seek to apply them to our personal lives.
For an organization that calls itself “The Salvation Army”–for a people who name themselves soldiers of Jesus Christ–God has a vital message to convey through this passage–a message of inevitable victory! “They that are with us are more than they that are with them!”
Elisha and his servant were two men who both faced seemingly hopeless odds. The great difference between them was their perception of the situation. The servant was concentrating on the crisis; Elisha took time to look at the broader picture–he was able to recognize the protective forces God had placed on every side.
Several important points are emphasized in this passage. We ought to note, for instance, that the presence of God’s protective forces was independent of his servants’ awareness of his presence. The servant who did not perceive God’s surrounding presence was nevertheless protected.
Second, in spite of the surrounding presence of God’s forces, the servant was in real danger. Depen-ding on his own perception of the crisis situation, several courses of action were open to him. He could have panicked, tried to flee–after all, it was Elisha the soldiers had come after. Or, like Simon Peter in later days, he might have attacked the soldiers in a brave but foolish attempt to defend his master. Or, he might even have surrendered without a fight, not realizing that God had already arranged for the defeat of the enemy. The fact is, had the servant continued to depend on his own resources he could have foiled God’s plan for his rescue. Only when Elisha’s words broke through his panic was the servant able to take his eyes off the enemy long enough to look around and see what God was doing.
Another point: The surrounding force, the “hills full of horses and chariots of fire,” was more than an armed guard set to protect the threatened servants of God. God’s resources were sufficient to take the battle to the enemy–and to win a decisive (and bloodless) victory.
And still, today, God deploys his forces around us, ready to do battle on our behalf. Still he outlines for us the strategies which will bring victory after victory after victory over the forces which would seek to thwart his will–and to win the former enemy to his side. God grant us, the soldiers in his Army, the wisdom to stop, to look around, to see that the battle is his, if only we have the good sense to recognize and consult his plans–to look around, and see that he has provided “hills full of horses.”