“They said one to another, ‘we do not well. This day is a day of good tidings and we hold our peace.’” (II Kings 7:9.)
The lepers were dependent on alms of scraps for sustenance, but even the scraps had ceased. They were a society of four, unclean, undesirable, living just outside the city gates. Their community was their own or with others like them. A person was not born a leper, one became a leper, and therefore could remember what it was like being “clean”. Even so the feeling of being touched by any human hand other than a knarled one with running, open sores was becoming each day more absent from awareness, a lost sensation, and a numbed sensibility. This hurt soared far above the physical. But the physical was about to strike it rich.
The city was besieged by the Syrians to the point of dire famine. Even the wicked king was wearing sackcloth under his robes after hearing of child cannibalism within his walls. His solution was to smite off the head of the prophet of God. That is always the way of a twisted world. Blame good for the evil outcome. Blame God for the disease, the devastation. It is not so hard to understand this for when the pleasures of the flesh, which seem so rewarding to the senses, are challenged by a moderating voice no matter how still or small, or are perhaps even denied by a circumstance or an occurrence be it natural or super-natural, good is often pronounced the causation of the suffering or the ruin of the city or the denial of rain. Christians were blamed for the fall of Rome though it had been long years decaying from within. God-fearers are blamed today for all sorts of roadblocks to human rights and civil liberties, no matter how wrongheaded the claim. In the absence of God consciousness, bad is called good and good is called bad and culture rots in the midst of dark glee. But to the story, while the King called for the Prophet’s head, the Prophet declared relief was on the way. The King’s aide ridiculed any rescue. There were surely others besides the lowly lepers who could have been used by God. We should hope. For them, their choice was slow death in the city, sure death at the gate, or quick death in the army camp. But it was they, in desperation, the four lepers, who limped to salvation as it was they who first came upon the fruit of the prophecy. They were not eager at first to share the news. Their initial reaction at finding the deserted but fully supplied Syrian encampment, left behind in a state of panic, was to fill their own stores - their belly with food and their hideaways with silver and gold and clothing. But see their consciences smitten (along with a touch of fear of citizen reprisal, or Godly payback) and though they had together been passive observers of their own destitution and desperation, still they saw fit to return the news that within easy reach of the starving city was plentitude. The wicked King and his mother Jezebel lived to die another day at the hands of Jehu, avenging Naboth of his vineyard. Elisha’s word from the Lord was vindicated. The city of Samaria was spared, the King’s aide was stomped to death, and the four un-named lepers were rewarded, only so far as we know, by the Heavenly Father. This is far better the best reward; God’s that is, not our own as received from men. His reward is fair and righteous and what he sees in secret he rewards openly albeit perhaps, tucked away just for now?