Elisha Succeeds Elijah

According to psychologist William Damon, respect for the parent who exercises proper authority leads to respect for legitimate social institutions and to respect for law. In his book The Moral Child, Damon writes, “The child’s respect for parental authority sets the … More




Following his return across the Jordan, Elisha was faced with three situations that confirmed his call.  The first situation established his authority. The 50 prophets from Jordan did not realize that Elijah had permanently been ushered into the presence of God. Therefore they searched futilely for three days to see where God might have dropped him. Elisha reminded them that he had told them they would not find him. No doubt this experience marked Elisha as a man of leadership.


The second situation distinguished his power. The citizens of Jericho were faced with a problem.  This ancient city had trouble with its water supply. The leading men of the city came to Elisha asking if he could help them. Taking salt, a cleansing and preserving agent, he sprinkled it on the contaminated spring and the waters were made good. This was clearly miraculous.


The third situation established him as a person of great respect. The older men were always to be treated with respect. As Elisha left Jericho and was traveling to Bethel (a distance of 20 miles) he was met by a band of rowdy teenagers. This gang mocked and made fun of Elisha and implied that if he was such a great prophet of the Lord, he should go up to heaven as Elijah had reportedly done. As a result Elisha called down a curse on the villains and all 42 were mauled by two bears. This miracle identified him as a person of great respect and a representative of the living God.





Making fun of God’s messengers has been a popular sport for many years. The young men who failed to respect Elisha and mocked and made fun of him in this passage paid for it with their lives. I need to be very careful about criticizing God’s messengers.


II Kings 2:15-25 (English Standard Version)

Now when the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho saw him opposite them, they said, "The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha." And they came to meet him and bowed to the ground before him. And they said to him, "Behold now, there are with your servants fifty strong men. Please let them go and seek your master. It may be that the Spirit of the LORD has caught him up and cast him upon some mountain or into some valley." And he said, "You shall not send." But when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, "Send." They sent therefore fifty men. And for three days they sought him but did not find him. And they came back to him while he was staying at Jericho, and he said to them, "Did I not say to you, 'Do not go'?" Now the men of the city said to Elisha, "Behold, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees, but the water is bad, and the land is unfruitful." He said, "Bring me a new bowl, and put salt in it." So they brought it to him. Then he went to the spring of water and threw salt in it and said, "Thus says the LORD, I have healed this water; from now on neither death nor miscarriage shall come from it." So the water has been healed to this day, according to the word that Elisha spoke. He went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, "Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!" And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the LORD. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys. From there he went on to Mount Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria.

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