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2 King 13:17 “Open the east window,” he said, and he opened it. “Shoot!” Elisha said, and he shot. “The Lord’s arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Aram!” Elisha declared. “You will completely destroy the Arameans at Aphek.”

18Then he said, “Take the arrows,” and the king took them. Elisha told him, “Strike the ground.” He struck it three times and stopped. 19The man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck the ground five or six times; then you would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it. But now you will defeat it only three times.”

Elisha's judgment seemed arbitrary.

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  • The NT application has to be to be persistent in prayer. (Luke 11:5-13) – Constantthin Apr 20 at 22:51
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Scripture often uses an economy of words to communicate a story. We may wish more words had been used to clearly spell out each detail. The point of the story is that Jehoash turned to God when he was in trouble but didn't have enough trust in God to ask for total victory. Elisha's response to Jehoash's actions indicate that the two men clearly knew what was being communicated.

In 2 Kings 13: 10-11 we see that Jehoash did not follow God.

10 In the thirty-seventh year of Joash king of Judah, Jehoash son of Jehoahaz became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned sixteen years. 11 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord and did not turn away from any of the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit; he continued in them.

When things went really bad he turned to God's prophet for help.
2 Kings 13:14

Now Elisha had been suffering from the illness from which he died. Jehoash king of Israel went down to see him and wept over him. “My father! My father!” he cried. “The chariots and horsemen of Israel!”

In 2 Kings 13:17 Elisha clearly tells the king that the arrow fired out the window was the arrow of victory over the Arameans at Aphek.

So, one arrow equals one victory

In 2 Kings 13:18 Elisha tells Jehoash to strike the ground with arrows - the point being that the number of times he struck the ground would be the number of battles won. Three battles was not enough to win the war.

2 Kings 13:
19 The man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck the ground five or six times; then you would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it. But now you will defeat it only three times.”

Jehoash communicated to Elisha, and God, where his his trust in God was - only three victories. As king Jehoash should have well known that three victories would not be enough but did not have the faith to ask God for what he needed.
Based on the story Elisha and Jehoash were clear on what was being communicated. Elisha was so clear on Jehoash's lack of faith that he was angry.

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Elisha's judgment might seem arbitrary to us but God knew Jehoash and his complete character. God's judgment wasn't without reasons. Elisha's judgment was God's judgment. God knew more than Elisha did. Basically, Jehoash showed a lack of zeal when he only struck the arrows 3 times.

The prophecy was fulfilled in 2 Kings 13:25

Then Jehoash son of Jehoahaz took back from Ben-hadad son of Hazael the cities that Hazael had taken in battle from his father Jehoahaz. Jehoash defeated Ben-hadad three times, and so recovered the cities of Israel.

When I read a story like this one, it is important to remember that the prophet Elisha represents God. Elisha was angry because God was angry with Jehoash.

2 Kings 13:19

The man of God was angry with him and said, "You should have struck the ground five or six times; then you would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it. But now you will defeat it only three times."

This was righteous anger and not whimsical. This story reveals to me more about the character of God than the character of Jehoash. It tells me what God had expected of Jehoash. It was tragic that Jehoash's faith had so little zeal with it. That's the lesson for me.

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