Emerging unscathed from a duel fought in a secluded corner of London, British aristocrat Lord William Alvanley handed a guinea to the hackney coachman who had conveyed him to the spot and home again. Surprised at the size of the tip, the man protested. “But, my lord, I only took you a mile.”
Alvanley waved aside the objection. “The guineas not for taking me, my man, its for bringing me back.” Alvanley knew that getting into a duel was the easy part. Surviving the ordeal was another story. Losing something of value and finding it again is sort of like that. Losing the valued item is the easy part. Recovering it, like surviving a duel, is something else altogether.
In this brief and fascinating account from the ministry of Elisha, the miraculous recovery of a lost axehead became a powerful reminder of Gods care for His faithful servants.
At first reading, this may seem like a trivial incident. So an axehead was lost. Just pay the owner for it and go on. But theres more going on here than a slip of an ax. The various “compan(ies) of the prophets” in Israel were crucially important if the worship of the true God was to be preserved in a nation where the majority of the people had fallen into Baal worship. So building needed living quarters for these men was important. The importance of these prophetic “schools” was also underscored by Elishas presence with them (vv. 3-4). He knew how critical their role was in keeping alive the worship of God. They evidently didnt have much financial support from the people, so the loss of a borrowed axehead was a fiscal crisis.
Most important of all, Elisha turned the loss into an opportunity for God to demonstrate His power and His care for these prophets. Was that important to them in a hostile environment where they were probably outnumbered? Of course it was. This miracle was Gods way of saying to the prophetic band, “Dont fear, I am with you.” Thats always a welcome message!