“Elisha stared at Hazael with a fixed gaze until Hazael became uneasy. Then the man of God started weeping.” 2 Kings 8:11 NLT
What must it feel like to be stared at by a powerful prophet of God? I should think Hazael must have been squirming inside. And yet Elisha was far more ill at ease. He wept because he knew what Hazael was to become, and that he was to do terrible things. It is a scene that was surely part of the inspiration for Macbeth, since Elisha predicts Hazael will become King, and Hazael takes this prophecy into his own hands and kills the current king, his master, the following day.
The things in the future that Elisha saw Hazael would be responsible for, which he called terrible and Hazael hears and calls “great”, are truly awful, murderous acts. It must have been beyond distressing for Elisha, and yet as a prophet he clearly felt impelled to tell the upstart his future, though we might wonder why. Some of us might say, well, if Elisha knew that Hazael would do all these terrible things, and kill the king, he should have stopped him, maybe even killed him. But to me, Elisha’s acts of staring and weeping are commensurate with his role. He stared because he saw and the seeing made him weep. But I am sure that as well as the future mapped out, he could see the heart of this man full of darkness before him. In fact, I think for a prophet the seeing and the reaction to it always go together. If we can see someone’s heart, we also see what they are capable of. This should make us uncomfortable too, for the Lord looks first and foremost at our hearts: “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 partial NIV
If your inner motives and greatest desires were being examined by a seer right now, would you be uncomfortable? I guess we all would up to a point. But knowing the heart is the seed bed for all sin and all belief, perhaps doing a little inner seeing might do us all good. When we bare our souls and consciences before the Lord in the prayer of examen, or we do soul or shadow work in prayer or with trustworthy mentors, this is a good thing. To know ourselves well means we can be on the alert for the things that would prompt our wicked desires into wicked actions, and we can ask the Lord to guard us and help us weed out those seeds. It is good to cultivate healthy heart desires, to pray for the Lord’s promptings to be the things that motivate us. I fear that men and women of God might weep to read the leanings of some of our hearts today. Lord have mercy.
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