2 Kings 7
This is a story from the Old Testament of the Bible.
There were once 4 men who were very ill. They had a disease called leprosy, and that meant that no one wanted to come near them. They lived in a city called Samaria, which had a high wall all around it to keep it safe. When the men got ill the people in the city made them live outside the walls. They couldn’t earn their own livings so they had to beg for food from the people in the city as they went in and out through the gates. Sometimes people gave them food; sometimes they didn’t. It all depended how they felt. The men were very miserable.
Then one day war broke out. An enemy army came to Samaria. They wanted to capture the city and have it for themselves, so they didn’t want to damage it. They camped all around the city, a little way off, stopping anyone from going in or out of the city. Soon they knew that the people would be hungry, and they thought they would give in.
The people in the city ate all the food in their cupboards. Then they ate all the food in the shops. Then there was nothing left to eat. What could they do? They were all starving.
Meanwhile, outside the walls the men with leprosy were starving too. Now the people in the city didn’t have anything to give them even if they had wanted to. The men looked across at the enemy camp and wondered. If they stayed where they were they would starve to death. But if they went over to the enemy camp and surrendered perhaps they would get some food there. They had nothing to lose – no one in the city wanted them anyway. So they decided that they would creep across to the enemy camp that night when it was dark.
What they didn’t know was that on that night God had an idea too. God didn’t want the people of Samaria to starve, so this is what he did. In the middle of the night, when all the soldiers were in bed, he made them think that they heard a noise. It was the noise of marching feet. It was the noise of clashing swords and shields and spears. It was the noise of a great army, greater even than theirs. The soldiers sat up in bed. “What is that noise?” they all said. “It’s an army, coming to attack us!” And they all jumped out of bed, and ran out of their tents. There was nothing to see, but the noise was deafening. They took to their heels and ran. They ran and ran, as far away from the noise, and the city, as they could, leaving all their belongings just where they were.
The four men didn’t know about any of this, of course, so when they got to the camp, just as the sun was rising, they were very puzzled. Where was everybody? There were no soldiers on guard, and no one around at all. They looked in the tents. They were all empty. But the tables were piled high with food, and clothes, and weapons and armour, and gold and silver and everything anyone could ever want. The four men were overjoyed. They could eat and eat until they were stuffed. They could have more riches than they had ever dreamed of. And it was all for them, just the four of them. But just when they were about to start feasting on the food one of them stopped. “Wait a minute” he said. “What about all those people back in the city? They are hungry too? Shouldn’t we share this food and all these things with them? Perhaps we should go back to tell them what has happened?”
The four men stopped and thought. I wonder what they decided to do.
Talk about what the children feel about the choice the men had to make.
· What do you think they should do?
· Should they share the food, or eat it all themselves?
· Why might they have wanted to keep it all?
· People in the city hadn’t wanted to give them anything – why should they share now?
· What do you think?
The men did decide to go back to Samaria and tell the people what had happened. Then they all came and shared in the food, so everyone had some. The four men were brave and generous in doing this, and helped their whole community, even though their community had not treated them well.
Prayer: For help to think of others when we are making choices. Not just what is good for us, but what is good for everyone.