2 Kings 13:15-19
And Elisha said to him, Take bow and arrows. And he took to him bow and arrows.…
Is not the lesson evident? Smiting but thrice and staying — only half-doing, not pushing to the finishing in grand faith and unrelaxing purpose — is not that the trouble with multitudes of men? Here, then, is our story of a bad stopping.
1. In the direction of success in the daily life men often make a bad stopping. They smite but thrice and stay. Success is duty. The difference between men as to making the most of themselves is due, oftener than we are apt to think, to this simply, whether they smite but thrice and stay, or whether they not only smite thrice but, — go on smiting. "But it is hard," men say. Yes; but everything that gets up in this world must struggle up. One relates how Arago, the Trench astronomer, tells, in his autobiography, that in his youth he one day became puzzled and discouraged over his mathematics, and almost resolved to give up the study. He held his paper-bound text-book in his hand. Impelled by an indefinable curiosity, he damped the cover of the book, and carefully unrolled the leaf to see what was on the other side. It turned out to be a brief letter from D'Alembert to a young man like himself, disheartened by the difficulties of mathematical study, who had written to him for counsel. This was the letter: "Go on, sin, go on. The difficulties you meet will resolve themselves as you advance. Proceed, and light will dawn and shine with increasing clearness upon your path." Arago went on, and became the first astronomical mathematician of his time, "But I am too old," men say. But use is the law of growth; and the quickest way to bring upon one's self the worst sort of senility is to withdraw from life and the interests and duties of it. "But I would be humble," men say. Yes; but if you do not amount to much, there is all the mere reason you should make the most of yourself. And a true humility is never a withdrawing from service, but is always a readiness to set one's self to even the lowliest service for the love of God and fellow-men.
2. In the direction of overcoming evil habits men often make a bad stopping. They smite but thrice and stay. As some one says, such men are like a man who, attempting to jump a ditch, will never really jump, but will for ever stop and return for a fresh run.
3. In the direction of resisting temptation men often make this bad stopping. They resist thrice, but at the fourth assault they yield.
4. In the direction of advance in the Christian life men often make this bad stopping. Plenty of Christians through a long life do not get much beyond the initial stage of justification.
5. In the direction of becoming Christian, men often make this bad stopping. They smite in the way of at least a partial and outward change of life, etc., but when it comes to a total and irreversible surrender of the self to the Lord Jesus, they stay.
(W. Hoyt, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Elisha said unto him, Take bow and arrows. And he took unto him bow and arrows.