Boys, Bears, and Belittling (2 Kings 2:23-24)

2 Kings 2:23-24


23 He went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” 24 And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys.


            The above passage is just plain weird.  IN fact, the only time I have ever really heard it referenced is when making a joke about this being the only “youth group” in the Bible.  But, is there not something more for us to learn from this passage than that kids who made fun of the prophet got mauled by bears?


            I think that there is something very important for us to grasp here.  Elisha was the man of God.  He was the prophet.  HE was the man who was charged with communicating to Israel the words of the living God. 


            The young men in the story were not at all concerned about Elisha’s role of spiritual leadership.  They were happy to make fun of him.  They called him to “Go on up.”  Perhaps they were making fun of the loss of Elijah while telling Elisha to get away too. 


            Be careful what you say about the men of God and the word of God.  It is no trivial thing to put down and taunt those who serve the Lord faithfully.  Perhaps you are in a church in which you don’t personally like your pastor.  What do you do?  Do you make fun of him?  Do you take cheap shots at him?  Do you criticize him to others behind the pastor’s back?  If so, I wonder how much different you sound in the ears of the Lord than those youths who made fun of God’s prophet.


            OH, I know, pastors are flawed.  I’m terribly flawed in far more ways than I would comfortably blog.  And, if we think clearly, we can assume Elisha was flawed too.  But Elisha was still the man of God for the people of God at that time in Israel’s history.  To mock him was to commit a very serious offense against the God who set Elisha up as prophet.  Similarly, to mock and take cheap shots at your pastor is to commit a very serious offense against the very same God.


            I understand that some pastors are unbiblical and dangerous.  You should do what you can to talk to such men.  IF you see your pastor failing to handle Scripture rightly, you should talk to him personally.  You should, with all love and grace, try to help him to see your point.  You should be willing to pray with the pastor and work with him to help him to serve the Lord better.  But don’t, for the love of God and his church, go out and try to hurt the ministry without you first trying to find out the heart and reasoning of the pastor. 


            If the pastor is in sin in some way, it is your loving job as a Christian to graciously confront him and try to help him to repent.  This is the call of Jesus from Mathew 18:15-17 that all Christians are to follow.  But if you are not willing to first follow Scripture’s call to confront the man in his sin, don’t think you will be righteous and honoring to God if you go around and gossip about someone you are unwilling to sit down and talk with.  If the pastor is doing something illegal, go through the proper channels to expose it and to put a stop to it in order to protect others.  This is by no means a shield for clergy abuse.  But it is a call for those who would make an accusation to do so properly, wisely, and in a godly way.


            There are always difficulties with making a blanket statement about how we are to handle any situation.  It is hard to tell somebody how to deal with a situation that you are not experiencing yourself.  But, let’s learn something from this weird passage in 2 Kings.  Let’s learn to guard the way that we speak about those who are serving God.  Let’s be careful not to mock those who have been charged with delivering to us God’s word, especially if they actually do their job and deliver that word.  No, never tolerate sin or abuse.  But be circumspect as you speak regarding those who serve the Lord.