And Hazael said, “Why is my lord weeping?” He answered, “Because I know the evil that you will do to the children of Israel: Their strongholds you will set on fire, and their young men you will kill with the sword; and you will dash their children, and rip open their women with child.” (2 Kings 8:12)
This was a strange event in the life of Elisha. The king of Syria was sick, and he sent a messenger named Hazael to ask Elisha if the king would recover. When Hazael asked, the prophet told the messenger to go back and tell the king he would recover – but he would really die.
When Elisha said this strange thing, he began to weep. You see, God gave Elisha insight into more than the health of the king of Syria. He also saw the inevitable and ultimately God-ordained political plots to come. Elisha rightly said that the king would recoverfrom his illness, and he did. However, he also saw that the same servant who took the message would assassinate the king and take the throne.
When Elisha said this, he stared right at Hazael and through tears, he told the messenger, “I know the evil that you will do.” This was a dramatic, personal confrontation between this prophet and the high official of the king of Syria. Elisha stared at him so because he had prophetic knowledge of future events, and how this man would trouble Israel in the future.
Therefore, the man of God wept. God told Elisha more about the coming situation than he wanted to know. He showed the prophet that Hazael, when he became king, would do evil to the children of Israel.
Elisha’s prophetic calling and gift was at times more of a burden than a blessing. He could clearly see that disaster would come to Israel through Hazael, but he was powerless to prevent it.
Sometimes knowing God’s word and speaking God’s word to others brings pain. We hurt over the fact that many people hear and reject. What could have been a helpful warning to Hazael really made no difference.
When belief in God’s word and faithfulness to His message brings pain, we should regard it as a way that we share in the fellowship of His sufferings (Philippians 3:10). The pain becomes something of great value if it draws us closer to Jesus. As F.B. Meyer said, “The nearer we live to God, the more we deserve to be known as men and women of God, the more will our tears flow for the slain of the daughters of our people.”