“Then Elisha went to Damascus, and Ben-Hadad king of Syria was sick; and it was told him, saying, ‘The man of God has come here.’ And the king said to Hazael, ‘Take a present in your hand, and go to meet the man of God, and inquire of the LORD by him, saying, “Shall I recover from this disease?”’ So Hazael went to meet him and took a present with him, of every good thing of Damascus, forty camel-loads; and he came and stood before him, and said, ‘Your son Ben-Hadad king of Syria has sent me to you, saying, “Shall I recover from this disease?”’ And Elisha said to him, ‘Go, say to him, “You shall certainly recover.” However the LORD has shown me that he will really die.’ Then he set his countenance in a stare until he was ashamed; and the man of God wept.” (2 Kings 8.7-11).
The “rest of the story” is a matter of history for all to read. The man of God wept because of the horrible atrocities that would occur to his countrymen at the hands of the unscrupulous king-to-be Hazael. His evil was such that other men of evil character may have even blushed at the depravity of Hazael. He did not stop at murder and treason; he went on to sell his brothers and sisters for political ambition only to see them reap the whirlwind of retribution. This knowledge of future events caused the man of God to weep and well it should have.
Elisha was not the only man of God to weep due to judgment that was to come upon Israel. Another such man was Jeremiah. He loved Israel beyond description and had only their good in view when he warned of the result of sin in his nation. He used graphic but appropriate language when he spoke of his kinsmen as backsliders about a dozen times in the book that bears his name. In describing his own sorrow over Israel’s headstrong ways, Jeremiah wrote, “Oh, that my head were waters, And my eyes a fountain of tears, That I might weep day and night For the slain of the daughter of my people!” (Jeremiah 9.1). Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, had a disposition like the psalmist who wrote, “Rivers of water run down from my eyes, Because men do not keep Your law.” (Psalm 119.136).
Jesus was another “man of God” who wept over Jerusalem. “Now as He drew near, He saw the city [Jerusalem] and wept over it, saying, ‘If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.’” (Luke 19.41-44). The Man of Sorrows was certainly acquainted with grief as indicated by the tears that stained His cheeks!
No study of the weeping men of God would be complete without at least a brief look at the tender heart of the beloved apostle Paul. Consider the following verses: “Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.” (Acts 20.31). “I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart.” (Romans 9.1-2). For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:” (Philippians 3.18).
When it comes to the biblical men of God, they were not wimps, but neither were they without their emotional side. Tears were frequently a way of life for them given the sorrow which attended their way. Real men love Jesus and real men also weep from time to time!
1. What is signified by the tender hearts of the men of God which we overviewed today?
2. Does this lesson say or imply anything about God’s heart as He views the hardships that His people endure or the punishment that rebellious people must endure?
3. Why did Jesus weep over Jerusalem? Why was the depravity of that city so hard for Him to take?
4. What is a “real man”? What or who defines him?
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