Read 2 Kings 2:23-25
23 From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” 24 He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys. 25 And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria. (NIV)
Not exactly a passage that springs to mind as offering comfort and encouragement to us! It is one of the many ‘difficult’ passages in the Bible and is offered here as a reminder that the Word of God is not at all straightforward or easy. When people tell us we only need to ‘get back to the Bible’, we need to remember that the Bible is a lot more than nice stories about Jesus and how much God loves us.
With this text, some will argue that it is something of a legend in keeping with much of the seemingly ‘weird’ events of the Elijah and Elisha period. Others see it as an illustration of the just punishment of God on those who would oppose his messengers. It may seem extreme but those who finally oppose God will finally be destroyed. We have Jesus’ word on that as well.
It is likely that the boys were not children but youths. It is also likely that the insult was not merely a petty attack on Elisha’s appearance but an emphatic rejection of who he was and who he represented.
All that may be true, but we are still left with a distasteful episode which seems a long way away from the one who called on us to forgive those who attack us. The basic point here is not that we have to arrive at a particular explanation of such a text. It is rather that we realise we don’t have all the answers and have to live with a degree of puzzlement in regard to the Scriptures. The hard bits ought not to cause us to reject all the other bits.