The Devil is in the Detail

Not at all! The attention to detail in the Bible is astonishing and it is the remarkable hand of our God who records such small details to convince us of the reliability of the Scriptures of truth. It has been designed this way intentionally, as indicated by the words of our Lord: “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matt 5:18). The reference here to the “jot” is either to the Greek letter-form ioata (indicating the diminutive, as seen in the change from the form teknon meaning child to teknion meaning little child)1 or to the Hebrew letter-form yod, the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet (a form which contains the concept of an idea that will become fact).2

On Whose Hand the King Leaned

A man was appointed to the king to protect his interests and he is described in the record as a lord “on whose hand the king leaned” (2 King 7:2,17). When a gentile king rode his chariot into battle, he took central position in the chariot so that he could control the flight of his arrows against the enemy.

In this way, the king demonstrated his prowess, relying on the strength of his own arms to control the outcome of the battle on behalf of the entire nation. For the king to do this, the chariot would be driven by another so that the king could be free to fire at will; the expert hands of the driver placing the vehicle at the most strategic point of the battle in a timely manner so that the king could gain maximum advantage in discharging those arrows.

This was no mean feat as the unpredictable nature of the terrain could create serious problems in maneuvering the chariot. Horses could easily stumble over unexpected corpses or other obstacles (cp Isa 63:13 which describes the horse stumbling in the wilderness). The king’s safety then rested in another man who stood behind the king and it was his task to hold the king in his arms should circumstances arise which could potentially throw the king out of the chariot or cause him to falter. This man was called the strap-snatcher, or the one on whom the king leaned.

In the days of the kings, such a champion was Naaman, a mighty man of valour (2 King 5:1) on whom the king leant, not just in warfare, but also in the day to day tasks of life, including worship (v18).3

Upon whom we lean

The strap-snatcher stands as a symbol representing the great power of human support. His work could result in victory or death for his master. For us, however, there is a far more important support on whom we can rely. Our greatest support in life is the confident reliance we can have in Yahweh, who has said that He would not leave us nor forsake us (cp Gen 28:15; Phil 1:6). “With him (man) is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles” (2 Chron 32:8): how important then it is for us to “trust in the LORD with all [our] heart; and lean not unto [our] own understanding” (Prov 3:5).

References:

  1. The “tittle” is the Greek word keraia meaning a little horn, a small projection placed on the letters to indicate vowels or pronunciation. But even the smallest of forms as “a horn” carries the idea of power, or execution. So the smallest letter and smallest framing of the mouth would be considered important.
  2. The yod as a suffix carries the subject’s relationship to the object, for example, amm-‘I’; people of me.
  3. There is a theatrical play in the Hebrew on the work of the man in 2 King 7:17 ‘on whose hand the king leaned’. The Hebrew word ‘sha’an’ is translated ‘relied’ in 2 Chron 13:18 and ‘rest’ in 2 Chron 14:11 indicating that the idea of the word embraces the notion of trusting. This man was placed at the gate, a position of great trust and responsibility and the Hebrew word for gate is a similar sounding Hebrew word ‘sha’ar.’