The kings of Israel, Judah and Edom determine to go up and fight against Mesha, king of Moab. It seems the king of Moab failed to continue providing 100,000 lambs and the wool of 100,000 rams that he had been giving as tribute to Ahab, king of Israel. So Ahab's son, Jehoram, decides to exact revenge on this king who was 'on the lamb.'
Because of the victory God was giving to these kings against Moab, King Mesha, decides to offer his oldest son as a burnt offering. What cruelty! What barbarism! The king had to task someone to find and restrain his son. Someone had to lead him to the place of burning. Someone had to prepare the fire and secure the son in place. This king cruelly murdered his son because he believed he could placate...bribe..manipulate his bloodthirsty, sadistic god.
The astounding contrast appears in the verses which follow. A Shunammite woman was given a son by her God...a God Who is characterized by grace and mercy. She was attending to the needs of one of God's prophets and God blessed her as a result. Curiously, she did not ask for a son but it was her deepest longing. God loves and tends to the needs of His people, even when they do not ask and....He cannot be bribed.