"So they poured out for the men to eat. And it came to pass, as they were eating of the pottage, that they cried out, and said, O thou man of God, there is death in the pot. And they could not eat thereof" (II Kings 4:40).
The "sons of the prophets" studying under Elisha became hungry, so Elisha told them to "seethe pottage" (v.38), evidently a soup primarily made of lentils. However, one of the young students proceeded to gather some wild gourds and grind them into the pottage, carelessly assuming that their attractive appearance and taste would spice up the otherwise dull meal. When the more mature students took the first sip, however, they realized the alien ingredient was poisonous, and cried out: "There is death in the pot!"
There is a parable in this experience. Modern Bible scholars often want to spice up the old truths of Scripture with some new and superficially attractive concoction from the outside world, but this usually serves merely to adulterate "the sincere milk of the word" (I Peter 2:2) and insert "death in the pot." Like the woman in the New Testament parable who took leaven and secretly "hid [it] in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened" (Matthew 13:33), Elisha's enterprising young student slipped in his attractive ingredient, and it soon permeated the whole pot of soup with its poison. This is the way with false doctrine.
The remedy for the poison in the pottage was found when Elisha said, "Bring meal. And he cast it into the pot. . . . And there was no harm in the pot" (II Kings 4:41). The purifying "meal" was fine wheat flour, always in Scripture symbolizing the true Word of God. It is the Word which is the true bread by which man must live (Matthew 4:4), and the antidote for the poisonous doctrines of the world must always be the unadulterated Word of God. HMM