2 Kings 4

1 Now a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, saying, “Your servant my husband is dead. You know that your servant feared the LORD. Now the creditor has come to take for himself my two children to be slaves.” 2 Elisha said to her, “What should I do for you? Tell me: what do you have in the house?” She said, “Your servant has nothing in the house, except a pot of oil.” 3 Then he said, “Go, borrow empty containers from of all your neighbors. Don’t borrow just a few containers. 4 Go in and shut the door on you and on your sons, and pour oil into all those containers; and set aside those which are full.” 5 So she went from him, and shut the door on herself and on her sons. They brought the containers to her, and she poured oil. 6 When the containers were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another container.” He said to her, “There isn’t another container.” Then the oil stopped flowing. 7 Then she came and told the man of God. He said, “Go, sell the oil, and pay your debt; and you and your sons live on the rest.” 8 One day Elisha went to Shunem, where there was a prominent woman; and she persuaded him to eat bread. So it was, that as often as he passed by, he turned in there to eat bread. 9 She said to her husband, “See now, I perceive that this is a holy man of God who passes by us continually. 10 Please let us make a little room on the roof. Let us set for him there a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp stand. When he comes to us, he can stay there.” 11 One day he came there, and he went to the room and lay there. 12 He said to Gehazi his servant, “Call this Shunammite.” When he had called her, she stood before him. 13 He said to him, “Say now to her, ‘Behold, you have cared for us with all this care. What is to be done for you? Would you like to be spoken for to the king, or to the captain of the army?’” She answered, “I dwell amongst my own people.” 14 He said, “What then is to be done for her?” Gehazi answered, “Most certainly she has no son, and her husband is old.” 15 He said, “Call her.” When he had called her, she stood in the door. 16 He said, “At this season, when the time comes around, you will embrace a son.” She said, “No, my lord, you man of God, do not lie to your servant.” 17 The woman conceived, and bore a son at that season, when the time came around, as Elisha had said to her. 18 When the child was grown, one day he went out to his father to the reapers. 19 He said to his father, “My head! My head!” He said to his servant, “Carry him to his mother.” 20 When he had taken him, and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees until noon, and then died. 21 She went up and laid him on the man of God’s bed, and shut the door on him, and went out. 22 She called to her husband, and said, “Please send me one of the servants, and one of the donkeys, that I may run to the man of God, and come again.” 23 He said, “Why would you want go to him today? It is not a new moon or a Sabbath.” She said, “It’s alright.” 24 Then she saddled a donkey, and said to her servant, “Drive, and go forward! Don’t slow down for me, unless I ask you to.” 25 So she went, and came to the man of God to Mount Carmel. When the man of God saw her afar off, he said to Gehazi his servant, “Behold, there is the Shunammite. 26 Please run now to meet her, and ask her, ‘Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with your child?’” She answered, “It is well.” 27 When she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught hold of his feet. Gehazi came near to thrust her away; but the man of God said, “Leave her alone; for her soul is troubled within her; and the LORD has hidden it from me, and has not told me.” 28 Then she said, “Did I ask you for a son, my lord? Didn’t I say, ‘Do not deceive me’?” 29 Then he said to Gehazi, “Tuck your cloak into your belt, take my staff in your hand, and go your way. If you meet any man, don’t greet him; and if anyone greets you, don’t answer him again. Then lay my staff on the child’s face.” 30 The child’s mother said, “As the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.” So he arose, and followed her. 31 Gehazi went ahead of them, and laid the staff on the child’s face; but there was no voice and no hearing. Therefore he returned to meet him, and told him, “The child has not awakened.” 32 When Elisha had come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and lying on his bed. 33 He went in therefore, and shut the door on them both, and prayed to the LORD. 34 He went up, and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth, and his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands. He stretched himself on him; and the child’s flesh grew warm. 35 Then he returned, and walked in the house once back and forth; and went up, and stretched himself out on him. Then the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. 36 He called Gehazi, and said, “Call this Shunammite!” So he called her. When she had come in to him, he said, “Take up your son.” 37 Then she went in, fell at his feet, and bowed herself to the ground; then she picked up her son, and went out. 38 Elisha came again to Gilgal. There was a famine in the land; and the sons of the prophets were sitting before him; and he said to his servant, “Get the large pot, and boil stew for the sons of the prophets.” 39 One went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine, and gathered a lap full of wild gourds from it, and came and cut them up into the pot of stew; for they didn’t recognize them. 40 So they poured out for the men to eat. As they were eating some of the stew, they cried out, and said, “Man of God, there is death in the pot!” And they could not eat it. 41 But he said, “Then bring meal.” He threw it into the pot; and he said, “Serve it to the people, that they may eat.” And there was nothing harmful in the pot. 42 A man from Baal Shalishah came, and brought the man of God bread some of the first fruits: twenty loaves of barley, and fresh ears of grain in his sack. He said, “Give to the people, that they may eat.” 43 His servant said, “What, should I set this before a hundred men?” But he said, “Give the people, that they may eat; for the LORD says, ‘They will eat, and will have some left over.’” 44 So he set it before them, and they ate, and had some left over, according to the LORD’s word.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–7

Elisha’s miracles were acts of real charity: Christ’s were so; not only great wonders, but great favours to those for whom they were wrought. God magnifies his goodness with his power. Elisha readily received a poor widow’s complaint. Those that leave their families under a load of debt, know not what trouble they cause. It is the duty of all who profess to follow the Lord, while they trust to God for daily bread, not to tempt him by carelessness or extravagance, nor to contract debts; for nothing tends more to bring reproach upon the gospel, or distresses their families more when they are gone. Elisha put the widow in a way to pay her debt, and to maintain herself and her family. This was done by miracle, but so as to show what is the best method to assist those who are in distress, which is, to help them to improve by their own industry what little they have. The oil, sent by miracle, continued flowing as long as she had empty vessels to receive it. We are never straitened in God, or in the riches of his grace; all our straitness is in ourselves. It is our faith that fails, not his promise. He gives more than we ask: were there more vessels, there is enough in God to fill them; enough for all, enough for each; and the Redeemer’s all-sufficiency will only be stayed from the supplying the wants of sinners and saving their souls, when no more apply to him for salvation. The widow must pay her debt with the money she received for her oil. Though her creditors were too hard with her, yet they must be paid, even before she made any provision for her children. It is one of the main laws of the Christian religion, that we pay every just debt, and give every one his own, though we leave ever so little for ourselves; and this, not of constraint, but for conscience’ sake. Those who bear an honest mind, cannot with pleasure eat their daily bread, unless it be their own bread. She and her children must live upon the rest; that is, upon the money received for the oil, with which they must put themselves into a way to get an honest livelihood. We cannot now expect miracles, yet we may expect mercies, if we wait on God, and seek to him. Let widows in particular depend upon him. He that has all hearts in his hand, can, without a miracle, send as effectual a supply.

Verses 8–17

Elisha was well thought of by the king of Israel for his late services; a good man can take as much pleasure in serving others, as in raising himself. But the Shunammite needed not any good offices of this kind. It is a happiness to dwell among our own people, that love and respect us, and to whom we are able to do good. It would be well with many, if they did but know when they are really well off. The Lord sees the secret wish which is suppressed in obedience to his will, and he will hear the prayers of his servants in behalf of their benefactors, by sending unasked-for and unexpected mercies; nor must the professions of men of God be supposed to be delusive like those of men of the world.

Verses 18–37

Here is the sudden death of the child. All the mother’s tenderness cannot keep alive a child of promise, a child of prayer, one given in love. But how admirably does the prudent, pious mother, guard her lips under this sudden affliction! Not one peevish word escapes from her. Such confidence had she of God’s goodness, that she was ready to believe that he would restore what he had now taken away. O woman, great is thy faith! He that wrought it, would not disappoint it. The sorrowful mother begged leave of her husband to go to the prophet at once. She had not thought it enough to have Elisha’s help sometimes in her own family, but, though a woman of rank, attended on public worship. It well becomes the men of God, to inquire about the welfare of their friends and their families. The answer was, It is well. All well, and yet the child dead in the house! Yes! All is well that God does; all is well with them that are gone, if they are gone to heaven; and all well with us that stay behind, if, by the affliction, we are furthered in our way thither. When any creature-comfort is taken from us, it is well if we can say, through grace, that we did not set our hearts too much upon it; for if we did, we have reason to fear it was given in anger, and taken away in wrath. Elisha cried unto God in faith; and the beloved son was restored alive to his mother. Those who would convey spiritual life to dead souls, must feel deeply for their case, and labour fervently in prayer for them. Though the minister cannot give Divine life to his fellow-sinners, he must use every means, with as much earnestness as if he could do so.

Verses 38–44

There was a famine of bread, but not of hearing the word of God, for Elisha had the sons of the prophets sitting before him, to hear his wisdom. Elisha made hurtful food to become safe and wholesome. If a mess of pottage be all our dinner, remember that this great prophet had no better for himself and his guests. The table often becomes a snare, and that which should be for our welfare, proves a trap: this is a good reason why we should not feed ourselves without fear. When we are receiving the supports and comforts of life, we must keep up an expectation of death, and a fear of sin. We must acknowledge God’s goodness in making our food wholesome and nourishing; I am the Lord that healeth thee. Elisha also made a little food go a great way. Having freely received, he freely gave. God has promised his church, that he will abundantly bless her provision, and satisfy her poor with bread, Ps 132:15; whom he feeds, he fills; and what he blesses, comes to much. Christ’s feeding his hearers was a miracle far beyond this, but both teach us that those who wait upon God in the way of duty, may hope to be supplied by Divine Providence.

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