Where the world comes to study the Bible

Lesson 9 - Woman of Shunem: A Story to Tell

Time: Divided Kingdom-Israel ~900-722 B.C.

“Now the king was talking to Gehazi, the prophet’s servant, and said, ‘Tell me all the great things which Elisha has done.’ While Gehazi was telling the king how Elisha had brought the dead back to life, the woman whose son he had brought back to life came to ask the king for her house and field. Gehazi said, ‘My master, O king, this is the very woman and this is her son whom Elisha brought back to life!’ The king asked the woman about it, and she gave him the details.” 2 KINGS 8:4-6a

Background

God’s concern for women and their special needs is clearly seen in the scriptures we’ve studied so far. Whereas women were regarded as inferior to men in most ancient Near Eastern societies, God demonstrated His compassion for them in many different ways. (Review the historical insights and purpose of miracles in Lesson 8.)

Elisha, God’s prophet to Israel, ministered in and around Mt. Carmel on the western edge of the Plain of Jezreel—a strategic area of Israel and a fruitful farming valley. Shunem was a little town in this valley about ~20 miles away from Mt. Carmel.

Day One Study

Getting To Know The Woman Of Shunem…

1. Read 2 Kings 4:8-17. Describe this woman. List everything you can infer from the text.

2. How did she approach her husband with her idea? What does this reveal about their marriage?

3. How did Elisha respond to their generosity?

4. What, if anything, did this woman request of Elisha? What does this tell us about her view of her life?

5. What need did she withhold, and why do you think she withheld it?

6. How does Elisha find out about her unexpressed need? What does he, as God’s representative, do about it?

7. What did she learn about God?

8. Your Life’s Journey: Homemaking is a ministry. For her, it all started with a meal— extending hospitality—and thus supporting Elisha’s ministry. Home is wherever you live. Whether your career is that of “homemaker” or not, women are particularly gifted by God to establish the warmth of a home—emotional and otherwise. Read the “Scriptural Insight” below. Do you consider your “homemaking” as a ministry and your “home” as a ministry tool? Share a time when God has given you opportunity to use your home to minister to someone else.

Scriptural Insight: God says in 1 Tim. 5:14 that women are to “manage a household” meaning to have authority. In Titus 2:3, women are encouraged to “exhibit behavior fitting for those who are holy” (NIV “reverent”). The Greek describes a priestess serving in the temple of her God. The world is God’s temple, and we are God’s servants in it. That perspective removes any sacred/secular division from our lives. It is just as spiritual for you to teach a Sunday school class as it is for you to prepare nutritious meals for your family or to work with integrity for your employer. For the believer, all of life is set apart for the Lord, and every act is an act of ministry.

9. Your Life’s Journey: The Shunammite woman and her husband gladly took care of Elisha’s needs. What should be our attitude toward our pastors and teachers? Read Galatians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 5:17-18. How can you better serve those who are dedicating their lives to serving you? Write a prayer of thanks to God for specific ones.

Day Two Study

About 5 Or More Years Later…

10. Read 2 Kings 4:18-37. What crisis was this faithful woman facing? How did she respond to the crisis? [NOTE: Many farmers lived in town and went out to the country daily to work.]

11. What might be the reasons for not telling her husband or Elisha’s servant Gehazi?

12. Who, alone, was she seeking? Elisha represented God to her at this time. While there are times when family and friends can help us, God wants us to bring our deepest needs to Him alone. Read Hebrews 4:14-16 and 10:19-23. What confidence do we have?

13. Your Life’s Journey: Describe the last time when you faced a crisis that only God could handle. Were you able to trust Him with the outcome? Why or why not? Share with your small group.

14. In what ways did Elisha demonstrate his respect for this woman?

15. Where did Elisha get his ability to raise the boy from the dead? How do you know?

16. Your Life’s Journey: Though living in the midst of wicked, unfaithful Israel, this woman and her husband chose to remain faithful to God. God honored their faith by giving them opportunity to respond to His word through Elisha whenever he came to their town. We live in a culture that finds Christianity, as well as God’s standards of moral law, repulsive—choosing instead its own self-gratification as a substitute for worship of the true God. We are surrounded by idolatry and corrupt teaching. What steps do we need to take to remain faithful to God alone? How are you doing this?

17. After reading today’s selection, what other adjectives would you add in your description of this woman? Add them to the list you started in Day One Study.

Think About It: A few years earlier, the prophet Elijah thought no faithful worshiper of God was left in Israel but himself. God reassured Elijah that 7,000 people remained in Israel who had not “bowed their knees” to Baal. Those Israelites were still faithful to God alone. Perhaps the Shunammite woman and her husband came from families who were part of that 7,000.

Day Three Study

At Least 7 Years Later…

18. Read 2 Kings 8:1-6. In verse 1, how did God show His faithfulness to the Shunammite woman and her family?

19. Now, what challenge was she facing (verse 3)? How did she respond to the problem? [NOTE: It was possible for Israelites to bypass lower judicial officials and appeal directly to the king. Either someone had illegally occupied the woman’s property or it had fallen to the domain of the king by virtue of its abandonment.]

20. In what ways has God shown His faithfulness to this woman in her past, in her present and for her future? In good times and bad?

21. After reading this passage, why do you think God allowed the family in Shunem to experience the crisis in 2 Kings 4?

22. Your Life’s Journey: We don’t even know her name. But, God does. And, He included her story in His written Word for our benefit. What inspires you about this woman? Do you know any women today like this? How do they inspire you?

23. Do you believe the woman’s sudden appearance before the king was a coincidence? If not, what does it tell you about our God?

Day Four Study — The Walk From Fear To Faith

God loved this woman and her family. He knew what was going on in their lives. He was able to do something about it. But, God did not make the woman’s husband young again nor did He prevent her from having to endure the stigma of barrenness for a time. He didn’t prevent the famine from affecting their family. During her walk, a loving God said no to some things. Yet, she chose to trust Him rather than submit to fear. And, He rewarded her faith with an outpouring of His blessing on her family. Likewise, God may not choose to fix your crisis so you experience no pain. But, in any and all situations, you can count on these truths…

§         God loves me.

§         God knows what is going on in my life.

§         God can do something about it.

§         I can trust His goodness in whatever He chooses to do!

24. What situations could have brought fear into this woman’s life?

25. How did she respond to God by faith? Give specific instances and verse references.

26. Tell Your Story: God gave this woman a story of His faithfulness to her, and He gave her opportunity to share it with an ungodly king! God has given you a story to tell of His faithfulness to you. Are you telling it? Why or why not? Take time now to write some of your story using the guide below. Share with your small group next week. Why not ask God to give you other opportunities to share your STORY!

My Story To Share

Review the various parts of your STORY that you have already written in the previous lessons (see below). Choose one or two to expand into your STORY to share of your faith walk with God.

Lesson

Tell Your Story” Question

1

DAY 2, Question 21

2

DAY 2, Question 16

3

DAY 4, Question 23

4

DAY 3, Question 20

5

DAY 1, Question 7

6

DAY 4, Question 33

7

DAY 2, Question 9

8

DAY 1, Question 11

 

Related Topics: Faith, Curriculum, Women's Articles