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The Life and Times of Elisha the Prophet— Looking Out for a Lovely Lady (2 Kings 8:1-6; 4:8-37)

Introduction

I have a very godly grandmother who is soon to be 101 years old. The other day she received a jury summons, and so she asked my father what she should do about it. My father told her not to worry, that he would take care of it. And so he did. He wrote this poem138 and note to the judge:

Mary “D” is good as gold,
But alas, she’s getting old.
If Mary lives a few days more—
Quite a record she will score.
(She will have lived in three centuries—
she will be 101 on March 9th!)
Can she please be excused from Jury Duty?

My father and other members of the family have been looking out for “Grandma D” for some time. What a lovely woman she is! I could not help but think of my father’s poem when I read the account of the way God looked out for the Shunammite woman through His prophet Elisha in 2 Kings 8:1-6. The reader is first introduced to this woman in 2 Kings 4. Anyone reading through 2 Kings may well have thought that they had seen the last of this woman after Elisha brought her child back to life (2 Kings 4:8-37). But unexpectedly the Shunammite and her son appear once again in this account of God’s dealings with Israel through His prophet, Elisha. In this lesson, we will seek to understand the meaning of the miracle, which is recorded in 2 Kings 8:1-6, and to understand it in relation to the events of chapter 4. I believe we shall once again see that 2 Kings has many lessons for modern day saints.

A Review of 2 Kings 4:8-37

8 One day Elisha traveled to Shunem, where a respected woman lived. She insisted that he stop for a meal. So whenever he was passing through, he would stop in there for a meal. 9 She said to her husband, “Look, I’m sure that the man who regularly passes through here is a very special prophet. 10 Let’s make a small private upper room and furnish it with a bed, table, chair and lamp. When he visits us, he can stay there.”

11 One day Elisha came for a visit; he went into the upper room and rested. 12 He told his servant Gehazi, “Ask the Shunammite woman to come here.” So he did so and she came to him. 13 Elisha said to Gehazi, “Tell her, ‘Look, you have treated us with such great respect. What can I do for you? Can I put in a good word for you with the king or the commander of the army?’” She replied, “I’m quite secure” [literally, “I live among my own people”]. 14 So he asked Gehazi, “What can I do for her?” Gehazi replied, “She has no son, and her husband is old.” 15 Elisha told him, “Ask her to come here.” So he did so and she came and stood in the doorway. 16 He said, “About this time next year you will be holding a son.” She said, “No my master! O prophet, do not lie to your servant!” 17 The woman did conceive, and at the specified time the next year she gave birth to a son, just as Elisha had told her.

18 The boy grew and one day he went out to see his father who was with the harvesters. 19 He said to his father, “My head! My head!” His father told a servant, “Carry him to his mother.” 20 So he picked him up and took him to his mother. He sat on her lap until noon and then died. 21 She went up and laid him down on the prophet’s bed. She shut the door behind her and left. 22 She called to her husband, “Send me one of the servants and one of the donkeys, so I can go see the prophet quickly and then return.” 23 He said, “Why do you want to go see him today? It is not the new moon or the Sabbath.” She said, “Everything’s fine.” 24 She saddled the donkey and told her servant, “Lead on. Do not stop unless I say so.” 25 So she went to visit the prophet at Mount Carmel. When he saw her at a distance, he said to his servant Gehazi, “Look, it’s the Shunammite woman. 26 Now, run to meet her and ask her, ‘Are you well? Are your husband and the boy well?’” She told Gehazi, “Everything’s fine.” 27 But when she reached the prophet on the mountain, she grabbed hold of his feet. Gehazi came near to push her away, but the prophet said, “Leave her alone, for she is very upset. The LORD has kept the matter hidden from me; he didn’t tell me about it. 28 She said, “Did I ask my master for a son? Didn’t I say, ‘Don’t mislead me?’ “29 Elisha told Gehazi, “Tuck your robes into your belt, grab my staff, and go. Don’t stop to exchange greetings with anyone. Place my staff on the child’s face.” 30 The mother of the child said, “As certainly as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So he got up and followed her back.

31 Now Gehazi went on ahead of them. He placed the staff on the child’s face, but there was no sound or response. When he came back to Elisha he told him, “The child did not wake up.” 32 When Elisha arrived at the house, there was the child lying dead on his bed. 33 He went in by himself and closed the door. Then he prayed to the LORD. 34 He got up on the bed and spread his body out over the boy; he put his mouth on the boy’s mouth, his eyes over the boy’s eyes, and the palms of his hands against the boy’s palms. He bent down over him, and the boy’s skin grew warm. 35 Elisha went back and walked around in the house. Then he got up on the bed again and bent down over him. The child sneezed seven times and opened his eyes. 36 Elisha called to Gehazi and said, “Get the Shunammite woman.” So he did so and she came to him. He said to her, “Pick up your son.” 37 She came in, fell at his feet, and bowed down. Then she picked up her son and left.

Like Samuel before him (1 Samuel 7:15-16), the prophet Elisha apparently traveled a regular circuit within the northern kingdom of Israel. This circuit seems to have taken him through Shunem. I believe that this prominent and well-to-do139 Shunammite woman could look out over the valley from the house where she lived, higher in the hills. From this vantage point, I believe she could see all the way across the Jezreel valley to Mount Carmel.140 Thus, she could see Elisha approaching as he journeyed across the valley toward Shunem. Seeing him pass by one day, she urged him to stop at her house for a meal. Eventually, it seems, he began to make her home a regular stop when he traveled that way. The woman was not content merely to feed the prophet a meal. She decided she would like to provide him a place where he could rest, and perhaps spend the night as well. And so she asked her husband if they could build a small upper room, with a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp—a kind of Motel 6 guest room (with a great view, I would think).

Having benefited much from her help, the prophet wanted to show his appreciation to the woman and so he asked his servant, Gehazi, to inquire if there was anything he could do for her. In particular, he offered to speak a word on her behalf to the king or to the commander of the army.141 She declined, indicating that she was well taken care of. Her exact words are significant: “I live among my own people” (NASB).

To this Shunammite woman, dwelling among her own people was all the security and protection she required. Her family and fellow-Israelites were all she needed. Neither the king nor the commander of the army could provide her with anything she really needed.

Elisha was not content to leave matters like this. Surely she had some need that he might be able to meet. He leaves it to Gehazi to find out what that need might be. And Gehazi puts his finger on the greatest unmet need of this woman’s life—her desire to have a son. One problem was that her husband was elderly. Elisha summons the woman and informs her that in a year’s time she will be holding a son in her arms. Her response makes it clear that a child was the greatest gift she could have hoped for—indeed, it was more than she dared to hope for. And so it was that this prophecy was fulfilled, and she became the mother of a son.

Some time has passed, and the child must be at least five or six years old by this time.142 The lad goes out to be with his father, who is with those who are reaping.143 The boy suddenly cries out that his head hurts, and so his father instructs a servant to carry the lad to his mother. The boy lies on his mother’s lap (or perhaps he is lying beside her with his head on her lap—it all depends on how old he is) until noon, when he dies. The woman is not willing to accept the fact that his death is final. Certainly it is with some kind of “resurrection faith” that she proceeds with the course of action described in our text. She goes to her husband and requests a donkey and a servant to accompany her to the place where she will find Elisha. The Shunammite’s husband is perplexed by his wife’s request, but she reassures him that everything is all right, and so he gives her what she has requested.

If there is one thing that is undeniable, it is that the boy is dead—we might fairly said, “good and dead.” It was about a 15-mile trek from Shunem to Mount Carmel. The boy died about noon, and surely it took an hour or so before the woman could get on her way. One wonders if she could have reached Elisha before dark, or whether she spent the night along the way. From his location on the slopes of Mount Carmel, Elisha could see the woman coming toward him from Shunem. While she was still on her way, Elisha sent Gehazi out to meet her. He sensed that something must be wrong, but he did not know what it was.144

When Elisha hears from the woman that her son has died, he sends Gehazi to the boy as quickly as possible. He gives his staff to Gehazi and instructs him to place it on the face of the lad when he arrives. When Gehazi rejoins the prophet and the boy’s mother, still on their way to Shunem, he tells his master that there was no response at all—no sign of life. When Elisha arrives, he goes up to his room, and through a rather lengthy process raises the boy to life, and then returns him to his mother’s arms.

Delivered Again
(2 Kings 8:1-6)

1 Now Elisha advised the woman whose son he had brought back to life, “You and your family should go and live somewhere else for awhile, for the LORD has decreed that a famine will overtake the land for seven years.” 2 So the woman did as the prophet said. She and her family went and lived in the land of the Philistines for seven years. 3 After seven years the woman returned from the land of the Philistines and went to ask the king to give her back her house and field. 4 Now the king was talking to Gehazi, the prophet’s servant, and said, “Tell me all the great things which Elisha has done.” 5 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 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.” 6 The king asked the woman about it, and she gave him the details. The king assigned a eunuch to take care of her request and ordered him, “Give her back everything she owns, as well as the amount of crops her field produced from the day she left the land until now.”

The nation Israel was still under divine judgment. On various occasions God had brought about famine or military oppression from neighboring nations. Prophets like Elijah and Elisha were God’s spokesmen, indicting the king and his subjects for disregarding God and His laws. They foretold the judgment that was coming, as they also foretold when God would bring relief. It is apparent that these instances of divine chastening did not bring the nation to a genuine repentance. At best there was only superficial change. It was time for another attention-getting famine, and this time it would last seven years.

Elisha “saw” that the famine was coming and sent word to the Shunammite, informing her that there would be a seven-year famine and instructing her to leave Israel until after the famine had ended. Notice that while Elisha gave this woman specific instructions, he did not tell her where she was to go. She promptly obeyed the prophet, choosing to spend these seven years in the land of the Philistines.

It is difficult to overestimate the difficulty of this woman’s decision to obey the prophet and leave Israel. I believe that she is now a widow. Her husband was said to be old even before the birth of her son (2 Kings 4:14). He is never mentioned in 2 Kings 8:1-6. Indeed, when Elisha gives the instruction to leave Israel, he gives it to the woman. If her husband were alive, you would expect that God would direct her through her husband. She is told to leave Israel with her household [literally ‘her house’],145 which implies that she is now the head of the household. When the woman returns with her son, it is she who appeals to the king. We cannot help but be reminded of Naomi’s return to the land of Israel as a widow, accompanied by Ruth.

When this woman is told to leave the land of Israel, she is required to abandon her farm. If she “and her household” left Israel, then there was no one left to occupy the land or to run the farm. No wonder it was taken over in her absence, so that she had to request the king to give her land back to her. This woman, if a widow at the time, would also have had to leave any relatives behind, and of course her fellow-Israelites. We can sense how difficult this was when we recall her words to Elisha, “I live among my own people” (2 Kings 4:13). She must leave her farm, her relatives, and her homeland, to dwell among foreigners. She must walk away from everything that gave her a sense of identity and security. And since Elisha’s words came to the woman before the famine began, she would have had to leave her farm while it was still prospering. This was a test of her faith, but she had learned to trust God and the words He spoke through Elisha.

The seven years of famine pass, and the woman returns to Israel only to find that her farm has been confiscated. It could have been taken over by a neighbor, but one would think that it would have been given back to the woman when she returned. I personally think that the king of Israel confiscated her land. We know that king Ahab confiscated the land of Naboth. We know also that the king (almost certainly king Jehoram) was a wicked man (see 2 Kings 3:1-3), so this would not have been out of character for him. When the Shunammite returns, she appeals to the king for the return of her land, rather than to deal with the elders of the city (as was the case with Naomi in the Book of Ruth). If the king took her land, then we would expect the woman to appeal to the king for its return. And further, when the king restored her land, he had one of his officials take care of this. He did not ask the official to “see to it that she got back her land and its income,” which is what he would have done if someone else had confiscated it. He appointed one of his officials to, “Give her back everything she owns, as well as the amount of crops her field produced from the day she left the land until now” (verse 6). It stands to reason that one of the king’s men would give her back her land and its income if it was the king who had taken possession of them in the first place.

This raises a question: “Given the character of this king, and the nature of this case, what were this woman’s chances are of getting her land back from the king?” In my part of the country, we would say that the were “between slim and none.” The author has done a good job of preparing the reader for what follows. God consistently stacks the cards against Himself, and the good that He would accomplish, so that when He accomplishes His purposes and promises it is clear that He has succeeded once again, yet in a way that no one would have anticipated.

A series of very unlikely events now follow, which precisely intersect in time and place. Before we look at these, I would remind you that Elisha is not even present in our text. The main characters are the Shunammite, her son, the king of Israel, and Gehazi. We do not know for certain where Elisha is, but in the very next verse, we find him in Damascus (see 2 Kings 8:7). The Shunammite woman is cared for, even in the prophet’s absence.

The Shunammite woman and her son have returned to Israel, only to find that their land has been confiscated. The woman and her son are on their way to appeal to the king. And as they are making their way to the king, a conversation is taking place between the king of Israel and Gehazi, Elisha’s servant. Some are surprised to find Gehazi named here. Was he not stricken with leprosy in chapter 5? What is he doing here, then? It is possible that this text may have been placed here, out of chronological order. Or, Gehazi may have repented and been healed, as Moses’ sister Miriam had been (compare Numbers 12:10-15). It is also possible that he was not healed, but was talking with the king anyway. We know that Naaman maintained some kind of relationship with the king of Syria as a leper (see 2 Kings 5:4-6). If Gehazi had been “fired” by Elisha, then we would expect Elisha to be in one place, with another servant, while Gehazi was elsewhere. Also, the king of Israel might have felt more comfortable around a man like Gehazi, while he was not at all comfortable in the presence of the prophet.

However it came about, Gehazi is with the king, and the king asks him to relate some of the great deeds that Elisha had done. This implies (as we should expect) that the king was not close to Elisha, nor was he well informed as to Elisha’s activities. It also implies that the king is now interested in Elisha and his ministry. A seven-year famine had just ended, and the king of Israel may now be more interested in Elisha and his God than he was earlier.

Whatever his motivation might have been, the king of Israel questioned Gehazi about the great miracles Elisha had performed. I think you would agree that raising the dead would surely be one of the “great things” that Elisha had done. And so Gehazi gives his eyewitness account of this most amazing miracle. The timing of the widow’s arrival with her son is uncanny. It must have occurred just as Gehazi concluded his account of this young lad’s miraculous deliverance from death.

Gehazi’s eyes must have widened as he looked up and saw the woman and her son entering the king’s court. “This is the woman I was telling you about!” Gehazi shouts, “and this one is her son.” The king then asks the woman to describe this same incident, which she does. Perhaps the boy was questioned as well. You will recall that two or three witnesses were required to validate certain claims or charges. God neatly arranged for three eyewitnesses to this resurrection: Gehazi, the mother, and the son. Their testimony was irrefutable.

The king was convinced. If God had done such a marvelous thing for this woman, then surely He was looking out for her. How could the king possibly refuse her request? Here is a wicked king, yet one who does what God’s Word requires, and what God expects. He looks after the needy:

1 God stands in the assembly of El, in the midst of the gods he renders judgment. 2 He says, “How long will you make unjust legal decisions, and show favoritism to the wicked? (Selah) 3 Defend the cause of the poor and the fatherless! Vindicate the oppressed and suffering! 4 Rescue the poor and needy! Deliver them from the power of the wicked! (Psalm 82:1-4, emphasis mine).

4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, nor for rulers to crave strong drink, 5 lest they drink and forget that which is decreed, and remove from all the poor their rights. 6 Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those who are distressed; 7 Let them drink and forget their poverty, and remember their misery no more. 8 Open your mouth to the dumb, for the legal rights of all the dying. 9 Open your mouth, judge in righteousness, and plead the cause of the poor and needy (Proverbs 31:4-9, emphasis mine).

21 How tragic that the once faithful city has become a prostitute! She was once a center of justice, fairness resided in her, but now only murderers. 22 Your silver has become scum, your beer is diluted with water. 23 Your officials are rebels, they hang around with thieves. All of them love bribery, and look for payoffs. They do not take up the cause of the orphan, or defend the rights of the widow (Isaiah 1:21-23, emphasis mine).

“Therefore, O king, may my words be pleasing to you. Break away from you sins in acts of righteousness, and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there will be a prolonging of your prosperity” (Daniel 4:24, emphasis mine).

Conclusion

Have you ever noticed how God delights to achieve His purposes through the most unlikely (and sometimes the most unwilling) instruments? In Elisha’s absence, God cared for this widow (as I suppose her to be here) and her son through Gehazi, and through an ungodly king who does not seek to serve God. The more unwilling and unworthy the instrument, the more the glory goes to God—just where it belongs. Once again, God works in the most amazing ways, His wonders to perform.

What a picture of God’s grace we have in our text! God not only cares for a godly widow and her son, He also prompts an ungodly king to do the right thing. We should not overlook that fact that by means of this famine, God was reminding Israel of their sins, and calling them to repentance.

I was reminded of a parable that our Lord told, that was intended to encourage the saints to persist in their prayers:

1 Then Jesus told them a parable to show them they should always pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected people. 3 There was also a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused; but later on he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor regard people, 5 yet because this widow keeps on bothering me, I will give her justice, or in the end she will wear me out by her unending pleas.’” 6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unrighteous judge says! 7 Won’t God give justice to his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he delay long to help them?” (Luke 18:1-6).

If God can work in the heart of a wicked king like the king of Israel to care for His servants, will He not also care for you? It was not the Shunammite woman who besought God for deliverance; it was God who prepared the way for her deliverance, and in most unexpected ways.

I believe that we can properly arrive at three conclusions from our text:

(1) God cares for His people.

(2) God’s care is long-term. What He starts, He finishes (see Philippians 1:6).

(3) God’s care is always timely. So often in the Bible (and today as well) the saints seem to act and speak as though God were running late. The question, “How long?” is found fairly frequently in the Bible. This passage underscores the fact that God’s timing is perfect. It is so here; it is so always. God is never late. It is we who are commanded to “wait” for Him. Let us not be guilty of demanding that He “hurry up” for us.

Our text reminds me of the impact of a resurrection. The king of Israel asked Gehazi to recount a great deed Elisha had performed. It is not at all surprising that he would choose to tell the king about the resurrection of the Shunammite’s son. And having received the necessary supporting testimony from the mother and her son, the king could hardly deny the miracle, or avoid its implications (that he also look out for this woman). A resurrection is a very powerful demonstration of the power of God. No wonder the king grants this woman’s petition.

In the Gospel of Matthew, we read that the Jews requested Jesus to give them a sign to prove that He was the Messiah. Jesus refused to give them yet another sign at the moment, but He did promise a great and compelling sign, the sign of His resurrection from the dead:

38 Then some of the experts in the law along with some Pharisees answered him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” 39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish for three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights” (Matthew 12:38-40, emphasis mine).

In the Gospel of John, He also indicates that His resurrection will be a powerful testimony to His righteousness:

7 “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I am going away. For if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong concerning sin and righteousness and judgment— 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned” (John 16:7-11, emphasis mine).

In the Book of Acts and in the Epistles as well, the resurrection of our Lord is employed as a compelling proof that Jesus is the Son of God, just who He claimed to be. In the Old Testament, as in the New, it is exceedingly difficult to deny God’s presence and power when there is compelling proof that He has raised the dead. When God raised our Lord’s body from the dead, He declared His satisfaction with His sacrifice for our sins, and by this, He testified to the fact that Jesus is the promised Savior, through whom our sins can be forgiven, and through whom we may have the assurance of eternal life. Have you trusted in Jesus Christ, Who was not only crucified for your sins, but Who was raised from the dead on your behalf? I urge you to do so today.

Our text reminds me once again of the truth of the sovereignty of God. God truly is in complete control of all things, including heathen kings: “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD as channels of water; He turns it wherever He wants” (Proverbs 21:1).

The story of the Shunammite woman also underscores the importance and value of hospitality. You will recall that when Abraham’s servant was seeking a wife for Isaac, the “test” which this servant employed was a test of hospitality (see Genesis 24:12-27). Hospitality is one of the qualifications for a widow who is to be placed on the church role, and thus to be supported by the church (1 Timothy 5:10), and it is one of the qualifications for an elder (1 Timothy 3:2). It is also a requirement for all Christians (Romans 12:13). It is one of the ways that a true believer manifests their faith in Jesus Christ (see Matthew 10:5-15; Acts 16:14-15; 3 John 5-8). Let us never underestimate the value of hospitality.

Finally, our text is a reminder that a seemingly insignificant act of service may produce great and long-lasting benefits, for others and for us. This Shunammite woman saw the prophet of God passing by, and she sensed that he was in need of a good meal. I am convinced that she had no self-serving motives for her act of hospitality. How could this woman, wealthy, comfortable, and secure at that moment, know that in the future God would take care of her through this penniless prophet? God gave her a son, and then raised him to life when he died. The woman who provided food and a place for Elisha to stay was later provided for with food and a place to live through Elisha’s ministry. We never know what impact a simple act of kindness might have.

I received this story as an e-mail, and I do not vouch for its authenticity or accuracy. Whether or not it is true, it still illustrates an important principle:

One stormy night many years ago, an elderly man and his wife entered the lobby of a small hotel in Philadelphia. Trying to get out of the rain, the couple approached the front desk hoping to get some shelter for the night. “Could you possibly give us a room here?” the husband asked. The clerk, a friendly man with a winning smile, looked at the couple and explained that there were three conventions in town. “All of our rooms are taken,” the clerk said. “But I can't send a nice couple like you out into the rain at one o'clock in the morning. Would you perhaps be willing to sleep in my room? It's not exactly a suite, but it will be good enough to make you folks comfortable for the night.” When the couple declined, the young man pressed on. “Don't worry about me; I'll make out just fine,” the clerk told them. So the couple agreed. As he paid his bill the next morning, the elderly man said to the clerk, “You are the kind of manager who should be the boss of the best hotel in the United States. Maybe someday I'll build one for you.” The clerk looked at them and smiled. The three of them had a good laugh. As they drove away, the elderly couple agreed that the helpful clerk was indeed exceptional, as finding people who are both friendly and helpful isn't easy.

Two years passed. The clerk had almost forgotten the incident when he received a letter from the old man. It recalled that stormy night and enclosed a round-trip ticket to New York, asking the young man to pay them a visit. The old man met him in New York, and led him to the corner of Fifth Avenue and 34th Street. He then pointed to a great new building there, a palace of reddish stone, with turrets and watchtowers thrusting up to the sky. “That,” said the older man, “is the hotel I have just built for you to manage.” “You must be joking,” the young man said. “I can assure you I am not,” said the older man, a sly smile playing around his mouth.

The older man's name was William Waldorf Astor, and the magnificent structure was the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. The young clerk who became its first manager was George C. Boldt. This young clerk never foresaw the turn of events that would lead him to become the manager of one of the world's most glamorous hotels.

Let us not show kindness in order to get ahead in life. Let us, like the Shunammite woman, show kindness out of love, and out of faith in God. May God grant that in this day when privacy is so highly prized, when large fences and security systems are designed to keep people away, that we may show hospitality to others.


138 My father is a retired schoolteacher. For many years, he would write each of his (4) children and grandchildren poems for their birthdays. The grandchildren became so many (and great grandchildren came also) that he finally stopped the annual birthday poem. He has not stopped writing poems, however.

139 I believe this is the sense of 2 Kings 4:8.

140 It would appear that there must have also been a clear view of Jezreel to the south, on the other side of the Jezreel Valley, no more than five miles away. Did she have a view of the king’s palace in Jezreel? This may have made the Shunammite’s property very desirable to the king of Israel.

141 It is certainly interesting that at this point in time the prophet could have requested some service for this woman from these Israelite officials and have expected to get it. It would not have been so in the days of Elijah. Just knowing Elijah might have put one in danger with the king.

142 It is difficult to know just how old the boy was. Some translations read that the boy was grown up, but it does not seem likely that she would have been able to hold such a son on her lap, or that she could have carried him up the stairs to the upper room, where she laid him on the prophet’s bed. Also, it would seem that he would have been helping with the harvest, rather than just being out in the field to be with his father. I understand, therefore, that the child had grown, but that he was not yet full grown.

143 I am assuming that since this man is both wealthy and elderly, he is supervising the reaping of his fields, and not actually reaping himself.

144 I have been puzzled by Elisha’s words in verse 27 that the Lord had hidden from him what was troubling this woman. I think I may now understand why. If Elisha had known earlier that the boy was sick or that he had died, he probably would have set out much sooner to go to the boy and his mother. But this delay was long enough that there could be no doubt that the child was dead. The text tells us he died, and we even are told that the boy’s body was cold (verse 34). This miracle is therefore something like the raising of Lazarus. There is a sufficient delay for all to be convinced that the boy was dead, and without any hope of resuscitation. His resurrection was nothing less than a class A miracle.

145 I understand “her household” to include not only her son, but her servants.

Related Topics: Character Study