II Kings 4

Be a man of God and God will give you His work to do.
He who has power from God to satisfy the deepest needs of man will never want for applicants.

1 Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the LORD: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen.

2 And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil.

3 Then he said, Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty vessels; borrow not a few.

4 And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full.

5 So she went from him, and shut the door upon her and upon her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured out.

6 And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, Bring me yet a vessel. And he said unto her, There is not a vessel more. And the oil stayed.

7 Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest.

8 ¶ And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread.

9 And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually.

10 Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick: and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither.

11 And it fell on a day, that he came thither, and he turned into the chamber, and lay there.

12 And he said to Gehazi his servant, Call this Shunammite. And when he had called her, she stood before him.

13 And he said unto him, Say now unto her, Behold, thou hast been careful for us with all this care; what is to be done for thee? wouldest thou be spoken for to the king, or to the captain of the host? And she answered, I dwell among mine own people.

14 And he said, What then is to be done for her? And Gehazi answered, Verily she hath no child, and her husband is old.

15 And he said, Call her. And when he had called her, she stood in the door.

16 And he said, About this season, according to the time of life, thou shalt embrace a son. And she said, Nay, my lord, thou man of God, do not lie unto thine handmaid.

17 And the woman conceived, and bare a son at that season that Elisha had said unto her, according to the time of life.

18 ¶ And when the child was grown, it fell on a day, that he went out to his father to the reapers.

19 And he said unto his father, My head, my head. And he said to a lad, Carry him to his mother.

20 And when he had taken him, and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died.

21 And she went up, and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the door upon him, and went out.

22 And she called unto her husband, and said, Send me, I pray thee, one of the young men, and one of the asses, that I may run to the man of God, and come again.

23 And he said, Wherefore wilt thou go to him to day? it is neither new moon, nor sabbath. And she said, It shall be well.

24 Then she saddled an ass, and said to her servant, Drive, and go forward; slack not thy riding for me, except I bid thee.

25 So she went and came unto the man of God to mount Carmel. And it came to pass, when the man of God saw her afar off, that he said to Gehazi his servant, Behold, yonder is that Shunammite:

26 Run now, I pray thee, to meet her, and say unto her, Is it well with thee? is it well with thy husband? is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well.

27 And when she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught him by the feet: but Gehazi came near to thrust her away. And the man of God said, Let her alone; for her soul is vexed within her: and the LORD hath hid it from me, and hath not told me.

28 Then she said, Did I desire a son of my lord? did I not say, Do not deceive me?

29 Then he said to Gehazi, Gird up thy loins, and take my staff in thine hand, and go thy way: if thou meet any man, salute him not; and if any salute thee, answer him not again: and lay my staff upon the face of the child.

30 And the mother of the child said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And he arose, and followed her.

31 And Gehazi passed on before them, and laid the staff upon the face of the child; but there was neither voice, nor hearing. Wherefore he went again to meet him, and told him, saying, The child is not awaked.

32 And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed.

33 He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the LORD.

34 And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm.

35 Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.

36 And he called Gehazi, and said, Call this Shunammite. So he called her. And when she was come in unto him, he said, Take up thy son.

37 Then she went in, and fell at his feet, and bowed herself to the ground, and took up her son, and went out.

38 ¶ And Elisha came again to Gilgal: and there was a dearth in the land; and the sons of the prophets were sitting before him: and he said unto his servant, Set on the great pot, and seethe pottage for the sons of the prophets.

39 And one went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine, and gathered thereof wild gourds his lap full, and came and shred them into the pot of pottage: for they knew them not.

40 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.

41 But he said, Then bring meal. And he cast it into the pot; and he said, Pour out for the people, that they may eat. And there was no harm in the pot.

42 ¶ And there came a man from Baal-shalisha, and brought the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley, and full ears of corn in the husk thereof. And he said, Give unto the people, that they may eat.

43 And his servitor said, What, should I set this before an hundred men? He said again, Give the people, that they may eat: for thus saith the LORD, They shall eat, and shall leave thereof.

44 So he set it before them, and they did eat, and left thereof, according to the word of the LORD.

2 Kings 4:1-7 – ​Every Vessel Filled.

   Elisha’s ministry was not startling. It was redemptive and constructive. Widows came to him for help against their creditors; mothers appealed on behalf of their children; poison was rendered powerless; and loaves were multiplied. Do not judge power by the noise it makes. The dew excites less notice than a thunder-storm, but it may be more refreshing. A life filled with quiet ministry will bear comparison with one whose outbursts of passion are followed by reaction and depression. Twelve hours of daily sunshine, year in and year out, are preferable to the summer of daylight in the Arctic Circle, followed by months of midnight.
   When our need is urgent, and we spread it before God, the question is never about the amount of oil, but of the empty vessels. We fear that there will not be enough oil; God is concerned lest we fail to bring sufficient vessels to hold all he wants to give. The oil was multiplied in the pouring, as the meal of the other widow was increased in the spending. God’s oil will never be exhausted so long as we can receive and impart. According to our faith will it be done. It is not a question of how much God can give, but how much we can use.

2 Kings 4:6—And the oil stayed.

   What a sorrowful confession! There was no reason why it should stay. There was as much oil as ever, and the power which had made so much could have gone on without limit or exhaustion. The only reason for the ceasing of the oil was in the failure of the vessels. The widow and her sons had secured only a limited number of vessels, and therefore there was only a limited supply of the precious oil.
   This is why so many of God’s promises are unfilled in your experience.— In former days you kept claiming their fulfillment; frequently you brought God’s promises to Him and said, “Do as Thou hast said.” Vessel after vessel of need was brought empty and taken away full. But of late years you have refrained, you have rested on your oars, you have ceased to bring the vessels of your need. Hence the dwindling supply.
   This is why your life is not so productive of blessing as it might be.— You do not bring vessels enough. You think that God has wrought as much through you as He can or will. You do not expect Him to fill the latter years of your life as He did the former. You can trust Him for two sermons a week, but not the five or six.
   This is why the blessing of a revival stays in its course.— As long as the missioner remains with us, we can look for the continuance of blessing. But after awhile we say, Let the services stop; they have run their course, and fulfilled their end. And forthwith the blessing stops in mid-flow. Let us go on pleading with the unsaved, and bringing the empty vessels of our poor effort for God to fill them up to the full measure of their capacity.

2 Kings 4:8-24 – ​Entertaining a Prophet.

   The real man needs a very small supply of outward comfort, because his life is hid in God. It does not consist in the abundance of things that he possesses, but in faith, love, and hope. What a noble testimony it would be to our character, if people who saw us going to and fro became convinced that “this is a holy man of God” (v. 9)!
   Sunstroke in the tropics is a frequent cause of death (Psalm 121:6). When a child is taken sick, it is the mother who is the best comforter; but there are limits to a mother’s power to help. This woman of Shunem must be referred to in Hebrews 11:35. She was so sure of the life-restoring prayers of the great prophet that she did not feel it necessary to tell her husband what had befallen. Why should she grieve him, when the child would soon be given back to them! In noble confidence she dared to say that all would be well, and God did not disappoint nor fail. Shunem was fifteen mile from Carmel, and there was not an inch of the road which was not covered by the mother’s splendid faith that God would make all grace abound toward her.

2 Kings 4:25-37 – ​The Dead Boy Restored to Life

   There is fine illustration in this chapter of a noble reverence for goodness, of a good man’s gratitude, and of the large reward that never fails those who deal kindly with God’s children.
   It is not enough to put the staff, even though it be the prophet’s, on the cold, sweet face of a child. Our doctrine and precept may be quite good and straight, but something more is needed. There must be not a staff, not a servant, not an intermediary, but ourselves, our heart against the heart that is still, our lips against the dear, cold lips. It is as we give ourselves to the children, imparting our tenderest, strongest sympathy, that new life will come to them.
   Walk to and fro in your house! Shut the door on yourself and the child! Pray to the Lord! Give yourself to the great work of saving the soul from death! Let the mother be praying in the room downstairs! Call to the little soul to awake and live. Your faith and prayer cannot fail of an answer.

2 Kings 4:38-44 – ​“Who Giveth Food to All Flesh”

   This miracle, it has been justly remarked, is a faint foreshadowing of our Lord’s marvelous feeding of thousands with even scantier materials. As Elijah was a type of John the Baptist; so Elisha was, in many respects, a type of our Lord. In his peaceful, human life, his mild and gentle character, his constant circuits, his many miracles of mercy, he resembles, more than any other prophet, the Messiah.
   We have also, in this miracle, the great province of the Gospel to counteract the ancient curse of a forfeited Paradise and meet the hunger of the soul. The grace of God will turn an evil into a blessing and multiply a little to feed a multitude. See Mark 16:18; Psalm 132:15. Can there be any doubt that to faith and prayer resources are open which are closed to all else? If nature contained all we need, ready to our hand, of what use would prayer be? The very injunctions to prayer and the success of those who have prayed, prove that God has forces available, which can operate in behalf of those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose.