Life Application Study Bible For All Generations - Page 19

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2 Kings 4:1

The Shunammite’s Son Restored to Life
8 One day Elisha went to Shunem. e And a well-to-do woman was there, who urged
him to stay for a meal. So whenever he came by, he stopped there to eat. 9She said to her
husband, “I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God. 10Let’s
make a small room on the roof and put in it a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp for
him. Then he can stay f there whenever he comes to us.”
11 One day when Elisha came, he went up to his room and lay down there. 12 He said to
his servant Gehazi, “Call the Shunammite.” g So he called her, and she stood before him.
13 Elisha said to him, “Tell her, ‘You have gone to all this trouble for us. Now what can be
done for you? Can we speak on your behalf to the king or the commander of the army?’ ”
She replied, “I have a home among my own people.”
14 “What can be done for her?” Elisha asked.
Gehazi said, “She has no son, and her husband is old.”
01, 02
03, 04
05, 06
a1Sa 10:5; 2Ki 2:3
bEx 22:26;
Lev 25:39-43;
Ne 5:3-5; Job 22:6;
c1Ki 17:12

eJos 19:18
fMt 10:41; Ro 12:13
g2Ki 8:1
4:1 Poor people and debtors were allowed to pay their debts by selling
(1) providing money for a poverty-stricken widow (4:1-7); (2) prophesying that a child would be born to a barren woman (4:14-17); (3) raising
a dead boy to life (4:32-37); (4) purifying poisonous food (4:38-41); and
(5) providing food for 100 men (4:42-44). These miracles show God’s
tenderness and care for those who are faithful to him.
When reading the Old Testament, it is easy to focus on God’s harsh
judgment of rebellious people and to minimize his tender care for those
who love and serve him. Seeing God at work providing for his followers helps us keep his severe justice toward the unrepentant in proper
themselves or their children as slaves. God ordered rich people and creditors not to take advantage of these people during their time of extreme
need (see Deuteronomy 15:1-18 for an explanation of these practices).
This woman’s creditor was not acting in the spirit of God’s law. Elisha’s
kind deed demonstrates that God wants us to go beyond simply keeping
the law. We must also show compassion and take action to help.
4:6 The woman and her sons collected jars from their neighbors, pouring
olive oil into them from their one jar. The olive oil was used for cooking,
for lamps, and for fuel. The oil stopped pouring only when they ran out
of containers. The number of jars they gathered was an indication of
their faith. God’s provision was as large as their faith and willingness to
be obedient. Beware of limiting God’s blessings by a lack of faith and
obedience. We have a great King. Because he loves us, we can bring
great requests to him. God is able to do infinitely more than we can ask,
think, or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
4:9 The Shunammite woman realized that Elisha was a man of God, so
she prepared a room for him to use whenever he was in town. She did
this out of kindness and because she sensed a need, not for any selfish
motives. Soon, however, her kindness would be rewarded far beyond
her wildest dreams. How sensitive are you to those who pass by your
home and flow through your life who need hospitality—especially those
who teach and preach God’s Word? What about travelers who visit your
church? What special needs do they have that you could meet? Look for
ways to serve and help.
4:16 This woman would receive the same favor from the Lord as Sarah
did many years before. And like Sarah, she reacted in disbelief (Genesis
18:10-15). She was probably afraid to believe after many years of dashed
hopes. Perhaps the promise of a child seemed too incredible to possibly
be true. Despite her skepticism, the Lord remained faithful, and she did
have a child as Elisha had said. Just as he did for the woman from Shunem,
God remains faithful to us even when his promises are beyond our ability
to hope or believe.
Sea of
20 mi
20 km
Jordan River
2 Kings 4:26
time h
iRu 2:3

15 Then Elisha said, “Call her.” So he called her, and she stood in the doorway. 16 “About
hGe 18:10
4:1-44 This chapter records five of God’s miracles through Elisha:

page 569
page 568
The Widow’s Olive Oil
The wife of a man from the company a of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your
servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his
creditor b is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”
2 Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”
“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.” c
3 Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just
a few. 4Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the
jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”
5 She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to
her and she kept pouring. 6When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me
another one.”
But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.
7 She went and told the man of God, d and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts.
You and your sons can live on what is left.”
Elisha often stayed
with a kind couple
in Shunem. In return
for the couple’s
kindness, Elisha
prophesied that they
would have a son.
Years later, the son
suddenly died, and
his mother traveled
to Mount Carmel
to find Elisha. He
returned with her
and raised the boy
from the dead. Elisha
then went to his
home in Gilgal.
kNu 10:10;
1Ch 23:31; Ps 81:3
l1Ki 18:20; 2Ki 2:25
next year,” Elisha said, “you will hold a son in your arms.”
“No, my lord!” she objected. “Please, man of God, don’t mislead your servant!”
17 But the woman became pregnant, and the next year about that same time she gave
birth to a son, just as Elisha had told her.
18 The child grew, and one day he went out to his father, who was with the reapers. i
19 He said to his father, “My head! My head!”
His father told a servant, “Carry him to his mother.” 20 After the servant had lifted
him up and carried him to his mother, the boy sat on her lap until noon, and then he
died. 21She went up and laid him on the bed j of the man of God, then shut the door and
went out.
22 She called her husband and said, “Please send me one of the servants and a donkey
so I can go to the man of God quickly and return.”
23 “Why go to him today?” he asked. “It’s not the New Moon k or the Sabbath.”
“That’s all right,” she said.
24 She saddled the donkey and said to her servant, “Lead on; don’t slow down for me
unless I tell you.” 25So she set out and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel. l
When he saw her in the distance, the man of God said to his servant Gehazi, “Look!
There’s the Shunammite! 26Run to meet her and ask her, ‘Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is your child all right?’ ”
FEW “REPL ACEMEnTs” in sCRiPTURE were as effective as Elisha, who was
Elijah’s replacement as God’s prophet to Israel. But Elisha had a great example to
follow in the prophet Elijah. He remained with Elijah until the last moments of his
teacher’s life on earth. Elisha was willing to follow and learn in order to prepare to do
the work to which God had called him.
Both Elijah and Elisha concentrated their efforts on the particular needs of the people around
them. The fiery Elijah confronted and exposed idolatry, helping to create an atmosphere where
people could freely and publicly worship God. Elisha then moved in to demonstrate God’s
powerful yet caring nature to all who came to him for help. He spent less time in conflict with
evil and more in compassionate care of people. The Bible records 18 encounters between Elisha
and people in need.
Elisha saw more in life than most people because he recognized that God brought more to life.
He knew that all the good that we are and have comes to us from God. The miracles that occurred
during Elisha’s ministry put people in touch with the personal and all-powerful God. Elijah would
have been proud of his replacement’s work.
We, too, have great examples to follow—people in Scripture and those who have positively
influenced our lives. We must resist the tendency to think about the limitations that our family
backgrounds or environments have created for us. Instead, we should ask God to use us for his
purposes—perhaps, like Elijah, to take a stand against great wrongs or, like Elisha, to show compassion for the daily needs of those around us. Ask him to use you as only he can.
Strengths and
• Elijah’s successor as a prophet of God
• Had a major impact on four nations: Israel, Judah, Moab, and Aram
• A man of integrity who did not try to get rich at others’ expense
• Did many miracles to help those in need
Notable fact:
• Had a ministry that lasted over 50 years
Lessons from
his life:
• In God’s eyes, one measure of greatness is the willingness to serve the poor as well
as the powerful.
• Effective replacements not only learn from their masters but also build upon their
masters’ achievements.
Vital statistics:
• Where: Prophesied to the northern kingdom
• Occupations: Farmer, prophet
• Relative: Father: Shaphat.
• Contemporaries: Elijah, Ahab, Jezebel, Jehu
Key verse:
“When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Tell me, what can I do for you before
I am taken from you?’ ‘Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,’ Elisha replied.”
(2 Kings 2:9)
Elisha’s story is told in 1 Kings 19:16—2 Kings 13:20. He is also mentioned in Luke 4:27.

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