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2 Kings 4:1-7

Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.”2 And Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?” And she said, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.” 3 Then he said, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few. 4 Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside.” 5 So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her. 6 When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another.” Then the oil stopped flowing. 7 She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.”

16 comments on “2 Kings 4:1-7

  1. The Lord delivered the widow from poverty and her sons from slavery through Elijah. He cares about our finances and our freedoms and every aspect of our lives. I need to seek his guidance in all things. And in my blessings, use my resources and freedom to honor Him.

    Reminds me of a scripture song from my youth which is sung in a round:

    I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised;
    So shall I be saved from my enemies.
    The Lord liveth, and blessed be the Rock;
    And let the God of my salvation be exalted!

  2. Elijah replied “what shall I do for you?” This is the same response that Jesus gave to blind Bartimaeus, “what do you want me to do for you?”

    The Bible says “God knows our needs before we ask,” so why do we need to ask?

    Pastor David Dauk of Living Word Lutheran Church LCMS in New London, MN has the following to say:

    A great question. One that I’ve received more than once. The underlying question often is “Why bother praying – God’ knows what we need… and besides He’s going to do what He wants anyway.”

    It is very true that God knows our needs and sometimes (maybe most often) he provides what we need without asking. But there are many instances in the Bible where God gave something just because someone asked – and would not have given it had they not asked.

    God tells us to ask for things in prayer for several reasons. First of all, humility is one of the things God values most in His people. Asking God for something is by its very nature a humbling experience. When you ask God for something you are admitting that you aren’t capable of providing that thing by yourself, you aren’t capable of controlling the situation on your own, you aren’t capable of doing what God alone can do. Admitting there are things we can’t do is a humbling thing.

    Second, “trust” is another thing God requires of His people. Again, prayer by its very nature is an act of trust. You wouldn’t be asking God for something if you didn’t have at least a little trust that He has the power to give what you ask for.
    Third, God may wait until we ask for something before He gives it, so we realize that He is the one who gave it – and then give Him the credit for doing so. The more He gives without our asking, the more we take Him for granted, or even credit ourselves for all the good things we have.

    Of course, there’s always the “relationship aspect” to keep in mind. Above all else God wants a personal relationship with each one of us. He wants it so badly that He sent His Son to the cross in order to remove the barrier of sin that would have prevented sinful people from ever being reconciled with a sinless God. And one of the truths about relationships is that you can’t have one without talking to the other person. When we come to God in prayer we are taking the time to talk to God – strengthening our relationship.

    Jesus said, “Ask and you shall receive.” When you ask God for something you will always receive an answer. That answer may be “Yes.” The answer could be, “No, I have a better idea.” Or the answer could be, “Yes, but first I want you to….” But whatever the answer you can trust it truly is the best answer.

  3. The scripture this morning led me to focus on the plight of widows and the fatherless. The Bible shows that widows and the fatherless have a special place in the heart of God. God made mention of the widow and the fatherless when He first gave the law to the Israelites. He said, “You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child.” (Exodus 22:22).

    In Psalms the Bible says that The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, …” (Psalms 146:9)

    Widows and the fatherless are precious to the Lord. I need to remember this as I go about my busyness, this day and everyday.

  4. God uses the ordinary to accomplish the extraordinary. Through Elisha, God multiplied a single jar of oil into enough oil to sustain the widow and her sons. THAT’S MY KING!

    The opening video yesterday by Dr. Dr. S.M. Lockridge called “That’s My King” was awesome. I wonder, do you know Him?

  5. The widow knew that Elisha was a prophet of God. Her deceased husband was one of the “sons of the prophets” which means that he was in a state of preparation and instruction. He had a relationship with Elisha through his education. The widow’s request for deliverance from her creditors was evidence that she knew scripture. More importantly, she trusted Elisha and did as he instructed.

    As I get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving and prepare for Advent, I thank God for the Word, for the Promise of salvation, and for the fulfillment of that Promise in Jesus Christ. Christ’s life and death and resurrection fits every Messianic promise “like a glove” as Jan Lohmeyer pointed out in the adult Bible class on Sunday. That’s my king!

    I pray that I would have faith like the widow to call upon the Lord and obey his commands.

  6. This is another example of God’s overwhelming grace. Not only did he provide for her immediate need by providing a means to pay her debts (what she asked for), but then he gave her income beyond this (more than what she asked for)!

    It the same way with us – he gives and give and gives, and certainly, at the end of the day, what he gives us will go far beyond anything we can imagine. And we don’t even deserve it. This is humbling and motivating.

    • Humbling and motivating indeed. We don’t deserve God’s grace, but we are called to receive it joyfully and share it generously. His Love… Our Response!

  7. And she said, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.”

    The widow’s husband, one of the sons of the prophets, lived the “Simplicity of the Carefree Life.” This is the title of chapter 17 in Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book “The Cost of Discipleship.” Bonhoeffer writes:

    “The life of discipleship can only be maintained so long as nothing is allowed to come between Christ and ourselves.”

    “Worldly possessions tend to turn the hearts of the disciples away from Jesus.”

    “Earthly goods are given to be used, not to be collected.”

    “Where our treasure is, there is our trust, our security, our consolation and our God. Hoarding is idolatry.”

    In closing Bonhoeffer writes, “After he has been following Christ for a long time, “the disciple of Jesus will be asked “Lacked ye anything?” and he will answer “Nothing, Lord.” How could he when he knows that despite hunger and nakedness, persecution and danger, the Lord is always at his side?”

    His yoke is easy; his burden is light. That’s my king!

  8. As I read the scripture this morning, I am again reminded of the video “That’s My King” by Dr. S. M. Lockridge. One verse from the 6-1/2 minute dissertation particularly describes the plight of this widow and her deliverance:

    “He supplies strength for the weak. He’s available for the tempted and the tried. He sympathizes and He saves. He strengthens and sustains. He guards and He guides. He heals the sick. He cleansed the lepers. He forgives sinners. He discharges debtors. He delivers the captive. He defends the feeble. He blesses the young. He serves the unfortunate. He regards the aged. He rewards the diligent. And He beautifies the meek.”

    God uses ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things. In the Old Testament it was Elisha and the prophets; in the New Testament it was the apostles; today it is the body of believers, of which I am one. My feet are to go and feed His sheep!

  9. Then he said, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few.

    Blessings come down… when prayers go up. The widow was groping in darkness and oppression. She could have cursed God for her afflictions. Rather, she remembered the promise of scripture and called on Elisha for deliverance; her obedience was rewarded in a big way, with not too few vessels being filled with oil.

    The cost of discipleship is obedience to the Word; to love the Lord with all my strength, and love my neighbor as myself. God will be faithful to his promise if I let Him.

  10. 3 Then he said, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few.

    Do you know your neighbors well enough to borrow something from them? Not just a few of your neighbors, but all your neighbors?

    Laura and I moved into a new neighborhood 7 months ago and in spite of good intentions, I have only met 5 of my new neighbors. I missed an opportunity last night as I was standing on the street admiring the Christmas lights that Timothy and Emily had helped put on the house and in the yard. An elderly couple walked by and said “looks nice”. I replied “thank-you”, and let them pass by without an introduction; without asking how they were doing; without asking where they lived; without asking what brought them into my midst on this fine evening?

    If the devil can’t make you bad, he will make you busy. I was focused on things that perish rather than on the Kingdom. I shan’t let that opportunity pass by again.

  11. 7 She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.”

    The widow knew whom she was dealing with. She knew that the prophet Elisha was a man of God. She followed Elisha’s instructions regarding the empty vessels, and in doing so, she received hope.

    The question on my heart this morning, from Pastor Singer’s sermon series, is “What are you getting for Christmas this year?” The first thing on my list is HOPE!

  12. As I listened to Focus on the Family this morning enroute to Hobby Airport, the guest speaker quoted the following verse:

    “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.” Proverbs 18:22

    I immediately thought of the widow in this text who brought honor to her husband even after his death.

    I also gave thanks for my own good fortune in spite of my shortcomings.

    God is good… all the time!

  13. … and you know that your servant feared the Lord.

    Fearing God is good because it saves us from caving into our own sinful nature. That’s why hearing someone is God-fearing actually makes us trust that person more. If they fear God, they are more likely to keep their word and treat others with kindness. In fact, Romans 3, a classic chapter on sin, says that our chief sin is that we “have no fear of God at all” (Romans 3:18).

    So how does fear of God, who is perfect love, take away fear? William D. Eisenhower puts it this way in his article ‘Fearing God” in Christianity Today:

    Unfortunately, many of us presume that the world is the ultimate threat and that God’s function is to offset it. How different this is from the biblical position that God is far scarier than the world …. When we assume that the world is the ultimate threat, we give it unwarranted power, for in truth, the world’s threats are temporary. When we expect God to balance the stress of the world, we reduce him to the world’s equal …. As I walk with the Lord, I discover that God poses an ominous threat to my ego, but not to me. He rescues me from my delusions, so he may reveal the truth that sets me free. He casts me down, only to lift me up again. He sits in judgment of my sin, but forgives me nevertheless. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but love from the Lord is its completion.

    And, of course, the ultimate example of fear and perfect love working together is Jesus Christ. He warned us at every turn to fear God, not men—and he confirmed that in everything about his life and death. He spoke lovingly but frankly to all and didn’t mince words when people needed to face their sin and repent. But he also demonstrated love beyond human understanding when he lived out his words, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13).” With love like that, what is left to fear but God?

    That’s my King!

  14. The Lord found favor on the widow. The Old Testament is filled with stories that illustrate how God brought someone into favor in an unfavorable situation. Daniel was given favor in the king’s palace, even though he was a captive and taken prisoner. Joseph was given favor with the guards as a prisoner in Egypt. And even David, before he was king, was given favor when he sought refuge in enemy territory with the Philistines. Why such favor with these people in these situations? Was it because of what they had done to earn it? No. It was because of who God is.

    There are many times that I ask God to give me favor in certain situations or with certain people. Sometimes we hold back from asking for such things because we feel unworthy or undeserving. But the Lord wants us to ask because He loves to answer. I have been given favor in situations where I deserved nothing but wrath. When we truly embrace God’s grace, then we can begin to understand a snippet of how much He loves us.

  15. The widow gave testimony to Elisha that her late husband feared the Lord. During an Advent devotion yesterday evening about wisdom, our family discussed the importance of fearing the Lord:

    The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise. Psalm 111:10 (NIV)

    As I pondered this text and similar warnings in Provervs 1:7 and Proverbs 9:10, I was led to the following commentary about wisdom by Dave Whitehead, Senior Pastor, GraceNYC.org:

    Notice that wisdom doesn’t begin with knowledge, for knowledge without the fear of the Lord can become destructive. This Psalm tells us that obedience is the first step toward true understanding, so start with a heart that is ready to listen and obey what God says in His word. When you do, you not only gain wisdom and understanding, your heart experiences praise, which brings passion back into your soul, and passion motivates us to use all that we learn for God’s glory.

    Amen!

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