The Shunammite Woman
2 Kings 4:8-17
The Shunammite woman is described as a great woman who opened her home to the prophet Elisha. She did not know who he was, but saw him walking through town one day and invited him to eat at the family home. He would visit the area often and each time, she'd invite him to stay with her husband and she. One day she told her husband that she suspected this was a great and holy man of God and that they should take their hospitality a step further. She set up a room with a cot so that Elisha would be more comfortable during his visits.
So let's stop here and think about this great woman's character so far. She is hospitable and warm toward strangers, and she is wise enough to recognize someone who walks with God. She also shows reverence toward those who walk with God.
Because of her character Elisha decided to bless the Shunammite woman. He asked her what she wanted ... did she want him to put in a good word with the king or even the commander of the Army? What could he do to show his appreciation? She modestly answers,"thank you, but what I have is sufficient." Elisha then asks his servant what he could give this kindly woman. The servant says that the woman is married to an old man and the couple have no children.
Elisha then told the woman that at this same time next year, she'll be holding her son. She was shocked and said, "as a man of God PLEASE don't lie to me like that!" But the prophesy was true. Next year she was holding her little man.
So not only was the woman hospitable and wise, she was modest and content with what she had. She reverenced those deserving and she was not a self-seeking person. And when she did something for somebody, she went all out. But the story does not end here.
The child grew older, but one day he was out in the field with his father when he started screaming, "my head, my head!" Perhaps he had heat stroke or an aneurysm - we don't know. All we know is that the child was taken to his mother where he sat on her lap and died in her arms around noon. And what did the woman do?
She immediately laid him on Elisha's cot and hopped on a donkey trotting as fast as it would go to find the man of God. Elisha saw her coming and sent his servant to find out how she and her family were faring. Her response? "It is well." When she got to the prophet she fell at his feet with a bitter and vexed spirit. She pretty much said, "you came to me with this child ... I didn't ask you for him, so why did you give him, make me love him then let him die?" Needless to say Elisha was quick to work a miracle for this family.
Read verses 29 - 36 to find out exactly how Elisha brought the child back to life (it's quite interesting), but when he told the woman to get her son ... she fell at Elisha's feet, bowed to the ground in gratitude, grabbed her child and left with him.
Now think about the following:
- I often hear people say that miracles were only to draw people to God, but this is a situation where a man of God awarded a miracle as a kind of thank you gift. Is it possible that there are holy people today who can authorize miracles? What biblical evidence supports your response? (Do some research, don't just rest on old assumptions!)
- How would you react if someone prophesied that you would have a child despite your medical history? (If someone did prophesy and your baby did not survive, does that mean it's the end of the road for you? Find out what happens in these situations) What does your response say about your ability to believe in the unseen?
- How did you react after your child died? How is it different from the Shunammite woman's example? The woman felt justified in asking the prophet "why" ... but she did not lose faith in his ability to do what was right in his sight. What has your approach been when talking to God? (i.e "My way or the highway" or "let Your will be done. I trust You.")
- Do you think the Shunammite woman's character had anything to do with God opening her womb? How does your character match or contrast those of the Shunammite woman? What areas do you need to develop?
- Thinking about the Shunammite woman's example is there something you can do today to invite a miracle into your life?
Feel free to share your thoughts, questions and responses in the comments section.