Through the Bible Day by Day
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.
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.
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.
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 an holy man of God,” 2Ki_4:9!
Sunstroke in the tropics is a frequent cause of death, Psa_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 Heb_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 miles 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.
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:
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.
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.
“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 Mar_16:18; Psa_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.