As we continue reading 2 Kings we get to learn more about Elisha and how the Lord used him in Israel. He used the office of prophet to encourage and edify the people he met. The relationships he formed with people changed their lives and drew them closer to The Lord. This was the case with the woman from Shunem. Verses 8-10 read,
“One day Elisha went on to Shunem, where a wealthy woman lived, who urged him to eat some food. So whenever he passed that way, he would turn in there to eat food. 9 And she said to her husband, “Behold now, I know that this is a holy man of God who is continually passing our way. 10 Let us make a small room on the roof with walls and put there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp, so that whenever he comes to us, he can go in there.”
It was apparent to everyone who met Elisha that he was a man of God, called apart for something extraordinary. Because of that people showed him favor. The Shunammite woman was so eager to show Elisha hospitality that she built him a room just for him to rest anytime he passed through Shunem.
Christians today are quick to point out that people will hate us for our testimony, but did you know people are supposed to think well of us? We have a responsibility to behave like Jesus and express the Holy Spirit. When we do that, people will have favor on us. It is not until the prideful are confronted with the gospel that they will hate us. Before we just make everyone and their neighbor hate us, we are supposed to be loving people, forming relationships and modeling the love of Jesus Christ. Acts 2:42-47 says,
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
It was through walking like Jesus, expressing the fruit of the Spirit, and praising God that brought favor. And it was favor which caused people to be added daily. We do not cause anyone to want to come to Jesus with antagonism, belittling, or finger wagging. The people who hate us (and they will and they do) are to hate us for Christ’s sake not because we’re jerks. John 15:12-21 says it like this,
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.”
Elisha had favor with people, they could clearly see he was not like the world, he was an anointed man of God. He was moved by the Shunammite woman’s kindness and wanted to return the favor. Verses 11-13 read,
“One day he came there, and he turned into the chamber and rested there.12 And he said to Gehazi his servant, “Call this Shunammite.” When he had called her, she stood before him. 13 And he said to him, “Say now to her, ‘See, you have taken all this trouble for us; what is to be done for you? Would you have a word spoken on your behalf to the king or to the commander of the army?’” She answered, “I dwell among my own people.”
When Elisha asked the woman what he could do for her; could he make her known to the king and bring her honor, could he let the commander of the army know who she was and offer her protection, she said, “I dwell among my own people.” She was saying she was content, she needed no honor, no extra protection, and all was well with her. This was an added reason for Elisha to want to do something kind for her. Being content does not mean that we have everything we need or want, it means trusting God and letting Him be sovereign of our lives. Paul spoke about contentment in any situation, abundance or scarcity. It is through Christ that we are able to trust God regardless of how much or how little we have. He said it this way in Philippians 4:11-13
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Content does not mean happy, it means satisfied. It takes strength to let God be God and trust that the situation is under control. It takes strength to let God be our All in All. The Shunammite was content but she did not have all she desired, she purposely chose not to complain and not to curse God or be envious. Verses 14-17 read,
“And he said, “What then is to be done for her?” Gehazi answered, “Well, she has no son, and her husband is old.” 15 He said, “Call her.” And when he had called her, she stood in the doorway. 16 And he said, “At this season, about this time next year, you shall embrace a son.” And she said, “No, my lord, O man of God; do not lie to your servant.” 17 But the woman conceived, and she bore a son about that time the following spring, as Elisha had said to her.”
Have you ever received such wonderful news, you almost didn’t want to believe it? You respond with, ‘you’re kidding!’ or ‘tell me you are not joking!’ That was the reaction the Shunammite woman had. She wanted a child but was content with the situation as it was. To hear such wonderful news was almost too good to be true. The Lord gave her this wonderful gift because she so faithfully gave to Elisha, because she lived so contentedly and meekly. She didn’t require honor or trumpets. She didn’t announce to the king or anyone that she had given Elisha the gift of the room. She just did it.
As the years passed Elisha continued to use the room the woman had built for him and so continued his friendship with her and her family. Verses 18-26 say,
“When the child had grown, he went out one day to his father among the reapers. 19 And he said to his father, “Oh, my head, my head!” The father said to his servant, “Carry him to his mother.” 20 And when he had lifted him and brought him to his mother, the child sat on her lap till noon, and then he died.21 And she went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God and shut the door behind him and went out. 22 Then she called to her husband and said, “Send me one of the servants and one of the donkeys, that I may quickly go to the man of God and come back again.” 23 And he said, “Why will you go to him today? It is neither new moon nor Sabbath.” She said, “All is well.” 24 Then she saddled the donkey, and she said to her servant, “Urge the animal on; do not slacken the pace for me unless I tell you.” 25 So she set out and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel.
When the man of God saw her coming, he said to Gehazi his servant, “Look, there is the Shunammite. 26 Run at once to meet her and say to her, ‘Is all well with you? Is all well with your husband? Is all well with the child?’” And she answered, “All is well.”
Can you imagine your child suddenly in such pain that he had to be carried into the house? Can you imagine him dying in your arms while you tried to comfort him? I cannot. I have no idea how terrible that would feel. But the Shunammite woman had tremendous faith. Look at her reaction when her husband asked her why she had to go find Elisha in such a hurry, “All is well.” She wasn’t lying. She trusted God. He gave her this son. The boy like everything else belonged to God. She also trusted that God would heal him, even though he was dead on Elisha’s bed. She didn’t complain to her servant, not to Gehazi. When asked if anything was wrong, she said, “All is well.”
There was no need to complain or cry to anyone unless he could do something about it. She knew The Lord could and would and the only person to tell was Elisha. She didn’t lie to her husband or Gehazi. She stated what she knew, “All is well,” “I trust God.” She was not happy to have her son dead. She was not apathetic to the loss. She simply had deep faith that allowed her to trust God, regardless of her circumstances. Job had that kind of faith, even when he was broken, mourning, and in anguish his faith shone through. He lost all his children and all his wealth in one morning, his reaction was to worship God. Job 1:20-22 reads,
“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.”
That is contentment. That is trusting God to be your All in All. That is the kind of faith the Shunammite woman possessed. Verses 27-31 read,
“And when she came to the mountain to the man of God, she caught hold of his feet. And Gehazi came to push her away. But the man of God said, “Leave her alone, for she is in bitter distress, and the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me.” 28 Then she said, “Did I ask my lord for a son? Did I not say, ‘Do not deceive me?’” 29 He said to Gehazi, “Tie up your garment and take my staff in your hand and go. If you meet anyone, do not greet him, and if anyone greets you, do not reply. And lay my staff on the face of the child.” 30 Then the mother of the child said, “As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So he arose and followed her. 31 Gehazi went on ahead and laid the staff on the face of the child, but there was no sound or sign of life. Therefore he returned to meet him and told him, “The child has not awakened.”
The mother’s faith made her persistent about bringing Elisha back to heal and raise her son. She didn’t give up when he said, ‘take my staff.’ She said, ‘I’m staying with you Elisha.’ So Elisha went. And when Gehazi was not able to raise her son with Elisha’s staff, neither the mother nor Elisha threw in the towel. Verses 32-37 read,
“When Elisha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed.33 So he went in and shut the door behind the two of them and prayed to the Lord. 34 Then he went up and lay on the child, putting his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands. And as he stretched himself upon him, the flesh of the child became warm. 35 Then he got up again and walked once back and forth in the house, and went up and stretched himself upon him. The child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.36 Then he summoned Gehazi and said, “Call this Shunammite.” So he called her. And when she came to him, he said, “Pick up your son.” 37 She came and fell at his feet, bowing to the ground. Then she picked up her son and went out.”
The woman’s faith and Elisha’s faith didn’t let them pray once and say, ‘well God didn’t do it, He must not want this boy to live.’ They kept going. God had told Elisha He would do it or else the prophet would not have come. Elisha had sent his staff but to no avail. He prayed. Then, in a foreshadow of Jesus covering us with Himself in order to bring us life, Elisha laid on top of child. He covered him with himself and gave life to the child’s flesh. But the child was still not awake, his spirit was not back. Elisha stretched, inferring that it had been a long time that he laid on top of the boy. Then he diligently returned to bring the boy back to life and once again covered the boy with his own body. Finally the boy’s spirit returned to him and he was truly alive. Elisha figuratively laid down his life for the boy and the boy was resurrected. Jesus literally laid down His life for us so that we could be resurrected. He gave us eternal life.
How willing are we to do whatever it takes, to be persistent and keep going regardless of the circumstances. The woman could have given up at her son’s death. Yet she had faith that God could bring him back. She doggedly pursued Elisha and brought him to her house. Elisha just as resolutely did what the Lord commanded him to do. He did not stop half way through. He didn’t stop at the boy’s breathing, he kept going until both flesh and spirit had been revived.
Believer, you can be content in any situation because Jesus is All-Sufficient. He is El Shaddai, The LORD, I Am who I Am. That contentment gives and stems from faith. The more faith you have the more content you will be. The more content you are, the more faith you will have. With contentment comes blessings, with blessings come faith.