2 Kings 4:8-17 – The Lord gives her a son
8 One day Elisha went to Shunem. 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. 9 She said to her husband, “I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God. 10 Let’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 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.” 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, “Well, she has no son and her husband is old.”
15 Then Elisha said, “Call her.” So he called her, and she stood in the doorway. 16 “About this time next year,” Elisha said, “you will hold a son in your arms.” “No, my lord,” she objected. “Don’t mislead your servant, O man of God!*”
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.
*Some versions say “Don’t get my hopes up”.
2 Kings 4:18-37 – The Lord restores her son’s life
18 The child grew, and one day he went out to his father, who was with the reapers. 19 “My head! My head!” he said to his father. 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. 21 She went up and laid him on the bed 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 or the Sabbath.” “It’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.” 25 So she set out and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel. When he saw her in the distance, the man of God said to his servant Gehazi, “Look! There’s the Shunammite! 26 Run to meet her and ask her, ‘Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is your child all right?'” “Everything is all right,” she said.
27 When she reached the man of God at the mountain, she took hold of his feet. Gehazi came over to push her away, but the man of God said, “Leave her alone! She is in bitter distress, but the LORD has hidden it from me and has not told me why.”
28 “Did I ask you for a son, my lord?” she said. “Didn’t I tell you, ‘Don’t raise my hopes’?”
29 Elisha said to Gehazi, “Tuck your cloak into your belt, take my staff in your hand and run. If you meet anyone, do not greet him, and if anyone greets you, do not answer. Lay my staff on the boy’s face.”
30 But the child’s mother said, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So he got up and followed her.
31 Gehazi went on ahead and laid the staff on the boy’s face, but there was no sound or response. So Gehazi went back to meet Elisha and told him, “The boy has not awakened.”
32 When Elisha reached the house, there was the boy lying dead on his couch. 33 He went in, shut the door on the two of them and prayed to the LORD. 34 Then he got on the bed and lay upon the boy, mouth to mouth, eyes to eyes, hands to hands. As he stretched himself out upon him, the boy’s body grew warm. 35 Elisha turned away and walked back and forth in the room and then got on the bed and stretched out upon him once more. The boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes.
36 Elisha summoned Gehazi and said, “Call the Shunammite.” And he did. When she came, he said, “Take your son.” 37 She came in, fell at his feet and bowed to the ground. Then she took her son and went out.
2 Kings 8:1-6 – The Lord restores her home
1 Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, “Go away with your family and stay for a while wherever you can, because the LORD has decreed a famine in the land that will last seven years.” 2 The woman proceeded to do as the man of God said. She and her family went away and stayed in the land of the Philistines seven years.
3 At the end of the seven years she came back from the land of the Philistines and went to the king to beg for her house and land. 4 The king was talking to Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, and had said, “Tell me about all the great things Elisha has done.” 5 Just as Gehazi was telling the king how Elisha had restored the dead to life, the woman whose son Elisha had brought back to life came to beg the king for her house and land. Gehazi said, “This is the woman, my lord the king, and this is her son whom Elisha restored to life.” 6 The king asked the woman about it, and she told him. Then he assigned an official to her case and said to him, “Give back everything that belonged to her, including all the income from her land from the day she left the country until now.”
Wow. This is a powerful old testament story. We tend to attribute amazing miracles to Jesus, but Elisha has some fantastic ones. In fact, if you think about the Biblical principle of ‘first mention’ then these were powerful examples and faith builders for Jesus. I imagine Him, as a young boy, hearing these stories read aloud in the temple and growing in faith. Over the years I have learned so much about the barren Shunamite woman. I felt her pain. I begged God time and again not to get my hopes up. Hope is far too painful when it’s dashed.
Lately, probably as part of reflecting on my goals for the year, I’ve been considering what is important to me, things I’d like to see happen this year. One of these, is that I’d like to have a house. We’ve been renting for years and it’s wearing thin. I’d dearly love my own home. So, I might have prayed a prayer or two about it in the past week or two.
When Better Homes and Garden announced their competition to win a home on the Sunshine Coast, I found myself salivating. Wouldn’t it be great to win a home? My self talk went something like “Don’t be stupid. You wouldn’t win that home! [pause] Why not? Somebody has got to win that competition and it might as well be me. Why not me? Why couldn’t it be me?”
But this morning, while praying about my goals, about my desire for a home, about this competition, I just randomly flipped open my Bible. It landed open at 2 Kings 8, a story I had never read before starring a woman I knew well and related to as a kindred spirit. We shared the pain of infertility and it sucked. But here she was, begging for the return of her home and being blessed abundantly for it. She shared with the King about what Elisha had done for her and God was glorified for it.
Wow. That story is filling me with faith for my dream this year – to have my own home again.