The Agora
Bible Commentary
2 Kings

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25

2 Kings 4

2Ki 4:1

2Ki 4: "The land was suffering from drought and distress. In the extremity of her misfortune a poor woman was forced to appeal to Yahweh. She was in debt and her creditor demanded satisfaction. She was in a terrible situation, with none to assist. The advent of Elisha brought salvation in the continuing cruse of oil (vv 1-7). A further situation concerned 'a great woman' who desired a family life, and was provided with a son (vv 8-17). Then came tragedy. The faith of the woman is tried further in the death of the child, and a further practical lesson taught (vv 18-22). The power of Elisha is sought so that her hope might be realised (vv 23-28). Meanwhile the effort of Gehazi is found to be impotent, as the Law of Moses could not bring life to dying Israel (vv 29-31). The advent of Elisha turned sorrow into joy, and the resurrection is foreshadowed (vv 32-37). The nation was to experience the situation felt in the home of the woman, as famine continued to afflict the land, and 'death in the pot' is realised (vv 38-41). Food was multiplied (vv 42-44), an expression of the great harvest of the future, when the problems of the present environment is overcome, and the famine for the word of Yahweh is followed by the great outpouring of the Spirit at the coming of the greater Elisha. It was all 'according to the word of Yahweh' " (GEM).

Vv 1-7: Widowed, childless, and past 80 years of age, Bill Cruxton wanted his $500,000 fortune to make a difference in someone's life. A 17-year-old waitress who had been kind to him seemed the perfect choice. So when Cruxton died on November 9, 1992 he left the bulk of his estate to Cara Wood, a high school senior who befriended him during the 13 months she worked part-time at a restaurant. Even after she quit her job, Cara kept in touch with Cruxton, running errands for him and helping him around the house. Because of his poor eyesight, she often helped him read his mail and pay his bills.

Like Cara Wood, the widow here became the recipient of another's wealth. But the riches she received came from the hand of God. The woman had known great heartache. She had lost her husband, who was of the men from the "company of the prophets". Soon she would lose her sons as well, since they were about to become slaves. The Mosaic Law gave a creditor the right to claim the person and children of a debtor who was unable to pay. They were obliged to serve as the creditor's hired workers until the year of Jubilee, when they were set free (Lev 25:39-41).

It was not a happy prospect, and the prophet Elisha, who knew her husband's devotion to the Lord, wanted to help this desperate widow. When he learned that she had nothing in her house but a small flask of oil, he told her to collect from her neighbors as many empty jars as she could -- leaving the number of jars, and the size of her faith, up to her. The woman was to shut herself and her sons inside the house and pour from her flask until all of the jars were full. Nobody else was to see or know about the miracle. Nobody needed to know about it, or Elisha would surely have been swamped with "business offers".

The woman did as Elisha instructed, and had enough oil to pay her debts and live off the rest. God's prophets were not only messengers of His judgment, but instruments of His miraculous provision for His people.

2Ki 4:3

DON'T ASK FOR JUST A FEW: Ct lukewarm response of Joash (2Ki 13:18,19). Cp Mary at Cana: "Do whatever he tells you" (Joh 2:5).

2Ki 4:4

GO INSIDE AND SHUT THE DOOR BEHIND YOU...: A separate people: cp Jewish homes at first passover.

2Ki 4:5

Vv 5,21,33: Open doors: for restored communion (2Ch 29:3); deliverance from prison (Act 5:19); surrender (Rev 3:20); service (1Co 16:9); and opportunity (Rev 3:8). Shut doors: for safety (Gen 7:16); privacy and communion (Mat 6:6); faith and prayer (2Ki 4:5,21,33); self-sufficiency (Rev 3:20); and separation and rejection (Mat 25:10).

2Ki 4:6

Enough oil for all available vessels, but no more. For symbolism, cp 10 virgins in Mat 25:1-12.

2Ki 4:8

SHUNEM: Heb "resting place". A town in the territory assigned to the tribe of Issachar (Jos 19:18). Shunem has been identified with the modern Solem that overlooks the valley of Jezreel on the southwest slope of the hill of Moreh; it lies seven miles east of Megiddo.

A WELL-TO-DO WOMAN: The "great woman" (AV) contrasts with Naaman who was a "great man" (2Ki 5:1, sw). Whilst she believed that Elisha was able to help her Naaman took some convincing -- by one of his servants.

WHO URGED HIM TO STAY FOR A MEAL: "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over" (Luk 24:29).

2Ki 4:10

TABLE... LAMP: Suggestive of table for bread of the presence, and the lampstand, in Holy Place.

2Ki 4:13

I HAVE A HOME AMONG MY OWN PEOPLE: A picture of contentment. 'These people (and circumstances) with which I live are good enough for me.'

2Ki 4:14

... (Then the woman leaves, and Elisha talks with Gehazi...)

2Ki 4:16

DON'T MISLEAD YOUR SERVANT: 'Do not awaken old hopes, long since put aside.'

2Ki 4:22

She does not tell husband of his son's death.

2Ki 4:23

IT'S NOT THE NEW MOON OR THE SABBATH: Implying it may have been her habit to make such a trip (40-mile round-trip) on special days.

2Ki 4:25

AND CAME TO THE MAN OF GOD AT MOUNT CARMEL: About 20 miles northwest.

2Ki 4:29

IF YOU MEET ANYONE, DO NOT GREET HIM: Cp Luk 10:4. Do not be detained on your important mission. Oriental greetings were long, tedious, distracting, deceitful, flattering, insincere, and wasteful of time (LB 346).

2Ki 4:30

The very words Elisha had spoken to Elijah (2Ki 2:2,4,6).

2Ki 4:31

BUT THERE WAS NO SOUND OR RESPONSE: Cp the disciples' inability to heal at times (Mat 17:16; Luk 9:40).

2Ki 4:32

What the disciple could not do must await the coming of his greater Master from a far country.

2Ki 4:34

HE STRETCHED HIMSELF OUT UPON HIM: As though to give the child his own breath and warmth. Like the Holy Spirit which hovered over the waters in the beginning, to bring forth new life (Gen 1:2; cp Deu 32:11).

2Ki 4:35

Seemingly, a considerable time involved and a bit of a trial of Elisha's faith. We also have the job of bringing life to those around us. Let us not forget that this too needs fervent prayer and faith and patience; like Elisha, we cannot give up, because the result is the salvation of another.

2Ki 4:40

Vv 40-41: This act of 'salvation from death' tends to be lost as it is tacked on to the end of a ch with a miraculous resurrection. It seems that Elisha had the power to exercise from God even in small things of life.

2Ki 4:41

Instances of signs that accompany healings: 2Ki 2:20-22; 4:41; 20:7.

2Ki 4:42

GIVE IT TO THE PEOPLE TO EAT: Typ the feeding of the 5,000: Mat 14:16; Mark 6:37; Luke 9:13.

Previous Index Next