(2 Kings 2:1-11, 16-25; 4:1-44; 6:1-7; 8:1-2)
Elisha Raises the Shunammite Woman’s Dead Son
Not long ago, I did a small favor for a friend, only to find that it backfired. She was furious at me, although I could not figure out why. Another friend attempted to comfort me with this retort, quoting American author Clare Booth Luce:
“No good deed goes unpunished.”
Why do we practice kindness and consideration for others, anyway? Do we load up favors, simply hoping for eventual payback?
A Biblical Example of Kindness
Consider the Shunammite widow in 2 Kings and her experiences with the Old Testament prophet Elisha.
After the prophet Elijah whisked to Heaven in a chariot of fire, riding on a whirlwind (see 2 Kings 2:1-11), Elisha took on the prophetic mantle and began his ministry, empowered by the Holy Spirit of God. Elisha prayed over the water of Jericho, tossing salt into a spring to purify it miraculously in God’s power. He called out bears against chiding youths (see 2 Kings 2:23-25). Elisha increased oil for a poverty-stricken woman, leaving her with more oil than she could pour, even into many borrowed jars. He also fed a hundred men with twenty loaves of bread (see 2 Kings 4:28-41), foreshadowing an even greater miracle that the Messiah would one day perform with loaves and fish.
When Elisha traveled to Shunem, a wealthy woman demonstrated her gift of hospitality and her generous heart by building a room for Elisha to use during his travels through their town. In gratitude, Elisha asked what he might do for the Shunammite woman. Because she had no children, and her husband was elderly, she had nearly given up on the hope of motherhood. Elisha prophesied that the Shunammite woman would have a son within the year (see 2 Kings 4:18-17).
The Shunammite woman did bear a son. One day, however, as he grew up, he suffered a fatal headache. The Shunammite woman sent for the prophet Elisha. Elisha prayed for the boy, and he was raised from the dead (see 2 Kings 4:18-37).
Obviously, the Shunammite woman could foresee none of the events when she offered her hospitality to the prophet Elisha. But God saw. The Lord knew her past, present and future. Surely, Jehovah Jireh the Provider arranged the divine appointment for the Shunammite woman to become personally acquainted with His prophet. God knew that she would one day need a miracle, and He made a way.
God can always make a way.
Will we trust Him and obey?
Will you pray with me?
Your plan is beyond our human understanding.
Direct our paths,
As You have promised to do.
Guide us to obey You
And to follow Your leading,
So we may behold Your wonderful working
In our lives.
Teach us to care for one another,
So we may be instruments of Your plan
Of love and redemption
For the world,
Until all nations may know You.
Open our eyes,
So that we may not miss
Your hand of power and love