Dave Burnette's Commentary

2 Kings Chapter 4

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Jeremiah
Date Penned: (586 BC)
Overview: A History of the Kings of Israel and Judah (c 1-25)
Theme: A Divided Kingdom (c 1-17)
Message: Elisha Provides Oil for a Widow (v 1-44)

2 Kings 4 Commentary 

(4:1) Elisha and Miracles - This chapter records five of God's miracles through Elisha: (1) providing money for a poverty-stricken widow (4:1-7); (2) prophesying that a child would be born to a barren woman (4:14-17); (3) raising a dead boy to life (4:32-37); (4) purifying poisonous food (4:38-41); and (5) providing food for 100 men (4:42-44). These miracles show God's tenderness and care for those who are faithful to him. When reading the Old Testament, it is easy to focus on God's harsh judgment of rebellious people and to minimize his tender care for those who love and serve him. Seeing God at work providing for his followers helps us keep his severe justice toward the unrepentant in proper perspective.

(4:2) Slaves - Poor people and debtors were allowed to pay their debts by selling themselves or their children as slaves. God ordered rich people and creditors not to take advantage of these people during their time of extreme need (see Deuteronomy 15:1-18 for an explanation of these practices). This woman's creditor was not acting in the spirit of God's law. Elisha's kind deed demonstrates that God wants us to go beyond simply keeping the law. We must also show compassion and take action to help.

(4-6) God's Provision - The woman and her sons collected jars from their neighbors, pouring olive oil into them from their one pot. The olive oil was used for cooking, for lamps, and for fuel. The oil stopped pouring only when they ran out of containers. The number of jars they gathered was an indication of their faith. God's provision was as large as their faith and willingness to be obedient. Beware of limiting God's blessings by a lack of faith and obedience. We have a great King. Because he loves us, we can bring great requests to him. God is able to do infinitely more than we can ask, think, or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

(4:9) The Shunemite Woman - The woman from Shunem realized that Elisha was a man of God, so she prepared a room for him to use whenever he was in town. She did this out of kindness and because she sensed a need, not for any selfish motives.

Soon, however, her kindness would be rewarded far beyond her wildest dreams. How sensitive are you to those who pass by your home and flow through your life who need hospitality-especially those who teach and preach God's Word? What about travelers who visit your church? What special needs do they have that you could meet? Look for ways to serve and help.

(4:16) God's Favor - This woman would receive the same favor from the Lord as Sarah did many years before. And like Sarah, she reacted in disbelief (Genesis 18:10-15). She was probably afraid to believe after many years of dashed hopes.

Perhaps the promise of a child seemed too incredible to possibly be true. Despite her skepticism, the Lord remained faithful, and she did have a child as Elisha had said. Just as he did for the woman from Shunem, God remains faithful to us even when his promises are beyond our ability to hope or believe.

(4:32-36) God's Compassion on Display - Elisha's prayer and method of raising the dead boy show God's personal care for hurting people. We must express genuine concern for others as we carry God's message to them. Only then will we faithfully represent our compassionate Father in heaven.

(4:42-44) God's Provision - Through Elisha, the Lord miraculously fed these people who were hungry because of the famine. Many years later, Jesus would perform another miracle and feed more than 5,000 people (Matthew 14:15-21). People would remember Elisha's miracle and see God at work in Jesus


Dave Burnette's Life Application

You Cannot Out-Give God


Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter, making application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Today we continue the book of 2 Kings with Chapter 4.  In our text, we see God working in Elisha's life and Ministry as he provides a lady oil. Restores a child to live, makes a poisonous stew edible, and feeds 100 men. What catches my eye is the account of the Shunammite woman as she and her husband prepared a room for Elisha to stay, sensing a need in his life. This act of kindness is an expression of worship to God. Ultimately, the Lord blessed this couple with a child as he expressed His love toward this couple. In applying, we see the principle that we cannot out-give God. Items that we give (possessions, time, and talents) to God in this same expression of worship with a pure heart will result in benefits over and above what we can ask or think. I have seen this in my life as the Lord gives and gives. Today many are faced with the challenge of giving, tithing, offerings, and using talents, and time is an expression of worship. The greater the sacrifice made with a pure heart - the greater the expression of love will be from the Lord as He gives you the desires of your heart. How about you? Do you see that you cannot out-give God? Let us learn from our text today and the example of the Shunammite women to remember that if we give with a pure heart, God will reward us and fulfill the principle that you cannot out-give God.


2 Kings 4

2 Kings 4

 1Now 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.

 2And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil.

 3Then he said, Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty vessels; borrow not a few.

 4And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full.

 5So she went from him, and shut the door upon her and upon her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured out.

 6And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, Bring me yet a vessel. And he said unto her, There is not a vessel more. And the oil stayed.

 7Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest.

 8And 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.

 9And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually.

 10Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick: and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither.

 11And it fell on a day, that he came thither, and he turned into the chamber, and lay there.

 12And he said to Gehazi his servant, Call this Shunammite. And when he had called her, she stood before him.

 13And he said unto him, Say now unto her, Behold, thou hast been careful for us with all this care; what is to be done for thee? wouldest thou be spoken for to the king, or to the captain of the host? And she answered, I dwell among mine own people.

 14And he said, What then is to be done for her? And Gehazi answered, Verily she hath no child, and her husband is old.

 15And he said, Call her. And when he had called her, she stood in the door.

 16And he said, About this season, according to the time of life, thou shalt embrace a son. And she said, Nay, my lord, thou man of God, do not lie unto thine handmaid.

 17And the woman conceived, and bare a son at that season that Elisha had said unto her, according to the time of life.

 18And when the child was grown, it fell on a day, that he went out to his father to the reapers.

 19And he said unto his father, My head, my head. And he said to a lad, Carry him to his mother.

 20And when he had taken him, and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died.

 21And she went up, and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the door upon him, and went out.

 22And she called unto her husband, and said, Send me, I pray thee, one of the young men, and one of the asses, that I may run to the man of God, and come again.

 23And he said, Wherefore wilt thou go to him to day? it is neither new moon, nor sabbath. And she said, It shall be well.

 24Then she saddled an ass, and said to her servant, Drive, and go forward; slack not thy riding for me, except I bid thee.

 25So 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:

 26Run now, I pray thee, to meet her, and say unto her, Is it well with thee? is it well with thy husband? is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well:

 27And when she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught him by the feet: but Gehazi came near to thrust her away. And the man of God said, Let her alone; for her soul is vexed within her: and the LORD hath hid it from me, and hath not told me.

 28Then she said, Did I desire a son of my lord? did I not say, Do not deceive me?

 29Then he said to Gehazi, Gird up thy loins, and take my staff in thine hand, and go thy way: if thou meet any man, salute him not; and if any salute thee, answer him not again: and lay my staff upon the face of the child.

 30And the mother of the child said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And he arose, and followed her.

 31And Gehazi passed on before them, and laid the staff upon the face of the child; but there was neither voice, nor hearing. Wherefore he went again to meet him, and told him, saying, The child is not awaked.

 32And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed.

 33He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the LORD.

 34And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm.

 35Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.

 36And he called Gehazi, and said, Call this Shunammite. So he called her. And when she was come in unto him, he said, Take up thy son.

 37Then she went in, and fell at his feet, and bowed herself to the ground, and took up her son, and went out.

 38And 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.

 39And one went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine, and gathered thereof wild gourds his lap full, and came and shred them into the pot of pottage: for they knew them not.

 40So they poured out for the men to eat. And it came to pass, as they were eating of the pottage, that they cried out, and said, O thou man of God, there is death in the pot. And they could not eat thereof.

 41But he said, Then bring meal. And he cast it into the pot; and he said, Pour out for the people, that they may eat. And there was no harm in the pot.

 42And there came a man from Baalshalisha, and brought the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley, and full ears of corn in the husk thereof. And he said, Give unto the people, that they may eat.

 43And his servitor said, What, should I set this before an hundred men? He said again, Give the people, that they may eat: for thus saith the LORD, They shall eat, and shall leave thereof.

 44So he set it before them, and they did eat, and left thereof, according to the word of the LORD.