Lesson Two: The Principle of Sowing and Reaping, A Review of the Shunammite’s Blessings
(Lesson Two includes Miracle #8, Barrenness Healed; Miracle #9, Resurrection of a Boy; and Miracle #27, Seven Years of Famine). Gal. 6:7; 2 Cor. 9:6; Luke 6:38
As we continue Lessons Learned from the Miracles of Elisha: A Series, we will now turn our attention to a central character in some of Elisha’s miracles, the Shunammite Woman. (Some details of each miracle might overlap but it is necessary so that each miracle is fully explained. For example, although we have previously discussed Miracles #8 and #9, we will now review them from the perspective of the Shunammite).
The Shunammite woman is presented as a great, noble, or wealthy married woman who lived in Shunem, a little village in the tribe of Issachar. She was a woman of excellent hospitality who recognized the power of God upon the life of Elisha the prophet. She offered him food as he frequently passed her home, and it ultimately became a habit for Elisha to stop at her house as he passed her way. She had a loving heart and a wonderful spirit of discernment because she spoke to her husband concerning the man of God. 2 Kings 4: 9-11 says:
9 And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is a holy man of God, which passeth by us continually.
10 Let 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.
11 And it fell on a day, that he came thither, and he turned into the chamber, and lay there.
The Shunammite recognized that Elisha was indeed a Man of God and in so honoring and blessing him, she actually invited the blessings of the Lord upon her house and her life. Matthew 10:41 says:
41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.
The word hospitality means the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers. Genuine hospitality is never to be done to be seen by men. The Shunammite, in all likelihood had no idea that her blessing to the man of God would reap many benefits far into the future. Luke 6:38 says:
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
The Shunammite and her husband not only fed the Man of God when he dropped by, but they actually built an addition to their home and furnished it just for him. Elisha received her blessing and appreciated her hospitality. Although he knew that the Shunammite’s heart was pure and she was simply blessing him with no thoughts of compensation, he wanted to be a blessing unto her.
God greatly blessed this woman with three great miracles at the hand of Elisha. The first miracle that the Shunammite received was Elisha’s Eighth Miracle: Barrenness Healed. This woman had no need for Elisha to speak to the King or the host’s captain on her behalf, and for a while, she turned down all rewards that Elisha could come up with. But then Elisha touched upon the one thing that appealed to the core of her heart because she was barren.
According to Miriam Webster’s dictionary, barrenness means to be incapable of bearing or producing offspring. Her response to Elisha’s words in 2 Kings 4:16 makes it apparent that having a child was a deep desire of her heart.
16 And 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.
Elisha stated that within nine months, she would embrace a child. And just as he said it would happen, she brought forth a male child nine months later. Imagine the joy and excitement that she must have experienced. She could actually hold, love, and care for her miracle baby.
But as life goes on, the miracle child died suddenly while resting on his mother’s knee. He had been out in the field with his father when he suddenly developed a problem in his head. His father sent him back to his mom, and while his mother held him, he died in her arms. Anyone who is a parent can imagine the pain and despair that the loss of a child brings. But what did this mother do? She put her child in the bed of the Man of God as though he was simply napping. She went to her husband and told him that she needed an ass and a servant to go to the man of God. When her husband asked about the occasion of her trip, she didn’t even tell the dad that his son was dead. Her mind was fixed on the fact that it would be well if she could get to the Man of God. These were her words in response to her husband’s question: 23And she said, It shall be well.
She had an ass saddled and went on a high-speed chase to find the Man of God. Travel in those days was often done on an ass with a servant behind prodding the ass to go at the desired speed. It was about a 20-mile run to Mt. Carmel, where Elisha was located, but she was not disturbed by the trip. She instructed the young man on how she planned to travel.
24 Then she saddled an ass, and said to her servant, Drive, and go forward; slack not thy riding for me, except I bid thee. 2 Kings 4:24
It must have been quite a sight to see this wealthy woman sitting on a high-speed ass with a servant running behind her to prod the animal along. But she was on a warp-speed search of her second miracle from Elisha. When Elisha saw her coming in such a distressed manner, he knew something was wrong. He had his servant run to her and ask her, “is it well”? Her answer to the servant has comforted so many of us today. Here was a woman who had a dead child back at home who, by faith, spoke words that we, too, can speak in a time of crisis.
26 And she answered, It is well:
Elisha initially sent his servant to the child and told him to lay his staff on him, but that didn’t work. The Shunammite told Elisha that she would not leave him because she was determined that her dead child would live again.
30 And 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. 2 Kings 4:30
Elisha went himself and performed his Ninth Miracle, entitled Resurrection of a Boy. This miracle is sometimes called the first Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR ) because of the direct relationship between the pressure from Elisha’s body upon the child’s body and how CPR is performed.
32 And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead and laid upon his bed.
33 He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the Lord.
34 And 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.
35 Then 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.
These were the words of Elisha in 2 Kings 4:36-37 once the child was restored to life:
36 And 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.
37 Then she went in, and fell at his feet, and bowed herself to the ground, and took up her son, and went out.
Can you imagine the great joy in that house when the beloved child was restored to life? Glory be to Almighty God!
And now, we will look at the third miracle that the Shunammite received at the hand of Elisha. Elisha spoke a specific word of instruction to her in 2 Kings 8:1-2. The 27th Miracle of Elisha: Seven Years of Famine.
Then spake Elisha unto the woman, whose son he had restored to life, saying, Arise, and go thou and thine household, and sojourn wheresoever thou canst sojourn: for the Lord hath called for a famine; and it shall also come upon the land seven years.
2 And the woman arose, and did after the saying of the man of God: and she went with her household, and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years.
The Bible does not indicate that Elisha gave anyone besides the Shunammite and her household this warning concerning a seven-year famine. The woman and her house obeyed the Man of God and left all to live in the land of the Philistines until the famine was over. At the end of the seven years, the Shunammite returned to move back into her home, only to find that someone else was occupying her land. The Bible doesn’t mention her husband at this point. In an earlier passage, he was said to be older and so might have passed on by this time. Only her son is said to have returned from the land of the Philistines with her. The Shunammite had to appeal to the King on her own. Laws at that time might not have upheld her claim for the restoration of her land because she was a woman. But the miracle in this situation is that Gehazi was sitting and talking to the King about the dead child Elisha had raised from the dead. Then, in walks the Shunammite and that miraculous son, asking to have her land restored. Wow! Look at God’s timing.
4 And the king talked with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, Tell me, I pray thee, all the great things that Elisha hath done.
5 And it came to pass, as he was telling the king how he had restored a dead body to life, that, behold, the woman, whose son he had restored to life, cried to the king for her house and for her land. And Gehazi said, My lord, O king, this is the woman, and this is her son, whom Elisha restored to life.
6 And when the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed unto her a certain officer, saying, Restore all that was hers, and all the fruits of the field since the day that she left the land, even until now.
This woman had her land restored, and she was paid for the fruit of the field that her land yielded while she was gone.
Listen, people, this Shunammite was a blessed woman, but it was all because she was a blessing to the man of God. I would dare say that she had no idea that being a blessing to Elisha early on would yield such fruit in the years ahead. One final thought on her life, since her husband was older and possibly passed on, it must have been a great blessing to have a loving son at her side in her later years.
Lessons that I learned from the Shunammite’s story:
- Luke 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again
- 2 Chronicles 20:20 Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.
- 1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith.
- 2 Corinthians 9:6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
- 1 Samuel 15:22 And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
- Matthew 10:41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.
Please share any lessons that you learned in the Comments section. Are you more encouraged to give to God’s true Man or Woman of God? I pray that you are. You will reap a great reward.