August 10, 2023
“One of the wives of sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, 'Your servant, my husband, has died. You know that your servant feared the Lord. Now the creditor is coming...'”
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“One of the wives of sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, ‘Your servant, my husband, has died. You know that your servant feared the Lord. Now the creditor is coming to take my two children as his slaves.’” 2 Kings 4:1 (HCSB)
The widow in this passage is only identified as “One of the wives of the sons of the prophets.” (4:1) However, her value to us resides not in how much space she occupies in Scripture…or in the amount of information we have about her…but rather in the single great lesson, she has to teach us.
Here is a woman who demonstrates, for all generations, the way to face surpassing demands when we find ourselves with only meager resources. She shows us that the abounding resources of the Word of God become ours to the degree that we place our faith in them. I am not advocating what is known as “prosperity” theology…where God acts as a benevolent “genie” every time one of his children rubs the Bible. I am simply saying the Bible clearly promises that God’s Grace is sufficient for us, and we have peace in our hearts to the extent that we are willing to trust the Lord as He has revealed Himself in His Word, the Bible.
Today’s passage wastes no time introducing us to the surpassing demands this woman is facing. Her husband died, leaving her with two sons and substantial debt. Her creditor, a human iceberg, had decided that her sons would make a highly suitable payment for her debt, and he was soon to come and take them as his slaves.
While some of the terms of today’s story seem foreign, many in our midst are facing similar situations today. Nobody is probably coming to arrest your family member or friend to put them into slavery, but we all know someone who has incurred financial trauma. I have known many people on collision courses with bankruptcy and/or a home foreclosure. These are good, God-fearing people who do all they know to honor the Lord, yet they find themselves in dire straights. Their main questions are “Why?” and “What now?”
The woman in today’s passage was disillusioned by it all. The perplexity she felt is evident in her plaintive cry to Elisha, “Your servant, my husband, has died. You know that your servant feared the Lord.” (4:1) We would like to believe that serving God makes us exempt from the troubles of life, that God spares us such things because of our service; but it is not so. We want this passage to encourage us that this woman and her husband served the Lord and lived happily ever after, but it does not.
Some would lead us to believe that there is a serious flaw in the faith and service of this woman and/or her husband. They insist there is no need for the children of God ever to be ill or experience financial reversals. But today’s passage finds no fault with the faithful service of this family. Perhaps, her condition is like that of a man Jesus healed. When the disciples asked whose sin brought about his condition, Jesus replied that the man was as he was “so the Works of God might be displayed.” (John 9:1-7)