2 Kings 4:18–23; 25–37
THE greatest earthly blessings are uncertain; the son who had made the Shunammite so glad was now to cause her grief.
18, 19, 20 And when the child was grown, it fell on a day, that he went out to his father to the reapers. And he said unto his father, My head, my head. (Perhaps the harvest sun was too hot for him, and he suffered from sunstroke, as many do in the east.) And he said to a lad, Carry him to his mother. And when he had taken him, and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died.
21 And she went up, and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the door upon him, and went out. (Full of grief she was, for she had lost her son; but she had a hope left, for she had not lost her faith.)
22 And 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.
23 And he said, Wherefore wilt thou go to him to day? it is neither new moon, nor sabbath. And she said, It shall be well.
Her answer was the one word “well.” Her heart was full and her faith sorely tried, therefore she said but little, and would not pain her husband by mentioning their crushing loss until she had proved the power of the prophet’s God.
25, 26 So 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: Run 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.
27 And 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. (She was in an agony, tossed to and fro between faith and fear, therefore she acted not in the manner usual to her, but fell passionately at the prophet’s feet.) 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.
28 Then she said, Did I desire a son of my lord? did I not say, Do not deceive me?
She argued that surely the son was not sent to mock her and break her heart, yet she felt that if he were to be soon removed it looked very like it, and this she could not believe to be the Lord’s intention. Thus her faith and her anguish pleaded with Elisha.
29 Then 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.
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.
31 And 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.
God would not grant this blessing to a mere form; there must be mighty prayer.
32, 33, 34 And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed. He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the Lord. 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 he 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. (By faith this woman received her child raised to life again as the woman of Sarepta had done before. Although a miracle will not be wrought for us, we ought to have a like faith, and we shall then see things equally worthy of our gratitude.)
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. (We must imitate this good woman, and in all times of trouble go with it to the Lord, and he will surely help us through. “Trust ye in the Lord for ever.”
Shall I, for fear of feeble man,
Thy Spirit’s course in me restrain?
Or, undismay’d in deed and word,
Be a true witness for my Lord?
Awed by a mortal’s frown, shall I
Conceal the Word of God Most High?
How then before thee shall I dare
To stand, or how thy anger bear?
Give me thy strength, O God of power!
Then let winds blow, or thunders roar,
Thy faithful witness will I be:
’Tis fixed! I can do all through thee.
Zion stands by hills surrounded,
Zion kept by power divine;
All her foes shall be confounded,
Though the world in arms combine:
What a favour’d lot is thine!
Zion’s Friend in nothing alters,
Though all others may, and do;
His is love that never falters,
Always to its object true.
Crown’d with mercies ever-new.
God is our refuge, tried and proved,
Amid a stormy world:
We will not fear though earth be moved,
And hills in ocean hurl’d.
When earth and hell against us came,
He spake, and quell’d their powers;
The Lord of hosts is still the same,
The God of grace is ours.
Jesus our Lord is love,
All gentle are his ways,
And since he suffered in our stead,
No fear our heart dismays.
No fiery vengeance now,
No burning wrath comes down;
If justice call for sinner’s blood,
The Saviour shows his own.
Before his Father’s eye
Our humble suit he moves;
The Father lays his thunder by,
And looks, and smiles, and loves.
Our soaring spirits upward rise
To the celestial throne,
Fain would we see the blessed Three,
And the Almighty One.
Lord, how our souls are all on fire
To see thy bless’d abode;
Our tongues rejoice in tunes of praise
To our incarnate God!
And while our faith enjoys this sight,
We long to leave our clay,
And wish thy fiery chariots, Lord,
To fetch our souls away.
Straiten’d in God we cannot be,
No bounds his power and bounty know,
His grace is an exhaustless sea,
Which flows, and shall for ever flow;
And if its course suspended seem,
The hindrance is in us, not Him.
Long as our faith’s capacity
Is stretch’d to admit the blessing given,
We drink the streaming Deity,
And gasp for larger draughts of heaven!
But when we lose our emptiness,
The oil, the joy, the Spirit stays!
Empty us, then, most gracious Lord,
And keep us always empty here,
Till thee, according to thy word,
We see upon the clouds appear,
Thy glorious fulness to reveal,
And all thy saints for ever fill.
Since like the weeping Shunammite,
For many dead in sin we grieve;
Now, Lord, display thine arm of might,
Cause them to hear thy voice and live.
Thy preachers bear the staff in vain,
Though at thine own command they go;
Lord, they have tried and tried again,
They find them dead, and leave them so.
Come, then, thyself to ev’ry heart,
The glory of thy name make known;
The means are our appointed part,
The pow’r and grace are thine alone.
C. H. Spurgeon, The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1964), 355–356.