2 Kings 4* Elisha multiplies the widow's oil. (1-7) The Shunammiteobtains a son. (8-17) The Shunammite's son restored to life.(18-37) The miracle of healing the pottage, and of feeding thesons of the prophets. (38-44)1-7 Elisha's miracles were acts of real charity: Christ's wereso; not only great wonders, but great favours to those for whomthey were wrought. God magnifies his goodness with his power.Elisha readily received a poor widow's complaint. Those thatleave their families under a load of debt, know not what troublethey cause. It is the duty of all who profess to follow theLord, while they trust to God for daily bread, not to tempt himby carelessness or extravagance, nor to contract debts; fornothing tends more to bring reproach upon the gospel, ordistresses their families more when they are gone. Elisha putthe widow in a way to pay her debt, and to maintain herself andher family. This was done by miracle, but so as to show what isthe best method to assist those who are in distress, which is,to help them to improve by their own industry what little theyhave. The oil, sent by miracle, continued flowing as long as shehad empty vessels to receive it. We are never straitened in God,or in the riches of his grace; all our straitness is inourselves. It is our faith that fails, not his promise. He givesmore than we ask: were there more vessels, there is enough inGod to fill them; enough for all, enough for each; and theRedeemer's all-sufficiency will only be stayed from thesupplying the wants of sinners and saving their souls, when nomore apply to him for salvation. The widow must pay her debtwith the money she received for her oil. Though her creditorswere too hard with her, yet they must be paid, even before shemade any provision for her children. It is one of the main lawsof the Christian religion, that we pay every just debt, and giveevery one his own, though we leave ever so little for ourselves;and this, not of constraint, but for conscience' sake. Those whobear an honest mind, cannot with pleasure eat their daily bread,unless it be their own bread. She and her children must liveupon the rest; that is, upon the money received for the oil,with which they must put themselves into a way to get an honestlivelihood. We cannot now expect miracles, yet we may expectmercies, if we wait on God, and seek to him. Let widows inparticular depend upon him. He that has all hearts in his hand,can, without a miracle, send as effectual a supply. 8-17 Elisha was well thought of by the king of Israel for hislate services; a good man can take as much pleasure in servingothers, as in raising himself. But the Shunammite needed not anygood offices of this kind. It is a happiness to dwell among ourown people, that love and respect us, and to whom we are able todo good. It would be well with many, if they did but know whenthey are really well off. The Lord sees the secret wish which issuppressed in obedience to his will, and he will hear theprayers of his servants in behalf of their benefactors, bysending unasked-for and unexpected mercies; nor must theprofessions of men of God be supposed to be delusive like thoseof men of the world. 18-37 Here is the sudden death of the child. All the mother'stenderness cannot keep alive a child of promise, a child ofprayer, one given in love. But how admirably does the prudent,pious mother, guard her lips under this sudden affliction! Notone peevish word escapes from her. Such confidence had she ofGod's goodness, that she was ready to believe that he wouldrestore what he had now taken away. O woman, great is thy faith!He that wrought it, would not disappoint it. The sorrowfulmother begged leave of her husband to go to the prophet at once.She had not thought it enough to have Elisha's help sometimes inher own family, but, though a woman of rank, attended on publicworship. It well becomes the men of God, to inquire about thewelfare of their friends and their families. The answer was, Itis well. All well, and yet the child dead in the house! Yes! Allis well that God does; all is well with them that are gone, ifthey are gone to heaven; and all well with us that stay behind,if, by the affliction, we are furthered in our way thither. Whenany creature-comfort is taken from us, it is well if we can say,through grace, that we did not set our hearts too much upon it;for if we did, we have reason to fear it was given in anger, andtaken away in wrath. Elisha cried unto God in faith; and thebeloved son was restored alive to his mother. Those who wouldconvey spiritual life to dead souls, must feel deeply for theircase, and labour fervently in prayer for them. Though theminister cannot give Divine life to his fellow-sinners, he mustuse every means, with as much earnestness as if he could do so. 38-44 There was a famine of bread, but not of hearing the wordof God, for Elisha had the sons of the prophets sitting beforehim, to hear his wisdom. Elisha made hurtful food to become safeand wholesome. If a mess of pottage be all our dinner, rememberthat this great prophet had no better for himself and hisguests. The table often becomes a snare, and that which shouldbe for our welfare, proves a trap: this is a good reason why weshould not feed ourselves without fear. When we are receivingthe supports and comforts of life, we must keep up anexpectation of death, and a fear of sin. We must acknowledgeGod's goodness in making our food wholesome and nourishing; I amthe Lord that healeth thee. Elisha also made a little food go agreat way. Having freely received, he freely gave. God haspromised his church, that he will abundantly bless herprovision, and satisfy her poor with bread, #Ps 132:15|; whom hefeeds, he fills; and what he blesses, comes to much. Christ'sfeeding his hearers was a miracle far beyond this, but bothteach us that those who wait upon God in the way of duty, mayhope to be supplied by Divine Providence.
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