2 Kings 4

* Elisha multiplies the widow's oil. (1-7) The Shunammite

obtains a son. (8-17) The Shunammite's son restored to life.

(18-37) The miracle of healing the pottage, and of feeding the

sons of the prophets. (38-44)

1-7 Elisha's miracles were acts of real charity: Christ's were

so; not only great wonders, but great favours to those for whom

they were wrought. God magnifies his goodness with his power.

Elisha readily received a poor widow's complaint. Those that

leave their families under a load of debt, know not what trouble

they cause. It is the duty of all who profess to follow the

Lord, while they trust to God for daily bread, not to tempt him

by carelessness or extravagance, nor to contract debts; for

nothing tends more to bring reproach upon the gospel, or

distresses their families more when they are gone. Elisha put

the widow in a way to pay her debt, and to maintain herself and

her family. This was done by miracle, but so as to show what is

the best method to assist those who are in distress, which is,

to help them to improve by their own industry what little they

have. The oil, sent by miracle, continued flowing as long as she

had empty vessels to receive it. We are never straitened in God,

or in the riches of his grace; all our straitness is in

ourselves. It is our faith that fails, not his promise. He gives

more than we ask: were there more vessels, there is enough in

God to fill them; enough for all, enough for each; and the

Redeemer's all-sufficiency will only be stayed from the

supplying the wants of sinners and saving their souls, when no

more apply to him for salvation. The widow must pay her debt

with the money she received for her oil. Though her creditors

were too hard with her, yet they must be paid, even before she

made any provision for her children. It is one of the main laws

of the Christian religion, that we pay every just debt, and give

every one his own, though we leave ever so little for ourselves;

and this, not of constraint, but for conscience' sake. Those who

bear an honest mind, cannot with pleasure eat their daily bread,

unless it be their own bread. She and her children must live

upon the rest; that is, upon the money received for the oil,

with which they must put themselves into a way to get an honest

livelihood. We cannot now expect miracles, yet we may expect

mercies, if we wait on God, and seek to him. Let widows in

particular 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 his

late services; a good man can take as much pleasure in serving

others, as in raising himself. But the Shunammite needed not any

good offices of this kind. It is a happiness to dwell among our

own people, that love and respect us, and to whom we are able to

do good. It would be well with many, if they did but know when

they are really well off. The Lord sees the secret wish which is

suppressed in obedience to his will, and he will hear the

prayers of his servants in behalf of their benefactors, by

sending unasked-for and unexpected mercies; nor must the

professions of men of God be supposed to be delusive like those

of men of the world.
18-37 Here is the sudden death of the child. All the mother's

tenderness cannot keep alive a child of promise, a child of

prayer, one given in love. But how admirably does the prudent,

pious mother, guard her lips under this sudden affliction! Not

one peevish word escapes from her. Such confidence had she of

God's goodness, that she was ready to believe that he would

restore what he had now taken away. O woman, great is thy faith!

He that wrought it, would not disappoint it. The sorrowful

mother begged leave of her husband to go to the prophet at once.

She had not thought it enough to have Elisha's help sometimes in

her own family, but, though a woman of rank, attended on public

worship. It well becomes the men of God, to inquire about the

welfare of their friends and their families. The answer was, It

is well. All well, and yet the child dead in the house! Yes! All

is well that God does; all is well with them that are gone, if

they are gone to heaven; and all well with us that stay behind,

if, by the affliction, we are furthered in our way thither. When

any 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, and

taken away in wrath. Elisha cried unto God in faith; and the

beloved son was restored alive to his mother. Those who would

convey spiritual life to dead souls, must feel deeply for their

case, and labour fervently in prayer for them. Though the

minister cannot give Divine life to his fellow-sinners, he must

use 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 word

of God, for Elisha had the sons of the prophets sitting before

him, to hear his wisdom. Elisha made hurtful food to become safe

and wholesome. If a mess of pottage be all our dinner, remember

that this great prophet had no better for himself and his

guests. The table often becomes a snare, and that which should

be for our welfare, proves a trap: this is a good reason why we

should not feed ourselves without fear. When we are receiving

the supports and comforts of life, we must keep up an

expectation of death, and a fear of sin. We must acknowledge

God's goodness in making our food wholesome and nourishing; I am

the Lord that healeth thee. Elisha also made a little food go a

great way. Having freely received, he freely gave. God has

promised his church, that he will abundantly bless her

provision, and satisfy her poor with bread, #Ps 132:15|; whom he

feeds, he fills; and what he blesses, comes to much. Christ's

feeding his hearers was a miracle far beyond this, but both

teach us that those who wait upon God in the way of duty, may

hope to be supplied by Divine Providence.

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