Children of the Bible, Part 10, by Allan McGuirl
Just recently we talked about the widow from Zarephath, whose son Elijah raised from the dead in I Kings; interestingly now, in II Kings, we come to Elisha who is involved in a similar miracle. We remember that when Elijah was taken up into heaven, Elisha had asked for a double portion of his spirit. Scripture records twice as many miracles performed by Elisha as are recorded for Elijah, and today’s story is one of these.
Elisha travelled throughout the land, often visiting the cities and towns where there were schools for the prophets. His journeys routinely led him through the town of Shunem. A prominent woman in the town noticed his frequent visits and would regularly invite him to their home to eat. Eventually, she asked her husband to build a small room for him on the upper floor of her home so that he could have his own private quarters whenever he passed through the town. She recognized that Elisha was a true man of God, and she wanted him to have a comfortable place where he could refresh himself and also have time for his own personal relationship with God.
Many times he made use of this lovely room, and on one of these occasions, he sent his servant, Gehazi, to summon the woman to his room. As she stood in the doorway, Elisha expressed his appreciation to her for her thoughtfulness and hospitality. He suggested that he could present her to the King or the army commander for some special favour. The Shunammite woman replied that she had no need of any such thing and that she was content where she was. Elisha then asked Gehazi what they could do for her. Gehazi answered, “She has no son and her husband is old.” Immediately, Elisha called for her again and announced that she would have a son. The woman was amazed and doubtful all at the same time but, sure enough, she did conceive and had a beautiful baby boy.
No doubt the boy was a joy to this mother, who thought she was destined to be childless. She had learned to be content with what she had, and now she had a son. She nurtured him and taught him and cared for him – so grateful for this blessing from God. One day, when the child was a little older, he went out to work with his father among the reapers. All of a sudden he grasped his head in his hands and cried, “Oh, my head, my head!” His father called one of his servants to carry his son back to the house to his mother. His mother held her precious son on her lap and comforted him, doing all she could for him, but at noon, her son died. She can think of only one thing – only the man of God can help. She carried her dead son up to Elisha’s room and laid him gently on the bed. Immediately, she sent for a donkey and a servant so she could go quickly to the man of God. Her husband was surprised and asked why she would go when it is not time for one of Elisha’s regular visits. She only replied, “It will be well.”
The mother urged the servant to accompany her as quickly as possible, and she took off for Mount Carmel to find Elisha. Elisha was surprised to see her coming. In many instances, God would reveal to Elisha ahead of time what was happening, but this time Elisha was in the dark. When he saw her coming, he sent Gehazi out to meet her and see if all was well. And what does the woman answer? “It is well!” She already had the faith to believe that God would make all things well. When she reached Elisha, she fell at his feet and he realized that she was in great distress. The whole conversation is not recorded, but we do know that Elisha learned of the child’s death. This woman had not hoped to have a son, God had given her one anyway, and she had rejoiced. Now he had taken him from her. Elisha sent Gehazi on ahead and instructed him to talk to no one on the way. He was just to lay Elisha’s staff on the boy’s face. The mother refused to leave Elisha until he agreed to come. As Elisha and the woman headed back to Shunem, they met Gehazi on his return. He reported to Elisha that he had followed the instructions but that the child had not awakened.
Elisha reached the house and headed to the upper chamber. He sent Gehazi and the mother out of the house, closed the door and prayed. How many times he had prayed in this upper room! How many times he had poured out his heart to God for the people of Israel! How many times he had agonized over the waywardness and idolatry of God’s chosen people. But this time was different. His very specific prayer was for the restoration of this young boy’s life. He rose from his prayer and stretched himself out on the boy, his mouth upon the boy’s mouth, his eyes upon his eyes, his hands upon his hands. The child’s flesh started to warm. Elisha got up and walked back and forth in the house. He returned to the upper room and once again stretched himself out on the child. The boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes. Elisha calls Gehazi to get his mother. When she came, he turned the boy over to her. The woman fell at his feet expressing her deep gratitude. God had given her a son – twice.
Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” This verse has been proven over and over again. Learn to delight in who God is – every day, under every circumstance. He will give you the desires of your heart.