Wednesday, September 28, 2022

2022.09.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Kings 4:1–7

Read 2 Kings 4:1–7

Questions from the Scripture text: Who cries out to Elisha in 2 Kings 4:1? What does she call her late husband? What does she say Elisha knows about him? But now who was coming? And what was he going to take? What two things does Elisha ask her (2 Kings 4:2)? What does she have in the house? What does he tell her to borrow (2 Kings 4:3)? From where? From whom? What kind of vessels? What does he warn her not to do? What does he tell her to do when she gets back (2 Kings 4:4)? And what will she do with all those vessels? What does 2 Kings 4:5 summarize? What happens in 2 Kings 4:6? What does she say to her son? How does he answer? What happens to the oil at that time? Now what does she do in 2 Kings 4:7? What does he tell her to do with the oil? With the first part of the money? With the rest of it? 

For whom does God exercise His mighty power? 2 Kings 4:1–7 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these seven verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the great God is pleased to exercise His almighty power for “the least of these.” 

Elisha had asked for a double portion of the spirit of Elijah (cf. 2 Kings 2:9), and the Scriptures record twice as many signs/miracles from Elisha as from Elijah. With this passage begins an extended section recounting those miracles. With whom do the signs begin?

Grace for the Nameless. That’s part of the point. We don’t get the name of the husband. The widow is left helpless; she’s poor enough that the only thing that can pay her debts is the enslavement of her sons. She’s about to be bereft of all three of them at one fell swoop. Do you see, dear reader, the care of the grace and power of God for this bankrupt widow of a nameless man? It is she with whom the Lord chooses to begin this string of the signs and miracles of the prophet.

Grace for the Invisible. Sometimes people like this woman seem, or perhaps even feel, invisible. We live in an age in which this is thought to be an injustice. But the Lord often works invisibly among the invisible. There’s a fore-echo here in 2 Kings 4:4 of Matthew 6:6. Our Father sees in secret. He works in secret. He rewards in secret. His glory is displayed in all the creation and especially in the gospel of Jesus Christ. He does not perform charity for the PR, however much we may be tempted to.  There is a special deliciousness in this woman, behind closed doors with her sons, getting to participate by having collected jars and now pouring the oil, and finding each new jar as a private, personal miracle from the Lord. The text doesn’t mention the vessel-collecting. 2 Kings 4:5 takes us straight from the prophet to the closed door.

Grace for the Soul as well as for the circumstances. We could easily miss the happy simplicity of the transition from 2 Kings 4:4 to 2 Kings 4:5. Not only does the brevity emphasize the closed door as we saw above, but it rests upon a wonderful assumption. Whatever Elisha said to her, she did (cf. John 2:5). He still hadn’t given her the instruction in 2 Kings 4:7. But she didn’t need to know how things would work in order to obey. She simply didn’t doubt God’s goodness. Truly, this is the conduct of a wife whose husband had feared Yahweh, and whose leadership had been blessed to her and the increase of her faith. She looked for help to the Word of God. She didn’t doubt. She obeyed as she was instructed. All of this adds up to a much greater gift from the Lord than the financial means that would get her through to her sons’ majority.

Grace beyond what we ask. In the end, the Lord gives her so much that not only is she able to pay off the debt, but she has enough to live. He commands her not just to “sell” and to “pay” in 2 Kings 4:7 but finally to “live.” He Who has given us Christ will give us all things together with Him (cf. Romans 8:32). There isn’t a single good or perfect thing that He ever withholds from His children (cf. James 1:17). He supplies our needs not according to our understanding but according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus (cf. Philippians 4:19). 

For whom does God exercise almighty power? What are His best gifts to you? What else does He give?

Sample prayer: Lord, thank You for caring for the least of Your people and delighting in mercy. Forgive us for when we doubt that You are caring for us, or for doing our own charity to be seen by men. Make us confident in Your great generosity toward us and abundantly grateful for it. And, make us to reflect Your generosity toward others we ask, in the Name of Your indescribable gift, our Lord Jesus Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP109D “I Am Very Poor and Needy” or TPH551 “We Plow the Fields”

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