Wednesday, October 05, 2022

2022.10.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Kings 4:8–37

Read 2 Kings 4:8–37

Questions from the Scripture text: Where did Elisha go in 2 Kings 4:8? Who was there? What did she persuade him? When else did this happen? To whom does she speak in 2 Kings 4:9? What does she call Elisha? What does she say he is doing? What does she ask to prepare in 2 Kings 4:10? For what purpose? What does Elisha do in 2 Kings 4:11? To whom does Elisha speak in 2 Kings 4:12? What does he tell Gehazi to do? What does he tell Gehazi to ask in 2 Kings 4:13? What are some options that he suggests? What does she answer? What does Elisha then ask Gehazi (2 Kings 4:14a)? What suggestion does Gehazi now make in verse 14b? What does Elisha tell Gehazi to do (2 Kings 4:15a)? What do we see her doing again (verse 15b, cf. end of 2 Kings 4:12)? What does Elisha tell her in 2 Kings 4:16a? How does she respond to this (verse 16b)? But what happens in 2 Kings 4:17? According to what? How is the child doing (2 Kings 4:18)? But then what happens one day? What does he say in 2 Kings 4:19? Whom does his father tell to do what? What does the servant do (2 Kings 4:20)? What happens with the child? Where does his mother lay him (2 Kings 4:21)? What does she do? Whom does she ask for what in 2 Kings 4:22? What does he want to know (2 Kings 4:23)? Why is it strange? How does she answer? What does she tell the servant in 2 Kings 4:24? To whom does she go (2 Kings 4:25)? Where? Who sees her? To whom does he speak? What does he say? What does he tell Gehazi to do (2 Kings 4:26)? And to ask? How does she answer Gehazi? To whom does she come in 2 Kings 4:27? Where? What does she do to him? What does Gehazi start to do? What does Elisha say? Why? And what has Yahweh done/not done? What two things does she say in 2 Kings 4:28? To whom does Elisha respond (2 Kings 4:29)? What does he tell him to do? What does he tell him not to do? What is he to do as soon as possible? Who is determined not to leave Elisha (2 Kings 4:30)? How does she say it? What does Elisha do? Who goes ahead (2 Kings 4:31)? What does he do? What doesn’t happen? Where does he go back? What does he say? Who comes into the house in 2 Kings 4:32? What does he find? Where does he go (2 Kings 4:33)? What does he do with the door? What does he do to whom? Then what five things does he do in 2 Kings 4:34? With what result? Where does Elisha go in 2 Kings 4:35? What does he go up and do again? With what results this time? Whom does he call in 2 Kings 4:36? What does he tell him to do? Who comes? What does he tell her to do? What does she do first in 2 Kings 4:37? Then what?

What are some of the surprises of grace? 2 Kings 4:8–37 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 God’s grace is predictably great but greatly unpredictable.

The great theme of this narrative is surprises. Throughout it, God is wonderfully merciful to all, but He keeps His counsel to Himself, and His grace is often unpredictable. What are some of the surprises?

A “great” woman who is godly2 Kings 4:8-13. There are a few others in the Bible, but they are rare. Usually “prominent woman” is a portent of bad things. And this prominent Shunammite comes sandwiched between prominent women Jezebel and Athaliah. Literally the text says, “where there was a great woman, and she laid hold of him…” (2 Kings 4:8). That doesn’t sound like it’s going to end well. 

But she laid hold of him like my grandmother used to lay hold of me: to make sure that he ate some of her food. Why does she so insist? Because Elisha is a “holy man of God” (2 Kings 4:9). God’s grace to her is such that she contentedly desires no reward; Shunem is fine with her; no need for a place in the royal court (2 Kings 4:13). It’s also surprising that Elisha implies that he has any sway with these!

A godly woman who doubts2 Kings 4:14-17. To be fair, Sarah had done similarly (cf. Genesis 18:10–15). But we are accustomed to lionizing people who act in the manner that we see in 2 Kings 4:9-102 Kings 4:13. So when she’s unwilling to believe that the Lord would do such a thing for her (2 Kings 4:16), we remember that God’s grace is for people of small faith like our own.

A child of promise who dies2 Kings 4:18-20. When we get to the end of 2 Kings 4:18, we don’t expect that the next verse to feature a fatal head wound. Sometimes God’s grace surprises us with sorrow. Ultimately, this story doesn’t end in sorrow. Ultimately, no believer’s story does (cf. Romans 8:17).

A bereft mother who keeps her cool2 Kings 4:21-26. She knows that hope is in Elisha’s God. She tells her husband that all is well (2 Kings 4:23). She tells Gehazi that all is well (2 Kings 4:26). She’s in a hurry (2 Kings 4:24), but she is composed. Clearly she isn’t sure that she will get her son back (2 Kings 4:28). Yet, her statement that all is well does not come off as a lie. Rather, it seems that she is resigned to whatever the Lord brings.

A prophet from whom the Lord has hidden things2 Kings 4:27-29. The woman believes that Elisha, the representative of God’s Word to her, is her only hope. When she finally gets to him, she lays hold of him (2 Kings 4:27, same word as in 2 Kings 4:8), and in 2 Kings 4:30 she insists on staying with him. But Elisha hasn’t been told, and he calls this Yahweh “hiding” it from him (2 Kings 4:27). 

A prophet whose prophetic signs fail2 Kings 4:30-32. Gehazi comes back with bad news. The staff thing did not work (2 Kings 4:31). Elisha comes in, and there’s the dead child on his own bed (2 Kings 4:32). 

God, Who deals personally and privately with his prophet2 Kings 4:33-37. The closed door has become a motif (2 Kings 4:42 Kings 4:212 Kings 4:33). The Lord could have healed the boy via the staff. The Lord could have healed the boy via the prayer in 2 Kings 4:33. The Lord could have healed the boy in the initial stretching out in 2 Kings 4:34. But the Lord brings him to an extremity of dependence. Whether we are an unnamed widow or the highest officer in God’s earthly church, He’s dealing with us too, and we are to deal with Him Who sees us in secret (cf. Matthew 6:1–16). 

The unpredictability of God’s grace is surprising but good, because He is good. And powerful. And merciful. However it surprises in your life, if you are His through Jesus Christ, know that it is His grace behind every surprise!

What situation in your life is perplexing you right now? If you belong to God through Christ, what is behind that situation? What are the means of grace by which you can draw near to Him for help? 

Sample prayer: Lord, as with Elisha and the woman from Shunem, so with us Your providence often perplexes us. Forgive us for when we are unbelieving. Forgive us for when we presume that we should be able to understand You, or that You should do things the way that we prefer. Grant unto us to trust in You through Christ, and do with us according to Your perfect wisdom, power, and love, we ask in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

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

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