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1 Now there cryed a certaine woman of the wiues of the sonnes of the Prophets vnto Elisha, saying, Thy seruant my husband is dead, and thou knowest that thy seruant did feare the Lord: and the creditour is come to take vnto him my two sonnes to be bondmen.

2 And Elisha said vnto her, What shall I doe for thee? Tell mee, what hast thou in the house? And shee sayd, Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, saue a pot of oyle.

3 Then hee said, Goe, borrow thee vessels abroad, of all thy neighbours; euen emptie vessels, borrow not a few.

4 And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the doore vpon thee, and vpon thy sonnes, and shalt powre out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full.

5 So shee went from him, and shut the doore vpon her, & vpon her sonnes: who brought the vessels to her, and shee powred out.

6 And it came to passe, when the vessels were full, that shee said vnto her sonne, Bring me yet a vessell. And hee said vnto her, There is not a vessel more. And the oyle stayed.

7 Then she came, and told the man of God: and he said, Goe, sell the oyle, and pay thy debt, and liue thou and thy children of the rest.

8 And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and shee constrained him to eate bread: And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, hee turned in thither to eate bread.

9 And shee said vnto her husband, Behold now, I perceiue that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by vs continually.

10 Let vs make a litle chamber, I pray thee, on the wall, and let vs set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stoole, and a candlesticke: and it shall be when he commeth to vs, that hee shall turne in thither.

11 And it fell on a day that hee came thither, and hee turned into the chamber, and lay there.

12 And he said to Gehazi his seruant, Call this Shunammite. And when hee had called her, she stood before him.

13 And he said vnto him, Say, now vnto her, Behold, thou hast beene carefull for vs with all this care; What is to be done for thee? Wouldest thou be spoken for to the king, or to the captaine of the hoste? And she answered, I dwell among mine owne people.

14 And he said, What then is to bee done for her? And Gehazi answered, Uerily she hath no child, and her husband is old.

15 And he said, Call her. And when he had called her, she stood in the doore.

16 And he said, About this season, according to the time of life, thou shalt imbrace a sonne. And she said, Nay my lord, thou man of God, doe not lie vnto thine handmaid.

17 And the woman conceiued, and bare a sonne at that season, that Elisha had said vnto her, according to the time of life.

18 And when the child was growen, it fell on a day that hee went out to his father, to the reapers.

19 And he said vnto his father, My head, my head: and he said to a ladde, Carie him to his mother.

20 And when he had taken him, and brought him to his mother, hee sate on her knees till noone, and then died.

21 And she went vp, and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the doore vpon him, and went out.

22 And she called vnto her husband, and said, Send me, I pray thee, one of the yong men, and one of the asses, that I may runne to the man of God, and come againe.

23 And he said, Wherefore wilt thou goe to him to day? it is neither newe moone nor Sabbath. And shee said, It shalbe well.

24 Then she sadled an asse, and said to her seruant, Driue, and goe forward: slacke not thy riding for mee, except I bid thee.

25 So she went, and came vnto the man of God to mount Carmel: and it came to passe when the man of God saw her afarre off, that hee said to Gehazi his seruant, Behold, yonder is that Shunammite:

26 Runne now, I pray thee, to meet her, and say vnto her, Is it wel with thee? is it wel with thy husband? is it wel with the child? And she answered, It is well.

27 And when shee came to the man of God to the hill, shee caught him by the feet: but Gehazi came neere to thrust her away. And the man of God saide, Let her alone, for her soule is vexed within her: and the Lord hath hid it from me, and hath not told me.

28 Then shee said, Did I desire a sonne of my Lord ? did I not say, Doe not deceiue me?

29 Then he said to Gehazi, Gird vp thy loines, and take my staffe in thine hand, and goe thy way: if thou meete any man, salute him not: and if any salute thee, answere him not againe: and lay my staffe vpon the face of the childe.

30 And the mother of the childe said, As the Lord liueth, and as thy soule liueth, I will not leaue thee. And he arose, and followed her.

31 And Gehazi passed on before them, and laid the staffe vpon the face of the child, but there was neither voyce, nor hearing: wherefore he went againe to meete him, and tolde him, saying, The child is not awaked.

32 And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid vpon his bed.

33 He went in therefore, and shut the doore vpon them twaine, and prayed vnto the Lord.

34 And he went vp, and lay vpon the child, and put his mouth vpon his mouth, and his eyes vpon his eyes, and his hands vpon his hands, and he stretched himselfe vpon the child, and the flesh of the child waxed warme.

35 Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro, and went vp, and stretched himselfe vpon him: and the child neesed seuen times, and the child opened his eyes.

36 And hee called Gehazi, and said, Call this Shunammite. So hee called her: and when shee was come in vnto him, he said, Take vp thy sonne.

37 Then she went in, and fell at his feet, and bowed her selfe to the ground, and tooke vp her sonne, and went out.

38 And Elisha came againe to Gilgal, and there was a dearth in the land, and the sonnes of the Prophets were sitting before him: and hee said vnto his seruant, Set on the great pot, and seethe pottage for the sonnes of the Prophets.

39 And one went out into the field to gather herbes, and found a wild vine, and gathered thereof wilde gourds his lap full, and came and shred them into the pot of pottage: for they knew them not.

40 So they powred out for the men to eat: and it came to passe as they were eating of the pottage, that they cried out, and said, O thou man of God, there is death in the pot. And they could not eate thereof.

41 But he said, Then bring meale. And he cast it into the pot: And he said, Powre out for the people, that they may eat. And there was no harme in the pot.

42 And there came a man from Baal-Shalisha, and brought the man of God bread of the first fruits, twentie loaues of barley, and full eares of corne in the huske thereof: and he said, Giue vnto the people, that they may eate.

43 And his seruitour saide, What should I set this before an hundred men? He said againe, Giue the people, that they may eate: for thus saith the Lord, They shall eate, and shall leaue thereof.

44 So he set it before them, and they did eate, and left thereof, according to the word of the Lord.

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Commentary for 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.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

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