Life Lessons from a Shunammite Woman

I’ve been studying the story of the Shunammite woman this week and her story is so rich and full of many truths.  You can read it here in 2 Kings 4: 8-37 and then in 2 Kings 8:1-6

Take a little walk with me through the life lessons that her story teaches –

Take Time for Hospitality

Now it happened one day that Elisha went to Shunem, where there was a notable woman, and she persuaded him to eat some food. So it was, as often as he passed by, he would turn in there to eat some food.  And she said to her husband, “Look now, I know that this is a holy man of God, who passes by us regularly. Please, let us make a small upper room on the wall; and let us put a bed for him there, and a table and a chair and a lampstand; so it will be, whenever he comes to us, he can turn in there.”

This woman’s miraculous story would have never happened if she had not been a woman who offered hospitality.

She noticed these two men who traveled past her home, time after time, and knew one was a holy man of God.

Our text says she persuaded them to eat some food.

I have seen a woman like her in action many times. When you stop by to see my mother-in-law, you are note leaving her house without eating something. If you choose not to partake in her pasta, or her stand by, an egg-salad sandwich, you will surely be leaving with a Reese Peanut Butter Cup tucked in your pocket.

Our Shunammite Woman takes things a step further and has a great idea. She has a room built for Elisha, a place where he and his servant Gehazi can retreat and rest. Now that is hospitality, having a room added on to your home so that your guests are comfortable.


Be Content

Elisha decides that he wants to do something nice for this hospitable woman. They call her to the upper room to have a chat and it goes like this –

‘Look, you have been concerned for us with all this care. What can I do for you? Do you want me to speak on your behalf to the king or to the commander of the army?’”

She answers, “I dwell among my own people.”  This translates to “I am content.”

She could have requested anything, but she simply says – “I’m content” and leaves the room.

Did I just hear that right, a woman say that she is content with her life?

I don’t know about you, but I could have come up with a laundry list of items.

God Sees Our Buried Dreams

God is about to dig up a long buried dream in our lady. They call her to the upper room for a second time and lay bare a deep buried dream –

When he had called her, she stood in the doorway.  Then he said, “About this time next year you shall embrace a son.”

And she said, “No, my lord. Man of God, do not lie to your maidservant!”

She could not bear to have her long buried dream dug up, even if it came in the form of a promise. It simply hurt too much.

Have you ever had a dream that you hold so near and dear that you don’t even speak of it? I have a few.

We may try to bury them deep, but God sees our hearts and every unfulfilled dream they hold.

hands burying

The spirit of a (wo)man is the lamp of the Lord, Searching all the inner depths of her heart.

Proverbs 20:27

A Gift Given – Then Taken Away – Roots Out Real Faith 

As some would say this is where the ‘rubber meets the road’

And the child grew. Now it happened one day that he went out to his father, to the reapers.  And he said to his father, “My head, my head!”

So he said to a servant, “Carry him to his mother.”  When he had taken him and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died. And she went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, shut the door upon him, and went out.  Then she called to her husband, and said, “Please send me one of the young men and one of the donkeys, that I may run to the man of God and come back.”

So he said, “Why are you going to him today? It is neither the New Moon nor the Sabbath.”

And she said, “It is well.”  Then she saddled a donkey, and said to her servant, “Drive, and go forward; do not slacken the pace for me unless I tell you.”  And so she departed, and went to the man of God at Mount Carmel.

So it was, when the man of God saw her afar off, that he said to his servant Gehazi, “Look, the Shunammite woman!  Please run now to meet her, and say to her, ‘Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with the child?’”

And she answered, “It is well.”

Her buried dream is resurrected and comes to life.  I can imagine her joy, as she holds this precious boy in her arms, her boy.  The joy of seeing his first giggle, his first steps.  I am sure she watched out the window as her young son and his father made their way out to the fields each day.

Nothing could have prepared her for this day.  I can feel her heart fall, the sick feeling in her stomach as she sees a servant at her door, with her limp son in his arms.  In her grief as she holds him, as his breath leaves his body for the last time.

At this point I would have been screaming out to anyone who would hear me.  Not her, she takes him to the upper room, lays him on the bed and shuts the door.

She knows where she must to go, there is no question in her mind.  She must run to the man of God – who reflected the very presence of God.

Her only words – “All is Well”  she speaks them twice, once to her husband and the second time to Gehazi.  The truth was, all was not well.  This is where she had to dig deep into her faith in the One who had already made the impossible, possible.

Hold Tight and Don’t Let Go

She breezes past Gehazi and has her sights on Elisha, the man of God.

 Now when she came to the man of God at the hill, she caught him by the feet, but Gehazi came near to push her away. But the man of God said, “Let her alone; for her soul is in deep distress, and the Lord has hidden it from me, and has not told me.”

So she said, “Did I ask a son of my lord? Did I not say, ‘Do not deceive me’?”

She reaches out for Elisha’s heal and a strange thing happens Gehazi tries to push her away.  Why would he? It was his job, to protect the presence of God that lived within Elisha.

When she reached out, she wasn’t just grabbing a hold of Elishia, she was reaching out and touching the very presence of God. She had no intention of letting go.

When things are desperate we learn quickly that the only place we can really go to find our answer is the presence of God.  We must make our way there and hold on with al that we have.

God like Elisha says, Come.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  Matthew 11: 28-29 

Our Shunammite woman says, “As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.”

She is not letting go, not for a second.

There Will Be Doubters

Elisha gives clear instruction to Gehazi, “Get yourself ready, and take my staff in your hand, and be on your way. If you meet anyone, do not greet him; and if anyone greets you, do not answer him; but lay my staff on the face of the child.” 

Why not talk to anyone?  One reason, there will always be the doubters and the nay- sayers.  In a moment they can steal your faith.  Second reason, the can try to make a spectacle of what is about to happen.

Gehazi does as he is asked and returns to them saying, “The child has not awakened.” 

Interesting that he does not say, “The child is dead.”

In faith, this little party for three press forward to the upper room.

God Restores 

When Elisha came into the house, there was the child, lying dead on his bed. He went in therefore, shut the door behind the two of them, and prayed to the Lord.  And he went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands; and he stretched himself out on the child, and the flesh of the child became warm.  He returned and walked back and forth in the house, and again went up and stretched himself out on him; then the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.  And he called Gehazi and said, “Call this Shunammite woman.” So he called her. And when she came in to him, he said, “Pick up your son.”  So she went in, fell at his feet, and bowed to the ground; then she picked up her son and went out. 

The resurrection power of God comes and a dead child is brought pack to life.  Oh the joy and relief that must have flooded her heart.

Her husband had never known that anything had gone wrong.  Wow, I am simply amazed at how this woman held it together. In faith, she knew that the only One who could restore her son to her, was the One who had given him to her.  Her God.

In life we can loose things that we treasure.  Ones we love, our homes, our land, even our way of life.  I think of the many war torn countries who have lost every single thing, they are left with nothing.

There is only One, who can completely restore us, protect us and provide for us.  God shows that to our Shunammite woman again.

Then Elisha spoke to the woman whose son he had restored to life, saying, “Arise and go, you and your household, and stay wherever you can; for the Lord has called for a famine, and furthermore, it will come upon the land for seven years.” So the woman arose and did according to the saying of the man of God, and she went with her household and dwelt in the land of the Philistines seven years.

 It came to pass, at the end of seven years, that the woman returned from the land of the Philistines; and she went to make an appeal to the king for her house and for her land.  Then the king talked with Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, saying, “Tell me, please, all the great things Elisha has done.” Now it happened, as he was telling the king how he had restored the dead to life, that there was the woman whose son he had restored to life, appealing to the king for her house and for her land. And Gehazi said, “My lord, O king, thisis the woman, and this is her son whom Elisha restored to life.”  And when the king asked the woman, she told him.

So the king appointed a certain officer for her, saying, “Restore all that washers, and all the proceeds of the field from the day that she left the land until now.” 2 Kings 8: 1-6 

When difficult times come our way, we must ask ourselves, “Who do I place my faith in?” Myself, in others, or in my God?

When we step outside of ourselves and say, “I choose God.”  We can truly say it and mean it, in any circumstance.  “All is Well”.