2 Kings 4:1-7

2 Kings 4:1‑7  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 8
1Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the Lord: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen. 2And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil. 3Then he said, Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbors, even empty vessels; borrow not a few. 4And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full. 5So she went from him, and shut the door upon her and upon her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured out. 6And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, Bring me yet a vessel. And he said unto her, There is not a vessel more. And the oil stayed. 7Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest. (2 Kings 4:1‑7)THE mantle of the ascending Elijah fell upon Elisha, and he received a double portion of his predecessor's spirit. This explains the typical character of his ministry-that it was in resurrection power. It is needful to bear this in, mind in interpreting the beautiful incident brought before us in this scripture. But first of all it is necessary to understand the circumstances of the widow. Her husband-one who feared the Lord-was dead, and he had left his widow so hopelessly in debt that the creditor claimed her two sons as bond men. Who then was the creditor? It was, we judge, the law, which, as it contained no mercy, ever rigorously exacted its penalties and claims. It had therefore brought death in upon the husband (compare Rom. 7), and was now seeking to reduce his two sons to bondage. What wonder was it that this poor widow groaned under her intolerable burden, and that she should be constrained to seek for deliverance? To whom then does she have recourse for help and succor? It is to Elisha, type of the risen Christ. He responds immediately, and says, "What shall I do for thee? tell me: what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hath not anything in the house, save a pot of oil." Mark the difference between man's thought and God's. The pot of oil was as nothing to the poor widow. She had not anything, "save a pot of oil." This was everything in the eyes of God, and the question of Elisha was intended to elicit the fact that there was this pot of oil in the house. Now oil is ever in Scripture emblematical of the Holy Spirit; and, as we shall now see, the possession of the Holy Spirit (we say nothing here of the necessary experiences before the goal is reached) is the only way of practical deliverance from the yoke of the law. The widow, up to this point, was ignorant of the value of the only possession to be found in the house; and indeed she was not yet in the condition of soul to use what she really possessed. Elisha therefore said, "Go, borrow the vessels abroad of all thy neighbors, even empty vessels; borrow not a few. And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and thy sons, and shall pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full." Faith at once was called out into lively exercise. She obeyed the prophet, and she discovered that the supply of oil was illimitable, or rather only limited by the capacity of her empty vessels; for when the vessels were full, she said to her son, "Bring me yet a vessel. And he said unto her, There is not a vessel more. And the oil stayed." She still was unable to avail herself of her treasure, and hence she went once more to "the man of God: And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest." She thus discovered that it was the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus that could make her free from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:22For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)), and also that she must continue to live in the Rower of the same Spirit. (Rom. 8:1313For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:13); Gal. 5:2525If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (Galatians 5:25))
There is another teaching lying more on the surface, and yet of the highest consequence. The widow in her sore distress found, as taught of the Lord, that she was not straitened in God, that there was an abundant outflow from His resources more than equal to all her need, and that faith brought her into living connection with the fountain of all relief and succor. We too thus learn that God is never weary of meeting our need, that our demands (as represented by the empty vessels) can never be too many. Come as often as we may, and with as many vessels as our faith can bring, we also shall find that His fountain of grace and blessing can fill them all. Surely then we may open our mouth wide, that He may fill it.