The Deadly Pottage Healed

2 Kings 4:38‑41  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 6
The incidents of our prophet’s life are like so many emanations of glory through the cloud of his apparent poverty and nothingness in the world. And this was one character of the life of the Son of God on the earth.
Here we have a very bright expression of Elisha’s ways, and of the way of Him whom he foreshadowed.
There was “death in the pot”; death, where indeed life should have been—death invading the place where life looked for its support and strengthening. But the prophet has the remedy for death here, as he had for the curse at Jericho. We know One of whom we sing, “Where He displays His healing power, Death and the curse are known no more.”
And here, our prophet, the shadow of Jesus, has meal to cast into the pot, as before he had salt to cast into the waters, and both are healed. Moses typified this also at Marah, where he had the wood for the bitter waters. The Son of God has cast Himself into the scene of death and intercepted its course. He has come with His healing cross and “destroyed him that had the power of death.” “By His stripes we are healed.” There is a cry at the discovery of death that has entered, but the Son of God has answered it. We eat of what in our willfulness we have gathered, but Jesus changes the feast and gives us meat indeed and drink indeed, on which we live even in the time of dearth, or in the regions of death.
Death and the curse are altogether at the disposal of Him who has cast Himself into the scene and action of this world, on our side. “I have the keys of hell and of death,” He says, and His strength shall rescue even creation from the curse, and cast death itself into the lake of fire (Rom. 8; Rev. 20).
Why, we may ask with amazement of soul, did we ever gather our wild fruit and bring death in? Why did we not sit at the feast as it was first spread for us? What a miniature picture of the whole great mystery does this little incident give us! What has Adam done? What has Christ done? Have we not the answer here? The prophet prepared a feast. Though it were a time of dearth, he had resources. He had pottage for his guests, and the pot was seething on the fire. But there was someone, it matters not who, save that it was neither the prophet nor his servant, who thought to improve the feast, and intrusively gathered some wild gourds. But his gourds brought death into the prophet’s pot. And what did Adam but this? The Lord, the Creator, had spread a feast, rich and dainty, and abundant for him in Eden, but Adam must needs improve it. He gathers wild fruit, something that the Lord had not ordained for the table, something in addition; but he spoils everything, and brings death into the pot: death upon that board which the Lord had loaded with the sweetest, richest food of life!*
(* How all this is repeated by adding the law to the gospel—spoiling the precious grace of God with man’s works, or additions in one way or another. The Apostle combats against this in Galatians. Ed.)
The prophet, however, has the remedy, and heals the pot, and then his guests retake their seats at the feast with only fresh appetite to still more savory meat. It is now a healed table, and not a spread table merely. They may admire and love the man and his resources, who could then, in un-upbraiding grace, restore their good things—the good things which in their wanton pride they had thought to improve, but had utterly ruined and defiled. Is not this Jesus and ourselves? I ask. Do we not sit at a healed table? We are at a happier table than the bowers of Eden would have ever shaded. We sit at the feast of the Redeemer with new affections. We admire the healing as well as the creating virtue of His power, and lose ourselves in love and praise at the thought of the un-upbraiding grace that has thus repaired the mischief.