The Shunammite Again

2 Kings 8:1‑6  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 7
From this short notice of another incident in the path of our prophet, we see again how intimate he was with the mind of God. For here we are reminded again of that scripture, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets.”
The famine must be told to Elisha now, as to Joseph, and Agabus; and others, in older or more recent times. “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?” was the language of the same gracious Lord who thus treats His faithful servants as friends. It was the mind and the hand, the counsels and the strength of the Lord, which this prophet so gloriously carried with him.
And we find all God’s riches still used in grace to others. “The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” Abraham used it to the profit of others; and, knowing the purposed judgment, interceded for the righteous remnant in Sodom. So Elisha here. He heard of the coming famine, and he warned the godly woman of Shunem to provide for her household against it.
Her circumstances are changed from what they once were. This loved and honored woman has, apparently, become a widow; her little child, the gift of God to this daughter of Sarah, has grown up. But the famine has separated them from their home and their fields in the land of Issachar. (See chap. 4.)And she had once loved her mercies there: she “dwelt among her own people.” She valued not the court nor its patronage then; nor does she now seek it, save to be restored to the same simplicity of her home and her own people. And, surely, we may judge, that “the little chamber on the wall” helped to draw back her recollections and desires to that loved place where she had known the quickening and resurrection strength of her Lord and Savior, by the hand of His chosen servant.
Gehazi is in other circumstances also. It may be that the root of the matter was in him; “but he is a leper.” He is separated from the prophet of God now. It was not famine, however, but covetousness that did this. He has now only to recollect, but no longer to witness, “the great things” of Elisha. Happy, if in repentance he can tell of them with holy delight to the king—happier, had constancy in faith and in the spirit kept him still in company with his master! But he had wronged his own soul, as we all do, beloved, in our way and measure: “Blessed is the man that heareth Me,” says Wisdom, “watching daily at My gates, waiting at the posts of My doors; for whoso findeth Me findeth life, and shall obtain favor of the Lord; but he that sinneth against Me wrongeth his own soul.” And gracious it is in the Lord to give us this parting look at him. We may hope that as he had once pierced himself through with many sorrows because he would be rich (1 Tim. 6), so now that money is no longer the thing, his heart and his lips bring recollections of Elisha. For the Lord here graciously seems to use him again and makes him helpful to this dear and godly friend of the prophet in the day of her necessity. Happy is it to note something like restoring grace from the Lord, though His Spirit be so grieved with the backslidings of His people! Oh, that we may praise Him for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!*
(* I am aware that this introduction of Gehazi may not be favorable to him, in the judgment of some. They may think that it is a symptom of his being still a man of the world, and covetous, because he is found here attached to the court and the king. It may be so. But still I rather gather the above impression from the scene in which we find him here taking part.)
“A word spoken in due season, how good is it,” we may almost say of the incident in this little passage. Gehazi and the king were talking of the Shunammite, as the Shunammite came up to the place where they were. And how often have we occasion to notice like happy coincidences! There are scarcely any who have not to recount some such things in their history. “We were just speaking of you,” has been said again and again to one suddenly making his appearance in the midst of a little group of friends. And faith will own the mercy of such harbingers casting up the highway, and making straight the crooked paths, which lead to some desired blessing, as in this case before us. And faith will not complain that it is not always so. For faith says, “It is well,” when providences either help or cross us.
‘Tis an equal hand of love that takes the thorn out of the flesh, or leaves it there. If left, it is only made to work further good.