Today is Mother’s Day; a day to honor our mothers and the women in our lives that have impacted us for good. Mothers, we celebrate you. It has been said that a mother’s hug lasts long after she lets go. An old Jewish proverb says, “A mother understands what a child does not say.” Milton Berle wisely said, “If evolution really works, how come mothers have only two hands?” A testimony to the unfailing love of a mother is summed up in the phrase “He has a face only a mother could love.” This morning we will discuss a celebrated, compassionate, contented, courageous, Christian woman. We do not know her name, but her legacy is one of faith. She lived her life for the glory of God and points us to Jesus.
A Celebrated Woman (8)
The Shunammite woman was a celebrated woman. We are introduced to her as “a prominent woman.” She was prominent because she most likely had a lot of wealth and was highly respected (see Proverbs 31). She was a woman who has the trust of her husband and does him good not evil (Prov 31:11-12). She is a woman with a “gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4). She was from Shunem. Shunem was a town in the territory of Issachar (Josh 19:18). It was located on the southern edge of the Jezreel Valley south of Nazareth. One other notable woman from Shunem was Abishag who served as King David’s caregiver (1 Kings 1:3-4). She was a celebrated woman of high character.
A Compassionate Woman (9-11)
The Shunammite woman was a compassionate woman. Marty Machowski said, “A woman was serving Elisha to bless him. But really, the woman and her husband were serving God.” She said to her husband, “I know that the one who often passes by here is a holy man of God, so let’s make a small room upstairs and put a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp there for him. Whenever he comes, he can stay there” (4:9-10). She had compassion on Elisha and Gehazi and wanted to do something for them to aid them in their travels.
A Contented Woman (12-17)
The Shunammite woman was a contented woman. Machowski continued by saying, “She was not looking for any payment in return, but God knew that she wanted a son–exactly what Elisha promised God would give to her.” Elisha told his servant “Call this Shunammite woman…say to her ‘What can we do for you?’” (4:12-13). She answered, “I am living among my own people” (4:13). The NET Bible translates this as, “I am quite secure.” She is content with who she is, what she has, and where she is.
She is content, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have hopes and dreams. It was made clear to Elisha that the woman “has no son, and her husband is old” (4:14). Elisha told the woman “At this time next year you will have a son in your arms” (4:16). She was overwhelmed with joy and couldn’t imagine such a blessing was possible to her. True to his word, she had a son. This is a reminder that we can be content with what God has provided to us while humbly making known in prayer our wishes to Him. We are encouraged to ask in faith and accept God’s answer in faith.
A Courageous Woman (18-30)
The Shunammite woman was a courageous woman. One day her son was in the field and he said, “My head! My head!” (4:19). The child was sent to his mother and the Shunammite woman held him in her arms until noon and then he died. She stayed with her son until his death. The Shunammite woman was in “severe anguish” (2 Kings 4:27) and she intended to find Elisha because she was convinced that he could help. Her husband mentioned to her it wasn’t the customary time to visit the prophet (4:23), she was resolute.
When she came to Elisha, she “clung to [Elisha’s] feet…[saying] Did I ask my lord for a son? Didn’t I say, ‘Don’t deceive me?’” (4:27-28). Elisha knew something was wrong with her son so he sent Gehazi to revive him with his staff. The Shunammite woman told Elisha, “As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you” (4:30). She knew Elisha could help because God worked through Elisha.
Gehazi returned and reported: “The boy didn’t wake up” (4:32). Elisha got to the house and was able to resurrect the boy through the power of God. He told the Shunammite woman, “Pick up your son” (4:36). The last time she had held her son in her arms was the moment of his death and now, with great joy, she “came, fell at his feet, and bowed to the ground; she picked up her son and left” (4:37). She courageously sought God.
A Christian Woman (31-37)
The Shunammite woman was a Christian woman. I love cross references in Bibles. In my Bible there is a cross reference on verse 37 that directs me to Hebrews 11:35. Hebrews 11 is known as the Hall of Faith. This chapter records for us numerous examples of Old Testament saints who lived by faith. Verse 35 says, “Women received their dead raised to life again.” The Shunammite woman is an example of a hero of the faith. She was a Jewess who lived by faith and was approved (Heb 11:2) by God. She trusted God.
The meaning of this event involving her family and the Prophet Elisha is to show that you cannot outgive God. Christians are free to be as hospitable and charitable as possible knowing that our work is not in vain. We do not labor so that we can convince God to bless us, but we labor because we love God and know that He always blesses us.
The greatest blessing we can receive is salvation. God the Father sent His own Son, Jesus into the world so that all who believe in Him may be saved. Through Jesus we have forgiveness of sins and are reconciled back to God. God loves us and wants us to know Him and delight ourselves in Him.
Mothers, you are loved. We celebrate your special role as mother. Live with the compassion of Jesus as you care for those around you. Be content in Christ with who you are, where you are, and what you have. Be courageous in Christ knowing that He who has called you is faithful (1 Thess 5:24). Live for Jesus.
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