The God who Multiplies

The Story of Elisha and the Widow


August 29, 2022

This week we read 2 Kings 1-10. We see that Elijah the prophet is about to be taken up into heaven and hand over the leadership role of head prophet to Elisha (means God is my salvation). 2 Kings 2:9-10 says, “When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you? “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.“You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.” The spirit that Elisha was asking for was a spirit filled heart to know God, and he wanted a double portion. He did watch Elijah go up into heaven, so received this double portion. After this, Elisha became the leading prophet.

As we continue into 2 Kings, Elisha performs many miracles. The miracle I want to discuss is the one about the widow in 2 Kings chapter 4.

2 Kings 4:1-2 says, “The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”

This woman’s husband was training to be a prophet and was someone Elisha knew. He was married, had two sons, and had some debt. When he died, his wife could not pay the debt, and if that happened in that day, the sons would have to be slaves until the debt was paid. The woman had no way to make money either as women did not work. The woman was in a desperate state. She lost her husband and now her sons were going to be forced into slavery.

Elisha says in verse 2, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?

The prophet wants to help her and asks her how he can do this. He does not wait for an answer. He just asks another question. He already knows she is desperate and in need. He doesn’t know what she owns. So he asks.

Verse 2 says, “Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”

She initially thought she had nothing, but remembered she had a small jar of olive oil. This was worth quite a bit of money in those days as it was used for many things such as food, illumination or lighting, ointment, making soap, and for making anointing oil ( She only had a small jar, however.

In verse 3-4, “Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”

God wanted this woman to participate in the miracle. He could have done anything for her but wanted her to be a part.

In order for her to be obedient, she first had to humble herself and ask others for a jar. God did not specify the number of jars that she was to get, but that she should not ask for just a few. He was hinting to her that he wanted her to get a lot of jars.

He then had her go inside her home and shut the door behind her and her sons. God wanted this to be a private miracle. Then she poured the oil she had in her one little flask, and filled each of the pots she obtained from the neighbors.  

Verse 5 says, “She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”

But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.”

Once the jars were full, the miracle stopped.

She says in verse 7 “She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”

God was very generous with this woman. He gave her enough to settle her debt, and then enough for her and her family to live on.

Are you in a difficult circumstance? Maybe you’ve lost a loved one like this woman, or have been struggling financially.

Let’s learn from the prophet’s wife.

Humble: She knew her problem, was humble by asking for help from the Prophet and asking the neighbors for their jars.  

Faithful: She had faith. If she hadn’t, she would not have spent the time doing all this work to get the jars
Obedient: She was obedient to what God called her to do (even though it did not make sense) by pouring the oil into the jars.

Participatory: she did participate by collecting the jars.

Private: she closed the door to the house so other people would not see.

Blessed: she was blessed by God when she received enough oil to cancel her debt and to live on at least until her sons were old enough to work.

When you are feeling down, discouraged or empty, remember this story, and the below verses.

Philippians 4:9 states: “19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

2 Corinthians 9:8 says, “

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

God bless you!

Next read 2 Kings 11-20

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