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.” (II Kings 4:1)In her day, if a family couldn’t pay their debts, they could be made slaves until the debt was paid. Perhaps she remembered that God “defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow.” (Deuteronomy 10:18) God made a promise to “hear their cry.” (Exodus 22:22)
She brought her problem to the prophet Elisha to whom God had given power to do miracles. (II Kings 2:9-14, 21-22, 24; 3:15-20) She didn’t know how her problem could be solved, but she hoped Elisha could help.
Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”She was completely destitute. Had she already sold everything of value? Now only her sons were left.
Perhaps Elisha remembered the widow of Zarephath whose small amount of oil and flour kept her, her son, and Elijah alive during the famine and drought. Perhaps God put the thought into his mind. The prophet’s widow was required to ask all of her neighbors for every available empty jar. She was told, “Don’t ask for just a few.” (II Kings 4:3) Elisha was expecting God to be generous. (And notice that the neighbors were also generous!)
Then Elisha told her to go into her home with only her two sons and to fill the jars she collected. Elisha was not with her. This was not a public miracle; this was a private provision from God for their immediate need. The oil flowed only as long as there were jars to be filled. Once every jar was filled, the oil stopped flowing. (II Kings 4:4-6)
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.” (II Kings 4:7)This widow followed the instructions God had given her through Elisha with faith not knowing how this would solve her problem until she was finished. She was no longer destitute and her sons were not made slaves as payment for the family debt.
There is no Elisha walking the earth today. There is no need because we have access to God through Jesus Christ.
Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. (Hebrews 7:23-25)God has not promised us a trouble-free life. This widow’s husband had served God faithfully, yet he died. God has not promised us great financial wealth or perfect health. But, he has promised to provide whatever is needed for those who put his kingdom and his righteousness at the top of their priority list. (Matthew 6:25-34)
This prophet’s widow put her trust in God, cried out to him through Elisha, and God provided. She carefully followed the instructions she was given. We also can put our trust in God, and cry out to him through Jesus (Hebrews 4:14-16) and know God will provide whatever we truly need.
His answer may be employment when you weren’t able to find a job. His answer might be an opportunity for job training and strength to do the hard work of preparing. He may do a private miracle for you that you know came from him.
God does want us to ask. (Matthew 6:11; 7:7-12; Luke 11:5-13)
So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. (Luke 11:9-10)God has a more precious gift than our physical needs he wants to give those who ask:
If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! (Luke 11:13)Whether our need is physical or spiritual, we can go to God in confidence knowing that he loves us and wants to help us. God is faithful. Expect him to be generous. (Hebrews 11:6, 11)
For the Scripture References and
related Bible Study Guide, go to Bible
Study Guide: How Can I Help You?