Behind Closed Doors, II Kings 4

Behind Closed Doors
II Kings 4

Let’s consider two desperate parents.  One royal, and the other common.  One who operates mostly in the public arena.  The other in relative obscurity.  Both highly vulnerable with real needs.  One who serves gods without eyes or ears.  The other a servant of the One true and living God, who responds to the trusting heart.

At the end of chapter three the king of Moab is militarily engaged and losing.  Tired of paying tribute he has rebelled against the king of Israel.  The king losing the income enlists support from two allies and the war is on.  The king of Moab finds himself desperate in the extreme. He holds to the adage that desperate times call for desperate measures and so he goes extreme.  He resorts to human sacrifice.  He offers his own son, and heir to the throne, in a bloody and brutal attempt to appease his gods and align them with his cause.  The religious excuse for cold-blooded murder generates such fear that all the combatants retreat to their home.

II Kings 3 ends with this bloody mess.  Chapter 4 begins in a much simpler setting with much simpler people. 

A recently widowed woman is feeling overwhelmed.  A most unwelcome intruder has entered her home.  Death has robbed her of her husband.  She’s drowning in sorrow but she wisely cries out to Elisha the prophet of God.  Her husband was in Elisha’s group of prophets and the basis of her appeal is that her husband was a servant of Elisha.  Because her husband is dead, and she is poor, she is highly vulnerable.  Her two sons are in danger of becoming slaves of the creditor who is demanding payment on an overdue loan.  In their cultural reality, the creditor had legal leverage to claim the sons as his servants.  Losing the sons would leave a distraught woman destitute. 

Elisha’s answer was a small business venture.  Simple supply and demand.  The widow and her sons supply olive oil to the community which demanded this commodity for a variety of household uses.  The supply was miraculously provided behind closed doors.  Look at verses 4,5.   The debt was paid and the business profits provided for their family needs.

Here are two desperate parents.  The royal parent and public figure slays his son in horribly misguided act of unnecessary violence.  Thousands witness the event and are impacted.  But the bottom line is that a son is dead, needlessly.  There is no god appeased, because that god doesn’t exist.  Heaven isn’t moved by an ill-informed loyalty.  There is no divine intervention.  By contrast, the woman of far lesser social prominence in an informed act of loyalty and devotion cries out to the God who “bends the ear” to those who call.  And a miracle takes place in secret.   The phrase “behind closed doors” will show up again in chapter 4.  And the point is profound.  God is at work in simple settings.  In obscurity.  He responds to desperately needy people who turn in faith to Him, in their humble homes when all seems lost.  


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