Man Up, Men! II Kings 4:8-37
Man Up, Men
II Kings 4:8-37
We’ll start with pointing out a contrast in two stories.
In the first part of the chapter (1-7) we encounter a poor widow. She’s desperate and she goes to the right source for help. Having lost her husband, she’s in danger of losing her children. She pleads with the man of God who helps her start a successful small business to care for her family.
The second part of the chapter is about a well-resourced woman. The story begins with the man of God receiving assistance from her. By the end of the story it’s quite obvious that she needs him. And by needing him the implication is that she needs God. Both stories take us inside homes where the Lord is desperately needed to bring life out of death and chaos. But a problem surfaces too. God appears to be peripheral in the thoughts and actions of those who should be leading both family and nation. We saw that very neglect in chapter 3 in the decisions of the king in national and international matters. Now the same dreaded disease of indifference shows up in the home.
Read the chapter first, and then consider these thoughts.
A hospitable and kind-hearted woman is favorably disposed toward the man of God. Eager to help him in practical and tangible ways she convinces her husband to do a remodeling project that will provide a place for Elisha to comfortably stay when he passes through the area. As you read this story you’ll note that this husband is at best a passive participant in the action. He should be a man of God among the people of God, and yet he contrasts unfavorably with the man of God.
They prepare a room for the traveling prophet and whenever he’s in the area he turns aside to their home and stays. Being deeply grateful Elisha wants to provide a gift for the family, but they’re well off and seem to be without any real need. But Elisha’s servant points out that the couple is without children. Elisha, wanting so much to bless those who’ve blessed him promises a son. And once again life comes from a barren womb. Again, the husband is noticeably absent. There is no mention of this man’s concern for his wife’s barrenness. God provided the barren Sarah a son. Isaac prayed for his wife and she conceived, but this people has drifted far from the faith of the patriarchs.
In typical Old Testament literary fashion, the story moves quickly to a child old enough to join his father in the fields. It’s harvest time and reason to celebrate but the child gets sick, very sick. Dad, according to the pattern established in the chapter, orders a servant to take him to his mother. Another picture of a distant father, this time appearing to be clueless in a crisis. The child dies in his mother’s arms. The distraught mother takes her son to Elisha’s room, lays him on Elisha’s bed and closes the door. The same phrase was used in the previous story. These are not public events but intensely private. God is working behind the scenes. Without indicating to her husband why, Mom arranges for a trip to see Elisha. How strange! The boy’s dead and Dad is with the crops. Mom is driven to see Elisha. This certainly qualifies as a family matter, but this mother feels compelled to act apart from her husband. She takes the initiative to get help. She clings in loyalty to the man of God, even though her heart is breaking.
Arriving at Elisha’s place she breaks social protocol, by grabbing his feet. She questions the motives behind this gift of life, that’s been given and ripped away so suddenly. Elisha, himself seems disturbed by the circumstances. He arranges a trip to see the boy and assess the situation. He sends his servant ahead with his staff to lay it on the child. Nothing happens. Elisha arrives, goes to the room, sees the child and closes the door behind the two of them. He prays behind closed doors. When he stretches himself out on the boy the flesh of the child warms, and he opens his eyes. The man of God mediates a miracle of God, while Dad is at home threshing the grain.
Men, Jesus will give our kids life. In an even far greater way than Elisha gave the child in this story his life back. We must work with Jesus to nurture this new life. Let’s not allow God to be peripheral in our daily thoughts and actions. Let’s not be absent when a godly presence is required.