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A Woman Who Serves The Lord (2 Kings 4:8)

Sermon on 17 May 2020 by Pastor Paul


Today we will learn from a woman who served the Lord during Elisha’s time.


One day Elisha went to the town of Shunem. A wealthy woman lived there, and she urged him to come to her home for a meal. After that, whenever he passed that way, he would stop there for something to eat. She said to her husband, “I am sure this man who stops in from time to time is a holy man of God. Let’s build a small room for him on the roof and furnish it with a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp. Then he will have a place to stay whenever he comes by.” One day Elisha returned to Shunem, and he went up to this upper room to rest. He said to his servant Gehazi, “Tell the woman from Shunem I want to speak to her.” When she appeared, Elisha said to Gehazi, “Tell her, ‘We appreciate the kind concern you have shown us. What can we do for you? Can we put in a good word for you to the king or to the commander of the army?’” “No,” she replied, “my family takes good care of me.” Later Elisha asked Gehazi, “What can we do for her?” Gehazi replied, “She doesn’t have a son, and her husband is an old man.” “Call her back again,” Elisha told him. When the woman returned, Elisha said to her as she stood in the doorway, “Next year at this time you will be holding a son in your arms!” “No, my lord!” she cried. “O man of God, don’t deceive me and get my hopes up like that.” But sure enough, the woman soon became pregnant. And at that time the following year she had a son, just as Elisha had said. One day when her child was older, he went out to help his father, who was working with the harvesters. Suddenly he cried out, “My head hurts! My head hurts!” His father said to one of the servants, “Carry him home to his mother.” So the servant took him home, and his mother held him on her lap. But around noontime he died. She carried him up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, then shut the door and left him there. She sent a message to her husband: “Send one of the servants and a donkey so that I can hurry to the man of God and come right back.” “Why go today?” he asked. “It is neither a new moon festival nor a Sabbath.” But she said, “It will be all right.” So she saddled the donkey and said to the servant, “Hurry! Don’t slow down unless I tell you to.” As she approached the man of God at Mount Carmel, Elisha saw her in the distance. He said to Gehazi, “Look, the woman from Shunem is coming. Run out to meet her and ask her, ‘Is everything all right with you, your husband, and your child?’” “Yes,” the woman told Gehazi, “everything is fine.” But when she came to the man of God at the mountain, she fell to the ground before him and caught hold of his feet. Gehazi began to push her away, but the man of God said, “Leave her alone. She is deeply troubled, but the Lord has not told me what it is.” Then she said, “Did I ask you for a son, my lord? And didn’t I say, ‘Don’t deceive me and get my hopes up?’” Then Elisha said to Gehazi, “Get ready to travel; take my staff and go! Don’t talk to anyone along the way. Go quickly and lay the staff on the child’s face.” But the boy’s mother said, “As surely as the Lord lives and you yourself live, I won’t go home unless you go with me.” So Elisha returned with her. Gehazi hurried on ahead and laid the staff on the child’s face, but nothing happened. There was no sign of life. He returned to meet Elisha and told him, “The child is still dead.” When Elisha arrived, the child was indeed dead, lying there on the prophet’s bed. He went in alone and shut the door behind him and prayed to the Lord. Then he lay down on the child’s body, placing his mouth on the child’s mouth, his eyes on the child’s eyes, and his hands on the child’s hands. And as he stretched out on him, the child’s body began to grow warm again! Elisha got up, walked back and forth across the room once, and then stretched himself out again on the child. This time the boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes! Then Elisha summoned Gehazi. “Call the child’s mother!” he said. And when she came in, Elisha said, “Here, take your son!” She fell at his feet and bowed before him, overwhelmed with gratitude. Then she took her son in her arms and carried him downstairs. - 2 Kings 4:8-37

Elisha had told the woman whose son he had brought back to life, “Take your family and move to some other place, for the Lord has called for a famine on Israel that will last for seven years.” So the woman did as the man of God instructed. She took her family and settled in the land of the Philistines for seven years. After the famine ended she returned from the land of the Philistines, and she went to see the king about getting back her house and land. And she came in, the king was talking with Gehazi, the servant of the mand of God. The king had just said, “Tell me some stories about the great things Elisha has done.” And Gehazi was telling the king about the time Elisha had brought a boy back to life. At that very moment, the mother of the boy walked in to make her appeal to the king about her house and land. “Look, my lord the king!” Gehazi exclaimed. “Here is the woman now, and this is her son – the very one Elisha brought back to life!” “Is this true?” the king asked her. And she told him the story. So he directed one of his officials to see that everything she had lost was restored to her, including the value of any crops that had been harvested during her absence. - 2 Kings 8:1-6

The woman stayed in the town of Shunem with her husband. She was wealthy and always invited Elisha to come to her house for a meal whenever he passed by. She recognised Elisha was a holy man of God. She built a small room for Elisha for him to rest whenever he passed by, and obeyed every instruction which Elisha gave to her. She served with enthusiasm and did not ask for blessings in return.

Miracles happened for this woman and her family. She had a son despite her husband being old. Her son died, and was raised from the dead. The testimony of her son’s resurrection glorified God and was shared to Joram, the king of Israel.

What can we learn from this woman?

We learn the right attitudes of this woman in serving the Lord:

1. Work hard and serve enthusiastically

She was enthusiastic in providing for Elisha’s needs. Let us not be lazy and procrastinate, and let us not seek any returns for our work.

Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. - Romans 12:11

2. Serve faithfully with a clear conscience

She did not serve Elisha once off. She provided food and shelter whenever Elisha passed by. Let us never become weary in serving the Lord. Let us live a blameless life.

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai – ‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life.” - Genesis 17:1

Timothy, I thank God for you – the God I serve with a clear conscience, just as my ancestors did. Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. - 2 Timothy 1:3

3. Serve by living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit

The conduct of this woman was honourable, and was of goodness and peace.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. - Romans 14:17-18

Let us not murmur not grumble. Let us not compare ourselves against others. God loves a cheerful giver.

4. Serve in love

The woman did not serve Elisha to get any reward. She served out of love.

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. - Galatians 5:13

We can serve the Lord all the time and give all we have. But if we do not have love, our works are meaningless, for God is love. Let us always serve in love, building one another up.

5. Serve regardless of situation and how others treat us

The woman, despite not having a son, still served with enthusiasm. Elisha had nothing to offer her, but she still worked hard to serve for the sake of the Lord.

… We serve God whether people honour us or despise me, whether they slander us or praise us… - 2 Corinthians 6:3-10

People may reject us or say nasty words to us. Let us not be discouraged. Let us not try to win the approval of people, but of God. If we only aim to gain man’s approval, we are not Christ’s servants.


The Lord cares for us. Let us not serve God because we want His blessings, but because we love Him. The woman wholeheartedly obeyed Elisha’s instructions, which originated from God. Let us obey God’s words wholeheartedly, in faith, without a doubt. God’s words are light, giving us hope even through darkness. Let us be obedient and faithful servants of our Lord Jesus.

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