The Widow’s Oil
( Part 1- The Cry for help)
Character in a Time of Crisis ( Day 29) 2 Kings 4:1-7
We so often are reminded in the Bible that our ways and our thoughts are not the same as Gods ( Isaiah 55:9). We are often shown as well that with God, all things are possible( Matthew 19:26). We saw that with Elisha’s comment in 2 Kings 3 ‘This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord”.
In 2 Kings 4, we encounter one of the best-known miracles in Elisha’s ministry. The widow’s oil.
We are confronted in the Bible with a God of supernatural miracles, and miracles are indeed a big part of Elisha’s ministry. There is the temptation to dismiss this account from 2 Kings 4:1-7 as some would as being simply a Saga, a Novella, or a folklorist motif a part of oral tradition associated with ancient times. That is how some see this passage. Indeed if we go along with some scholars, this didn’t happen. To go with some Bible critics is to hold that Elisha didn’t exist except in the imagination and the stories around the campfire of the Hebrew people.
My own view is that we disbelieve God’s word at our peril. If we discount the supernatural power of God, then we have emptied the gospel of its power. In the story before us, we see God working yet another miracle for a practical purpose. And in so doing, He is I believe showing us, that God doesn’t need anything except our faith in Him.
The only thing that was limiting things in this account is the widow’s faith. We learn she is newly widowed, and her late husband’s creditors have called in his debts (2 Ki 4:1). As there are no other means of paying the debt, it looks as if her two sons will be taken as indentured servants to work for the creditor.
All she had was all she could use to pay off her debts. And all she had was not exactly much. So what could she do? Well, in the first place, she has her priorities right. In her extremity, she cries out to God (verse 1). And God answers her through the prophet Elisha. We saw last time how God had spoken through Elisha to three kings (2 Ki 3: 16-20) that this was “An easy thing in the eyes of the Lord’.
This time it is not to the great and the good but an ordinary person, a mother in great distress that Elisha speaks. But let’s notice that it is the little that is given that is used to pay off the debt. It is the little that she has, that is given in faith, that is the means of her salvation.
Let’s also notice, before there is any miracle in her life before there is an answer, there needs to be a cry for help. Verse 1 is her arrow prayer. It is the cry of her heart for God’s help. Maybe today, in the face of isolation, and distancing from others, we feel equally far from God. It is good to know though that prayers don’t need to be long and wordy. It is good to know that God hears and answers prayers. It is good to know as the widow that
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18