The Bible is a revelation of God’s love and compassion for us through stories, and the account of Elisha and the Shunammite woman is no exception. How do you treat strangers? In our world today, compassion can be hard to come by but the word of God reminds us that it is still a virtue worth desiring.
Through this story, we see how the Shunamite woman showed Elisha compassion, and in return, God showed up for her in her time of need. While it is interesting to read this account as a simple Bible story, it is a profound testament to faith, hospitality, and the power of God in the lives of His people.
In this blog post, we will look at the interactions between Elisha a holy man of God and the Shunammite woman in the Bible, a barren woman and explore lessons we can learn from this story to help us build our faith.
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The Story of the Shunammite Woman
In this old testament story, there was a kind and notable woman living in Shunem. This childless woman and her husband were hospitable and often invited the Prophet Elisha to their home to eat food. Recognizing Elisha’s holiness, the woman persuaded her husband to build a small guest room on their roof for Elisha, so he could rest whenever he passed through the town of Shunem.
In gratitude for her hospitality, Elisha God’s prophet wanted to repay her kindness. He asked her if there was anything she needed. However, she humbly replied that she was content and needed nothing. Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, noticed that the woman and her husband had no children. Elisha, in return for her generosity, blessed her, saying that she would have a son the following spring. True to his word, she gave birth to a son.
Unfortunately, the shunammite’s son fell ill one day and appeared lifeless in his mother’s arms. In deep distress, the Shunamite woman laid her son on Elisha’s bed in the room they had built for him and hastened towards mount carmel where the prophet lived.
When she reached Elisha, the mother of the child expressed her grief, but Elisha, filled with compassion, sent his servant ahead with his staff, instructing him to lay it on the face of the child. However, the child remained lifeless and appeared like a dead child.
Elisha then went to the woman’s house. He entered the room, prayed earnestly to God, and stretched himself out over the child. Miraculously, the child’s body began to grow warm. He sneezed seven times and opened his eyes, alive and well. Overjoyed, the Shunamite woman fell at Elisha’s feet, expressing her gratitude for the miracle.
Then he went up and lay on the child, putting his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands. And as he stretched himself upon him, the flesh of the child became warm.
Through the Shunammite woman’s hospitality to Elisha and simple, sincere faith, God abundantly blessed the woman’s life during a difficult period.
Who is the Shunammite Woman in the Bible?
In 2 Kings we read about the Shunammite woman and the events that unfolded because of her faith and hospitality. Although this woman’s name was never mentioned, her story is very profound. We first read about her in 2 Kings 4:8-37 and her interactions with the Prophet Elijah. Her acts of hospitality and faith made room for a miracle in her life. God used Elisha to bless her with a miracle child.
Later on in 2 Kings 8:1-6, we learn about another miracle God performed in her life through her interaction with Elisha. During a severe famine, Elisha instructed her to leave her land with her family for seven years to avoid the famine’s devastation. Following Elisha’s advice, she left her home and property.
After seven years, she returned from the land of the Philistines and went to the king to appeal for the restoration of her house and land. As she entered to speak with the king, Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, happened to be talking to the king about Elisha’s miracles, including the story of the woman and her son. Gehazi was sharing how Elisha had brought the little boy back to life.
The king was intrigued, and as the Shunammite woman entered, Gehazi recounted the tale. The king was so moved by the story that he instructed his officials to ensure that the woman and her family were given back their property and all the income it had generated during her absence.
We see the providence of God and the fulfillment of prophecy in the Shunammite woman’s life. It showcases God’s faithfulness and how acts of kindness and obedience to God’s word are not forgotten but are rewarded in due time.
Meaning of the Shunamite in the Bible?
The Bible mentions Shunammite in reference to a woman from Shunem. We hear about Shunem in Joshua 19:18. This was a little village in the tribe of Issachar, to the north of Jezreel and south of Mount Gilboa, where the Philistines encamped when they came against Saul in 1 Samuel 28:4.
Lessons From The Story of Elisha and The Shunammite Woman in the Bible
1. The Power of Hospitality and Kindness
The Shunammite woman’s hospitality towards Elisha was not merely a gesture of politeness but a profound display of faith in action. Her open-hearted generosity and willingness to serve a stranger, recognizing the presence of God in him, teach us the power of hospitality. In our lives, too, embracing others with kindness can pave the way for unexpected blessings.
2. Trusting in God’s Promises
When Elisha prophesied that the Shunammite woman would have a son, she might have found it hard to believe, given her age and her husband’s advanced years. However, she chose to trust in the words of the prophet and, indeed, bore a son as promised. This lesson reminds us of the importance of unwavering trust in God’s promises, even when circumstances seem bleak.
3. Perseverance in the Face of Tragedy
Tragedy struck the Shunammite woman when her son fell seriously ill and eventually died. Instead of succumbing to despair, she sought out the prophet Elisha, demonstrating her unyielding perseverance in the face of adversity. Her determination and faith led to the miraculous restoration of her son’s life. This teaches us the importance of holding on to hope and faith even in our darkest hours.
4. Cultivating Gratitude and Acknowledgment
When Elisha restored her son to life, the Shunammite woman fell at his feet, expressing her profound gratitude. Her act of thanksgiving teaches us the importance of acknowledging and appreciating the blessings in our lives. Cultivating a heart of gratitude can transform our perspective, enabling us to be content and have inner peace.
5. God’s Timing is Perfect
The Shunammite woman had to wait for the fulfillment of God’s promise. She endured years of childlessness before finally having a son the next year as Elisha prophesied. Later, when her son fell ill, she had to wait for Elisha to arrive and perform the miracle.
This story reminds us that God’s timing is perfect, and the God of Elisha can do the same for us too, even when it doesn’t align with our own. Patience and faith are required as we trust in God’s plan.
6. The Importance of Community
The Shunammite woman was part of a community that included Elisha and his servants. This community played a significant role in her life, from the prediction of her son’s birth to the miraculous restoration of his life.
Being part of a supportive and faith-filled community can provide strength, encouragement, and opportunities for blessings. It emphasizes the importance of surrounding ourselves with people who uplift and inspire our faith.
7. Seeing Goodness in Others
Have you ever met someone and felt they were really special? That’s what the Shunammite woman felt about Elisha. The Shunammite woman recognized the holiness in Elisha and treated him with profound respect.
Her ability to perceive God’s presence in the prophet illustrates the importance of recognizing the goodness in others. This teaches us to see the good in others and treat everyone with kindness and respect.
Discover the pivotal roles women played in biblical history through our Women of the Bible series or download a printable Women of the Bible study. Immerse yourself in their compelling stories and explore the pratical applications for our lives today!
Characteristics of the Shunammite Woman in the Bible
In the story of the Shunammite woman, we encounter a remarkable biblical character in this Bible lesson whose qualities serve as a guide for our lives. Her hospitality and kindness towards the prophet Elisha exemplify the power of compassion and generosity. When tragedy struck, even with her initial skepticism, she displayed unwavering trust in God’s promises, teaching us the importance of faith in challenging times.
Her perseverance in the face of tragedy demonstrates the strength found in hope and determination. She obediently followed Elisha’s guidance during a severe famine, which eventually led to her safety and restoration. This emphasizes the importance of obedience to God’s word and trust in divine guidance, even when it requires stepping into the unknown.
Gratitude was a hallmark of her character, as seen in her profound thankfulness for the miracle bestowed upon her. Her active faith serves as a reminder that genuine belief is reflected through our actions, shaping our interactions and relationships. The Shunammite woman’s compassion, faith, perseverance, gratitude, obedience, and active faith should inspire us to incorporate these virtues into our lives to help us build deeper connections with God and others.