It is well! It is well! שָׁלוֹם shalowm
Lately, the words of the Shunamite ring in my ears; “It is well, it is well”. All week I’ve heard them and decided to dive into the story of this interesting Shunamite woman.
How could she have said “It is well” when it wasn’t?!? Her only son had just died in her arms, yet she spoke not a word about it. “It is well, it is well” were the only words she said as she ran to the prophet Elisha.
A few things in the story of the Shunamite woman stand out to me.
- The way she told everyone “it is well” when it really wasn’t,
- 2 different people running or going somewhere quickly – without slowing down, they did not stop and say hello to others, nor did they allow themselves to get distracted – running with a message or matter.
- Her persistence in keeping Elisha at her house and persistence again in refusing to return home without Elisha going with her
- Her faith in the Power of God (She didn’t doubt, complain, or give up)
- Her boldness – before Elisha, the king and in her words
- Her authority in her orders and her words
- Elisha didn’t know something, why? You’d think a prophet would know it all, but here we see that for some reason, the Lord hid something from Elisha. I think this causes one to seek God first and not people. This glorifies the Lord, and not man.
- Elisha’s persistence in prayer and seeking the Lord in order for the boy to come back to life- he didn’t give up on the first try.
- This wasn’t the first time Elisha tried or did stay back by sending a messenger – something Elijah didn’t do
- Why was it important to record the number of sneezes?
- Elisha doesn’t strike me as one of the friendliest people (he, at times tries) – although a prophet— uhm that’s another post though to show you in detail. I’m not saying that’s bad, just putting things together……
“Gehazi,Tuck in your mantle and RUN, RUN, RUN!”
Here’s the story:
And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread. And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually. Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick: and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither.
And it fell on a day, that he came thither, and he turned into the chamber, and lay there. And he said to Gehazi his servant, Call this Shunammite. And when he had called her, she stood before him. And he said unto him, Say now unto her, Behold, thou hast been careful for us with all this care; what is to be done for thee? wouldest thou be spoken for to the king, or to the captain of the host? And she answered, I dwell among mine own people. And he said, What then is to be done for her? And Gehazi answered, Verily she hath no child, and her husband is old. And he said, Call her. And when he had called her, she stood in the door. And he said, About this season, according to the time of life, thou shalt embrace a son. And she said, Nay, my lord, thou man of God, do not lie unto thine handmaid. And the woman conceived, and bare a son at that season that Elisha had said unto her, according to the time of life.
And when the child was grown, it fell on a day, that he went out to his father to the reapers. And he said unto his father, My head, my head. And he said to a lad, Carry him to his mother. And when he had taken him, and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died.
And she went up, and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the door upon him, and went out. And she called unto her husband, and said, Send me, I pray thee, one of the young men, and one of the asses, that I may run to the man of God, and come again. And he said, Wherefore wilt thou go to him to day? it is neither new moon, nor sabbath. And she said, It shall be well.
Then she saddled an ass, and said to her servant, Drive, and go forward; slack not thy riding for me, except I bid thee. So she went and came unto the man of God to mount Carmel. And it came to pass, when the man of God saw her afar off, that he said to Gehazi his servant, Behold, yonder is that Shunammite: Run now, I pray thee, to meet her, and say unto her, Is it well with thee? is it well with thy husband? is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well:
And when she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught him by the feet: but Gehazi came near to thrust her away. And the man of God said, Let her alone; for her soul is vexed within her: and the Lord hath hid it from me, and hath not told me. Then she said, Did I desire a son of my lord? did I not say, Do not deceive me? Then he said to Gehazi, Gird up thy loins, and take my staff in thine hand, and go thy way: if thou meet any man, salute him not; and if any salute thee, answer him not again: and lay my staff upon the face of the child.
And the mother of the child said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And he arose, and followed her. And Gehazi passed on before them, and laid the staff upon the face of the child; but there was neither voice, nor hearing. Wherefore he went again to meet him, and told him, saying, The child is not awaked. And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed. He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the Lord. And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm. Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. And he called Gehazi, and said, Call this Shunammite. So he called her. And when she was come in unto him, he said, Take up thy son. Then she went in, and fell at his feet, and bowed herself to the ground, and took up her son, and went out.
There was a married woman from Shunem who knew in her mind and heart that Elisha was a special man of God. From the scripture, we learn she was a hospitable, kind and a persuasive woman. She was married but had no children. There is mention that her husband was old, so we can only guess that she may have been much younger. She would make sure the prophet Elisha had food, water and a place to sleep whenever he went through Shunem.
****Shumen was a city 5 miles from Mt. Tabor and given to the descendants of Issachar, who was Jacobs son through Bilhah, Rachels servant. It is called a double resting place. The only other time a woman from Shunem is mentioned is in 1Kings when Israel sought ought a beautiful girl to take care of the aging King David- like a beauty pageant. Her name was Abishag. And fyi: Issachar is mentioned 40x in the bible – last in Revelation 7:7 oh and some say the Song of Songs was written to a Shumanite- and probably Abishag. It makes sense, but I don’t see scripture to back it up- if you have it, send it my way*******
One day, Elisha asked his servant, Gehazi, what they should do for the Shunamite in exchange for all her kindness. He decided to bless her and said “next year at this time, you will have a son”. Her response? She didn’t laugh like Sarah did, but instead she said, “Don’t lie to me!”. Then following year she has a son.
Something happens to her son one day while he is in the field with his father. Who knows??? Some say he had a sun stroke, but whatever it was, he came in saying “ my head hurts!my head hurts”. The father told the servants to carry his son home. If it looked life threatening, you would think the father would go in with him, but whatever was wrong with him, he needed to be carried back home. His mother held him on her lap, but then the boy died.
What did she do? She carried him upstairs put, him on Elisha’s bed and shut the door- in other words – did she just hide him? She tells her husband “Send one of the servants and a donkey so that I can hurry to the man of God and come right back.” Yea, I know! She didn’t cry, scream or wail, she didn’t even mention the son’s death to her husband. She gave out orders. In fact, when her husband asks what she is up to, she replies “Shalom”. In other words, “It is well, no worries, no worries, all is well”. With her dead son locked up in Elisha’s room, she knows no one will see him. It seems, only she knew of his death.
She appears to be outspoken, bold and gives orders- once to her husband “Get me a donkey and a servant” and then to the servant she says “hurry up and don’t slow down”- and maybe even Elisha “Stay here!” and “I’m not leaving until you go with me”. She takes it upon herself to run to Elisha, she doesn’t send her husband or anyone else to run this errand. She also goes straight the King in a later chapter to regain all her land and possessions after she had left for a time after Elisha’s warning of a famine.
Who is this Shunammite Woman?
What an interesting character we have. She is hospitable, giving, kind, very persuasive, goes out of her way for others and has faith. She is described as a “great woman” when I looked up the definition of this word used in Hebrew, it means bold, prominent, insolent, mighty, noble, loud or older. Maybe she was loud and insolent? Or bold and prominent? Popular and loud? Elisha offers to say a good word for her before the king, and she could care less, so she maybe wasn’t high nobility- but she didn’t need help in that area. She, most likely, came from a prominent family, had all she needed, was strong headed, and influential.
The scriptures tell us she “constrained” Elisha. That just makes me laugh. She was so insistent on him staying at her place, he couldn’t say no. In fact, she made him a room upstairs in her house – how could anyone say no to that? She was a woman who would not take no for an answer. ( know anyone like that?) Also, she refused to go back to her dead son unless Elisha came with her. Gehazi’s visit just wasn’t good enough for her. Elisha originally sent Gehazi, his servant, to the boy with Elisha’s staff, but the woman from Shunem said – you can send him, but I’m not leaving back home unless you come with me- what persistence!
“Don’t lie to me!”Said the Shunammite. Who says that to a prophet? Does anyone else think that’s funny? I can see her personality in these words. She didn’t mess around – everyday was truth day with her. She calls it out as it is.
I’m going to call her Betty
The more I dissected her character and her words, I felt like I understood her and her personality. She reminds me of my Grandma Betty. I laughed when I came to this conclusion. Let me tell you about my grandmother- She had a heart of gold but was fighting tough. She was beyond persistent and always got what she wanted. I could see her saying the exact words the Shunamite said “Don’t lie to me’. She was strict to all the laws of the church and expected everyone in the family to follow along. She was always giving and thought of others, but watch out if you didn’t serve her right, didn’t open the door for her or told her that her meatballs tasted funny – ohh weee… not fun! She was tough as nails, but caring like a saint. She made each holiday in the year like Norman Rockwell memory. She would chase you out with a broom if you spoke back, you would be publicly kicked out of her restaurant if you came in with your mistress, she visited the sick as only a saint would, made sure all the graves of the deceased had fresh flowers, always had an open door of hospitality, always a delicious dinner ready, and everyone who needed to get put in their place – got put in there place. She would threaten grown men twice her height and tell them she had no problem mopping the floor up with them. At an old age, she had the strength to lift a car and I remember her last words as she fought with her doctor, always said with a Jersey shake: “No one ever told me having a little salt was some kind of mortal sin”
You see, she was persistent, called out the orders, made things happen and tried her best to do what was right. She was hospitable yet called everything out as it was. I know we imagine most women of the bible quiet and soft-spoken, but not the Shunamite. She was brave, persistent, caring, and full of faith- and maybe a little bit loud or insolent or gasp! both.
Lessons to be learned from the Shunammite
- Help the Prophets: in 3 John 8 tells us that we are coworkers with the truth when we help the prophets and people of God. Also in Matthew 10;40 we are told again to help God’s prophets. I guess there are many lessons to learn in this one story. Speak well and don’t complain, run and don’t get sidetracked, help God’s people.
- Run and don’t slow down: The enemy tries to creep in. We need to run to the throne! Spend more time in prayer for others. I believe a lacking prayer life causes easy access for the enemy to come in. Speak God’s word over your life, pray at all times for all believers everywhere and don’t give up. In both instances in the above passage, they were told not to get distracted or slow down. That is the way we should also run. It’s important to stay focused and not get lazy in our walk with the Lord and with our prayers.
- Getting Sporty: Stay focused – like in a race. I ran track in high school and I would get sidetracked along the way very easily. If I heard someone yelling out my name from the stands, I would wave hello and say “Hi!”. I know, so ridiculous! It was fun at the time and my friends would scream; “ Pay attention!”. When I let myself get distracted, I didn’t win. When I focused and determined myself to win – I won. It all starts with our thoughts and our focus. Same with soccer – if I focused on the girls who were 4x my size on the other team – fear would begin to creep in- but instead I set my mind to be aggressive – and with that mindset I could trample the biggest monsters on the team and came out winning. Same with our walk with Jesus- set your mind to go after Him – set your mind to be a prayer warrior for God’s people. Set your mind on the Kingdom of God and win! Sure- the World will not like you – but oh well. The World may hate us and our beliefs, but we keep on, not getting discouraged by their words or countenance.
- So what’s my point? Don’t complain. I have a lot of things bothering me right now and I think the message is – run to the throne, not the phone. I need to run to the Secret Place of the Most High and to keep my trust in the Lord, running – without allowing distractions. When people ask “How are you” I will say as the Shumanite did, “It is well”. And you know why? Because it is! In Christ, all is well. Amen and amen. This isn’t to say that everyone needs to say this – but I can, because I am in Christ and I want to be a living example of Him. Others can come to me and I will pray for them, they will see my life and the strength the Lord gives me to keep going. I want to be a living example of Christ. So what if things around me are trying to knock me down. So what. I lift my eyes to find my strength; my strength comes from the Lord. How am I? Shalom – I am filled with His peace, it is well, it is well.
Spurgeon Notes: Resurrection, then, is our aim! To raise the dead is our mission! How is so strange a work to be achieved? If we yield to unbelief we shall be staggered by the evident fact that the work to which the Lord has called us is quite beyond our own personal power. We cannot raise the dead. We are, however, no more powerless than Elisha, for he of himself could not restore the Shunamite’s son. Need this fact discourage us? Does it not rather direct us to our true power by shutting us out from our own fancied might? I trust we are all of us already aware that the man who lives in the region of faith dwells in the realm of miracles.Elisha was no common man now that God’s Spirit was upon him, calling him to God’s work, and aiding him in it. And you, devoted, anxious, prayerful teacher, remain no longer a common being, you have become, in a special manner, the temple of the Holy Ghost; God dwelleth in you, and you by faith have entered upon the career of a wonder-worker. You are sent into the world not to do the things which are possible to man, but those impossibilities which God worketh by His Spirit, by the means of His believing people. You are to work miracles, to do marvels. You are not, therefore, to look upon the restoration of these dead children, which in God’s name you are called to bring about, as being a thing unlikely or difficult when you remember who it is that works by your feeble instrumentality. As teachers, we imitate the modes and methods of our glorified Master, and learn at His feet the art of winning souls. Just as He came in deepest sympathy into the nearest contact with our wretched humanity, and condescended to stoop to our sorrowful condition, so must we come near to the souls with whom we have to deal, yearn over them with His yearning, and weep over them with His tears, if we would see them raised from the state of sin. Only by imitating the spirit and manner of the Lord Jesus shall we become wise to win souls. We take doctrinal or practical truth, as Gehazi did the staff, and we lay it upon the face of the child, but we ourselves do not agonise for its soul. We try this doctrine and that truth, this anecdote and the other illustration, this way of teaching a lesson and that manner of delivering an address; but so long as ever the truth which we deliver is a matter apart from ourselves and unconnected with our innermost being, so long it will have no more effect upon a dead soul than Elisha’s staff had upon the dead child. God will not bless those teachers who do not grasp in their hearts the really fallen estate of their children. Observe carefully what Elisha did when thus foiled in his first effort. When we fail in one attempt, we must not therefore give up our work. If you have been unsuccessful until now, you must not infer that you are not called to the work, any more than Elisha might have concluded that the child could not be restored. The lesson of your non-success is not—cease the work, but—change the method. It is not the person who is out of place, it is the plan which is unwise. If your first method has been unsuccessful, you must improve upon it. Examine wherein you have failed, and then, by changing your mode, or spirit, the Lord may prepare you for a degree of usefulness far beyond your expectation. Elisha, instead of being dispirited when he found that the child was not awake, girded up his loins, and hastened with greater vigour to the work before him. Come ye children chapter 22:Charles Spurgeon“There is simply no mention of the woman’s sufferings, hint of her groaning, or even a murmur of any kind throughout the story. Although her beloved and only son suddenly died in her lap, she conducted herself in perfect calmness. It reminds me of Daniel’s three friends who were thrown into a fiery furnace that was intensified seven times. When they came out, there was not so much as the smell of smoke on them. Many Christians cringe at the slightest hint of God’s dealing. They miss many golden opportunities to allow the Lord to deepen them from within and constitute them with the Lamb’s humble nature and character. The greatest blessings are often, if not always, hidden under rough disguises. ” continue reading on The Shunammite woman by O.Peng
- Do everything without complaining and arguing
- 2 Kings 4. Elisha helps a poor widow. Elisha and the Shunammite woman (bummyla.wordpress.com)
- 2 Kings 5. The cure of Naaman’s leprosy (bummyla.wordpress.com)