Women of the Bible

A Great Woman From Shunem — Pt. 1

Today we begin a study of an unnamed woman. You will find her story in 2 Kings 4:8-37, 8:1-6. Her lineage is of no significant consequence, her posterity unidentified. We know little about her save this: God chose to call her “notable” or “great”. That was enough for me. What has she done that merits such a claim? Let’s find out.

    Now it happened one day that Elisha went to Shunem, where there was a notable woman, and she persuaded him to eat some food. So it was, as often as he passed by, he would turn in there to eat some food.
    And she said to her husband, “Look now, I know that this is a holy man of God, who passes by us regularly.
    Please, let us make a small upper room on the wall; and let us put a bed for him there, and a table and a chair and a lampstand; so it will be, whenever he comes to us, he can turn in there.” 2 Kings 4.8-10

We learn here that she was a great woman, a notable woman — worthy of notice, in other words. There are few references by God to “great”women or men. Let’s pay attention and see what we can learn.

Was she already notable, or did this interaction which was about to unfold characterize her as such? I am not able to say. Any Hebrew scholars in the audience that would care to weigh in on that? For our study, let’s just assume that the story conveyed is worthy of notice, because she herself is in it! How’s that for simplicity!

1. The first thing I note about her is her determination and her persuasiveness. KJV says she “constrained” Elisha to come and eat. She prevailed upon him. She was one determined gal. Maybe even a bit aggressive. Perhaps she stopped him outside her home, and with persistent beckoning drew him to the table. “Come have something to eat. Of course you must. You are hungry. Just a little something. I’ve made it just today. It’s no trouble, please, just sit down and eat.”

But why? Was this about her gourmet food, her Martha Stewart like table setting? What was this motivation? Maybe the text provides a clue.

    “Look now, I know that this is a holy man of God…”

2. Second thing to note: she was perceptive and confident of her perception; she trusted that God-desire within her heart. She saw God in Elisha. He was the real deal and she longed for His presence in her life. This man was her ticket in. Don’t forget, God’s people did not know the fullness of salvation with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. God’s word came through His chosen vessels, His prophets. This woman was on to something. She was desirous of God’s Word in her life, perceptive of His work, and determined to find His presence. These are qualities of greatness.

    Your words were found, and I ate them; and your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts. Jer.15.16
    I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the Words of His moth more than my necessary food. Job 23.12

3. Here is the third thing to note. She was not only seeking God, but was prepared to invest time, energy, and finances into her quest. “Let us make a small upper room…” This would cost time, energy, and money, but that was no matter. She wanted him in her house!

We, too, must build a meeting place. True, our hearts are His throne, our body His temple. The place is established. He will meet us within — always and whenever. But we must keep our part of the bargain, follow through on appointed meeting times, clear the heart and quiet the soul. What does that require of you personally?

    Now set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God. Therefore arise and build the sanctuary of the Lord. 1 Chron. 22.19

Our woman was ready so that “whenever he comes to us, he can turn in there.” How much more privileged are we, His children, with ready access whenever! How glad our great woman would have been for such opportunity!

Jesus has promised great things to His people. For those of us remaining here, one of the best promises is His abiding presence with us.

    “…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matt. 28.20

Let’s make a plan for greatness! It’s not all together unattainable. In fact, He has made it quite attainable! What do you need to do in order to meet with Him and experience His presence? How do you need to rearrange your life, your schedule, your surroundings so that you can take in His Word? Make a plan. Start now to build and strategize.

We can be great. We can desire His Word, pursue His presence, and perceive His will for our lives, right here, right now. Today!


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