Bible Commentary: 2 Kings 4:1-17, 38-44

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Bible Commentary

2 Kings 4:1-17, 38-44

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The Widow's Oil, Childless Woman and Other Miracles 

As we already saw, God, who had given Elisha a double portion of the spiritual power that Elijah had had, empowered Elisha thereby to perform miracles. And mighty miracles they were. A widow, believing that God would do what Elisha had announced, received supernaturally so much oil that she could sell it and pay off all her debts with the money and still live off the rest (verses 1-7). Elisha also prophesied accurately to a Shunammite woman who had shown kindness to him, but who was without child, that she would have a child within a year (verses 8-17). We are reminded of God's promise to Sarah that she would have a child, too, within a year (compare Genesis 18:10-14; Genesis 21:1-2). In reading the entire story of Elisha's friendship with the woman at Shunem, we are also reminded of his predecessor, Elijah, who had a rather similar friendship with the widow of Zarephath (compare 1 Kings 17:8-16). The parallel will become even more apparent in a later reading.

Elisha caused a stew of poisonous wild gourds to be transformed into healthy food (2 Kings 4:38-41), and he fed 100 people with 20 loaves of barley bread and some grain (verses 42-44). This last incident reminds us of Christ's miracles centuries later, when He fed masses of people with a few loaves of bread and some fishes. In both instances, the source of miracle working power was the same—the Spirit of God. In fact, both Christ, while here on earth as a human being, and Elisha had those powers only because God's Spirit was working in and through them. While a man, Christ Himself said that He of Himself could do nothing (John 5:30), i.e., nothing supernatural on His own. He needed the power of the Father (John 14:10). Peter later testified that "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him" (Acts 10:38).