Bible Commentary: 2 Kings 4:18-37, 8:1-6

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2 Kings 4:18-37, 8:1-6

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Raising the Dead

There are only a few episodes in the Old Testament wherein a dead person is brought back to life. Elijah had raised the son of the widow of Zarephath. And now we see Elisha performing a like miracle for one with whom he had a friendship similar to the one Elijah had with the Zarephathite widow. The Shunammite woman's son, who had been miraculously conceived, suddenly died of an unexplained cause. The mother traveled to Elisha and begged him to accompany her to her dead son, obviously fully believing that Elisha could bring him back to life. Elisha prayed to God and then established personal contact with the child twice, until the child awoke (2 Kings 4:33-35 2 Kings 4:33-35 [33] He went in therefore, and shut the door on them two, and prayed to the LORD. [34] And he went up, and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth, and his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands: and stretched himself on the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm. [35] Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself on him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.
American King James Version×
). We find that Christ often would touch people when He healed or resurrected them (see Luke 8:54-55 Luke 8:54-55 [54] And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise. [55] And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat.
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), and His ministry is instructed to anoint a sick person with oil as a symbol of the Holy Spirit (James 5:14 James 5:14Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
American King James Version×
), and to lay their hands on the head of a sick person (Mark 16:18 Mark 16:18They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
American King James Version×
). This signifies the power of the Holy Spirit flowing from God through the agency of His human representative into the sick person to heal, again establishing the important truth that God alone, through His Spirit, has the power and ability to perform right and profitable miracles. Also, God shows who His human representatives are by working through them, and the whole process of going to God's ordained servants for anointing helps strengthen the bonds His people have with these representatives and with God Himself.

Blessed Again 

Later, in 2 Kings 8, the Shunammite woman follows Elisha's instruction to leave Israel during a famine. This section appears to fall here sequentially since Gehazi is still in Elisha's service. (In the next reading, though an earlier chapter than 8, it appears that Gehazi departs from Elisha's presence.) Upon the Shunnamite woman's return, all her property is restored to her, and all the proceeds from her field are given to her as well. Thus, she was again blessed for following the instructions of God's prophet.