Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.”
“Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God –
Soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
He’s my God.
When my soul is in the dumps,
I rehearse every thing I know of You.”
Psalm 42:5, 6
The Message Bible
“Faithfulness to God banishes fear and lifts up the soul! Our difficulty and discouragement can usually be ascribed to our own foolish forgetfulness. In days past God has met our every need just as truly as He provided daily manna in the wilderness and water from the flinty rock. In His faithfulness He has led us unerringly and has protected us by His power…The Psalmist’s soul (in Psalm 42) was not lifted up with courage and cheer until he forgot himself and thought of God’s goodness…He remembered the time and place when the Almighty had met him in deepest trouble, and had been his wonderful helper…Like David, when we, too, remember God’s goodness in days past we can be confident of His unfailing help in time of deepest testing.”
V. Raymond Edman
Today’s Study Text:
“Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, ‘Go, sell the oil, and pay the debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest.”
II Kings 4:7
“Go, Sell, Pay, Live – Hallelujah!”
“Dear Lord, let us start our work in faith, continue in obedience, and finish in love.”
Found in an old church in
The English Quantock Hills
What does the story of the widow and her jar teach me about “work”?
What role did the widow and her sons have in the blessing which they received?
“A dictionary is the only place where you will find success before work.”
“He or she who turns up their nose at their work, quarrels with their bread and butter.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
As I shared with you when we began our verse-by-verse study of II Kings 4: 1-7, this is not an unfamiliar passage of Scripture to Transformation Garden readers. In fact, as I reviewed my files, we’ve covered this story twice before. So it was with some trepidation that I undertook a third pass through these seven verses. And oh how glad I am, for our heavenly Father, has guided us into all kinds of new territory which needed to be plowed, seeded and reaped. This is what is so amazing about God’s word – you can study it over and over again and always come up with something fresh and new that will serve as inspiration and instruction.
In the case of our third pass over the seven verses in II Kings 4, which contain the story of the widowed, indebt mom and her two sons, one area of study, which I frankly had not even thought about, has to do with the word, “work.”
I have the great commentary author, Matthew Henry, to thank for first planting a seed in my mind for in his very expansive thoughts on this story, he offers a rather interesting perspective regarding this family, their sad plight and God’s solution to their terrible misfortune.
A little history might help us better understand that during the period defined by the prophetic work of Elijah and Elisha, it was through the ministry of prophets that God chose to reveal His providential care and His’ countenance of justice and love.
Thus, when the desperate widow wanted advice as to how to solve the crisis she faced, she chose to go to the one person who she knew and understood would reveal to her God’s will. Here’s how Matthew Henry expands on this thought:
“(Elisha) effectually relieves this poor widow’s distress, and puts her in a way both to pay her debt and to maintain herself and her family. He did not say, ‘Be warmed, be filled,’ but gave her real help. He did not give her some small matter for her present provision, but set her up in the world to sell oil, and put a stock into her hand to begin with.”
But there’s more to this story. I wondered to myself why it was that the Sons of the Prophets didn’t have some type of “pension plan” to assist when catastrophe struck one of their own members. Here again, we find that historically, these men of God were not wealthy. In fact, during the rulership of the wicked King Ahab and Queen Jezebel those who chose to faithfully follow Yahweh were persecuted, often finding their family lands confiscated and their money taken for the lavish support of the king’s treasury. If you want a reminder of this behavior, just take a walk down memory lane as you recall our recent study about the land-grabbing activity of Queen Jezebel who literally used her “imminent domain” laws to illegally acquire Naboth’s vineyard only to please the childish whims of her wimpy husband. So any help from those closest to the widow in the community called the “Sons of the Prophets” was simply out of the question.
Left without any help at all, where was this woman to turn for assistance? Where, I ask, would you and I have turned? With faith in her heart, she focused on God’s ability to release her from the dreadful burden of debt that threatened to destroy her family.
It is here where I would like to take us to the New Testament book of Matthew 25: 14-30 where Jesus states:
“For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one.”
Often I’ve seen the focus of this story directed toward the fact that with hard work, while the master was gone, two of the three individuals were able to see their talents doubled. And there certainly is truth to this approach in reading the Parable of the Talents. However, I’d like to take the story of the widowed mother and overlay it with this parable for this is what Matthew Henry does in relating the fact that:
“The oil was to be multiplied in the pouring, as the widow of Zarephath’s meal (was multiplied) in the spending for Elijah. The way to increase what we have is to use it; to her that so hath shall it be given. It is not hoarding the talents, but using them, that doubles them.”
Then Henry continues with this profound observation: “The oil must be poured out by herself, not by Elisha nor by any of the Sons of the Prophets. This intimates that it is in connection with our own careful and diligent endeavours that we may expect the blessing of God to enrich us…What we have will increase best in our own hand. And she did accordingly.”
As we look at the response of God to the widow’s need, we find that it was what God put in the widow’s hand that supplied her need. Just as it is what God has put in your hand, the talents and abilities God has given you, which will be the provision He can use to increase the blessings in your own life.
Maybe today you feel the weight of debt burying your life and like the weary widow, the despair that is creeping around your heart is squeezing all the joy out of your life. I invite you to do as the widow did. Look around and with heaven’s glasses ask God to help you recognize what He has placed in your hands – what work has He give you to do – what do you have in that small bottle of oil that He can expand when you begin to pour it out in obedient response to His call.
Elisha gave the widow four commands: Go, Sell, Pay, Live. Go get the pots. Sell the oil that fills them. Pay all your debts. And then live out your life covered by the blessing of heaven.
In my copy of the book entitled, Elisha, written by F. W. Krummacher is a note that this particular edition was reprinted by photo offset in 1838. The age when the book was written certainly explains why, in many places, the words seem to be antiquated. However, there’s nothing old-fashioned in the promise shared by F. W. Krummacher at the end of the chapter on this widowed mother in II Kings 4: 1-7:
“Our Saviour has said, ‘Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. If you should not find such promises as these fulfilled to you at once, yet proceed upon them as you are here directed; trust in them, and plead them before God. Forget not who it is that has said, ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.’ And again, ‘How much better are ye than the fowls!’ Plead such Divine promises and assurances, and assistance and preservation will certainly be obtained. For heaven and earth shall pass away, but Christ’s words shall not pass away.”
F. W. Krummacher
All I can say after these words is: Hallelujah. Go. Sell. Pay. Live. – Hallelujah!
“O Lord, give Your blessing we pray You, to our work.
All our powers of body and mind are Yours,
And we would fain devote them to Your service.
So bless our efforts,
That they may bring for in us
The fruits of true wisdom;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
“Lord, may I be wakeful at sunrise
to begin a new day for You,
Cheerful at sunset for having done
my work for You;
Thankful at moonrise and under
starshine for the beauty of the universe.
And may I add what little may be
in me to Your great world.”
Abbot of Greve
“He (she) who labors as he (she) prays lifts up his (her) heart to God with His (her) hands.”
Bernard of Clairvaux
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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