The story of the widow takes place during the time of the divided kingdom. After the death of King Solomon, his son assumes control, but a power struggle ensues and the kingdom separates into the northern tribes (called Israel) and the southern tribes (called Judah). Elijah is a powerful prophet who communicates God’s word to the kings of the northern kingdom.
Elijah has a servant called Elisha, who becomes a first-hand witness to the power of God working through his prophets. He is present when Elijah is taken up into heaven on a chariot of fire. Afterward Elisha continues on alone as a prophet in his own right.
As our story opens, another prophet who is known to Elisha has recently passed away. The poor man’s widow is in dire straight. Apparently the man left some outstanding debts and the credit holder has discovered that his borrower has recently died.
Having no compassion on the dead man’s heirs, the creditor is demanding immediate payment. Furthermore, he is threatening to enslave the widow’s sons if she cannot pay her husband’s debts. With nowhere else to turn, she goes to Elisha, entreating his help.
The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.” 2 Kings 4:1, NIV
Before Elisha helps the woman, he asks her to tell him what she already has that he can work with.
Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” “Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.” 2 Kings 4:2, NIV
With the new information, Elisha knows just what to pray for. He gives the woman specific instructions which she follows exactly.
Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.” She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.” But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing. She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.” 2 Kings 4:3-7, NIV
Elisha prayed for the widow and God provided a miraculous multiplication! She had a need and God not only supplied what she needed, but more than she needed. Notice that Elisha used what she already had, much in the same way that Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes. It shows that when we, in faith, are willing to surrender what we have to God, he will bless our faithfulness and provide all that we need and more.
The poor widow’s story was one of insufficiency, but God’s provision was one of abundance.
Join me tomorrow for a story involving a man on a rampage, a sudden blindness, and a provision of sight!
If you’ve missed any part of this series, you can find all of the posts in the side bar category 31 Days of God’s Provision.
On the journey toward Home,