I can honesty say that I never knew who the Shunammite woman was prior to listening to Charlotte Gambill’s podcast (Doorways, Hallways, and Gateways). She just isn’t talked about much. And yet, she it truly one of the most fascinating women I have ever studied. Not only is her story incredible, but she’s rather remarkable herself. I like to refer to her as the No Drama Mama.
As we start to dig in to her story, I want you to be thinking about what makes her admirable. What makes her a worthy role model? I’ve broken down her story in to four pieces, but please feel free to share any of your takeaways in the comments below!
1. Kind // She gives generously of what is hers.
2 Kings 4:9-10 (ESV)
And she said to her husband, “Behold now, I know that this is a holy man of God who is continually passing our way. Let us make a small room on the roof with walls and put there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp, so that whenever he comes to us, he can go in there.”
Elisha travels from his home, through Shunem, to Mount Carmel regularly. And as he travels through Shunem, this Shunammite woman always prepares a meal for him. Elisha has a long way to travel, he isn’t making a quick journey, so I’m sure this was an absolute blessing to have someone take him in and feed him along the way.
After a while, she goes to her husband and says that she would like to prepare a room in their house for him. She sees a need, she has the resources, and so she gives generously of what is hers.
Looking just at the situation it would seem like a nice, simple gesture that her and her husband are making; but in the grand scheme of things, what is happening is she is making room for God to work. She is literally clearing a space in her home for this man of God, and we are going to get to see him play a big role in her story.
2 Kings 4:13 (ESV)
And he said him, “Say now to her, ‘See you have taken all this trouble for us; what is to be done for you? Would you have a word spoken on your behalf to the king or to the commander of the army?'”
What is happening here, is Elisha wants to repay the Shunammite woman’s kindness; because she has been kind and giving to him and his servant, he would like to return the favor.
Note that she doesn’t set out to give in hopes of getting in return. She was happily giving what she had with zero expectation of receiving.
2 Kings 4:16-17 (ESV)
And he said, “At this season, about this time next year, you shall embrace a son.” And she said, “No, my lord, O man of God; do no lie to your servant.” But the woman conceived, and she bore a son about that time the following spring, as Elisha had said to her.
2. Undramatic // She loses her blessing, and yet she remains completely calm.
2 Kings 4:20-23 (ESV) emphasis added
And when he had lifted him and brought him to his mother, the child sat on her lap till noon, and then he died. And she went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God and shut the door behind him and went out. Then she called to her husband and said, “Send me one of the servants and one of the donkeys, that I may quickly go to the man of God and come back again.” And he said, “Why will you to him today? It is neither new moon nor Sabbath.” She said, “All is well.”
Her son has just died, and yet she is completely calm. She doesn’t go into hysterics (which I definitely would have done), she doesn’t air out her problem to the world, but rather she immediately takes her son (her blessing), and lays him down in the room of the man of God and shuts the door.
How incredible is that? Her first response is to take her problem, lay it down, and seek Jesus. And in doing this, we get to see a miracle unfold.
2 Kings 4:33-37 (ESV)
So he went in and shut the door behind the two of them and prayed to the Lord. Then he went up and lay on the child, putting his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands. And as he stretched himself upon him, the flesh of the child became warm. Then he got up again and walked once back and forth in the house, and went up and stretched himself upon him. The child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. Then he summoned Gehazi and said, “Call this Shunammite.” So he called her. And when she came to him, he said, “Pick up your son.” She came and fell at his feet, bowing to the ground. Then she picked up her son and went out.
3. Obedient // Elisha instructs her to leave her home.
2 Kings 8:1-2 (ESV)
Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, “Arise, and depart with your household, and sojourn wherever you can, for the Lord has called for a famine, and it will come upon the land for seven years.” So the woman arose and did according to the word of the man of God. She went with her household and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years.
When told to leave her home, the Shunammite woman doesn’t question Elisha’s instruction. Even though her family would have to leave their belongings, their source of income, essentially their livelihood behind; she listens and is obedient. And in doing this, in being obedient, even when it would seem like they are losing all of their material goods, God is going to show up yet again.
4. Patient // The Shunammite woman lives in a foreign place for seven years.
Can you imagine packing up only what you could carry, and leaving all of the rest of your belongings behind? Leaving your job, your source of income, and moving to a foreign land with no idea how you were going live. That can’t have been easy. Yet they go and they wait seven long years.
Once the seven years are over, the woman and her family are going to return to Shunem and go to the king to ask for their house and land back. And when the Shunammite woman is walking up to the kingdom, Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, is sharing the work that Elisha has done in this woman’s life (talk about good timing).
2 Kings 8:6 (ESV)
And when the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed an official for her, saying, “Restore all that was hers, together with all the produce of the fields from the day she left the land until now.”
Her obedience and patience pays off. Not only is the king appointing her an official right there on the spot, he is giving her back her land, and going to give her everything her piece of land would have produced over the last seven years! That’s AMAZING.
If you are currently in a season that feels like there is no end, I encourage you to be patient and obedient. You may be in a season of bareness, a season of hurt, or misunderstanding, but the season will always come to a close – and in the Shunammite’s case, it went on for seven years. But change eventually came, and a new season started.
So what about the Shunammite’s story stands out to you the most? What about her life speaks to your heart in your current season of life? How can she be a role model for you?
Join us on Facebook as we answer these questions and share our take aways from her story on Monday, November 12th at 9:00pm CST! I hope to see you there! XO
PS. Gentle Spirit, Fierce Faith: Ruth and Gentle Spirit, Fierce Faith: Hannah