Friday, June 27, 2014

Echoes of hospitality

Shunammite woman and Elisha
Shunammite woman makes a room for Elisha
TODAY'S SPECIAL: 2 Kings 4:1-17

TO CHEW ON: "And she said to her husband, 'Look now, I know that this is a holy man of God who passes by us regularly. Please, let us make a small upper room on the wall; and let us put a bed for him there, and a table and a chair and a lamp stand; so it will be, whenever he comes to us, he can turn in there."  2 Kings 4:9,10

 This Shunammite woman, who is never named, was generous and hospitable, particularly toward the things of God. She noticed this "holy man of God" (Elisha) and wanted to make a connection. Invitations to meals when he passed through Shunem led to B&B accommodation. What rewards she got for this!

  • After Elisha asked how he could repay her (with no request on her part, but Elisha's servant Gehazi observing that she was childless), she and her husband had a son.
  • Beyond the bounds of today's reading, her young son died. Then she went in desperation to the prophet and Elisha brought the boy back to life (2 Kings 4:18-37).
  • Later Elisha warned her and her husband of a coming famine so they could move to a place where there was food (2 Kings 8:1,2).
  • After seven years she and her family returned to Israel where, it appears someone had confiscated the family's property. She went to the king to ask that it be returned to them—and at exactly the time that Gehazi was telling him about Elisha raising her son from the dead. After that 'coincidence' how could the king not grant her request (2 Kings 8:3-6)?

Like the Shunammite woman, we have no idea the things we set in motion when we are generous and hospitable, in terms of rich relationships, future help, even God-engineered coincidences.

I like how David expresses this idea:

"Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness,
According to the cleanness of my hands in His sight.
With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful;
With a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless;
With the pure You will show Yourself pure;

And with the devious, You will show Yourself shrewd" - Psalm 18:25,26 (emphasis added).

Dear God, please help me to nurture qualities of generosity and hospitality, not with a view to getting something in return but simply because these are things You value,. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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