Her appearance implied wealth, her demeanor implied graciousness. A smile of welcome and eagerness to share her story confirmed my first impression.
“The prophet Elisha was a great and powerful man of God,” she began. “However for us, he was a life-long friend. I came to see him as a part of our family. In fact, he had his own room in my home. As he traveled through Israel, he confronted everyone, from the King to the lowest worker. He wanted all Israel to follow God. My husband and I mourned for our people as well. Israel was divided. Most had abandoned God, and it was in chaos. Children disrespected their parents; sadly, they rejected every good thing and gravitated to every bad thing. A group of young men even insulted the Prophet though he was a godly man of power.”
“Those were dark days. Elisha worked so hard, and met with so much opposition that my heart went out to him. He was often tired and discouraged when he came to us. So I set up a room for him and tried to make him welcome when he was there. I enjoyed making it comfortable- with a bed, a table and stool, and a candle.”
“But Elisha was a bright light in our lives. One day he sent his servant Gehazi to me and asked if I needed anything. I had no needs; my husband was a good man, wealthy, and we were safe on our own land. I told the servant we had these blessings. Then he returned and announced that soon I would have a child of my own! That good Gehazi had told Elisha that my husband was an elderly man and we had no children.” Clapping her hands and laughing as her words rang out, she exclaimed, “How good God is. He blessed us with a son.”
“Our son grew into a strong man and then one day tragedy struck. He was working in the fields when he cried out that his head hurt. My husband had the servants carry him to me and lay him across my lap. Around midday, he died and we put him in the Prophet’s room, on the bed. I went immediately to Elisha at Mount Carmel. I did not even explain to Gehazi, but fell at the Prophet’s feet. Gehazi must have thought I’d lost my mind, and Elisha detained him from expelling me.”
Tears fell pooled in her eyes as she continued, “The prophet explained to him that I was in distress. He immediately sent Gehazi to minister to my son, but he was already dead. Then Elisha came to his guest room and lay down upon my son.” She lifted her head and smiled. “He brought my son back to life. He gave my son to me twice, once by birth and once by raising him from the dead! God be praised!” she exclaimed. “I have no words that can explain my love for the Lord and for his Prophet.”
Then she leaned closer to me and rested her hand on my arm for emphasis. “But that’s not all! Some years later Elisha warned us that there would be a famine in our land and to travel wherever we could away from Israel. So we went to the land of Palestine, and we lived there for seven years. When we returned there was a new king and our land was occupied. Elisha informed the king who we were and he restored all that was ours.”
The woman from Shumen reflected that one time Elisha had called her ‘a Great Woman in Shunem’. “I am not a great woman,” she said. “But I am a woman who loves a great God, and I will always praise Him for sending me his good and great servant, the Prophet, Elisha.”
From 2 Kings 4:11-37; 8:1-6
For a Bible study that complements this story go open the page entitled: The Women Speak.