The story of the Shunammite woman in the bible is one that many hold close to heart. She is one of the unnamed women in the bible who is simply described to us as a wealthy woman from the town Shunem. Yet, her response in a time of tragedy with the words ‘It is Well’ has left her story imprinted in the hearts of many for generations. Are there lessons to take away from this unnamed woman in the bible? Today, let us look at 3 key lessons from the Shunammite woman in the bible.
WHO IS THE SHUNAMMITE WOMAN IN THE BIBLE?
The Shunammite’s woman’s story comes shortly after another woman in the bible, a poor widow whose husband died and left her indebted. The man of God shows up and a miracle of provision happens.
2 Kings 4:8-37 then introduces us to the Shunammite woman and her relationship with Elisha the man of God. Her story is told in two parts in the book of 2 Kings. In the first part which can be found in 2 Kings 4:8-37, we get to see this woman’s kindness and hospitality as she provides food and shelter for the man of God.
In 2 Kings 8:1-6, we get to see her obedience as she takes action on the word given to her by the man of God. There was going to be a 7-year famine period in the land as revealed to Elisha by God. He advises this woman to move her family out of the town. She obeys and returns after the famine to a swift restoration of all that was lost.
7 Characteristics of the Shunammite Woman
Though unnamed in the bible, this woman had some qualities in her that makes her worthy of note in the bible. Her story gives us a few details about her person and character.
1. She was a wealthy woman with great influence and means. She is introduced to us a rich, influential and prominent woman in the town.
2. She was hospitable. She did not only feed the man of God daily, she built a room for him and furnished it with all that was needed.
3. She was a woman who believed in God and quickly recognized Elisha as a prophet of God.
4. She was obedient. When the man of God gave her instructions to leave her town because of what was to come, she obeyed wholeheartedly trusting God’s promises for her future.
5. She was a discerning woman who walked in unison with her husband. She told her husband what she perceived about the man of God who passed by their home from time to time. And also shared with him how they could be a blessing to him.
6. She was a woman of great faith. Her son had died in her arms, she immediately carried him and placed him on the bed of the man of God. She moved swiftly in search of the man of God and when she was asked – Is everything well? She responded with these faith-filled words – ‘All is well’. Her words reflected her faith in God which remained constant in the midst of a crisis.
7. She was barren and had come to accept her condition. Her husband was old and they were wealthy without an heir to carry on their legacy. She had embraced that season of her life so much that when the man of God declared that she would have a son the following year, she said : “Please Sir, don’t lie to me, you are a man of God.”. This was a silent desire in her heart that looked impossible but God worked a miracle in her life.
3 Key Lessons from the Shunammite Woman in the Bible
1. God always rewards generosity
In the world today, showing kindness and generosity is quietly slipping away. Many have become selfish embracing the ‘me, myself and I’ mentality, while others for fear of being bitten and a lack of trust for people find it hard to show kindness and generosity to others.
However, as God’s children, our hearts must always be open to show kindness and generosity when needed to others. We can ask God for the needed wisdom and discernment when it comes to showing kindness and being a blessing to others. God can help us know those whom he sends into our lives for a purpose. We can also pray for open eyes and ears to know when our blessings and miracles disguised as people show up in our lives.
This Shunammite woman perceived in her heart that there was a need to meet in the man of God’s life and went on to provide food and shelter for him She did what was laid in her heart and went about her everyday life. But God whose eyes are all over the earth saw her good deeds and responded. Indeed, no act of kindness or generosity of ours goes unnoticed by God.
Elisha then asked his servant Gehazi – what can we do for this woman to appreciate her kindness to us? It was then Gehazi revealed that she had no son and that her husband was an old man.
You have a God who is fully aware of those desires hidden away in the deepest parts of your heart. He is a God who sees and feels your secret pains and wants to give you a new story.
The man of God goes on to declare that she will have a son at exactly that time the following year. And God rewards this woman’s generosity by breaking the chains of barrenness in her life. Her heart-warming kindness and generosity to a complete stranger opened up the door of uncommon blessings in her home. She became pregnant and had a son.
2. Take it to God first
What do you do in a moment of crisis? What is your first response when tragedy or disaster hits? This woman got her miracle son and life seemed beautiful until tragedy struck her home. Her only son took ill suddenly and died as she held him on her lap. Her first response was not wailing and lamenting. She simply carried the boy upstairs and laid him on the bed of the man of God, left him there and went to look for Elisha. And it does not end there.
The man of God sees her from a distance coming to him and asks his servant Gehazi to ask her, Is everything well with you, your husband and your child? And she answered, “It is well”.- 2 Kings 4:26
How do you respond when trouble, sorrow, heart-break or disaster shows up suddenly in your life? God wants you running into his arms first in those moments for safety, security, comfort, peace and answers. He wants you running into his presence and his word first for answers, direction and solution. The man of God represented the presence of God for the Shunammite woman. So, she took her son into his room first with an assurance that God was there and would not leave her helpless.
Will your response be ‘it is well’ or ‘it is over’ when challenges come? As God’s children your words must always be in alignment with God’s promises over your life. You must choose to speak life even when the circumstances look different. You can choose to speak faith when fear takes a hold of your heart. You can choose to speak what God’s word says and not the report of men. But most importantly, in every situation, difficulty and challenge that comes your way – remember to take it to God first.
3. Obedience unlocks the door of blessings and the miraculous
“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.’ – 2 Kings 8:1
There was a famine coming upon the land for 7 years and the man of God lets this woman know. He then gives her an instruction to arise and depart that land with her household. God uses his servant to save this woman and her family from impending trouble. She willingly obeys his instruction and returns after the end of 7 years to find that her land had been possessed by someone else.
What happens next shows us how her obedience led to a full restoration of all that was lost in her life. What could have taken her years to build again was restored to her in an instant. There is power in obedience to God. When you learn to walk in obedience, God takes full control of your life and future. You live confidently knowing that when you follow the voice of God, you can never be stranded in life.
“And at the end of the seven years, when the woman returned from the land of the Philistines, she went to appeal to the king for her house and her land. Now the king was talking with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, ‘Tell me all the great things that Elisha has done.’ And while he was telling the king how Elisha had restored the dead to life, behold, the woman whose son he had restored to life appealed to the king for her house and her land. And Gehazi said, ‘My lord, O king, here is the woman, and here is her son whom Elisha restored to life.’ 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 that she left the land until now’ – 2 Kings 8:3-6
Can you see that her blessings were backdated to the day she left the land? God gave her full compensation and restoration for all that was lost. In your obedience, heaven will work on your behalf and God himself will unlock the doors of blessings, abundance and the miraculous in your life. Will you heed to the voice of God and follow his instructions for your life today?
Final words on Elisha and the Shunammite Woman
Sometimes God sends people into your life for a season and reason. Elisha was simply walking through this woman’s home every single day when she quickly sensed that he was a servant of God. She opened her heart up to be a blessing to him by sowing seeds of kindness and generosity into his life. Little did she know that her actions will lead this servant of God to speak a word that eventually put an end to barrenness in her life. And not only that, she and her household were presrved in a time of famine.
God orchestrated the meeting and caused their pathways to meet. But it took a discerning heart to know exactly what needed to be done to unlock the blessings in that association. The man of God came with a timely word for her life in that season, while the Shunammite woman was led to give of her resources and be a blessing to him. May God open our eyes to see and embrace the ‘why’ for the people he brings into our lives. Who is that person that God is leading you to be a blessing to right now?
Father, I am thankful for the gifts of people you have blessed me with so far. Give me a discerning heart to know whom I am sent to in this season of life. I pray that you will align my path with godly women and men who will come with a timely word of faith, hope and encouragement to move me into my new season. Thank you for making me a channel of blessing every single day of my life. Amen!