The Shunammite’s Son Restored To Life


In 2 Kings 4:8-17, we read of a woman who begged Elisha to eat a meal with her and so, whenever Elisha was in the area, he would sit down and have a meal with her. Eventually, she asked her husband to make a room so that Elisha could stay whenever he needed to.

What I love about this woman is her faith, she could have easily reaped some benefits from Elisha, but instead, she used it as an opportunity to glorify God and serve him.

She knows that Elisha is a holy man of God, and she offers him hospitality, food and a room fitted out with everything he needs but she never asks for anything in return.

And so, with all this kindness, Elisha wanted to do something nice for her. His servant Gehazi noticed she had no children and Elisha told her she’d embrace a son this time next year, but she thinks that she is being misled.

Remember being without children in Bible times was seen as being out of favour with God. People would often look down on you and treat you as an outcast if you had no children.

And so, as we can imagine she is really excited and happy about what Elisha tells her, and a year later, she gave birth to a son.

Now don’t miss this miracle, she was a woman, probably of older age who couldn’t have children. The miracle which happened here was seen in the fact that God gave her bodily strength to conceive and give birth to a son.

This type of miracle has happened many times throughout the Scriptures.

1. The birth of Isaac to Abraham and Sarah, Genesis 18:1-15.

2. The birth of Samson to Manoah and his wife, Judges 13:2-25.

3. The birth of Samuel to Elkanah and his wife Hannah, 1 Samuel 1:1-28.

4. The birth of John the Baptist to Zacharias and Elizabeth, Luke 1:39-57.

5. The birth of our Lord Jesus Christ to the Virgin Mary, Luke 1:26-45.

We continue to the story in 2 Kings 4:18-31, and we read that the child grew. This doesn’t mean he was an adult, but he was a small boy, and we know this because the servant easily carried him to Elisha’s private room, 2 Kings 4:23.

He was out in the fields and complained about his head. We don’t know exactly what the ailment was, it could possibly have been sunstroke but whatever his ailment was, it resulted in his death.

We can only imagine the devastation they are both feeling right now. Their son, their one and only son, was now gone, the grief must have been too much.

We’re not told what kind of help the Shunammite woman expected from Elisha. But it’s clear, she wasn’t willing to admit her son was dead until she appealed to Elisha first.

When she reached him at Mount Carmel, she took hold of his feet, and it appears that she was looking for some kind of words of comfort from the prophet.

But instead of receiving some words of comfort, she received word that everything is going to be well. Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, did as Elisha told him to do, but sadly, the boy remained dead and so he goes back to inform Elisha.

‘When Elisha reached the house, there was the boy lying dead on his couch. He went in, shut the door on the two of them and prayed to the LORD. Then he got on the bed and lay on the boy, mouth to mouth, eyes to eyes, hands to hands. As he stretched himself out on him, the boy’s body grew warm. Elisha turned away and walked back and forth in the room and then got on the bed and stretched out on him once more. The boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes. Elisha summoned Gehazi and said, ‘Call the Shunammite.’ And he did. When she came, he said, ‘Take your son.’ She came in, fell at his feet and bowed to the ground. Then she took her son and went out.’ 2 Kings 4:32-37

When Elisha reaches the house and finds the boy dead, he enters the room, shuts the door and prays. He then lays upon the child, in a strange manner.

It’s difficult to know if he was trying to raise the boy back to life at this point or if he is simply showing remorse over the death of the mother’s son.

One thing for sure is that God has in mind to bring him back from the dead. We can only imagine the joy in the boy’s mother’s heart as Elisha tells her to take her son.

Notice that she ‘took her son and went out’. I’m sure this was a time of celebration, where she wanted to share the wonderful news about her son with her friends and neighbours.

I’m also sure that she would have given credit and glory to God as she tells them about what Elisha had done. This in turn would let everyone know that Elisha was a true prophet of God and that God was working through him.

There are only three resurrection stories recorded in the Old Testament.

1. This one.

2. The raising of the son of the widow of Zarephath by Elijah, 1 Kings 17:17-23.

3. The resurrection of the man who was being buried, and who, when the burial party was threatened by looters, was hastily cast into the tomb of Elisha and was restored to life by his contact with the bones of that prophet, 2 Kings 13:20-21.

In the New Testament, we have a few more resurrection stories recorded.

1. The raising of the daughter of Jairus, Matthew 9:18-26.

2. The raising of the son of the widow of Nain, Luke 7:12-18.

3. The raising of Lazarus, John 11:1-44.

4. The raising of Dorcas, Acts 9:36-41.

5. The raising of Eutychus, Acts 20:10-12.

6. The resurrection of the saints who came out of their graves after the resurrection of Christ, Matthew 27:53.

7. The resurrection of Jesus Christ, 1 Corinthians 15:5-8.


So, what lessons can we learn from this event?

1. Use what you have.

The Shunammite woman used what she had to be a blessing. What started out as a simple meal invitation, turned into her opening up her home as a hotel, 2 Kings 4:8-10.

Yes, she was a ‘well-to-do’ woman, which basically means she was financially secure. But just like the widow who was poor and had only one small jar of oil, 2 Kings 4:1-7, she did everything she could and used what she had to bless Elisha.

As God’s children, we too should practice hospitality and use what we have to bless others, Romans 12:13. You might not be able to offer someone accommodation, but you can certainly invite them to your home for a meal.

You might not be able to offer a homeless person a meal at your home, but you can certainly go out of your way to buy them a sandwich and a drink.

Jesus says even if you offer someone a cup of water in His Name, you will be blessed at a later time, Matthew 10:42. Every day you live, is a gift of grace from God to be used to invest in people.

2. Be content with what you have.

The Shunammite woman was content with what she had. Notice Elisha asked her what he could do for her, 2 Kings 4:13. Elisha thought she wanted him to speak to the king of the commander of the king’s army on her behalf.

It’s not every day a prophet comes to your home and asks if they can something for you. But she didn’t ask for anything, why? She was content with what she had, she recognised how blessed she already was.

She was blessed to be financially secure enough to offer Elisha a meal. She was blessed to have a house big enough to make a room for Elisha. She and her husband had no children, but she never asks for a child.

Even though she could have asked for a child, she didn’t but it’s clear from her reaction to Elisha’s words, that this was something her heart desired, 2 Kings 4:15-16.

And like many women today, it appears that they may have been trying to have a child for years, but just accepted that this wasn’t going to happen.

How content are you with what God has blessed you with? One of the great disgraces of our day is the huge number of ungrateful Christians.

We are a little bit like the story about a rich fellow who was walking down the stairs one day and he overheard one of his servants saying, ‘Oh if I just had £5 wouldn’t I be content?’ So he thought he would make her day and he pulled £5 out of his wallet and gave it to her. She thanked him profusely, and he walked off and as he went around the corner he stopped to see if she would thank the lord for this blessing. Instead, he heard her say with discontent, ‘oh, why didn’t I ask for £10?’

Now I think we are often like that with our own Lord God, who pours out his blessings on us, who meets our needs and instead of being content with what we have, it is always, ‘why can’t I have a little bit more?’

We can spend our entire lives striving for more and as a result, we miss the joy of being satisfied with what we have today.

3. Evaluate what is important.

The story of the Shunammite woman doesn’t finish here. In 2 Kings 8:1-2, we find Elisha warning the Shunammite woman to leave her home and homeland because there was going to be a 7-year-long famine.

And notice that once again, she didn’t hesitate to do what Elisha told her to do, she and her family left everything behind. We can only imagine what it is like to leave everything behind.

We see it happening before our very eyes, where people are fleeing from their homes and country because of war. We see it happening when people have to leave everything behind because of an earthquake or flooding. She had to evaluate what was more important in her life.

What good is a home if you have no food to eat in it?

What good is a family, if you can’t feed them?

If you invest all your time in building a nice house, saving up for a new car, or protesting about the state the world is in, you’ll be in for a shock when Christ returns. Because all of that stuff is going to be incinerated when Jesus comes back.

I think it would be better to invest your life in something eternal. The Shunammite woman didn’t treasure her house and land, and we shouldn’t treasure worldly things either, Matthew 6:21.

If we hold on tight to our worldly things, it could cost you your life, Luke 17:33. Use what you have to bless others with. Be content with the blessings God has already given you.

Evaluate what is important in your life and invest in things which are eternal.