GOD CARES FOR HIS OWN
Lord, thank You for caring for each one of us.
Read 2 KINGS 4:1–7
The Widow’s Olive Oil
4 The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”
2 Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”
“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”
3 Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. 4 Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”
5 She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. 6 When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”
But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.
7 She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing” (Psa. 23:1).
God’s servants, whether missionaries, pastors, prophets or priests, are dependent on his faithful followers for material support. Consequently, in a hostile culture where the godly are few, it is not unusual for them to become impoverished to the point of debt. In an apostate Israel that affirms Baal, the storm god, as the source of life, it becomes tempting to seek him out rather than the Lord. A faithful remnant, however, knows better.
Christians in poorer countries face the claims of other gods directly every day. In western societies, though, the temptation to seek the source of our life and well-being in something other than God is more subtle, albeit no less pervasive. It may not even be about material subsistence as much as where our affections lie: possessions, outward appearance, achievements or career, the number of friends we have, or the “likes” we receive and/or “followers” we accrue on social media.
No matter what our temptation, the incident of the prophet’s widow affirms that it is God who gives life, not Baal (Marvin A. Sweeney, I & II Kings, 289–90). Moreover, the principles in our reading require active involvement. The widow acknowledges her need, seeks out God (here through his prophet; 1), and even asks others for help in obeying God’s command (getting more empty jars; 3). God starts with what she has (her one jar of oil; 2), and the provision she receives is in accordance with her faith (how many jars she collected). Although God is gracious to give us beyond our meager level of faith, it is helpful to remember Jesus’ repeated phrase “your faith has healed you” (e.g., Mark 5:34; 10:52) and the promise “Everything is possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:23). While we cannot force God’s hand by our faith or demand provision as by right, this story reminds us that God sees our need and has every intention of meeting it.
Lord, help us to seek You for our fulfillment and approach You with trust and faith that You care.
Lord, we rejoice in the reality that our God sees all, knows all, and can satisfy every need we have, even when we can’t figure out how it will happen.
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