The Widow’s Oil (from II Kings 4:1-7)

Verse 1 – When the widow cries out to Elisha, she identifies the dead man first as Elisha’s servant, then as her husband. She puts Elisha first and calls his attention to his obligation as leader and prophet of God. She then reminds Elisha that he knows the man was God fearing and therefore points out God’s duty. She asks for help the same way Moses pleaded for the Israelites in the desert – reminding God of the glory of His name and His reputation. If what we’re praying for isn’t going to bring glory to God, we’ve no business praying for it.

Verse 2 – Elisha is practical – he asks her what she has in the house. God asks us to use what we already have – what He’s blessed and gifted us with.

Verse 3 – Elisha tells the widow to borrow vessels from all her neighbors and to not get just a few, but all she can. When God asks us to do something, we need to give it our all. Don’t be cheap with God.

Verse 4 – The miracle was to happen behind closed doors – it was not for all her neighbors to witness, just the widow and her sons. We must take time to be alone with God so He can accomplish His work in us and provide for us. The widow’s neighbors were probably dying to know what she wanted with all those jars. Perhaps they gathered in the doorway and were offended when she shut her door in their faces. In order for God to work His miracles in our lives, we must be completely obedient despite what those around us may think or say.

Verse 6 – The miracle stopped at the last vessel. We must remember how generous and abundant our God is. Our obedience must be in proportion to His generosity and abundance.

Verse 7 – Note that when the widow first came to Elisha, he did not give her complete instructions. He didn’t tell her she was collecting empty jars so she could sell the oil. She didn’t know that step until after she had completed the first step. God does the same with us. God gives us step by step instructions and tests us to see how fully we obey. The more we obey, the better the result. Our obedience need to be complete so we don’t have any regrets or “if onlys” to deal with afterwards. We must be sure to do all we can from the start, or we may find ourselves saying, “I’d have so much more if only I’d gotten a few more jars, or if only I had asked so-and-so down the street…”

The widow sold enough oil to pay off the debt and still had money left to live off. If she hadn’t gathered as many jars as she did, she wouldn’t have had the extra money to live off of after she paid her debt. She may not have had enough for the creditors.

Our obedience to God’s instructions (especially when they don’t make sense) must garnish our full attention and effort if we want to see and experience God’s best.


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