The widow of a good man who worshiped the Lord approached Elisha. Her husband died, possibly killed by Ahab and Jezebel’s righteous people purge. The woman told Elisha her plight. She now faced a creditor intent on taking her two sons as payment.
When Elisha asked what they had to work with, she admitted there was nothing except a pot of oil.To me, this means she had done everything she could and already sold everything she could. She’d been resourceful. She’d been self-reliant.
But she reached a point where she couldn’t do anymore–or actually, she reached the point where she didn’t know what else to do. How could she keep her family together?
She didn’t even mention their living conditions to Elisha. If all she had in the house was a pot of oil, they were probably hungry. This story reminds me of the widow the Lord sent Elijah to. She only had a little flour and a cruse of oil. She was gathering sticks to make a little cake for she and her one son to eat and then die. In that story the power of the priesthood made the oil never go down, and the flour never deplete, thus saving their lives. What would happen here?
To this widow, Elisha gave very bizarre counsel. “Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty vessels’ borrow not a few. And when thou are come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full.”
OK. So here’s where my curiosity really piques.
Did she know her neighbors? Were they on friendly terms? Or was asking awkward because her husband was one of the sons of the prophets and most of the people served Baal? Were they in similar dire straits?
How long did it take her to gather the vessels? Did her sons help her gather the vessels? Did she just gather for an afternoon or for days?
Did she borrow vessels from her creditor? Did he want to help her? Did she go to everyone in town?
Did she gather vessels until she thought she had enough or was tired of gathering vessels or did she gather EVERY EMPTY VESSEL in town? What did she REALLY expect would happen? Did she believe in the Lord’s abundance or did she feel like she didn’t want to ask for too much or expect too much. That very attitude or expectation would impact her effort.
This is the main takeaway of the story for me. What do I REALLY expect will happen when I’m asking for a miracle? Do I believe the Lord is on my side? Do I believe blessings pour abundantly on my head and in my life? — Or do I stifle the flow of the Spirit by thinking any of a million limiting thoughts about myself, what I deserve, or God’s abilities?
The widow closed her doors to everyone but her sons and she began to pour oil from her pot of oil into the empty vessels. And she poured. And she poured. Her sons brought her empty pots. She filled the vessels. She told her son to bring her another vessel, but there weren’t any more vessels. “And the oil stayed.”
As soon as she ran out of vessels, or the ability to receive more, the oil stayed, the blessing stopped flowing. The Lord gave her as much as she could receive.
The woman told the man of God what happened, ready to receive her next instruction. He said, “Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children off the rest.”
She’d found redemption from bondage! She could redeem her sons and pay the debt. How long did it take? The story doesn’t say. But she had enough to pay the debt and live on the rest.
So, here’s the kicker to me. If she’d only gathered several empty vessels, she might have been able to pay the debt. And that would have been wonderful. Maybe that was her expectation and she thought the Lord could provide the way for that, but didn’t expect anything else. But the Lord provided abundantly!
I’m grateful for this woman and her faith. I’m grateful that every time I read her story, I can reevaluate myself and my attitudes about abundance and God’s ability to help me.
“Therefore, will I not make solitary places to bud and to blossom, and to bring forth in abundance? saith the Lord.”
Yes, yes, He will. Gloriously!
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.