Summary: God is your great and faithful provider whether you are someone important or even a nondescript widow.
One of the great themes found over & over in the Bible is that regardless of the times in which people lived & the problems they faced there was no problem or need which God could not meet if they simply trusted & obeyed Him. I call to your attention the key verse from last week’s story in which God declared through the prophet, Elisha – 3:18a “for this is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord.” There was a great need. A need which if not met would have resulted in massive deaths - for 3 kings & their respected armies would have died of thirst out in the middle of the desert. There was a great need, one which man could not solve. Those 3 kings were powerless; their generals were powerless to fix the problem. It was beyond them.
But enter the scene – God & everything changed. The problem which was unsolvable was solved. The need which could not be met was met. And that which was impossible for man to do anything about was “an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord.” Let me encourage you to keep that verse foremost in your heart for the enemy will try to convince you otherwise.
Now what is encouraging in our story today is – last week we were dealing w/ kings & armies. One would expect God to be interested & involved in something like that. After all, it has tremendous ramifications whether a country, particularly Israel, wins or loses a war. So it was no surprise to read of God being involved & meeting their great need. But today we’re not dealing w/ kings & armies & war but w/ a nondescript widow & her 2 sons who were faced w/ their own impossible situation. There would be no great negative ramifications if this widow died & her sons were sold into slavery. Their situation is not important especially when compared w/ kings & armies. And yet we see today in this story God is no less interested & involved in her situation as He was w/ kings & armies.
The Bible tells us, “Cast your cares upon Him for it matters to Him about you.” That is true of kings & armies & great battles but also of nondescript widows. God cares for His people & He works in sovereign & mighty ways that frequently extend far beyond that which we are able to do or think. And so no matter which kind of situation you are talking about God delights in continually showing Himself to be the Great & Faithful Provider.
Provider – one who supplies what is needed for sustenance or support.
God was the great provider for 3 kings & their armies last week. This week He will be the Great Provider for a widow & her 2 sons, supplying what is needed for their sustenance & support.
4:1 – “now a certain widow of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha.” Though she is not identified in the text & was not on the “who’s who” list of Israel’s prominent people (as most of us are not), the principle is she was not unknown to God. Each 1 of us are personally known & loved by God; we are the personal objects of His love. In the Lord’s sight, the individual is never lost sight of in the crowd.
But this woman, a wife of 1 of the sons of the prophets or to modernize it - a wife of 1 of the seminary students found herself unexpectedly widowed w/ 2 children to take care of. On top of that, there was a debt her husband owed that was now due. Quite possibly whatever she had that was sellable had been sold although these men lived quite sparsely so there was probably not much to sell to begin w/. And so now she, on top of mourning the death of her husband, is faced w/ the reality to giving her children to be slaves in order to pay the debt.
The OT law read, "If one of your countrymen becomes poor among you & sells himself to you, do not make him work as a slave. He is to be treated as a hired worker or a temporary resident among you; he is to work for you until the Year of Jubilee. Then he & his children are to be released, & he will go back to his own clan & to the property of his forefathers. Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves. Do not rule over them ruthlessly, but fear your God" (Leviticus 25:39-43). What this meant was that the widow’s sons were to be taken until they could work off the debt of their dead father or until the Year of Jubilee. If a relative should later step forward & pay off the debt, the sons could be redeemed at that moment. The normal time of service was 6 years; then they were free to leave but not empty-handed. They were to be given ample provisions as the Lord had blessed the employer so that they would not begin their state of new freedom in destitution. (see Deuteronomy 15:12-15) Not a bad system. But still you can try to imagine the heartache of this woman of losing her husband & now her 2 children.