Summary: The Shunammite woman leads us to examine our attitude toward motherhood. In Christ we are forgiven for our sins against motherhood and his strength for the crises motherhood brings. A. His wondrous gift of motherhood B. His strength in a mother's crisis
Text: 2 Kings 4:8-37
Theme: The Lord Blesses a Shunammite Woman and Mothers Today
A. His wondrous gift of motherhood
B. His strength in a mother's crisis
Season: Mother's Day
Date: May 9, 2010
Web page: http://hancocklutheran.org/sermons/The-Lord-Blesses-a-Shunammite-Woman-and-Mothers-Today-2Kings4_8-37.html
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. The sermon today is based on the account in 2 King 4:8-37.
Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:
A. His wondrous gift of motherhood
1. What's the background of this woman from Shunem?
She kept house in Shunem in northern Israel in the territory of Issachar. It certainly did not rank in fame with nearby Jezreel or Samaria, Jericho or Jerusalem. But she was happy there among her own people. Her husband owned fields. He made a good living. She had good home.
A holy man, a prophet, would often pass through town. This was a godless age. Generations ago many people from the north had given up going to the temple at Jerusalem to worship the Lord, the God of Israel. They worshiped instead at the golden calves at Bethel and Dan, which King Jeroboam had set up. More recently the wayward king, Ahab, and his wife Jezebel had introduced Baal worship with all its perversions. Imagine going to a prostitute and calling that worship! And although Ahab had been killed in battle, his evil legacy lingered.
But this prophet had walked in the footsteps of Elijah, that great holy man who had stood up to the prophets of Baal and had called down fire from heaven. This prophet had seen Elijah taken up to heaven in a whirlwind as the chariot of fire and horses of fire separated them. What could she do for him?
She could feed him, give him a good meal for the day as he passed through town. But then another idea as well came to here. "She said to her husband, 'I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God. Let's make a small room on the roof and put in it a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp for him. Then he can stay there whenever he comes to us'" (2 Kings 4:9, 10 NIV). And that's what she did.
That prophet, whose name was Elisha, appreciated her generosity and thoughtfulness. How could he thank her? Was there any favor he could do for here? Could he speak to the king or the commander of the army on her behalf? No, she was content with her life in Shunem among her own people.
But then Gehazi, Elisha's servant, observes, "She has no son and her husband is old" (2 King 4:14 NIV). She had not known the joys of motherhood. That precious gift from God! Elisha says to Gehazi, "'Call her.' So he called her, and she stood in the doorway. 'About this time next year,' Elisha said, 'you will hold a son in your arms'" (2 Kings 4:16 NIV)
It was so wonderful she dare not believe it. "'No, my Lord,' she objected. 'Don't mislead your servant, O man of God!'" (2 Kings 4:16 NIV). But a year later she had a son, just as God's prophet had said.
2. How have we treated God's gift of motherhood?
Motherhood. What a blessing from God, both for the Shunammite woman and for mothers today! The Almighty, by a mere word of his omnipotent will, could call new people into existence. Think of it. He called the entire world into existence out of nothing (Genesis 1:1-25). Our first parents had no mothers. He formed Adam from the dust of the ground and made Eve from Adam's rib (Genesis 2:7, 22). But now to carry out this divine work, he chooses to use mothers. From the conception of that new person through his or her growth in the womb onward to birth, God uses mothers to create new life. What a wonder!
But have we lost the wonder of God's gift of motherhood? We live in an age whose the drum beat for women's rights drowns out the beautiful melody of motherhood. "Of all the rights of women, the greatest is to be a mother" Lin Yutang, a 20th century Chinese writer, said. And although we may quibble with that word 'rights' since it clouds that motherhood is a gift from God, yet his words make us think. How often doesn't motherhood take second, third, fourth or some other place down the line? Is it only on a day like today, Mother's Day, that people at least pay lip service to it? How highly do we value motherhood? The Shunammite woman has a lesson for us.
How easy it is to speak highly of motherhood out of one side of our mouth but our priorities, choices, and actions betray us! Who's rated more highly? A woman advancing her career, especially if she's shattering glass ceilings, or a mother changing diapers at home all day long? And don't forget, that many of these attitudes are reaction because men at times have used motherhood as a way to keep women under their thumb. That too is a horrible abuse of the wonders of motherhood, no matter how flowery the rhetoric .