The Prophet’s Widow

Date: February 4, 2016

Bible Text: 2 Kings 4:3 | Speaker: Dr. Harold J. Sala | Series: Guidelines For Living | Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few.” 2 Kings 4:3

She was a widow and was destitute! Her husband had been in what we would term today “full-time Christian work.” In his day he was known as a prophet–one who spoke on behalf of God to the people who has usually strayed from God’s purpose and will. How he died is uncertain, but we do know that when she confronted Elisha, her heart was filled with misgivings and pain. “Your servant my husband is dead,” she began. (There was a twinge of, “Look, he served God all his life and now we have nothing.”) She continued, “You know that he revered the LORD. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.” “How can I help you?” asks Elisha. The Scripture doesn’t tell us what she was thinking, but I can assure you it went something like this. “How can you help me? Look, Mr. Elisha, I gave my husband to God and now my creditors are about to take all I have left–my two sons. How can you help me? Do something, Elisha! Do it now!”

But discreetly she replied, telling him that she had nothing at all “except a little oil.” So Elisha asked her to go to all of her neighbors and ask for empty jars. Now put yourself in the shoes of this poor widow. “What in the world does he think he’s going to do with a whole bunch of empty pots?” she must have asked herself, as she went from door to door with the request, “Got a few empty pots I can borrow?” It’s possible her neighbors said, “Look, your husband is gone. Borrow my jars? Will I ever see them again if I give them to you?”

Here’s lesson #1 when you are destitute: “God doesn’t want what you don’t have. He asks for what you do have.” Most people do nothing because they can’t write the big check, can’t paint the large picture, or don’t have the great personality to stand in front of people. Take inventory and realize that God never asks you for what you do not have, or asks you to do what you cannot do. He’s vitally concerned, however, with how you use what you do have, and whether you do what you can do.

She brought back large pots, small pots, and medium sized ones, new ones, and old ones which have been around for years. Then, as Elisha instructed, she took her two sons in the room, closed the door, and picked up the one pot with the oil in it and started pouring. Out came the oil filling the first pot. Setting it aside, she looked inside the original one–yes, the oil level hadn’t diminished! Something was happening, something she couldn’t explain, something big. She kept pouring, her heart pounding. One after another, the borrowed pots were filled until there were no empty pots, and then the flow of oil stopped.

“Do you believe that really happened?” the skeptic asks. If you have never gone one-on-one with God—your back to the wall, your heart filled with faith—and heard the still of voice of God saying, “What do you have in your hand? Give it to me,” you wouldn’t believe no matter what I said. The fact is, God fills and uses only what you give to Him, and you can bring your empty broken life–the little bit of life you have left–and let Him fill you with His love and power. “Go sell the oil and pay for your debts,” said Elisha, and you and your sons can live on what is left.” Strange math, but it works. You can prove that for yourself.

Resource reading: 2 Kings 4:1-7