Charles Simeon Commentary - 2 King 4:26 - 4:26

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Charles Simeon Commentary - 2 King 4:26 - 4:26


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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

DISCOURSE: 364

ALL THE DISPENSATIONS OF PROVIDENCE ARE GOOD

2Ki_4:26. And she answered, It is well.

TO serve the Lord with our talents is the best possible improvement of them. Even as it respects this life, we never exert ourselves truly for God without receiving from him, in some way or other, an abundant recompence. Behold the pious Shunamite: being provided richly with the good things of this life, she gladly imparted of them to the Prophet Elisha; and, with her husband’s approbation, provided for him a comfortable accommodation in her house. The prophet, full of gratitude, desired to requite her kindness, and for that end would have exerted his influence with the king in any way that she should desire: but her contented disposition rendered all such services unnecessary. There was, however, one service which he might render. She had no child, which to a Jewish woman was a great calamity: and he might intercede with God to bestow upon her this blessing. Accordingly he did so, and prevailed: and thus her generous hospitality was richly rewarded. But she had a still better reward in her soul: for under an exceedingly deep affliction, she was enabled to make the declaration in our text, “It is well.”

In considering this declaration, we shall notice,

I.       The circumstances under which it was made—

This son had no sooner arrived at an age to render himself amusing to his parents, than he was removed by sudden death. In great affliction the mother set off instantly to the prophet; who, seeing her at a distance, sent immediately to inquire after the welfare of herself, her husband, and her child: and to each inquiry she replied, “It is well.”

Behold here,

1.       Her resignation—

[Her affliction would have been great, if she had had other children left: but to lose her only son, her son miraculously given, and to hare him so suddenly snatched away, was a calamity which might have utterly overwhelmed her. That she felt deeply was manifest, from the manner in which she prostrated herself at the prophet’s feet, and from the plea she urged with him to intercede in her behalf: “Did I desire a son of my lord? Did I not say, Do not deceive me?” that is, If I had indulged an inordinate desire after this blessing, I might well have expected this severe chastisement: but when it was given me unsolicited, as a reward for my attentions to thee, surely it was not given merely to mock me, and to augment my sorrows. But, notwithstanding the anguish of her mind, she was enabled to leave the matter in God’s hands, and to say, “It is well.” Thus did she tread in the steps of Aaron [Note: Lev_10:3.], of Eli [Note: 1Sa_3:18.], of David [Note: Psa_39:9.], and of Job [Note: Job_1:21.]; and afforded an example of patience to the Church in all ages.]

2.       Her faith—

[She had not indeed any promise to rest upon; but she had a persuasion that God was gracious, and would hear the prayers of his servant in her behalf. Hence it was that she put the child upon the prophet’s bed, and hastened with such speed to him, and pleaded her cause with him in such an affecting manner. In this view the history before us is referred to in the Epistle to the Hebrews; “By faith women received their dead raised to life again [Note: Heb_11:35.]:” and in this noble exercise of faith, she approved herself a true daughter of Abraham, who offered up his son Isaac, from a persuasion “that God was able to raise him up again, even from the dead [Note: Heb_11:17-19.].” This divine principle calmed her spirits and composed her mind: and, wherever the same principle exists, it will produce a similar composure, in proportion as its operation is encouraged and felt.]

Her declaration was scarcely more the language of faith than it was of prophecy; as appears from,

II.      The events whereby it was verified—

The prophet instantly complied with her request, and sent his servant Gehazi to lay his staff upon the face of the child, with a view to his recovery. But in this he appears to have acted without any direction from God, and without that humble reference to God which the occasion demanded: and therefore God rebuked him by not accompanying the attempt with his blessing. The prophet, finding that his desire had failed, sought the Lord with all humility and earnestness; and, by means similar to those which had before been successfully used by Elijah, he obtained of God the restoration of the child to life [Note: Compare ver. 34, 35 with 1Ki_17:21. The gestures were used, not as means to an end, but as emblematic of the blessing desired.]. Who now must not acknowledge the truth of the mother’s declaration? Verily, “it was well,” and the dispensation, though afflictive, was good,

1.       As exercising and confirming her graces—

[How would it have been known that she possessed the graces of faith and resignation, if somewhat had not occurred to call them forth? and how could they have been strengthened, if not exercised? The pruning of the vine is therefore good, because it tends to augment its fruitfulness [Note: Joh_15:2.]; and the putting of the choicest vessel into a furnace is good, as tending to fit it for the master’s use [Note: 2Ti_2:21.]. Thus is “tribulation good, as working patience, experience, and hope [Note: Rom_5:3-5; Heb_12:11.].” Hence we are authorized rather to congratulate the saints upon their trials, than condole with them [Note: Jam_1:2-3; Jam_5:11; Rom_8:28.]: and the universal testimony of God’s people, after they have come out of their troubles, accords with that of the Psalmist, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted [Note: Psa_119:67; Psa_119:71.].”]

2.       As displaying and magnifying God’s perfections—

[This trial of hers occasioned an application to God in her behalf: and how marvellous did the condescension of God appear in listening to the voice of his servant, and in granting his petitions! How glorious too was the display of his power! And was not a momentary suffering good, when it was an occasion of bringing so much glory to Jehovah? Is there a saint in the universe that would not gladly endure even more than that, for the attainment of so blessed an end? St Paul desired nothing so much as that God might be glorified in him; and, provided his Lord and “Saviour might only be magnified in his body,” he was indifferent whether it were “by life or by death [Note: Php_1:20.].” And, wherever the love of God is shed abroad in the heart, not even life itself will be dear to us, except as it may be improved, or sacrificed for him.]

Advice—

1.       Be not hasty to judge the dispensations of Providence—

[God’s ways are in the great deep; his footsteps are not known: and often those very dispensations, of which we are ready to say with Jacob, “All these things are against me,” are in reality the greatest blessings that God can bestow. Behold the case of Job; how glorious was the issue of his trials [Note: Job_42:11-16.]! And, if we could see the end from the beginning as God does, we should pronounce a similar verdict on every trial that we are called to endure. The forty years’ sojourning in the wilderness was a dark dispensation; yet we are told, “God led his people in the right way:” so he leads us also in the right way; and when we get to heaven we shall bless him as fervently for all the troubles we sustained, as for any comfort we ever enjoyed.]

2.       Be not backward to improve them—

[Every trial has a voice to us, and is calculated to teach us some important lesson [Note: Job_33:14-17; Job_33:29-30.]. Hence the prophet says, “Hear the rod, and him that hath appointed it [Note: Mic_6:9.].” Consider then what it is intended to speak to you: take occasion from it to examine your ways, to see wherein you may have erred, or wherein you may amend your ways. Thus will every event be made a blessing to your souls; and Samson’s riddle be verified in you; “Out of the eater you will bring forth meat, and out of the strong you will bring forth sweet.”]