Elisha, the prophet of God in the Old Testament of the Bible, lived around 800 B.C. There is an account, in II Kings 4, of a widow who is faced with a very difficult situation. This woman lost her husband, who was also a prophet under the teaching of Elisha. A creditor came to collect the money her husband owed him before he died. We have no information on how he died, how much he owed him, or if they were related. What we do know, from the text, is this man threatened to take her two sons as his slaves if she does not pay.
Israelites were forbidden from making a fellow Israelite into a slave in the case they became poor through any circumstance (Leviticus 25:39). Was this man an Israelite? We do not know for certain. However, if he was, he was disobedient to the Lord and the promise in Psalm 112:5 will not apply to him. Good will not come to him because he lent with “strings” attached.
As we look closer at the account of the widow and Elisha, we also find other participants from whom we can learn and benefit. “Elisha said, ‘Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.’” (II Kings 4:3-4) The woman immediately must have gone to her neighbors, and they willingly lent her enough jars to follow Elisha’s instructions. The Bible tells us that as the woman poured the little oil she had, the oil continued to miraculously flow. When she placed the last jar down and it was filled, the oil stopped.
Certainly the miracle of the continuously flowing oil is an obvious highlight of this biblical account. However, what may be even more significant is how God provided for the woman. Often God uses you and me in the lives of others to provide for a need. Here the woman was in great peril because she was threatened with the enslavement of her children. God could have easily dropped the money in her lap, but he chose to use the simple act of lending to accomplish one of the greatest miracles in the Bible. Not only did the woman have the joy of continuing life with her children in freedom but also many of her neighbors were able to joyfully benefit as well from their willing participation.
What do you have that a family member, friend, or neighbor may need to borrow to accomplish God’s purposes in them? Since God owns everything (Psalm 24:1), would He not want us to share the possessions he has entrusted to us with others so that we may receive a blessing too?