Son of the Shunamite:
Hoping to Bless (Day 7) (Excerpt taken from the book current book I am working on that will be called The Seventh Resurrection)
“Let us make a small room on the roof with walls and put there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp so that whenever he comes to us, he can go in there.”
–II Kings 4:10
The gift of hospitality
I (Martin) love hospitality, don’t you? For some people the gift of hospitality seems so natural doesn’t it? They can easily find a way to make you feel at home and loved. In a little bitty village off the beaten path in Senegal, Africa I have received some of the best hospitality that I could ever imagine. This hospitality is provided from a tribe of Fulani Muslim’s. This small dusty village, out in the bush is a village called Gurel. There in this unassuming village, you will meet some of the kindest people. These African friends of mine give every American a new African name. Mine is Samba Ba! They have adopted our American group into their people and have even become very open to the gospel through the years.
While in American culture it is typical to greet someone with the words, “what’s up, or how are you doing?” It is a general question that expects a general answer. The greeting of my friends in this village goes like this:
“Hono sukaabe maa? How are your children?”
“Hono nay maa? How are your cows?”
“Hono baali maa? How are your sheep?”
“Hono bey maa? How are your goats?”
“Hono ndunngu o? How was rainy season?”
“Hono ceedu o? How was dry season?”
“Mi yeewniima sehhilam! I have missed you my friend!”
After the greeting and a few hugs, comes the sit down with these friends and the drinking of Attaya (Hot tea filled with too much sugar)! Incredible hospitality! Even though these friends of mine don’t know the saving power of Jesus, they certainly know the power of good hospitality.
In days 7-12 we will look carefully at the story of Elisha raising the Shunamite’s son from the dead. This story starts off with The Shunamite woman hoping to bless Elisha with her gift of hospitality. The story ends with Elisha hoping to bless back the Shunamite by God performing the miracle of resurrection through him.
Leveraging wealth for others
The city of Shunem must have been much like the hospitality one might receive from the little village I visit in Senegal. When the wealthy Shunamite woman saw that Elisha was passing through her town she quickly decided that her gift could meet his need by feeding him each time he passed through the area (II Kings 4:8). She went on to tell her husband that she believed that Elisha was a holy man of God. Because of this she said to her husband, “Let us make a small room on the roof with walls and put there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp, so that whenever he comes to us, he can go in there.”
Notice that Elisha doesn’t ask for this blessing from the woman. She offers the blessing because she discerns the need. In ancient Israel, God makes it clear that hospitality is very important. Ezekiel 16:49 says, “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” In the book of 1 Peter we read, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” Hospitality is a demonstration of the one who shows it that their belongings don’t belong to them, but to God. When we meet the Shunamite’s it is clear that her desire to bless Elisha was a natural outworking of her God-given gift.
So….. What now?
It’s important for us as Christians to not only read and learn, but also to “apply.” Elisha was a man on a mission from God. He received the mantle of prophet from his predecessor Elijah. He preached righteousness to Israel and worked miracles by the power of God. His ministry was critical and the Shunamite woman recognized it. Because of this, she leveraged her wealth to join God in what He was doing. How are you doing this with your finances and or hospitality? When I think of my experiences in Senegal and I read about the Shunamite, I realize that there is a lot to learn from these dusty little towns.
- Romans 12:13 says, “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” How does your family seek to do this?
- Who do you know that has the natural gift of hospitality?
- How has someone impacted you through their gift of hospitality?
- Is there anything that your family can do to show a neighbor hospitality?