Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Those He justified, He also glorified.”
Romans 8: 30, N.I.V.
“Here is a precious truth for you. You may be poor or in suffering or unknown; but for your encouragement take a review of your ‘calling’…If He has called you, nothing can divide you from His love. Distress cannot sever the bond…You are secure…Rest assured: the heart of Him who has justified you beats with infinite love toward you.”
Charles H. Spurgeon
Today’s Study Text:
“And one went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine, and gathered thereof wild gourds his lap full, and came and shred them into the pot of pottage: for they knew them not. So they poured out for the men to eat. And it came to pass, as they were eating of the pottage, that they cried out, and said, ‘O thou man of God, there is death in the pot.’ And they could not eat thereof.”
II Kings 4: 39, 40, K.J.V.
“The Poisoned Pot”
“Ignorance is the mother of mischief.”
What made adding the ‘poison’ gourds into the pot so dangerous?
Has my lack of heavenly knowledge ever gotten me into trouble?
“The more we know, the more we see of our own ignorance.”
“Conviction of ignorance is the doorstep to the temple of wisdom.”
C. H. Spurgeon
It was a time of famine in a godless nation. During the rulership of Ahab and Jezebel, while there had been a brief spiritual revival on Mt. Carmel, sadly, the worship of Baal still prevailed. It was now the God-given work of Elisha to build up the “Schools of the Prophets” to train workers who could go throughout the land of Israel and even Judah, holding high a standard for Jehovah.
To come to the conclusion that God’s children, those who had the courage to bravely worship God in the midst of an idolatrous society, were somehow protected from the ravages of poverty, pain, and privation, would be incorrect. God’s children, as we have learned, faced the tyrannical hands of bill-collectors and hunger stalked their lives as well. In today’s study, we find that even at the School of the Prophets in Gilgal, food was in extremely scarce supply. In fact, during the visit by Elisha, a pot of “stew” was put on the fire by Elisha’s servant in order to provide a meal for the students.
This is where the story gets interesting. It seems that one helpful young man decided he would scour the garden for some herbs. Much to his delight, he came upon what the Bible calls, “a wild vine” that had “gourds” on it – enough to fill his lap. Then the Bible states that he “shredded (the gourds) into the pot of pottage.” He probably thought, “We’d better get our daily allotment of veggies!”
It sounded good. It looked good. It may even have smelled good. And for all we know, it tasted good in the mouth. But whoa! When the “pottage” landed in the stomach of those students, the response was immediate: “O man of God, there is death in the pot! They could not eat it.” (II Kings 4: 40, Amplified Bible), Simply put – they had in their bowls poison pottage. And this was at a time of famine when hunger was the norm in the land.
Just think for a moment how you might have felt. You had a craving, severe hunger pangs, a desire for something to eat. You were desperate. And there before you was a bowl of food. You find yourself salivating to get your first bite and then, after gobbling down some of the stew, a terrible feeling hits you in the gut. You double over with cramps as a wave of nausea creeps from head-to-toe. All of a sudden the seriousness of the situation strikes. This food could kill you. There’s death in this pot and now what once seemed like a lifesaver is a life-taker.
This is exactly what happened to the students in Gilgal. While the simple point of the story may seem to be, “Don’t eat food you don’t know anything about,” there is a broader spiritual lesson that many Biblical commentators drew from this experience which I’d like to share, especially since it has been a lesson repeated by nearly everyone of the authors I’ve studied who have written about the life of Elisha and this particular story.
What to us can appear as just a story about gathering food which is ill-fitted for human consumption, contains a much deeper instruction as we till the soil of our spiritual lives.
In his wonderful book called Elisha, F. W. Krummacher relates this experience in very dramatic terms:
“The pottage is prepared, and brought to the table, and the brethren, cheerfully, and without suspicion, sit down to their repast. And have they no warning from on high? None! The Lord permits them to begin their meal. But while eating the deadly mixture, they become sensible of its pernicious qualities. They rise from the table in anguish, and cry, ‘O thou man of God, there is death in the pot!’ It was indeed a heart-rending spectacle. They had seated themselves at their simple meal, so happy and joyful in God, so full of fervent gratitude for renewed supplies of food…and now, all at once, behold, death looks them in the face. What a dreadful change. What a sad interruption of their cheerful confidence and faith in Jehovah.”
What a dagger blow to a heart of faith. Maybe, this has happened in your own life. Just when you think that things in your life appear to be going well, “BOOM!” The rug gets pulled out from under you and you holler out to God, “There’s death in the pot!” What we must never forget is that the afflictions of life that can strike at the core of all we hold close and dear, call forth a faith, like Job, that in spite of the worst trials which hit us, we will still say, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” No matter what calamity hits the bedrock of our trust in God, as Edward Mote penned, “When darkness seems to veil His face, I rest on His unchanging grace; in every high and stormy gale; my anchor holds within the veil.”
But there’s more we can learn from the events surrounding the story of the poison pottage. Pastor and author Dale Ralph Davis offers what I believe to be an extremely insightful assessment of the gourd-gathering situation. As he observes: “Here is this fellow with the best intentions, who nearly sent all his colleagues gagging to the emergency room to get their stomachs pumped. He doubtless meant well, was utterly sincere and without malice, but committed a major gaffe…there are times when we do the same in the service of Christ. Perhaps we sported an undisciplined zeal that repelled rather than drew friends to Christ. Or we gave someone counsel which we were sure was well-considered, but it turned out to be wrong-headed or even harmful. Or we dealt in a certain way with one of our children and now, with hindsight, we realize what we imposed or allowed proved detrimental rather than helpful. About as foolish as a guy cutting up a vicious laxative into a pot of stew.”
It is at this point that Davis draws a very perceptive lesson which applies to you and me today: “The power of God overcame (the) cook’s foible. What an assurance and encouragement this text should be for Christ’s fallible servants. Too often we are the stars in episodes of ‘Christ and our mistakes.’ What relief when we see – as in this text (II Kings 4: 39) – that the Lord does not allow our errors to derail His kingdom or destroy His people. How many times Christ cushions our folly, redeems our errors, neutralizes our stupidity. What a consolation to have such a Lord.”
It was this thought that lead me to take a look at two words “ignorance” and “knowledge.” In my own world, I’ve found that when I become over-confident in my spiritual life, it is easy to, as George Swinnock states, allow the “twin of ignorance” to blind me to God’s heavenly knowledge.
The Apostle Paul had a lot to say to the young Christians under his guiding hand. As he told his friends in Corinth, “For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit” (I Corinthians 12: 8, K.J.V.)
As Thomas á Kempis instructed, “We must not trust every saying or suggestion, but warily and patiently ponder things according to the will of God.” In other words, every gourd, on any vine, is not worthy to be put into the pot. A lack of knowledge can result in poison in the pot – and this goes for our supper as well as our spiritual lives.
“Knowledge is the eye that must direct the foot of obedience.”
Open My Eyes That I May See
“Open my eyes, that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free.
Open my ears, that I may hear
Voices of truth Thou sendest clear;
And while the wavenotes fall on my ear,
Everything false will disappear.
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready, my God, Thy will to see;
Open my eyes, illumine me,
Clare H. Scott (1895)
To the followers of Christ in Colosse and down through the ages – “From Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus, the Messiah, by the will of God, and Timothy, our brother.”
Colossians 1: 1 Amplified Bible
“For this reason we also, from the day we heard of it, have not ceased to pray and make special request for you, asking that you may be filled with the full, deep and clear knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom, in comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God and in understanding and discernment of spiritual things – that you may walk, live and conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Lord.”
Colossians 1: 9, 10 Amplified Bible
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. Over the past few weeks, because of the generous outpouring of gifts from God’s “Garden daughters and sons,” we were able to complete our current projects and send 10,000 bookmarks to Papua New Guinea. We also sent 500 bookmarks in the Hindi language to Northern India. Thank you. Now we are undertaking the challenge of sending bookmarks to Russia, Lithuania and Brazil and to several domestic abuse shelters here in the United States.
My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, and www.Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You may also call Transformation Garden at 480-349-8619.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.