Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Psalm 37: 4, R.S.V.
“Every good and perfect gift comes to us in generous measure from our God. On e very side He surrounds us with an overwhelming outpouring of His loving provision for our bodily welfare. Submerge yourself in His generosity. Let an upwelling stream of gratitude and delight pour from you in ardent appreciation for His presence that surrounds you on every side.”
W. Phillip Keller
Today’s Study Text:
“And it fell on a day. That Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman.”
II Kings 4: 8, K.J.V.
“A Spiritual Sisterhood”
“We are thy sisters…Our skins may differ, but we claim, a sister’s privilege and a sister’s name.”
Sarah L. Forten, (1837)
When I hear the word “sisterhood” what descriptive words come to my mind?
What does it mean to me to belong to a “spiritual sisterhood”?
“Untold millions of women have made a positive impact in their lifetimes – some famous, others not so well known. Yet each had a plan and a purpose in this world. Isn’t it wonderful to know that God created you and me for a plan and a purpose as well?”
The Power of a Positive Woman
In preparing for the series of studies on Elisha’s life as well as the lives of the women who were involved with his ministry, I found myself struck by a very abrupt change in tone from II Kings 4: 1 – 7 into II Kings 4: 8, our study text for today. And so with a nod to all the men who come to the Garden regularly to read each day, I am giving you a heads-up that today’s study is directed specifically to God’s daughters, for if ever in history there was a time for God’s girls to knit their hearts together in a loving, Christ-like bond – a spiritual sisterhood of gracious kindness – it is today. And I want to use as our example the story we just studied about a poor widow and the story we will be studying about the “great woman” of Shunem.
At first reading from II Kings 4: 1-8, I almost had the feeling that there was some information missing between verses 7 and 8. From the desperate need of a debt-laden widow, the Biblical window opens and there appears a “great woman” as our text notes. In Hebrew, this woman would be called “noble.” And when we study further into her life, we’ll find that she even reveals that she had a well-established family – a noble family we might say.
Some Biblical scholars report that the “great” woman of Shunem was wealthy and this may well have been the case. So to better understand this woman’s background, I did some research about the town of Shunem which was located in a territory given to the tribe of Issachar (Joshua 19: 19). It was only three miles north of Jezreel, a place where the evil King Ahab and Queen Jezebel had a palace. Located near Mount Gilboa at the foot of Little Hermon, this geographic area was notorious for it was in this location where the first king of Israel, King Saul and his son Jonathon were killed in a battle with the Philistines.
As we learned in our study of the poor widow last week, many of God’s most devoted followers suffered great hardship under the tyrannical rulership of Ahab and Jezebel. The Sons of the Prophets appeared to find the hand of brutality laid heavy upon them and thus we found that a woman like the widowed mother, faced tremendous hardship. Yet within a few miles, there lived another woman whose financial status was on a different level. And one can’t help but note that from outside appearances, one mom suffered while the other mom seemed to be doing quite well.
It’s here that I want to point out that way too many times in our own lives, just from an external viewpoint, we often size-up situations and leap to conclusions that may be completely wrong. This may well happen to men, too. But as I told you, I want to address the world of women today for it is the world I know best. I’ve lived through the younger days when “catty” remarks can leave a wounded heart. And where harsh judgments can leave deep wounds and ugly scars.
This observation leads me to the description in II Kings 4: 8 that the woman of Shunem was a “great woman.” After visiting the Hebrew dictionary, I had a better idea of how this woman was perceived for “great,” in this passage means, “noble and honorable.” To help us gain a better understanding of this particular woman’s place in society, I checked the English meaning of the word “noble” and found that it relates to an individual’s origin – as “coming from a family of nobility.” But there’s more to defining the word “noble.” Descriptive words such as: honor, generosity, courage and high moral character also help us get a better sense of the meaning of “noble.”
Recently, the headlines in the news have been peppered with details about a new baby, Prince George Alexander Louis, born into “nobility” and heir to the throne of England. I think we all understand the fact that this child will have access to opportunities that will not be afforded other children born in regions of the world and into families where poverty is the daily lot. And yet, nobleness of character, generosity of heart and courageousness of spirit are not qualities which only relate to those who were born with the “correct” family title or bloodlines.
This is an important point for us to remember as we begin our study on a woman who the Bible chooses to call “great.” There is no doubt in my mind that the woman of Shunem was a lady who radiated heavenly characteristics. But I want to be quick to add, the poor widowed mother, with what she thought was an insignificant jar of oil, was also shown to be honorable, courageous, and of high moral character and deep faith. Pastor and author Dale Ralph Davis underscores the value of this widow’s life when he notes that we would do well to take a close look at the life of a supposedly “obscure, nameless woman. “ He then writes: “Do you know that our writer in I Kings 16: 23 -28 describes the reign of one of the most important figures in Israelite politics and history – King Omri? Omri, for all his apparent importance, gets six verses from our writer. This Yahweh-fearing widow gets more press than Omri. Which shows that God’s desperate people matter to Him.”
Whether labeled great or small, beautiful or ugly, fat or thin – the exteriors are not what counts to God. In the spiritual realm, nobility of heart, is what matters the most. And to every daughter of God, and to all His’ sons, too, it is our connection to our Father’s bloodline that gives us the value and worth due a royal child.
Dr. Kay Collier-Slone penned a piece in which she describes the gifts that heaven has bestowed on the daughters of God, gifts that I find should really be the defining characteristics of a spiritual sisterhood, shared among God’s girls. As she pens so eloquently: “In Your name (we) celebrate the special qualities that You have given: the gift of connectedness, the gift of empathy, the gift of compassion the gift of nurturing, the gift of insight, the gifts of flexibility and multiplicity.” After highlighting the special gifts bestowed upon the daughters of God, Dr. Collier-Slone ends with this touching request and prayer:
“Guide me, gracious God, that I may claim the unique strengths of these gifts and use them to Your glory in the world. Give me the wisdom to honor these attributes within myself that they may be used freely, fully, and always in Your name. Amen.”
Whether a lonely, poor widow or a great woman of Shunem, God’s daughters all belong to heaven’s royal and spiritual sisterhood – a bond that is sealed by our love for our Father and our love for one another. As the quote I shared at the beginning by Karol Ladd, states: “Each (woman) has a plan and a purpose in this world.” And then she asks this pointed question: “Isn’t it wonderful to know that God created you and me for a plan and a purpose as well?” This is the legacy and purpose of our spiritual sisterhood today.
Believe in Destiny
“Finding your way,
discovering your purpose,
the spark of delight
becomes a roaring fire
of passion for destiny.
Believe in destiny.
There is always a purpose.
Know that now;
when it happens.
Your time will come,
You will know your purpose,
It is true,
If you believe.
destiny is God’s will.
destiny is God’s will.
God has a purpose for you.
And when you discover it,
you grow closer to hugging Jesus in the end.
Ms. Holly J. Wyman
For Making Me a Woman
“For making me a woman
I thank You.
Because You taught me by example
that power is Your gift,
and not my possession…
…For all that You are
Great ‘I Am,’
I bless You
as You have so greatly blessed me.”
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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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.