Hello My Name Is ….. (Week 1) – Woman with Oil
It is great to be back with the second ten week part of our “Hello My Name Is” series. This time we have three more obscure women from the bible, so please don’t be worried if you’ve not read these stories before. We are kicking off the first week looking at the story of the woman with oil from the book of 2 Kings.
“The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the LORD. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves” 2 Kings 4:1
A Bit Of Context
Whenever I start a new story, I always try to understand the context of it. When in bible history was it set, how does that affect how we read it, and where in the book is it too. So this story is set in the book of 2 Kings, which is after the whole debacles of King Saul, King David and King Solomon. The Israelite nation do still have a King, but they have been divided into the Northern and Southern Kingdoms, weakening the nation even more. The people in this story are from the Northern Kingdom, who don’t have access to the temple in Jerusalem anymore, and instead go to the prophets for most things in relation to God. Elisha was the key prophet at the time. He was Elijah’s apprentice, and this story comes not long after Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind, leaving Elisha all alone to deal with things.
The chapters before this show Elisha having a bit of a hard time dealing with this (he’s a bit insecure about his bald head – go back and read that story if you haven’t before!), and then is engaged in a battle with some other nations too. It’s not a great start to his ministry. So we enter this verse with an insecure prophet, desperate to make his mark on this world.
A Woman in Crisis
The first thing we all noticed and felt this week was the heartbreak of this woman. Not only had she lost her husband, not only was she dealing with the debt he had left behind, but she was also at risk of losing her sons and her security. Emotions such as grief for her husband, anger at being left to deal with the debt, desperation for the situation she found herself in, and insecurity would be coursing through her in this moment. In our discussing the word “conflicting” was used, as this woman wouldn’t know what to feel and would probably be completely overwhelmed. Perhaps she thought it wasn’t fair – her husband had revered God so why should this happen to them? She was at rock bottom and perhaps was on the edge of giving up altogether. Was her life worth living like this? Is there any hope for her at all?
Who had a target on her back
This verse reminded me of a phrase my mum used to use “bad things always happen in threes”. Now, she was only partially being serious about that, but there’s a lot of truth in that the devil kicks us whilst we are down. That things will come one after another to try to beat us whilst we are at our weakest. And here, this woman, who’s husband was a prophet and obviously close to God, is at her weakest. So here is the best opportunity for the devil to get a foothold in her family and to break them. Maybe he was the whispering in the creditors ear to go and reclaim that debt. However it happened, this is more than one woman can take and she is about to break.
Who knew where to turn
But despite the hopelessness of this situation, I am in awe of what this woman does next. Really this is this moment that puts her on the map, that means, even though she is unnamed, she is now worthy to be included in the bible. She turns from her despair and looks to God. And the only way she knows how to reach God in the place she is in is through the prophet Elisha. So she goes and seeks him out. If she hadn’t done that, then who knows what would have happened. She would probably have become a beggar or have died. But she doesn’t – she looks to God and asks for help. With the little strength she had left after dealing with the whirlwind of conflicting emotions inside of her, so turns to the only one that can truly help her. Do we do the same? Or do we sit inside that whirlwind feeling sorry for ourselves, moaning on facebook or annoying our friends? Do they have the power to change any of it???? No – only God does. So turn to the one that can change your life.
Well what a great verse to start a series on!! I’m excited to see how Elisha and God change this woman’s life next week, so will you join me in meditating on this verse:
“She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.” But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.” 2 Kings 4:5-6
I’ll be filming a live video in our Facebook Community on Monday night at 9pm to start our thinking, so please do join me then. You can also get some great resources to help you make the most of this series over in our shop, so please do take a look.