The Shunammite Woman

We don’t even know her name. She was influential, she was rich. She was described as ‘prominent and influential, an important woman’. She was obviously kind. She was married to her husband and he listened to her when they needed to make decisions. Her husband trusted her. She was insightful and made good choices, so she was wise. Intuitively, she persuaded Elisha, the man of God to stop for a meal the first time, and then anytime he was passing by or going through Shunem, where she and her husband lived.

She sensed Elisha was a holy man of God. She anticipated his needs and so she went even further, convincing her husband to create a ready-made guest room for Elisha. It had a bed, chair, table and lamp stand and was located upstairs- on the roof terrace so he could have some privacy- his own space, perhaps to pray or rest or reflect. So Elisha had a safe space, his own lodgings within their home that he could come to anytime he wanted. And he did come there to rest.

At the time she met Elisha, this woman was childless and her husband was old. She was so kind to Elisha that he looked for a way to actively reciprocate her kindness. He offered to speak with the king or the top military brass on her behalf, perhaps she needed a favour, but she turned the offer down. She was content with her position and her place in her own town. Elisha still wished to be of help somehow so Gehazi, Elisha’s personal assistant found out and informed him that the woman had no sons. Elisha said to her, ‘by this time next year, you will have a son’. And she did. His prophecy came true and she had a little boy. He grew and the time came when he was old enough to go to the farm with his dad during harvest time. Unfortunately he took ill, complaining of a severe headache. His dad sent one of the servants with a donkey to take him back home to Mom. He got home to Mom but he passed away that day.

When everything went pear-shaped, his mom said, ‘it will be alright’. Her son, her only son, had just died on her lap following complaints of a headache. Yet she had faith. Her consistent answer to queries was ‘everything is alright. It is well.’ She was determined and persistent. When Elisha sent his personal assistant Gehazi to minister to their needs, she refused to settle for less. She was not going to budge until Elisha himself came to pray for her dead son. As well she might, because Gehazi’s ministrations made no difference. It was only when Elisha repeatedly prayed for the boy that something miraculous happened! The boy rose from the dead! This nameless, rich, but kind, wise, and determined Shunammite woman received the miracle she needed.


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