The name of my blog is Mom of Proverbs. I named my blog this because I write about everything that would affect or represent a modern day Proverbs 31 mom. Proverbs 31 is the chapter that pastors, teachers, and women go to when talking about the role-model mom and wife.
Thanks to my pastor, this morning I found another woman in the Bible to look to when I’m searching for how to be a better wife and mother: The Shunammite woman. She’s hidden in the book of 2 Kings and she doesn’t even have a name, but the characteristics written about her are enough to make her memorable and important.
(The passage is a little long, but please read it)
2 Kings 4:8-37 (NKJV):
“8 Now it happened one day that Elisha went to Shunem, where there was a notable woman, and she persuaded him to eat some food. So it was, as often as he passed by, he would turn in there to eat some food. 9 And she said to her husband, “Look now, I know that this is a holy man of God, who passes by us regularly. 10 Please, let us make a small upper room on the wall; and let us put a bed for him there, and a table and a chair and a lampstand; so it will be, whenever he comes to us, he can turn in there.”
11 And it happened one day that he came there, and he turned in to the upper room and lay down there. 12 Then he said to Gehazi his servant, “Call this Shunammite woman.” When he had called her, she stood before him. 13 And he said to him, “Say now to her, ‘Look, you have been concerned for us with all this care. What can I do for you? Do you want me to speak on your behalf to the king or to the commander of the army?’”
She answered, “I dwell among my own people.”
14 So he said, “What then is to be done for her?”
And Gehazi answered, “Actually, she has no son, and her husband is old.”
15 So he said, “Call her.” When he had called her, she stood in the doorway. 16 Then he said, “About this time next year you shall embrace a son.”
And she said, “No, my lord. Man of God, do not lie to your maidservant!”
17 But the woman conceived, and bore a son when the appointed time had come, of which Elisha had told her.
18 And the child grew. Now it happened one day that he went out to his father, to the reapers. 19 And he said to his father, “My head, my head!”
So he said to a servant, “Carry him to his mother.” 20 When he had taken him and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died. 21 And she went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, shut the door upon him, and went out.22 Then she called to her husband, and said, “Please send me one of the young men and one of the donkeys, that I may run to the man of God and come back.”
23 So he said, “Why are you going to him today? It is neither the New Moon nor the Sabbath.”
And she said, “It is well.” 24 Then she saddled a donkey, and said to her servant, “Drive, and go forward; do not slacken the pace for me unless I tell you.” 25 And so she departed, and went to the man of God at Mount Carmel.
So it was, when the man of God saw her afar off, that he said to his servant Gehazi, “Look, the Shunammite woman! 26 Please run now to meet her, and say to her, ‘Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with the child?’”
And she answered, “It is well.” 27 Now when she came to the man of God at the hill, she caught him by the feet, but Gehazi came near to push her away. But the man of God said, “Let her alone; for her soul is in deep distress, and the Lord has hidden it from me, and has not told me.”
28 So she said, “Did I ask a son of my lord? Did I not say, ‘Do not deceive me’?”
29 Then he said to Gehazi, “Get yourself ready, and take my staff in your hand, and be on your way. If you meet anyone, do not greet him; and if anyone greets you, do not answer him; but lay my staff on the face of the child.”
30 And the mother of the child said, “As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.” So he arose and followed her. 31 Now Gehazi went on ahead of them, and laid the staff on the face of the child; but there was neither voice nor hearing. Therefore he went back to meet him, and told him, saying, “The child has not awakened.”
32 When Elisha came into the house, there was the child, lying dead on his bed. 33 He went in therefore, shut the door behind the two of them, and prayed to the Lord. 34 And he went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands; and he stretched himself out on the child, and the flesh of the child became warm. 35 He returned and walked back and forth in the house, and again went up and stretched himself out on him; then the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. 36 And he called Gehazi and said, “Call this Shunammite woman.” So he called her. And when she came in to him, he said, “Pick up your son.” 37 So she went in, fell at his feet, and bowed to the ground; then she picked up her son and went out.”
I had to read this passage more than once to catch everything because these verses are packed with characteristics of a godly wife and mother.
Here are the characteristics:
- Notable: The definition of notable is “unusual or worth noticing; very successful and worth respect”. We don’t know this woman’s name, but we know that she was worth notice and worth respect.
- Hospitable: Every time Elisha came around, this woman made sure he was fed. She then takes it a step further and asks her husband to build a room for Elisha to stay in when he was in town.
- Caring: Elisha speaks of the great care she takes of him in verse 13. She took good enough care of him and his servant that he wanted to bless her.
- Selfless: When Elisha asks if there’s anything he can do for her she basically tells him she doesn’t need anything. She’d given her food, time, and opened her home to Elisha the prophet and his servant, but she didn’t expect anything in return.
- Content: The woman’s exact words to Elisha were, “I dwell among my own people.” My pastor explained this to mean that she was telling Elisha she was content with what she had with who she had. She was content with her life and her husband.
- Loving: When her son hit his head, she sat with him until he died. She took care of him.
- Strong faith: When her son died she “laid him on the bed of the man of God”. My commentary says that in doing this, she kept his death a secret until she could go to Elisha. She immediately called for a donkey and the Bible says she ran to Elisha — she ran to a man of God. In the midst of tragedy, she ran to God in faith, not away from Him in frustration. The first question Elisha asks her, “Is it well with you?” (according to my pastor) is a question of how she is doing as a person. Basically, how is her spiritual walk. She says “It is well”
- Confident: When she said, “It is well” to the question about her son, my pastor said the literal translation of what she said was “It will be well.” She knew despite what happened that everything was going to be OK. She had no clue if Elisha could help her in the way that she wanted.
- Persevering: In verse 30 she said, “As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.” With this oath, the woman was asserting her faith in the living God according to my commentary (1 Kings 17:1). Elisha had used similar language when he refused to leave Elijah in 2 Kings 2:2,4,6. No matter what happened, she wasn’t going to abandon Him or curse His name..
- Thankful: At the end, when Elisha raises her son from the dead the Bible says she fell at Elisha’s feet and bowed to the ground. She trusted that Elisha, as a prophet — the prophet that appealed to God to give her a son, could help her. When Elisha came through (using the power of God), she humbled herself and didn’t stop with a thank you, but fell at his feet and bowed out of thanks and respect.
- Real: She isn’t just some unreachable goal, like so many women think when they read about the Proverbs 31 woman. When Elisha tells her she’s going to have a baby, she says, “Don’t lie to me!” She wasn’t sure if Elisha had the power to fulfill the prophecy he’d given her. When her son died she went to Elisha for help, but when she got to Elisha the first thing she said was, “Did I ask a son of my lord? Did I not say, ‘Do not deceive me?'” She charged that this was Elisha’s fault because the pain of the death of her child was worse than the emptiness she felt without a child, according to my commentary.
This woman has characteristics that most of us women are striving to have. However, she has characteristics that most of us already have. She loved her family and she loved her son enough to hide him and RUN and try and save his life. She did everything she knew to do to protect her family.
This woman is who I want to be. I believe that this woman is who God wants me to be. The truth is, we can all be her. We can all have confidence, faith, contentment, and a love for our family that knows no bounds. It doesn’t matter if you can’t sew, or cook, or stay at home etc…it doesn’t matter if you can. What matters is that this woman is achievable. We can all strive to be her…the Shunammite woman without a name.