The Widow’s Oil   II kings 4:1-7

(Women Of Good Hope Bible Study)

by Adah L. Hutchcraft


       We serve a God of abundant mercy and provision. He supplies the spiritual and physical needs of His children. God is called “Jehovahjireh,” meaning “The Lord Will Provide” (Genesis 22:14). God is the master provider of needs both great and small. His storehouse of blessing never goes empty.

       Contrary to the very popular ‘health and wealth gospel,’ God does not always provide by heaping new and luxurious things upon us. Many times God’s provision is a miracle of stretching what one already has to meet a need.  God has the power to make a little go a long way. The Lord can provide a feast in the wilderness (Psalms 78:19-28). Yesterday’s manna can supply nourishment for today (Exodus 16:29). God can feed five-thousand with five loaves and two fish and still have leftovers! (Mark 14:21, 16:9). And if God can supply grace for Paul instead of removing his thorn, God can provide grace for us (2 Corinthians 12:9). 

       People tend to get more excited about the kind of divine intervention that “solves all our problems.” But the awesomeness of God’s grace is profoundly seen when needs are met during difficult and trying times. God’s grace is sufficient; His provision is abundant.

What Do You Have?  vs. 1-2

       The prophet Elisha was a man of God. The Lord empowered Elisha to do mighty miracles like raise the dead (vs. 32-35) and heal the diseased (ch. 5).  Nearly everywhere the Prophet went, God performed great wonders.

Elisha was sought by many people because of his power with God. One person who came to him was a widow. She sought Elisha for help because she was in debt and feared the creditors taking her sons as slaves. The widow had been married to a prophet’s son and their household reverenced God. So she sought God’s provision through the prophet Elisha.

       God had mercy on the widow and her sons. But God’s mercy did not come in the form of abundant treasures, the death of her creditors, or the elimination of her debt. Instead God asked the widow what she had. Elisha knew what the woman did not have– she did not have the means to pay her debt. But God would use what little the widow possessed to supply her great need. The widow told Elisha “Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil” (vs. 2). That seemed so small compared with her great debt. But it was not to small for Jehovahjireh to work with.

The Lord beckons people to confess their lives are bankrupt without Him. Humanity is in debt to God. But what little one has, when it is given to God, is multiplied. A heart given to God is more productive than a selfish spirit. Anything a person has -- talent, intelligence, ability and success -- is but a jar of oil. People are more humble creatures than they think. God owes humanity nothing, but humanity owes God everything. All we have amounts to a jar of oil compared to our indebtedness to God. But He is able to do more abundantly than we can ask or imagine with us when we offer ourselves to Him (Eph. 3:20). Why should we cling to what little we have when God is able to multiply it?

       What a blessing to know that God only asks for what we have, humble as it is! God takes a little faith and increases it. God takes our abilities and uses them for the advancement of His Kingdom. God takes a person’s willingness to please Him and makes them His dear child. Whatever we humbly give, God will increase. He only asks for what we have.

Borrow Vessels, Not a Few vs. 3-6

       When the widow told Elisha that she only had a jar of oil he did not walk away from her need. Although the jar of oil was so little, it was something to work with. Elisha said, “Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors– empty vessels; do not just gather a few” (vs 3). Then Elisha told her to go behind closed doors and pour the oil into as many containers as her sons collected. The widow kept filling jars until there was nothing more to pour oil into. Once every vessel was filled, the miraculous oil supply ceased.

      Here the Lord gave increase to the woman’s jar of oil. Just as He multiplied the widow’s oil, God is able to increase our faith and love for Him. God can always give us more of Himself. All we need to do is make room for Him to fill us. So, do not underestimate how completely God can saturate your life. Do not gather ‘a few vessels’ when God can fill every part of you. Faith acts on the Lord’s abundant nature and will not be satisfied with a little of Him. We need what God has to give. So, drink freely from the wells of salvation (Isaiah 12:3). Bring your vessels, not a few!

  People can become discouraged because they do not think they have much to offer God. But God, “who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food [is able to] supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase your fruits of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 9:10). Of our own merit we are nothing. But when we surrender to God in faith, nothing is impossible (Luke 1:47). God will take our humble lives and work the miraculous.

The Debt Paid vs. 7

Once every vessel was filled the widow was told to sell the oil and pay her debt. Not only was the widow able to repay her creditors, but she had enough for her and her sons to live on. That woman experienced the literal ‘overflow’ of God’s blessing. All of her needs were met because God gave increase to what she had. If the widow had relied on herself to meet her need, her family would have suffered greatly. But the widow turned to God for help with a humble heart. Her debt was paid and her family was sustained.

The scriptures say “God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Phil 4:19). Jesus came to give “abundant life” to those who believe on Him (John 10:10). God's provision reaches far beyond material needs. Material possessions will one day perish. But what is spiritual is eternal. God has blessed us “with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3).  In Jesus our debt of sin is paid and we have abundant life, blessings this world cannot provide. But God, Jehovah-jireh, supplies all our needs.