THE SHUAMM1TE AD HER CHILD.

BY REV. FREDERICK WHITFIELD, M.A.,
' AD she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive
hat this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us con
tinually. Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the
wall ; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a
stool, and a candlestick : and it shall be, when he cometh to
us, that he shall turn in thither.
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'Then she said, Did I desire a son of my lord? did I not
say, Do not deceive me ? Then he said to Gehazi, Gird up
thy loins, and take my staff in thine hand, and go thy way :
if thou meet any man, salute him not ; and if any salute
thee, answer him not again : and lay my staff upon the face
of the child. And the mother of the child said, As the Lord
liveth, and as my soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And
he arose, and followed her. And Gehazi passed on before
them, and laid the staff upon the face of the child ; but
there was neither voice, nor hearing. Wherefore he went
again to meet him, and told him, saying, The child is not
awaked. And when Elisha was come into the house,
behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed. He
went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and
prayed unto the Lord. And he went up, and lay upon the
child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon
his eyes, and his hands upon his hands : and he stretched
THE SHUAMMITE AD HER CHILD. 195
himself upon the child ; and the flesh of the child waxed
warm. Then he returned, and walked in the house to and
fro ; and went up, and stretched himself upon him : and
the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his
eyes.' — 2 Kings iv. 9, 10 ; 28-35.
THE teaching contained in this narrative of the
Shunammite and her child, in connection with
Elisha the Prophet, is of great importance, and most
instructive. I desire to draw the reader's atten
tion to it in the passages I have quoted.
Elisha stands before us as a striking type of
Christ. We need go no further than our Lord's
own words for a confirmation of this : ' beginning
at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded unto
them in all the scriptures the things concerning
Himself (Luke xxiv. 27). Bearing this fact in
mind, we notice the first act of this woman : ' and
she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive
that this is a holy man of God, which passeth by
us continually. Let us make a little chamber, I
pray thee, on the wall ; and let us set for him
there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candle
stick ; and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that
he shall turn in thither.' Here we see, in type,
Christ taken into the soul, and into the house, and
196 WELL-SPRIGS OF LIFE.
indeed into everything about us. He is no longer
a stranger, or just passing our door, walking at a
distance; He is admitted. Distinct provision is
made for Him. He passes by us day by day for
this very purpose — to be admitted. ' He made as
though He would have gone further.' ' He cometh
unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have
passed by them.' What are these but illustrations
of how Christ passes by us in our deep needs,
from day to day, waiting to be admitted. And
there is not an instance in Scripture where a call
on our part was not met by a ready response on
His. And it is, as this passage indicates, to
abide with us that He comes.
And the soul that thus admits Christ must expect
trial and discipline. A trial came very near to her
heart — the loss of her only child. ' The trial of
your faith worketh patience, and patience experi
ence.' These trials are tests of our trust in Him
whom we have admitted into our hearts. And it
is these that draw us closer to our true Elisha, so
that the very depths of our sorrow only make us
cling more closely to Him, and say, in the language
of the Psalmist, ' Whom have I in heaven but
THE SHUAMMITE AD HER CHILD. 197
Thee ; and there is none upon earth I desire in
comparison of Thee.'
So it was with the Shunammite here ; for when
it was evidently intimated to her to accompany
Gehazi with Elisha's staff, she said, ' As the Lord
liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee.'
Her sorrows made her thus cling. She would
allow none, however dear, to come between her
soul and Elisha.
So Gehazi passes on with Elisha's staff in his
hand, no doubt with all the pride and dignity that
the natural heart prompted, and laid the staff on
the face of the dead child. ' But there was neither
voice nor hearing. Wherefore he went again to meet
him, and told him saying, The child is not awaked.'
o mere staff can give life to the dead. And
that staff represents anything and everything but
a living Christ. o church, no sacrament, no
priest ; no works or merit of any kind can avail
here. What are they all but Elisha's staff on the
face of the dead, child ! or is it your faith, or
your repentance, your earnestness, or your sincerity.
However good these may be, they are only, I say
again, Elisha's staff. Life is in a living Christ,
198 WELL-SPRIGS OF LIFE.
and only in Him. And yet, just as the staff went
before the living Prophet, how often do these things
precede the opening of the eyes of the soul ! How
often the man goes floundering on, in the midst of
deadly darkness, for years, his eyes blinded with
the staff, while the living Christ stands at his very
side ! "We look around, and see the staff weighing
heavily upon the soul on every side of us ! There
is 'neither voice nor hearing,' and the eyes are
closed. And how simple is the blessed change —
just the opening of the eyes ! Yet simple as it is
only God the Holy Ghost can do it. And when the
mind is thus opened to the Saviour taking our
place on the cross, bearing the weight of our guilt
and sin, and putting it away for ever, what a re
vulsion of feeling ta\es place within.
Eeader, have you thus seen the Lamb of God ?
Have you beheld that Saviour by faith, and seen,
in His death, the full and eternal settlement of your
St oul's salvation?
And now Elisha is in the house, and stands
fa'ce to face with death. To look upon death is a
solemn thing ; but far beyond this, there is a
sad.(j er sight still — a soul ' dead in trespasses and
THE SHUAMMITE AD HER CHILD. 199
sins ' ! Let us mark, in this graphic picture, the
steps in that history which issues in the opening
of the eyes ; and may God the Holy Spirit write
them on our hearts.
' He went in therefore, and shut the door upon
them twain, and prayed unto the Lord.' one can
come between the Living One and the dead. The
door must shut out all. In that mighty work
there must be 'none with Him.' And as Elisha
' lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his
mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his
hands upon his hands,' so we learn the great
truth that it must be vital contact with the living
Saviour that can alone give life to the soul.
He must touch every faculty within, or else we
shall remain in death. We may speak; but if
our ' mouth ' has not come into close contact
with Him, all our words will be dead words.
We may use our ' eyes; ' but unless we see Him, we
shall have used them in vain. We may work with
our ' hands,' but all our works will be dead and
withered things. It is only His touch that can
change the Christless soul, and give life to every
thing about it.
200 WELL- SPRIGS OF LIFE.
And let the Christian remember it too. If we
are to speak or act, with spiritual effect, it can only
be by the living One constantly touching us. o
wonder there is so much speaking and acting that
falls flat. The Holy Spirit cannot own it. Our
eyes have never beheld Him. Our lips have never
spoken to Him. The work of our hands has never
had the hallowed touch of the Lord Jesus. We
wonder at our failure. Why should we? The
living fire has not entered into us — how can we
kindle the souls of others ? The Christian can
never learn it too deeply. May it be graven upon
our hearts with His own hand. ' That which we
have heard, which we have seen with our eyes,
which we have looked upon, and our hands have
handled of the Word of Life, declare we unto you,
that ye also may have fellowship with us.'
The sweetest flower on earth that sheds its fragrance round,
Ere evening comes has withered, and lies upon the ground ;
The dark and dreary desert has only one green spot,
'Tis found in living pastures — with Him who changeth not.
And clouds o'ercast our summer sky, so beautiful, so bright,
And while we still admire it, it darkens into night ;
One sky alone is cloudless, there darkness enters not,
'Tis found alone with Jesus— and Jesus changeth not.
THE SHUAMMITE AD HER CHILD. 201
And friendship's smile avails not to cheer us here below,
For smiles are oft deceitful, they quickly ebb and flow ;
One smile alone can gladden, whate'er the pilgrim's lot,
It is the smile of Jesus — for Jesus changeth not.
And thus our bark moves onward o'er life's tempestuous sea,
While death's unerring hand is stamped on all we see ;
But faith has found a living One, where hope deceiveth not :
For life is hid with Jesus — and Jesus changeth not.
F. W.
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