A Boy Who Lived Again
Elisha went about through all the land, teaching the people, but especially teaching the students in the schools of the prophets. There were many now who turned to the Lord, and Elisha was greatly encouraged. He journeyed here and he journeyed there, and everywhere he came to be known as a great prophet.
Elijah had fought against the evil worship of Baal, brought in by Jezebel, when it threatened to overwhelm all the worship of Jehovah; and the road that Elijah trod was a hard road. But now the worship of Baal was lessening, though many followed after the gods that Jeroboam had set up. So the way of Elisha was easier, but not easy. He was highly honored in Israel, both by the king and by the people.
One of the places that he used to stop as he went on his journeys was in the city of Shunemat the house of a good and great woman. After several visits, the woman said to her husband, “I see this is a holy man who stops and eats with us sometimes. Let us build a room for him on the side of the house, and put in it a bed and a table and a stool and a lamp, and let it be for the man of God only, when he comes.”
Her husband said, “All right; let’s do.” So they built the room and furnished it. When Elisha came, she took him up and showed him the room, with all its good furniture and he was glad. So he asked her what she wanted, but she said, “Nothing!” However, when she was gone, he asked his servant, Gehazi, what he might do for the good woman. And Gehazi said, “I’ll tell you, master. She has no child of her own, and she does so much wish for a son.”
Then Elisha called her back and said, “Listen! Next year about this time you shall have a baby boy born to you.”
She was so thrilled she could hardly believe it. And she said, “O my lord, don’t tell me any lies.”
“No, indeed!” said Elisha. “Truly, you shall have a son.”
And so it came to pass. For the next year there was born to her a baby boy. How she loved him! He grew to be quite a lad. When he was perhaps five years old, one day he followed his father out to the wheat field. The sun was hot, and it beat down on the little boy’s head and made it ache. He went to his father and said, “My head! My head!”
His father said to a big boy, “Take the little chap up and carry him to his mother.” So the big boy carried the little boy to his mother. She took him in her arms and sat down with him and rocked him. But he grew sicker and sicker, until at noon he died.
She took him up in her arms and laid him on the prophet’s bed and shut the door. Then she called to her husband and said, “Have the ass saddled for me. I want to go to the prophet.”
“Why do you want to go to the prophet?” he asked. “This isn’t new moon or Sabbath.”
She didn’t tell him the little boy was dead. She just said, “It’s for the best.” So he had the ass saddled.
And she said to her servant, “Go behind and drive fast and faster.” And she rode to Mount Carmel, where the prophet Elisha was. He saw her coming, and he said to his servant, “Herecomes this Shunammite woman. What can be the matter?”
When she came up to him, she fell down at his feet, and she cried, “Did I ask for a son? Did I not say, ‘Tell me no lies’?”
Then he knew her little boy was dead. And he said to Gehazi, “Take my staff, and go ahead and lay it on the face of the child.” So his servant took his master’s staff and went ahead. But the mother said to Elisha, “I’ll not go unless you go with me.” He arose then and went with her. On the way they met Gehazi, and he said, “I laid the staff on the face of the lad, but he is not awaked.” So they went on till they came to the house.
Elisha went up to the room alone, and opened the door. There lay the little dead boy. Elisha looked at him; then he walked up and down in the room and prayed to God. Then he went and laid himself on the little boy. He put his mouth on his mouth, and his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands; and the little boy’s flesh grew warm. Again Elisha walked up and down and prayed to God. And again he went and laid himself on the little boy, eyes to his eyes, mouth to his mouth, hands to his hands. And the child sneezed seven times, and he opened his eyes, and he was alive!
Elisha summoned his servant, and said, “Call this Shunammite.” And when she came, he said to her, “Take up your son.”
She looked over to the bed where she had laid her little dead son. But now his eyes were open! He smiled at her and stretched out his hands to her. She fell at the prophet’s feet and thanked him. Then she took up her little boy and carried him out, more thankful for him now than when first as a little babe he had been laid in her arms. (You can read this story in the Bible in II Kings 4:8–37.)
Arthur Whitefield Spalding