Shunammite Woman: Willing to Meet the Needs of Others

Welcome to Day 10 of 20 Women in Scripture You Need to Know! I am excited about this series and hope it is an encouragement to both women and men to spend time studying the women in the Bible. We can learn much from them about how to live for the glory of God.

Shunammite Woman: Willing to Meet the Needs of Others

A few years ago we hosted a foreign exchange student. It was one of the hardest things we’ve ever done. Prior to that year, I would have said hospitality was a strong suit for me. By the time the year was up, I had learned that I’m a lot more selfish in a lot more ways than I’d ever understood.

That year taught me so much … and most of it wasn’t pretty. It’s definitely changed how I read the biblical accounts of those who showed hospitality and generosity in Scripture. Now, when I read the stories of women like the one we’re considering today, I realize how much I still need to grow in the areas of seeing and meeting the needs of others.

It’s Okay to Start Small

One day Elisha went to Shunem. A prominent woman who lived there persuaded him to eat some food. So whenever he passed by, he stopped there to eat. 

2 Kings 4:8 CSB

Do you ever think about how important small things are in the kingdom? When we look at examples like the widow of Zarephath and the Shunammite woman, we see how God used their faithfulness in doing small things for His glory.

She offered Elisha a meal. And then she continued to offer him meals whenever he was nearby.

How easy is that? And how often do we fail to do anything when we see an opportunity to meet a need or be a blessing because we feel like what we have to offer isn’t big enough or won’t make a difference?

Be Aware of What You Have to Offer

Then she said to her husband, “I know that the one who often passes by here is a holy man of God, so let’s make a small, walled-in upper room and put a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp there for him. Whenever he comes, he can stay there.”

2 Kings 4:9-10 CSB

As she got to know Elisha more, she realized there was more she could do. Don’t rush pass this … in these two short verses we discover some very important truths about being willing to meet the needs of others.

  1. We need to pay attention. If we are going to be need-meeters for others, we have to start by noticing what their needs might be. The Shunammite realized they could do more than offer Elisha meals.
  2. When we desire to meet the needs of others, it may cost us something. The Shunammite added to her home so that Elisha would have a place to stay as he passed through the region.
  3. We should be generous when we serve others. The Shunammite and her husband could have simply made a space for Elisha to lie down. But they didn’t, they provided generously for him.

A Lesson for Us

If you continue reading the Shunammite’s story in 2 Kings, you’ll find that Elisha was so grateful for their hospitality that he wanted to bless her. Her husband was older and she longed for a son. A year later, she held her son.

The boy got older and, to the woman’s great sorrow, he became ill. She sent for Elisha who came her home and found the boy dead. Elisha prayed and the boy was brought back to life.

You see, even when we serve others with the most generous hearts and the best intentions, there will still be sorrow in our lives. We will know the pang of loss. But we will also know the comfort of God and the nearness of His presence.

The Shunammite had been generous to Elisha, not out of obligation but from a genuine desire to serve him. And he, out of devotion and gratitude to her, was willing to intercede for her in times of distress.

The bottom line is, as we are faithful to meet the needs of others, we will find that God is faithful to meet our needs as well. Sometimes He will use other other people to do so and sometimes we will find ourselves comforted by the sweetness of His presence.

As we are faithful to meet the needs of others, we will find that God is faithful to meet our needs as well. Sometimes He will use other other people & sometimes He will comfort us Himself. Click To Tweet

A Prayer for Us

Father, we pray for a willingness to see the needs and act on behalf of others. As we serve, may we do so with a heart of gratitude and not out of obligation. May we never expect recognition or reward for our service but instead grant us generous and hospitable hearts that long to see Your name lifted high. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

This post is part of the 20 Women in Scripture You Need to Know series. You can find every post indexed here.

20 Women in Scripture You Need to Know || Learn about 10 women from the Old Testament and 10 from the New Testament — who they were, how they they were used by the Lord, and what we can learn from them as we seek to grow in our faith.

Read the Psalms this summer with Scripture Dig!


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