Devotional Week 45 Tuesday
“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”
Psalm 30: 5
“’The Lord’s mercies are new every morning.’ What an assurance this is to carry with us in all our wayfaring through this world! The future is always dark to us. The shadows brood over it. A veil hides it from our sight. What is under the shadows, what is behind the veil, what is advancing out of the impervious mist, none of us can know. We have no anxious questions to ask. This is enough for all that is coming: ‘The Lord’s mercies are new every morning.’ Live a comforted, happy, and thankful life! Take up each day as it comes, certain of this, that, whatever it lays upon you to do or bear, it will bring new mercies for new needs.”
A. L. Stone
Today’s Study Text:
“So the woman arose and did as the man of God had said. She went with her household and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years.”
II Kings 8: 2
“God Will Take Care of You” Part 22
“Trust and Obey”
“The golden rule for understanding in spiritual matters is not intellect, but obedience.”
What does the word “obedience” mean to me personally?
How do I think I would have reacted to Elisha’s instruction to leave my home, my comfortable place of residence, and move to a place ruled by a foreign nation who didn’t believe in God?
“Happy the soul which by a sincere self-renunciation, holds itself ceaselessly in the hand of its Creator, ready to do everything which He wishes; which never stops saying to itself a hundred times a day, ‘Lord, what would You have me do?’”
“I find that doing the will of God leaves me with no time for disputing about His plans.”
In the city of Lübreck, Germany, there is a large structure known as the Lübreck Lutheran Cathedral. Building began on the edifice in 1173 by Henry the Lion. Partly destroyed during a bombing raid in World War II, the current church was finished in 1982. It is within the walls of this spectacular structure where one of the most famous inscriptions is found. It is a poem entitled, “Ye Call Me Master.” I would like to share the words of this poem with you for they apply perfectly to our study text for today:
“Ye call Me Master, and obey Me not;
Ye call Me light and seek Me not;
Ye call Me way, and walk Me not;
Ye call me wise, and follow Me not;
Ye call Me fair, and love Me not;
Ye call Me rich, and ask Me not;
Ye call Me eternal, and seek Me not;
Ye call Me gracious, and trust Me not;
Ye call Me noble, and serve Me not;
Ye call Me mighty, and honor Me not;
Ye call Me just, and fear Me not;
If I condemn you, blame Me not.”
Our study text today makes the situation for the woman of Shunem and her family very clear – a famine was going to hit the land and it was going to last for seven years. Author Dale Ralph Davis calls Elisha’s tip to the woman of Shunem, “God’s Famine Warning System.” As author Davis expands, “What an encouragement Elisha’s tip must have been to her (the woman of Shunem) assuring her that the Keeper of Israel had by no means forgotten her.”
I don’t know how you would have felt if Elisha had been your spiritual mentor but the fact that he had raised the great woman’s son from the dead, must have been what I would call an added bonus in the “trust and obey” department. Moving, at that time in history, was not an easy task. It wasn’t like this lady could email Allied Van Lines and have them come out to her house and pack it up and take her to her new destination. Quite the opposite for there was her entire family in need of moving assistance.
I can only imagine how well the first conversation about a potential relocation to the land of the Philistines may have gone:
Great lady: Elisha has warned me we are in for a famine – seven years in fact.
Family member: What? The famine will destroy all our crops. What will our flock and herds eat?
Great lady: Elisha’s advised us to move to the land of the Philistines.
Family member: Lady are you crazy? Those heathens are our enemies. They hate God’s people. I doubt God would ever send us to live with the Philistines. You’ve got something wrong. You had to have heard wrong!
Great lady: No. This is the correct message. God’s message. And He hasn’t been wrong yet. I believe we should do what God has said and get ready to move!
It is at this point that we find these words: “She went with her household and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years” (II Kings 8: 2, Amplified Bible). In the Hebrew, the word “sojourn,” as used in II Kings 8: 1,2, is “gûwr,” which means to turn aside from the road. For a moment let’s pretend we are traveling across country. When the sun goes down and it becomes dark outside, this is when it is the time to pull over to a motel or a campground. Your “rest stop,” as we used to call it in our family, wasn’t a permanent abode. It was a temporary place where one was to find immediate lodging. This word “gûwr” also means a gathering in a strange, unknown place. The reason I take a little time for this grammar lesson is that it helps us understand the mindset of the woman of Shunem and her household. They were going to the land of the Philistines to be temporary inhabitants in a foreign land. The fact is, encouraged by the words of Elisha, not only was this lady willing to move, but her influence on her family made the journey into foreign territory a household affair.
This is exactly what happened in Rahab’s life. We find in Joshua 2 that her influence in her family was just the motivation they needed to trust what she said and obey God’s calling when it came time to leave Jericho.
There are so many lessons in II King 8: 2, a short text, but I’d like to look at just two specific points:
1. When the message was given to the woman of Shunem, not only did she trust what the man of God said, but she responded by obeying his words as well. She packed up and moved. I love the words penned by Augustine of Hippo: “When Your commands are obeyed, it is from You that we receive the power to obey them.” Do you have some large task looming before you? Does your life seem overwhelming at this point in time? When we tell our Father that we will obey His will, despite how we may feel, He promises to clear a path before us. He will make a way and further, He’ll give us His strength to carry out His purpose! Praise His Name!
2. The woman and her family never forgot that the land of the Philistines was a temporary stop on their road. The journey wasn’t over once they arrived in the land of the Philistines. This was a “rest stop.” But more importantly – the move was temporary. This really got me to thinking about my life’s journey for I’m one of those “nesters.” Having grown up in a family where we moved from one rented house to another and having lived in ten different houses in the first 16 years of my life, I can tell you that I’ve been happy to stay put for the past 15 years. I don’t like moving one bit. But sometimes God sees that He can protect us or use us or minister to us better in some different place along our journey homeward. I remember my grandparents having worship and sometimes they would sing this old hymn penned in 1835 by Thomas Taylor. I’d like to share some of these words with you:
“I’m but a stranger here,
Heaven is my home;
Earth is a desert drear,
Heaven is my home;
Danger and sorrow stand
Round me on every hand;
Heaven is my Father’s land,
Heaven is my home.
What though the tempest rage,
Heaven is my home;
Short is my pilgrimage,
Heaven is my home.
Time’s cold and wintery blast
Soon will be over past,
I shall reach home at last;
Heaven is my home.”
The great woman of Shunem trusted Elisha’s word and she obeyed his advice. But there’s more for she and her family never forgot they were only “sojourners” - temporary residents in a foreign land for after seven years were over, we will find them on their way back home.
It is very instructional to me that this great lady, along with her household, were just a few of the people who didn’t suffer the ravages of the famine. Why? Because they were willing to trust and obey God’s Word. May we be like the great woman of Shunem and follow God whenever and however He leads.
Trust and Obey
When we walk with the Lord
In the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will,
He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Then in fellowship sweet
We will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do,
Where He sends we will go,
Never fear, only trust and obey.”
J. H. Sammis
Saviour, Teach Me
“Saviour, teach me, day by day
Love’s sweet lesson – to obey;
Sweeter lesson cannot be,
Loving Him who first loved me.
With a child’s glad heart of love
At Thy bidding may I move,
Prompt to serve and follow Thee,
Loving Him who first loved me.
Teach me thus Thy steps to trace,
Strong to follow in Thy grace,
Learning how to love from Thee,
Loving Him who first loved me.”
Jane Eliza Leeson
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus