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  • William T. Howe Ph.D.

April 22, 2024

Rēad to Read …Again

Daily Reading: II Kings 4-5


II Kings 4:2

And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil.


In this case, God used what she had. She thought it was not much value. She said she didn’t have anything, then in what seems to be an afterthought, she said she had a pot of oil. That pot of oil was multiplied, put into borrowed vessels, and sold for enough money to pay all her family debts and she and her sons lived for a time on the money that was left.


Pardon if this is an overspecialization of the story but the specifics of it brings to mind the life of a true servant of God. Notice:


She had no source of human assistance. Her husband was dead and there were debts to pay. Upon reflection this is where all servants of the Lord begin. They are debtors. Before God they owe a sin debt. Their flesh borrowed against their soul and had naught to pay God to settle that payment for wrongdoing. Good works could not pay for their sin, for it had to be eliminated, paid in full. Prayer could not, money could not, but as the hymnist wrote “Nothing in my hand I bring, only to thy cross I cling.”  Jesus paid the debt of sin for every person when He died on the cross. Some believe and cleave to this truth; some ignore and reject it. But if anyone dies with the debt of sin to their account they will never be able to say they had no payment. For they did. They had Jesus, they just didn’t believe it.


She also had a pot of oil. That is all she had. One pot of oil. What could God do with that? He could multiply it. Just like the lad and his lunch; his five loaves and two fishes fed about 5,000. God multiplied those loaves and fishes, for the lad only had that to give and no more, but it was enough. The same with this widow, she had one pot of oil, it was not enough for her, but it was enough for God. She used what she had in a miraculous fashion, a drama that only God could direct and perform. Many think they have nothing of value that God can multiply, but they do. A little patience, a little knowledge, a little money, a little personality, a little ability, a little dream, a little energy. These given to God can be multiplied and used to not only benefit others (those who bought her oil were benefited) but also for the benefit of the one who started with just a little.


She had to borrow vessels. Without a vessel to pour the oil into there would be no way for it to multiply; when she ran out of vessels the oil stayed (stopped). There is a lesson here, perhaps the most profound in the story. That lesson is this: in this story the vessel had to be empty before it could be filled. Servants of God empty themselves out for those they serve to only be filled again. Consider a pastor. If he serves in the position of pastor for 25 years and speaks on average three times a week and takes two vacation weeks per year, he will speak to the church 3,750 messages. Each message begins as an empty vessel, he fills it with study, prayer, and preparation. Then through delivering the message he empties the vessel. Over and over and over again for thousands of messages from our Loving Father in Heaven an empty vessel is filled, and emptied, thereby being ready to be filled again. Too few empty themselves out, because of this there is no room to be filled with fresh oil of abundance.


Yes, much can be learned from this miraculous story, the half has yet to be told.


Dr. William T. Howe


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