God of Help – 2 Kings 4 & 6

Sometimes we feel we need not so much a “God of Creation” but simply a “God of help”.

Some parts of the Bible show God doing amazing things in nature, in the world, across nations. It’s good to know that God is that big! But here in 2 Kings 4 & 6, we see God doing amazing things for ordinary people. You’ll learn much about God himself that you need to know in your bones.

And you’ll see how God often works through his people (you) to bring blessing to others.

We begin with a look at what goes on in 2 Kings 4 & 6.

These notes accompany a sermon on YouTube. You can find more in the series in our Sermon Index.

See the love of God


[The “D” headings in this section are taken from the wonderfully helpful commentary on 2 Kings by Dale Ralph Davis.]

In 2 Kings 4:1-7, a poor widow comes to the prophet Elisha in desperate need. Her husband is dead; she has sons to feed; she has debts to pay. But she has next to nothing. She’s hopeless.

So she goes to Elisha with her problem. He asks what she has, and she says “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil.” She’s told to gather as many empty jars as she can. Then, in secret, she fills all those jars from her one. She can now sell oil to clear her debt, and still have enough to live on.

It’s a miracle. Elisha didn’t do it. He was just a man. God has been concerned for this woman and worked the miracle. God is always concerned for the poor and destitute – he is overflowing in generosity. He has power over debt, because he cares for everyone whatever your circumstance.


2 Kings 4:8-37 is an amazing story of a woman who has an only son who dies. It’s heart-breaking. The child cried that his head hurt, and around noon that day he died in his mother’s arms. She lay the boy down, and went to get Elisha.

Elisha goes back with her, and by God’s grace the boy’s life returns. God has power over death too. And God is willing to exercise that power for his people.


In 2 Kings 4:38-41, we read about a stew being cooked for a group of men. When it was served, it was found to have poisonous plants in it! It was a time of famine, so this was a disaster. They couldn’t just throw it away – there was no other food.

They asked Elisha for help. There’s a moment of drama! He puts flour into the pot! It’s a visual aid for a miraculous transformation – the food was good to eat. God has power of debt, death, and now danger. He is ready to overrule when you or I do something stupid, and he will act to preserve his people.


Then in 2 Kings 4:42-44 there’s a very familiar-sounding account of 100 men being fed with a remarkably small amount of food! There was even some left over. God has power over our deficiency – whether in food, ability, brains, or whatever. And he is willing to act for his people.


Then in 2 Kings 6:1-7 there’s the miracle of an axe-head that floats. Axe-heads are heavy. They don’t float. But a man had borrowed one and then lost it in the river. We can barely imagine the poverty of having to borrow an axe head. But the Lord knew, and understood the man’s pain.

Again, the man asked Elisha for help and the Lord worked a miracle. God is powerful in the details of your life.

On Sunday evenings we’ve been looking at 1 John, and how the love of God is made complete when Christians love one another. Not just warm and fuzzy “best wishes,” but actual practical help in the day-to-day realities of life.

God’s love is revealed as he worked through Elisha. Bringing relief in debt, joy from grief, relief from awful mistake. God takes the little that you have and uses it to work miracles – to his glory, not yours. We’ll come back to that.

First, we need to go from shadow to reality:

Elisha points to Jesus

Remember what we were thinking about with Elisha and Jesus from a few weeks ago?

  • Moses was followed by Joshua (YHWH saves)
  • Elijah was followed by Elisha (God saves)
  • John the Baptist (a later Elijah) was followed by Jesus (he saves)

Elisha is a “type” of Jesus – an Old Testament mould of the one to come. So as we come to Jesus in the New Testament, we see him doing things that are reminiscent of Elisha.

But there is one thing the same, and one thing very different:

  • God doesn’t change. What we saw about God’s care over individual lives can’t change. He loves you.
  • The thing that’s different is Jesus! Everything has a “how much more” feeling about it when we look to him.

The pot of oil that overflowed and helped the woman’s debt?

  • At least a reminder of how Jesus told Peter to catch a fish that would have coins to pay taxes for them both.
  • But so much more, Jesus is now in heaven and pours out his Holy Spirit to all his people – streams of living water flowing out of his people to the world.

The child brought back to life?

  • There’s an example of just that in Luke 7, where Jesus basically cancelled a funeral.
  • A widow’s son was brought back to life – actually very close to where it happened with Elisha.
  • But how much more – when Jesus himself laid down his own life and took it up again 3 days later.
  • Jesus now lives, and offers life to all who call on him.

The poisonous food made well again?

  • Jesus spent much time at meals in the New Testament.
  • Very often those were with undesirable people – “tax collectors and sinners”.
  • Jesus did some amazing things:
  • He declared all foods ‘clean’ – he knew was eclipsing and making obsolete the Old Covenant, Old Testament.
  • In doing that, he demonstrably expanded the Good News beyond ethnic Judea to the whole world – to you and me.
  • And by eating with sinners he calls them to repentance – to turn from sin, and be welcomed by him.
  • The poison of sin, guilt, and shame can be removed from you.

What about feeding the 100 men with leftovers?

  • Clearly reminiscent of feeding the 5,000 (Jews) and the 4,000 (mostly Gentiles).
  • This is also clearly linked in John’s gospel with Jesus’ claim “I am the bread of life” – he gives life, he nourishes his people with his own life.
  • And we remember the very physical suffering he endured when we gather round his table – and eat bread.

And the floating axe head?

  • Jesus himself walked on water. What God did through Elisha was remarkable, but what Jesus did was unique in all human history.
  • He walked on water; he could calm a storm.
  • God worked through Elisha, but Jesus is the Son of God.

But this is more than cool Bible study:

Taste and see that the Lord is good

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. The Lord God does not change.

Elisha isn’t around to help you in your troubles. But note this:

  1. The unchanging God still cares about you. You personally.
  2. And today he gives you Jesus for you to turn to in your time of need.

And even better, Jesus is every bit the “how much more” than Elisha. Remember how people in need called out to Elisha? You can call out to Jesus today.

Call out to him for salvation! He is ready and willing to hear you, to forgive your sin, to heal your heart, to accept you and put you on the path of righteousness.

Call out to him for help! He is still the God of love who cares for you. You matter to him.

Don’t ask me for help I can’t give. Don’t bother with a priest. Go to God himself. Go to Jesus.

In your hurt, guilt, or pain. In your grief, poverty or need.

Will he give you money?

  • Are you so poor you’d need to borrow an axe head? Have you got as little as one jar of food in your cupboards at home? We don’t really know what poverty is, most of us.
  • But notice that God does show his love through his people. He has moved some of his people to set up CAP.
  • And, of course, he works through the generous love of his people – giving time, money, hospitality, care to others.

Will he heal your ill-health?

  • Some here have been through significant treatments.
  • Some here know what it’s like to lose a child – born or unborn, the loss is the same.
  • There are no easy answers why some fall ill and others don’t, or why some are taken while others live.
  • But in Christ we have a God who does all things right, in love, in power, goodness and wisdom.
  • And we have a God who has conquered death and offers you resurrection hope.

All the accounts in 2 Kings 4 & 6 were of people who turned to Elisha for help. You also turn to the Lord for help. The same God hears, and knows, and will act in perfect love and righteousness.

One last comment: Be ready

In 1 John we’ve seen the love of God expressed to his people through his people. When someone asks you for help – any kind of help – then think like Elisha. Be ready to be the person God will work through to help someone.

  • God worked miracles when people asked Elisha for help.
  • Who knows what God will do when others ask you for help?

So: Through Elisha we saw that God is powerful and acts in love in the details of the lives of his people.

Jesus is “how much more” – and you can turn to him for help, in your time of need, grief, guilt.

And you need to be the person God can work through when people turn to you for help. Be ready to be an Elisha too.