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All this was done while Elisha was absent from the place; and the next time he came that way he slept in this room, which had been so kindly prepared for him.
E. How pleased he must have been, mother!
M. Yes, my son; he felt very grateful to this rich woman for the care she had shown for his comfort, and he wished, if he could, to make some return to her for her goodness; therefore, he sent his servant Gehazi to call her unto him ; and when he had called her, he said unto her, “Behold, thou hast been careful for us, with all this care; what is to be done for thee? Wouldst thou be spoken sor to the king, or to the captain of the host ?”
E. What did he mean by that, mother?
M. Elisha was most likely at this time in great favour with the king, because of the miracle which he had so lately worked for the armies of Israel and Judah, in the wilderness of Edom: he therefore wished to know whether there was any thing which this Shuñammite was anxious to have, either for herself or her husband, because, if there were, he would ask it for her of the king.
Many a person, however happy already, had they had such an offer as this made them, would have begun directly to wish for something more than they had ; to desire to be made either richer or greater. But the Shunammite and her husband were contented as they were : they wished for no change in their situation ; they were then dwelling happily among those whom they knew and loved, and they wisely thought it better to be satisfied with the blessings which a kind Providence had already given them, and not to seek greater things : afraid, I dare say, to choose for themselves, and wishing rather to leave their future lot in the hands of God, who knew so much better than they what was for their real good.
When the prophet found that these good people would ask nothing for themselves, he determined to bring down upon them one blessing which they had not, and which he knew they would value more than any other gift which he could procure for them from his God. He therefore told the woman, that before
many more months were past, she should have a son; for they had no children of their own, and had often wished that it had pleased God to bestow this kindness
them. Great was their happiness when they heard the words of the prophet ; indeed they could scarcely believe what he told them ; they thought that such a blessing would be too much for them.
The words of the prophet, however, came to pass. God gave these people a son, and then they had nothing left to wish for; they were as happy as they could be in this world. And oh! how much must they have loved the good prophet, who had been the means of bringing such a blessing upon them ; and with what pleasure must they have taught their little child to love him too! How glad must they have been that they had so often asked him to rest in their house, and that they had at last built a room for him to dwell in. Years passed by in happiness; the child grew on, and was now old enough to go out
with his father in the fields at harvest time. Never, I dare say, had the fond parent enjoyed a harvest so much before.
It is painful, in the midst of this pleasant story, to be obliged to stop to talk of sorrow. cannot learn too soon, my child, that all earthly happiness is uncertain : that we must not set our hearts upon it, because no one can say how short a time it may
last. Our heavenly Father knows very well, that if he made us quite happy in this world, and never sent us any sorrow at all, we should too much forget that blessed world which is to come : and as he created us to be here only for a very little time, and there for ever and ever, he often sends us afflictions to call back our thoughts from our earthly homes to our Father's house above. Thus he does now, and thus he has always done, and that often to his most favoured servants; for even the best of men are by nature inclined to forget God.
E. Did God then make the good Shunammite woman and her husband unhappy, mother?
M. Yes, my son ; he allowed sorrow for a little while to visit their dwelling, just to try their faith, and to teach them that their blessings depended upon him, and that as he gave them at first, so he could also take them away.
The dear child who had made their hearts so glad fell sick and died : his parents, too, had no time to think how they should bear to part with him, his sickness and death were so sudden.
He went out in the morning to the field, well and strong; but when he had been there a little while, he said to his father, “ My head,
head !" And his father said to the lad, “ Carry him to his mother; and when he had taken him and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died.” Think what this fond mother must have felt, when she saw the eyes of her darling child closed in death, and knew that they would never smile upon
any more ; when she felt his limbs grow stiff and cold, and thought that she should never see him running by the side of his father again.
E. Mother, I am almost more sorry for her than I ever was for anybody before ; was she very
M. Her sorrow, my son, was great; but her faith was greater still. She does not seem, even for a time, to have lost her trust in God. Her thoughts turned instantly to his prophet, as if she had felt sure that he who gave her the child, when she did not even ask for it, could give him back to her again, even from the dead.
Not one moment, therefore, did she lose ; but she went up, and laid the child upon the bed of the man of God, as if she thought that was the safest and best place in which she could leave her treasure ; and then she sent to her husband to beg that he would let her have one of the young men, and one of the
asses, that she might go and seek for the man of God. And when her husband said,
Wherefore wilt thou go to him ?" she said, “It shall be well."
Quite sure that she should not go to the man of God in vain, the mother set out upon her journey ;
and she would not allow her servant to stop at all, though the way was very long, until she came to Mount Carmel, where the prophet Elisha was then to be found. But Elisha had seen her, when she was still far off, from the mountain ; and being surprised to find her at so great a distance from her home, he sent his servant to meet her, and to ask her if any thing had happened; for he was afraid that something was wrong.
E. What, mother! did not Elisha know that her child was dead? I thought the prophets of God knew every thing.
M. It generally pleased God to make known a great deal of his will to his servants the prophets ; but in this case he seems to have hidden, even from Elisha, what had happened to the woman of Shunem: for you must not suppose that the prophets had any knowledge beyond other men, excepting when God was pleased to give it them.
By the desire of his master, Gehazi ran to meet the Shunammite, and said to her, “Is it well with thee? Is it well with thine husband ? Is it well with the child ?" And she answered, “ It is well.”
She said this partly, perhaps, because she was impatient to get on to the prophet himself, and did not like to tell her grief to any one but him, knowing that he only would be able to give her any real comfort ; and partly, perhaps, because she felt that nothing which God allowed to happen could be otherwise than right, and that if she sought his help, every thing would yet be well.
She hastened on, therefore, till she came to the