The LORD is our KEEPER – 2 Kings 4:1-44

A Study in 2 KingsI will lift up my eyes to the mountains;

From where shall my help come?

My help comes from The LORD,

WHO made heaven and earth.

HE will not allow your foot to slip;

HE who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, HE who keeps Israel

Will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your Keeper;

The LORD is your shade on your right hand.

The sun will not smite you by day,

Nor the moon by night.

The LORD will protect you from all evil;

HE will keep your soul.

The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in

From this time forth and forever.

Psalm 121:1-8

In this BIBLE study of 2 Kings Chapter 4, our Beloved LORD GOD will comfort and encourage us through several truths, as HE makes HIMSELF known as The True SHEPHERD through a widow, a Shunammite woman, and a company of prophets.

Why is the foundational Scripture Psalm 121:1-8, and not from a Scripture(s) in 2 Kings Chapter 4? When I studied 2 Kings Chapter 4, I asked our Beloved LORD GOD what was HIS message for this passage. HE said “The LORD is our KEEPER.” HE then led me to Psalm 121:1-8, and by examining the English word “Keeper” in the Hebrew language of origin, HE gave me the following understanding:

In the NASB translation, of Psalm 121:1-8, there are five English words (keep, keeps, keeper, protect and guard) that are all transliterated from the same Hebrew word “shamar” (OT: 8104); it is a primitive root word, that means to:

  • hedge about (as with thorns) ― to place a boundary or barrier around for protection (Job 1:10)
  • guard ― to keep safe, protect (Psa 121:8, Act 20:28)
  • protect ― defend, or guard from loss (1 Sam 17:34-37, Amo 3:12, Jhn 10:11-13, Jhn 10:28-29)
  • watch-over ― stay awake, be alert, observe carefully, look after, guard, protect (Job 36:7, Pro 15:3, Heb 4:13)
  • preserve ― keep from harm, danger, damage, evil (Psa 32:7)
  • tend ― to take care of, to watch-over (Isa 40:11, Mrk 6:34-44, Jhn 21:15-17)
  • take care of ― to look after, to provide for (Gen 50:24-25, Psa 55:22, Mat 11:28-30, 1 Pet 5:7)

In Romans 15:4 our Beloved LORD GOD tells us “whatever was written in earlier times, was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” As a result, whenever I read The BIBLE, I ask our Beloved “what instructions should I personally receive from the passage I am reading?” While I pondered the definition of a Keeper, in Psalm 121:1-8, our Precious JESUS CHRIST revealed that I was looking at the conduct of a true shepherd. And it is how HE, our SHEPHERD (Psa 23:1, Jhn 10:11, 1 Pet 2:25) takes care of us, HIS people, the sheep of HIS pasture (Psa 95:7, Psa 100:3, Eze 34:11-16).

As our Beloved SHEPHERD, HE is our Keeper, our Constant Companion, our Guardian, our Protector, our Preserver, our Defender…

  • HE continually keeps us safe from harm (Psa 121:7, Jhn 10:27-30). This doesn’t mean we will not suffer, it means that what pain HE allows will not destroy us (2 Cor 4:7-9, Luk 21:12-19, Jhn 3:16).
  • HE never ceases to be watchful over us (Psa 121:3-4, Isa 27:3, 2 Chr 16:9, Psa 33:18). HE never grows tired or fatigued (Isa 40:28).
  • HE is very attentive to us (Psa 121:8, Deu 28:6, Jhn 10:1-10). HE knows the condition of HIS flock (Pro 27:23). HE is completely aware of every part of us (Psa 139:1-5). HE continually knows what we are doing, and where we are doing it (Pro 5:21, Jer 16:17). And everything we say and do is recorded in books in heaven (Jer 17:13, Mal 3:16-18, Mat 12:36-37, Rev 20:12). HE knows the desires of our hearts (Psa 10:17, Psa 38:9), and every need we have (Mat 6:8).

 Background:

  • Israel was divided into two kingdoms after Solomon’s reign (1 Kin 11:11-13, 1 Kin 11:31-32). The first kingdom located in the north continued to be called Israel, and its capital was Samaria (2 Kin 17:6). The second kingdom located in the south became known as Judah, and its capital is Jerusalem (1 Kin 14:21).
  • Elisha’s prophetic ministry like Elijah before him, was in the northern kingdom (2 Kin 1:17). And like Elijah, he traveled between cities in Israel. The map at the end of the study reflects the places Elijah and Elisha traveled to/from during their ministries. 2 Kings Chapter 4, records Elisha’s travels between Mount Carmel, Shunem and Gilgal (underlined in red on the map ― 2 Kin 4:8, 2 Kin 4:25, 2 Kin 4:38).
  • Mount Carmel is located by the Mediterranean Sea (Jer 46:18). Several significant activities are recorded at this mountain:
    • King Saul set up a monument for himself at this mountain (1 Sam 15:12), after his partial obedience in the battle with the Amalekites (1 Sam 15:1 -23)
    • GOD used Elijah to reveal the true GOD in Israel through fire from heaven (1 Kin 18:17-41)
    • Elijah went to the top of Mount Carmel to watch for a cloud forming on the horizon of the sea– the sign that The LORD GOD had ended the famine in Israel (1 Kin 18:42-46)
    • Elisha and his servant Gehazi resided at the mountain’s base
  • Shunem was one of the cities in Israel belonging to the tribe of Issachar (Jos 19:17-23). It was located between Gilgal and Mount Carmel (as shown on the map at the end of the study). Shunem is known as the place where the Philistines encamped for their final battle against King Saul and the Israelites (1 Sam 28:4). It was during this battle, King Saul and three of his sons died (1 Sam 31:1-10).

As we examine 1 Kings Chapter 4, we are first introduced to a widow (2 Kin 4:1-7):             

  1. Filled with fear, because her husband, one of the prophets died leaving a bill she could not pay. The creditor of the bill came to take her two sons away, to work as his slaves (2 Kin 4:1, 2 Kin 4:7). The creditor’s heart was not right before GOD, because he ignored our Beloved LORD GOD’s instructions to treat the poor in Israel as a hired man and not as a slave in order to pay off debt (Lev 25:39-41, Neh 5:1-5).
  2. She knew if the creditor took her two sons, her means of support would be taken with them. According to our Beloved ABBA’S WORD, adult children and adult grandchildren should take care of their elderly parents when they can no longer provide for themselves (Mrk 7:10-13, Luk 7:11-15, 1 Tim 5:3-5). Our Precious JESUS CHRIST demonstrated the importance of this; HIS final accomplishment before laying down HIS life on the cross for each one of us, was to make sure HIS mother was taken care of (Jhn 19:25-30).
  3. Who felt she had nothing in her house to satisfy her debt. But our Beloved LORD GOD reminded her, she had a jar of oil. The prophet Elisha gives her instructions concerning the jar of oil (2 Kin 4:3-4). Through faith and obedience, our Beloved LORD GOD miraculously provided oil in abundance, so the debt was paid off, and money was left over to live on (2 Kin 4:5-7).

Throughout The BIBLE our Beloved LORD GOD has given us examples of HIM working with what we have (2 Cor 8:12) to provide for our needs (1 Kin 17:1-16) and the needs of others (2 Kin 4:42-44, Mrk 8:4-7, Jhn 6:9). Our Great SHEPHERD will not only deliver us from all our fears (Psa 34:4), but HE also provides for us (Gen 22:14, Neh 9:21, Psa 136:25, Psa 145:15-16, Jhn 21:12-13). When HE is our SHEPHERD, we will not want (Psa 23:1), which means we will not be without, have a lack of, or have a need not provided for (Psa 37:25-26, Mat 6:25-34, 2 Cor 9:8-11, Php 4:19).

We are next introduced to a Shunammite woman (2 Kin 4:8-37):

She is identified by our Beloved LORD GOD as a prominent (or great) woman living in the village of Shunem (2 Kin 4:8). The English word “prominent” in 2 Kings 4:8 was transliterated from the Hebrew word “gadol” (OT 1419) and means great of power, nobility or wealth; distinguished; very much above the ordinary.

Whose actions demonstrate she was indeed great in:

  1. Hospitality (Heb 13:1-2, 1 Pet 4:9). To truly be hospitable, one must be welcoming, warm and generous. This woman from Shunem wasn’t selfish (Pro 23:6-8). She was very generous, persuading Elisha and his servant Gehazi, to share their food not once but continually (2 Kin 4:8).
  2. Her love for GOD (1 Jhn 3:17-18, 1 Jhn 4:20-21). She could not have compassion for Elisha and Gehazi, if she did not have the love of GOD within herself (1 Jhn 4:19). She welcomed Elisha instead of mocking him (2 Kin 2:23), perceiving (or knowing by experience and recognition) that Elisha was a man of GOD (2 Kin 4:9). The Shunammite showed love for GOD’s NAME by ministering to HIS servant (Heb 6:10, Mrk 9:41) by providing for all he and his servant’s needs (2 Kin 4:9-11).
  3. Contentment (Php 4:11, 1 Tim 6:6-8, Heb 13:5). Though questioned, she requested nothing from the man of GOD (2 Kin 4:12-13). And she did not linger after her questioning, hoping to receive something. In fact Elisha had to call her back (2 Kin 4:14-15). Which testifies to her generous heart once again, she was not expecting anything in return for her kindness and generosity.
  4. Faith (Luk 1:37, Heb 11:6). The Shunammite woman knew nothing was impossible with GOD, and through HIS servant, she and her husband would not experience the loss of their only child. Our Beloved LORD GOD reveals her faith by her response three different times. First, when her husband asked why was she going to see the man of GOD, she simply answered “It will be well” (2 Kings 4:23). Second, when Elisha sent Gehazi to inquire if all was well with her husband, herself and their child, she answered “It is well” (2 Kings 4:26). And finally, she refused to return to her dead son if the man of GOD did not go with her (2 Kings 4:30).

 Our Great SHEPHERD is a Restorer. HE brings us back to a former condition (Gen 5:1, Eph 4:22-24, Rom 12:2), and HE gives back what was lost (Joe 2:25-27). As HE did with:

  • The Shunammite woman who lost her child through death (2 Kin 4:31-37), and later her house and field through famine (2 Kin 8:1-6)
  • Each one of us who trusts in JESUS (Jhn 3:16) and faithfully obeys HIM (Jhn 3:36), are restored to grace (Rom 5:15-21), reconciled to GOD (Rom 5:8-11), given eternal life (Gen 2:17, Jhn 6:40), and access to the tree of life (Gen 3:21-24, Rev 22:1-5).

We are finally introduced to a company of prophets living in Gilgal (2 Kin 4:38-44). This company of prophets faced death twice, first because of the scarcity of food during the famine (2 Kin 4:38), and second when one of the prophets gathered poisonous gourds (or a plant called a “squirting cucumber” which has a very bitter taste and is poisonous) cut them up, and put them into the pot (2 Kin 4:39). When the prophets began to eat the stew they cried out to Elisha for help (2 Kings 4:40). Our Great SHEPHERD and Keeper protected the prophets from death (Psa 68:20), by using HIS servant Elisha to throw meal into the pot which miraculously made the stew edible.

Our Beloved LORD GOD protected the prophets from death (2 Kings 4:41), and later provided for them by blessing what was not near enough for 100 men to eat, into more than enough (2 Kin 4:42-44). HE not only protected and provided for the company of prophets, HE protected and provided for the nation of Israel at Marah (Exd 15:22-25), and for all HIS creation (Psa 136:25, Luk 6:35, Mat 5:45). But for those who trust in HIM (Psa 28:7, Pro 16:20, Jer 17:7, Jhn 5:24, Jhn 12:44-45), HE also provides spiritual (Jhn 14:16, Jhn 14:26-27) and eternal support (Jhn 14:1-3, 1 Jhn 2:25).

Those who trust in The LORD

Are as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever

As the mountains surround Jerusalem

So The LORD surrounds HIS people

From this time forth and forever

Psalm 125:1-2

Map of Mount Carmel, Shunem and Gilgal

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