At the opening of this chapter, the evil king of Israel, Jehoram, is consulting with the greedy and self-motivated former servant of Elisha, Gehazi. Jehoram is hoping for some juicy stories about Gehazi’s master and the wonders Elisha has done. Notice that neither the king nor Gehazi acknowledge the One who performed the miracles, which reveals that neither of them were interested in praising God or giving Him glory for these miracles. Yet God will still use them to bring glory to himself.
Into the scene enters the Shunammite woman who had provided for Elisha, who had been blessed with a son, and then seen the prophet raise her son from death. Imagine if she had arrived a month earlier or later. Imagine if she had simply pleaded her case at some other time, explaining they fled the country due to the famine and are now returning and want their land and possessions back. It seems unlikely that Jehoram would have acted on her behalf, given his character, except that she provided something he was interested in at that moment — a story about the miracles of Elisha.
God is able to choreograph even the actions of unbelievers to provide for his children. While Jehoram and Gehazi were simply pursuing their own interests, God orchestrated the conversation so that the woman could enter at just the right moment to corroborate Gehazi’s story, and then plead her case to a more favorably-inclined Jehoram.
There are still so many questions about this scene. Why was the woman appearing before the king, yet there is no mention of her husband? In the time period and culture, that seems unusually bold. The text says, “she and her family” went away, but it only says, “at the end of seven years she came back.” Had her husband and son died? Given the age of her husband when her son was born, that seems likely. Did her son remain in the land of the Philistines? Without a husband or a son, she would be destitute without the possessions they had abandoned when they left to escape the famine.
The Shunammite woman had seen God do unbelievable things. God had given her a son when her husband was very old. God had brought that son back to life when he died suddenly. God had warned her of the coming famine and saved her through it. These past experiences gave her the boldness to expect God to do great things for her again.
To move the heart of a pagan king to provide justice.
Perhaps that was the greatest miracle she experienced.