2 Kings 4:10
Let us make a little chamber, I pray you, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick…
I. HOW DID THIS LITTLE CHAMBER COME TO BE? It originated in the quick and clear perception of this woman of Shunem. "I perceive," she said to her husband, "that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually." I don't know that any very unusual faculty of perception was necessary for this. A much inferior person might have made the same observation as she made, but few would have made it in the same sense, and with the same fulness of meaning. What is said in one of the psalms, of the gods of the heathen, is true of too many human creatures. "They have eyes, but they see not." They see the mere forms of things but not the inhering, underlying substance. They see the outward movements of things, but not the inward significance. And suppose different people looking out of the window; will they all see alike? We know they will not. Why, there are some people who could see the same persons pass for year after year and never make an inference. "They have their own reasons, no doubt, for passing and repassing — what is that to me?" There are other people who could not see them pass many days without having certain conjectures about them, and beginning to take an interest in them; we mean not the barren interest of a mere curiosity, which is common enough, but the deeper concern of the heart. "That little boy is in a situation, for he passes the window daily at the same time. This woman who is going by is paler day by day, and wears sorrow on her face. Perhaps she has some great home care. Or she is brighter and happier, things are better with her." The "perceiving," the observing eye, is the gate of knowledge, the quickener of sympathy, the informer to benevolence. It brings before the benevolent heart the material on which it can act. It is at least the hewer of wood and the drawer of water to nobler faculties than itself.
II. IMMEDIATE ACTION IS TAKEN. This action gives expression to the good impulse which attended so very closely on the quick perception. "Let us make a little chamber." There is a pleasure in seeing, simply as seeing. It is good to know men and things somewhat correctly; but the higher pleasure is later born, and is always associated with doing and with duty. And these two pleasures God hath joined together, although men are always rending them asunder. And so men, looking at the same things, take different courses. From the same point apparently they diverge — one along the pathway of duty and activity and helpfulness; and another by a shorter circuit, back again idly to the post of observation. "Whatsoever thine hand findeth to do, do it." Make your little chamber, whatever it be, for helpfulness to others, as long as help can be given in that way.
III. DO NOT THINK OF THESE DUTIES OF HELPFULNESS AS INVOLVING GREAT EXERTION, OR VERY CONSIDERABLE EXPENDITURE OF TIME OR MONEY. It is not so. It is even in some cases very much the reverse, as in this case of the good Shunammite. Her gift, after all, is very simple, and to herself and her husband very inexpensive. And yet I think I see something on the walls — one, two, three inscriptions at any rate are there — only a single word in each. Now we don't need this famous room for rest or for writing, but we do need it very much for some higher purpose. Let us stay in it for a very little time until we can read together these inscriptions.
1. Considerateness is the first. There was evidently a thoughtful and respectful considerateness in the way this gift was offered to Elisha. Another word surely we can see in this little room, if we look — the word,
2. Simplicity. Nothing, in its way, could be simpler than this room and its furniture. "A bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick." Of course this chamber was only for a passing traveller and not for a permanent resident. But how easy it is to make a grand display for a passing traveller! Monarchs have been known before now to impoverish some noble families by accepting from them a munificence of hospitality beyond their means. And should we be wrong in supposing that the simplicity of this one chamber is, after all, but the expression of a simplicity that reigned through the whole house of this good woman in Shunem? "How many things," said Socrates, "there are which I do not need!" "How many things" there are, which, although we do need them a little, we can yet do very well without! Here is a bed, and that meets the need of almost one-third of our whole time here on earth. Here is a table, and that meets the need — for intellectual persons, for commercial men, and for some workmen — of another third of our time. If I am neither sleeping, working, nor eating, and yet am detained in-doors, I cannot stand all day; well, here is a stool to sit on and think, or think of nothing. Year in and out, there are twelve hours of dark to pass through, — well, here is a candlestick, or lamp, with oil in it — light it, and let it burn. And so we are at the end of the inventory! Beautiful simplicity! There is just one word more I want you to decipher, and that is the word,
3. Contentment. The whole history of this chamber shows that an unusual contentment reigned in this home. If the inmates had been dissatisfied or ambitious, here is a fine opportunity to advance themselves. The very ladder of elevation comes within their reach. A word from the prophet would set them almost anywhere.
(A. Raleigh, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick: and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither.