Death in the Pot!

Read: 2 Kings 4:38-41

Serve it to the people and let them eat. (v. 41 Jewish Publication Society)

It was a simple enough plan: just head out to the fields to see if they could find anything to put into the pot—the big pot—that the man of God had instructed them to fill with food, somehow, in the midst of a famine! What was he thinking? Someone found some wild gourds and sliced them into the stew. (It’s never a good idea to put unknown plants in your food.) No one had any idea they might kill the entire community.

As this story describes it, creation after the Fall is a long way from the Garden. Now the earth experiences famine and produces food that brings death instead of life. In a fallen world our hopes and expectations fall desperately short of reality. We taste the physical and communal consequences of radical disruption in creation. The question raised is this: Are the gifts of creation good enough to sustain God’s people?

Into this context Elisha manifests God’s abundant grace and providential care yet again. With a flick of the wrist, flour transforms the deadly stew into a life-sustaining meal. But the community is required to trust this is so before any evidence supports it. “Serve it to the people and let them eat,” Elisha says, after they have all cried, “Death in the pot!” In the end, God’s goodness prevails, death is defeated, the poison is undone, and the people eat and are satisfied. —Travis West

As you pray, thank God for the goodness of creation.

About the Author

Travis West

Travis West is the Associate Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at Western Theological Seminary.