Elisha and Shunammite Woman (Sunday School Lesson)

This lesson is based on the story where a Shunammite woman provides a room for Elisha to stay.  God rewards her kindness by giving her a son.  The son dies and God raises him through Elisha. The lesson is prepared for upper elementary age students and can be modified for younger students or used for Children’s Church.  Be sure to check out the additional resources linked at the end of this lesson plan.

Target Age: 3rd-5th Grade

Scripture: 2 Kings 4:8-37

Learning Objective(s): Students will learn . . .

  • That showing kindness is something every believer should do. (Romans 12:13, Galatians 5:13, Galatians 6:10, 1 Peter 4:9)
  • That God rewards those who serve others.
  • God can bring good out of our difficulties.

Memory Verse: “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with action and in truth.”  1 John 3:18

Optional: Download our free “Stories of Elijah” coloring page

Learning Activities: At the end of the lesson there are additional resources for you to personalize activities for your class.

For the memory verse activity you could play charades. Have slips of paper with different activities that show love and place them in a lunch bag. Have students draw a slip of paper and act out what it says. (An example for students: Make bed. After the students guess the action the teacher can include that this act of kindness of keeping their rooms picked up would help their parents if unexpected guests needed a place to stay.)

Elisha and Shunammite Woman Bible Story Lesson

  • Have a map to show students where Shunem is located.
  • Have Memory Verse written on the board or a large piece of paper so students can see it.  Before beginning the Bible lesson read the verse together a couple of times.

The following is an example of how I would teach the story to my class. Be sure to prepare yourself to tell the Bible story in your own words in a way that will connect with your class.  If possible, memorize the key points of your lesson and only use your open Bible for reference.

Today in our story from the Bible we will see an example of people who love God and the proof of their love is seen through their actions.

Let’s turn in our Bibles to 2 Kings 4:8-37. (Make sure each student has a Bible and guide them to the passage of Scripture in 2 Kings 4. It is important for each student to have their Bibles open so they can follow along with you as you tell the story and point out verses for them to volunteer to read.)

How do you know if someone really loves you?  Usually people will say that they love you.  We know that people really love us by the way they act.  If they are saying with their mouth that they love us but with their actions they are being unkind we don’t really feel that loved.

God loves us.  He tells us that He loves us in His Word.  God has not only told us in His Word that He loves us but He has shown us His great love for us by allowing His Son to die for all of our sins.  God backed up His Words with action.

If we believe in Jesus we have received the greatest love the world has ever known.  As Christians we have a great gift to share with others around us.  We cannot just tell people that God loves them.  People need to see God’s love through our actions.  If our actions don’t back up our words people won’t know how much God truly loves them.

Our story today is a great example of how love is backed up with action.

In a small village called Shunem lived a woman. (Show the location of Shunem on a map.)  She was well known in this small village.  Maybe she was well known by some because she and her husband were very rich.  Maybe she was well known because she made important decisions in the village. What makes her special and well known to us today is that she was remembered by God and recorded in God’s eternal word for many people to hear about her story.  This woman’s importance to God was more than how much money she had or whether she made important decisions in her village.  How she lived her life and showed her love for Him was very important.  How she used what God had given her on this earth and how she treated others was of great importance to God.

Elisha the prophet of God lived during the time that this Shunammite woman lived.  He would travel the dusty roads going from village to village doing the work of God.

One day as Elisha passed through the village of Shunem the Shunammite woman had prepared a meal for her and her husband to eat.  When she caught a glimpse of Elisha walking through town she greeted him and invited him to her house for dinner. Elisha was a humble servant of God and did not want to be any extra trouble to this woman so he may have said, “That’s so very kind of you, but I don’t want to be of any trouble to you and your husband.”  The woman urged Elisha and said, “Please come, we have plenty to eat and we would love to have you in our home to rest from the heat of the day.”

Elisha accepted the Shunammite’s invitation and joined her and her husband for a delicious meal.  They must have spent time visiting and learning about the different things that God had been doing through Elisha as he travelled from town to town.

The kindness of the Shunammite woman by opening her home to Elisha was a gift from God to him.  The Shunammite woman and her husband received a gift too. As they visited with this man of God in their home they heard of the work God was doing in the surrounding towns and villages.

Elisha would say good bye and thank the woman for inviting him over for dinner. He would leave their home and continue to travel to share God’s message.

Each time Elisha was in Shunem he stopped in and visited the Shunammite woman and her husband and ate dinner with them.  Elisha’s time spent with this family grew into a deep friendship with them.

The Shunammite woman loved to have Elisha visit and it must have been sad to see him leave when it was time for him to go.  She must have thought about what his life was like as God’s prophet.  As he traveled he didn’t have places to stay unless someone offered him to stay with them.  Otherwise Elisha spent the night sleeping on the ground beneath the starry sky.  While pondering what Elisha’s travels might have been like the woman had an idea.  Before she would make any decisions she took her idea to her husband.  He was the leader of her home and she wanted to check with him to make sure what she wanted to do was something he would approve of.

Perhaps, one night as they sat eating dinner alone she looked across the table and said to her husband, “I know that Elisha is a holy man of God. God has given Elisha power to do great things in the towns and villages he visits.  We have heard of those great things each time he visits. I have been thinking that we could build a room on the roof of our house so that not only can Elisha eat dinner with us when he is traveling through Shunem but he can also have a place to stay.  This would his room with a bed, table, chair and lamp so that he can have a place to study God’s Word and rest comfortably.”

The Shunammite’s husband agreed that they should do that. They called for some workers to come to their house and to build a comfortable room for the man of God.

As Elisha traveled he brought along a helper with him.  His helper’s name was Gehazi.  As Elisha travelled from town to town Gehazi went with him to help him with whatever he might need.

Imagine Elisha’s surprise the next time he travels through Shunem.  He already knows that he will enjoy a sweet time of visiting while he eats a delicious meal with the Shunammite woman and her husband.

As Elisha arrives at the Shunammite’s house he notices something is different.  On the top of their already beautiful home is a newly constructed room.

As Elisha entered their house they had smiles of joy as they told him to follow them back outside.  They could hardly wait to show Elisha what their surprise was.  Outside they took him up a set of stairs and opened the door to the new room on the roof.  They stepped back and told Elisha to go in.  As he walked through the door he saw a room with a bed, table with a lamp and a chair.  “This is for you Elisha.  We want you to have your own quiet place to rest and study when you are in Shunem.”

Elisha turned to the couple and thanked them for their kindness to him.  He never asked for such a nice place to stay and this kind family provided him a warm, dry place to stay while in Shunem.

The kindness of the Shunammite woman was such a gift to Elisha.  Not every one Elisha met treated him with such kindness and generosity.

As Elisha sat in his room he looked over at Gehazi and said, “I would like to do something to repay this woman for her kindness.  Could you go and ask the woman if there is anything she needs or if there is anything we can ask the king to do for her?”  Gehazi went to the woman and asked her what Elisha could do for her.  She said she didn’t need anything.  She was content to live with her family in Shunem.

Gehazi returned to Elisha and said, “The woman is content and asked for nothing.”

“She has gone through so much trouble for me.  There has to be something I can do to reward her for her kindness,” Elisha replied.

Gehazi thinks out loud, “Well, her husband is quite old and she has no children…”

“That’s it Gehazi!  She has no children!  If anything were to happen to her husband she would be left all alone and have no one to care for her.  Call her here quickly!”

Gehazi brings the Shunammite woman to stand before Elisha.  Elisha looked at this kind woman.  This woman loved God deeply and it was evident by her generous spirit to him.  Elisha knew that what he was about to say was from God Himself because as a man Elisha has no power to do such a thing.  With the same excitement the woman and her husband must have had as his room was shown to Elisha, he said, “This time next year you will give birth to a son.”

The Shunammite’s mouth fell open. She gasped and furrowed her brow as she looked at this man of God. “No, please don’t lie to me!  You are a man of God!”

This woman had been married for years and each year that her and her husband did not have a child they both came to accept with sadness that they would never have children. For a woman the sadness to know that she would never hold a child in her arms was not easy to accept. This Shunammite woman must have accepted a long time ago that it was not God’s plan for her to have a child. So when Elisha said that she was going to have a child this sounded too good to be true.

Elisha’s words were not made-up man’s words, they were God’s words and when God promises something it always happens.

Many years before it actually happened, God had promised He would send a Savior to the world.  Hundreds of years passed and the Messiah had not come.  One night in the little town of Bethlehem a little baby boy was born.  God kept His promise and sent Jesus as the Savior of the world!

God always keeps His promises and just as Elisha had told the woman she had a baby boy the next year!  God is so good!  He rewards those who love Him and show His love to others.

This baby brought great joy to the woman and her husband.  Whether they knew it or not they had been rewarded for their kindness to God’s prophet Elisha.  Their son was a miracle and only God could have allowed them to give birth to this precious gift.

The couple enjoyed watching their little boy grow.  As he got older he wanted so much to go with his father to the field where he worked.  One day the father took his young son to go with him to the fields.  He was not quite old enough to do grown-up work but he was thrilled to be with his father and to see all the men working.  As the sun rose in the sky it got warmer and warmer.  The little boy began to feel a little sick.  His father looked over to check on his son and he saw the young boy with his hands on his head.  He began to cry and say, “My head! My head”!  The father asked one of his helpers to take him quickly to his mother.  The servant picked the little boy up in his arms and moved quickly to the house.

The woman opened the door to see a worker from the field holding her son in his arms.  She reached out and took him and went into the house.  She sat in her chair rocking her baby boy in her arms.

Imagine what the Shunammite woman must have felt as she rocked her very sick child in her arms.  Perhaps tears streamed down her face as she knew he was a gift from God. As she rocked him maybe she prayed to God asking Him to heal her son.  Unfortunately at noontime her precious son died in her arms.

The woman was heartbroken.  Her son that God had promised to give her was dead.  How could this be happening?  She carried her son up the stairs and into the room that she had built for Elisha.  She went into his room and placed her son’s lifeless body on Elisha’s bed.  She left the room and closed the door behind her.

This woman had shown her love for God by showing kindness to Elisha.  She had been rewarded for her kindness by receiving a son.  Now her son was dead.  She was in a difficult situation.  God loved and cared for this woman and would still take care of her in her difficulty.

The woman had faith in God and knew that she needed to get to Elisha for help. The woman called to her husband in the field and asked him to send her a servant with a donkey. She told him that she wanted to go to Elisha.  He asked her if everything was ok and she said, “It is well.”

Her husband allowed her to go and she left with the servant and the donkey.  She told the servant to hurry and not to slow down unless she said. Elisha was up on Mt. Carmel.  He could see a rider in the distance approaching quickly on a donkey.  As the rider came into focus, Elisha recognized the woman as the woman from Shunem.  He turned to Gehazi and said, “Look! There is the woman from Shunem.  Run to her and ask her how she and her family are doing.”

When Gehazi got to the woman she told him everything was fine.  When she finally reached Elisha she got off her donkey and fell at his feet and held on to his feet.  Gehazi came over to hear and tried to push her away from Elisha but Elisha stopped him.  He said, “Something is wrong and the Lord hasn’t allowed me to know what it is.”

He looked at the woman to find out what she was so upset about.  She looked up at him with tears streaming down her face.  She said, “Didn’t I tell you not trick me about God giving me a son?  The son you asked for is now dead!” (Verse 28)

Elisha must have felt so sad for this woman.  He loved her and he had spent a lot of time with her in her home.  He had spent many hours teaching her about God.  He had spoken about how much God loved her.  This woman had been so kind and shared her home with him. Now she was suffering because her son had died.

Elisha knew that he had spoken about God and His love.  Now Elisha had an opportunity to really show God’s love.  Elisha sent Gehazi on ahead to the boy to lay his staff on his face.  The woman would not leave Elisha’s side and they headed back to her house together.

At the house Gehazi found the lifeless boy on Elisha’s bed.  He did as Elisha had instructed him and the boy was still dead.

Gehazi met Elisha when he arrived and said, “The child has still not awakened.”

Elisha went by himself up to his room on the room and closed the door behind him.  The sight of the lifeless boy must have been difficult to see.  He knew that God loved this little boy and his mother.  Elisha began to pray to God. He trusted that God could bring good out of this very difficult situation.

After praying, Elisha must have received God’s instructions on what to do.  Elisha stretched himself out on the child, placing his mouth on the child’s mouth, his eyes on the child’s eyes and his hands on the child’s hands.  He could feel warmth returning to the boy’s lifeless body.

Elisha got up and paced around the room.  Undoubtedly he was praying and asking God for wisdom in what to do.  Then he returned and stretched out on the boy once again.  This time the boy sneezed seven times!  God had used Elisha to bring this boy back to life again!

Elisha called out to Gehazi and when Gehazi came to the door, Elisha sent him to bring the mother quickly.  When the woman came to the room, imagine how thrilled she was to see her boy sitting up on the bed breathing and alive!  She knelt down at Elisha, the prophet of God’s feet to show her thankfulness for what God had done.  She then went over and picked up her son in her arms and carried him out of the room.

This family must have praised and worshiped God with great joy that day!  God had shown His love and power by bringing their son back to life.  They were glad they had a friend like Elisha, who not only told them about God and His love but he also showed them God’s love by caring for them and helping them in their difficulty.

Salvation Message:

You may not realize that everyday God is showing His love and kindness to you.  Over 2,000 years ago Jesus, God’s promised Savior did not stay that small infant born in Bethlehem.  He grew into a man who went from town to town teaching people about God’s Kingdom.  He performed many miracles showing people that He was God’s Son.  Jesus showed His great love for you and me by being nailed to a cross to be punished for my sins and your sins.  Because He died we do not have to be punished for our sins by being separated from God forever.  His death paid the price for your sins and mine.  Jesus was placed in a grave and three days later God raised Him from the dead.  Jesus is alive and is living in heaven with God the Father right now.  He loves you and wants you to be able to live forever in heaven.  He has shown His love and kindness by dying on the cross.  Now it’s up to you what you do with this gift of kindness.  Will you take God’s gift and accept by faith that Jesus died for your sins?  If you have never received the Gift of eternal life today is the day you can!

Close in prayer.

Review Questions

  1. How did the Shunammite woman and her husband show love for Elisha?
  2. What were some things that were placed in Elisha’s room?
  3. What was Elisha’s servant’s name?
  4. When Gehazi asked the woman what Elisha could give her to show his appreciation, what did she ask for?
  5. What promise did Elisha make for the woman?
  6. When the boy went out to the field with his father what happened?
  7. What did the woman do when her son died?
  8. How did Elisha help the woman?
  9. Who showed love in our story today?
  10. How did Elisha show God’s love?
  11. Why do you think it is important to show God’s love instead of just talking about it?
  12. How have you been rewarded by God for showing kindness to others?
  13. What are some things you are doing to show God’s love to others?

Additional Resources:

Need More Ideas? Check out some Bible coloring pages or find a craft for Sunday School.