This lesson follows in the series about the prophet Elijah. The story picks up where Elisha helps a widow who has no money to pay a debt her husband owed. This lesson was prepared for older elementary students in mind. The lesson can be adapted for younger student and can be used as a Children’s Church lesson. It would also work as a Sunday School lesson about Elisha and the widow. Please leave your feedback in the comment form at the bottom of this post. At the end of the lesson are additional resources to help you plan for the individual needs of your classroom.
Scripture: 2 Kings 4:1-7
Target Age: 3rd-5th Grade
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- Students will learn that they can ask God for help in times of need because He is able to abundantly provide for our needs.
- Whatever gift or talent students have is not insignificant for God to use in His Kingdom.
- Students will learn that as believers God can use them to help others in their time of need.
Ephesians 3:20 NIV “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.
A hymn that could be used along with this lesson is Little Is Much when God is in it.
Elisha Helps a Widow Bible Lesson
(Before beginning the Bible Lesson provide Bibles for the students who do not have one so they can have an open Bible to the passage and can participate when asked to read verses from the passage.)
Activity to introduce lesson:
In a bag have items that would represent difficulties children may face. (Divorce (2 toy houses), death of a loved one (framed picture), death of a pet (stuffed animal), a friend moves away, moving away, sickness, loss of a friendship, unkind children, and not doing well in school are some examples.) As a student comes and draws something from the bag ask the following questions: How do those difficult situations make you feel? Who do you go to for help when you feel sad, angry, or all alone?
God is always available to help us when we are facing a difficult problem. He knows our deepest needs and gives us exactly what we need, unlike anyone on this earth can do.
Let’s open our Bibles to 2 Kings 4. This morning in our Bible lesson we are back in our study on Elisha (See Elijah rides chariot for review if needed). Last week in our lesson God gave Elisha a double portion of Elijah’s spirit when he was taken up in a chariot to heaven.
(Note for teacher: In researching for this lesson I came across sources that indicate that Obadiah may have been the prophet who died. (Here is one of the sources that I read: Josephus) Sometimes it helps draw interest in a story if a character has a name. It is important to emphasize if you choose to say that some believe the prophet may have been Obadiah make sure that you explain that the Bible doesn’t speak clearly on the matter. The students need to know that the Bible is our final authority and since it doesn’t say we don’t know for sure who the prophet in this passage is.
If you want to use Obadiah in the story you could start your lesson by saying, “If you have been studying the life of Elijah with us you may remember Obadiah. Obadiah was a man who worked in Ahab’s palace. He protected 100 of God’s prophets by hiding them in 2 caves and feeding them food and water. Some think the man who died from 2 Kings 2:1 is Obadiah. Since the Bible doesn’t clearly tell us what this man’s name is we can’t be sure. For our story this morning let’s call this man Obadiah.”
(If you choose not to use that method the following lesson doesn’t assume Obadiah as the prophet.)
When Elisha and Elijah ministered together before Elijah went to heaven, they trained a group of men in different places how to teach God’s Word to the people. It was kind of like Bible colleges of our day except it was groups of men who were prophets of that time. These men were called the sons of the prophets (NIV uses company of the prophets). Many of these men had families to take care of as well as learn how to teach God’s Word.
One day something very sad happened to one of these families. The father, one of the sons of the prophets died. He left behind a wife and two sons. They were very saddened by his death. After this man died there was a knock at the widow’s door. It was a man who was looking for money that her husband owed him. Her husband had an unpaid bill with this man. The man wanted his money now. “I am sorry sir, I have no money to pay you the money my husband owed” the widow may have said. “Well, ma’am since you don’t have the money to pay your husbands debts, the law says I can take your two sons as full payment for his debt. I will make them my slaves for the debt your husband didn’t pay.”
How do you think this widow felt at this news? Her husband had just died and now she was going to lose her only 2 sons. What could she do? She had no money and nothing to offer this man to pay the debt that was owed.
She knew that Elisha was God’s prophet. He could help her. When we have a need we should go to someone who believes and trusts in God for help. The widow went to Elisha and said, “Your servant, my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord. Now that he is dead the man he owed money to is going to take my sons away to be his slaves!”
“How can I help you?” Elisha asked this sad widow. “What do you have in your home that you could sell to make money?”
“All I have is a jar of oil.”
Sometimes we may feel like this widow that what we have is something that is insignificant for God to use. (Examples: I can’t sing but I enjoy sharing with others what God is teaching me from His Word. I can’t play sports well but I do like to write notes and send them to people I know.) As we learn from this story today listen to how God used what the widow had to see that what we see as little or insignificant is much if God is involved.
(Note for teacher about the value of oil in Biblical times.
“Oil in Palestine, during Elisha’s time, was used both as a luxury and as a
necessity. The Egyptians were known to use oil extracted from vegetables and
animals. The most common type of oil was olive oil. The olives were sometimes beaten (Leviticus 24:2), sometimes trodden (Micah 6:15), but generally crushed in a mill designed for that purpose. Olive oil was used almost every day by everyone. It was expensive because it was time-consuming to make. One olive tree will yield about ten gallons of oil a year.
There were many purposes for the oil. It was used for lighting, medicinal
purposes, cooking, and even for cosmetics and soaps. In the tabernacle, pure
olive oil was used in the golden lampstand. Cuts and scrapes on animals and
humans would be rubbed with olive oil to help the healing process. Priests,
prophets, and the kings of Judah and Israel were anointed with the finest of olive oils. Queens would put it on their body.”
Elisha told the woman and her sons to go around to their neighbors and ask for as many empty jars as they could get. “When you get as many jars as you can, go into your house with your sons and close the door. Take the jar of oil that you have and begin to pour that oil into the empty jars that you have collected.”
The widow went home and did exactly what Elisha had instructed. She and her sons went knocking on their neighbors’ doors and asked them if they could borrow any empty jars that they had. When they had borrowed all the jars that they could find, the widow and her sons went inside and shut the door.
The widow picked up the small jar of oil that she had and began to carefully pour it into an empty jar that she had borrowed. Amazingly the jar filled with oil to the top. There was still oil left in the widow’s original jar. She went to the next empty jar and began filling it with oil. Again she was able to fill that jar with oil and still have oil in her original jar. Imagine how her sons felt as they were watching this miracle happen before their very own eyes! Their mother kept filling each and every empty pot that was in their house and she still had oil in her jar! She finally filled the last empty jar with oil.
The widow and her sons looked around at all the jars filled with oil that came from her one jar of oil. This was a miracle! God had provided in an amazing way! The widow ran to tell Elisha what had happened. He told her to go and sell her jars of oil and pay the debt her husband owed. With the money that would be left over she and her sons would be able to live on for a very long time.
It was a great day for the widow and her sons. They were faced with a very difficult situation and they had no way of getting out of their problem without God’s help.
All the widow owned was one jar of oil and God was able to use that oil and multiply it to meet the widow and her 2 sons’ needs. God takes whatever gift or talent you may have no matter how great or insignificant you may feel it is and use it in a great way to help others to know Him better.
As the widow went to the man to pay her husband’s debt I wonder if she shared how God provided so miraculously to give the needed money and also to have money to live on as well? As the widow and her sons returned the jars to their neighbors did they share God’s miraculous provision?
God went above and beyond what she or her sons could ever imagine! God was glorified through this widow’s difficulty. Everyone was able to see the miracle God performed by providing for this widow. When God helps you in your difficulties it’s important to share with others so they can see how much God loves and cares for His people.
The widow went to the right place to ask for help. She went to God’s servant and cried out for help. That’s true for us today. When we face difficulties in our lives we must cry out to God and ask Him for help. God may send us to a Christian we know who loves and obeys God so they can help us. God is waiting to answer and meet our every need.
If you are a Christian you are God’s servant. He can use you as He used Elisha to help someone who is in need. Will you pray that God will show you how you can help others in their time of need?
Check this article out for the importance of sharing the gospel with each Bible lesson: Share the Gospel
This story reminds me that we have something in common with the widow in our story. She had a debt she had no money to pay. She was helpless and could do nothing to change her circumstances on her own.
We have a debt that we can never pay on our own. We all have sinned against God and the payment for our sins is death. We cannot do anything to buy our way to heaven. We can’t be nice enough, honest enough, obedient enough or go to church enough to buy our way to heaven. The only way we can pay for our sins is by believing in Jesus. He died and paid for all of our sins with His sinless sacrifice on the cross. God raised Him from the dead and by faith in Jesus we can have the debt of our sin cancelled. Jesus Christ paid a debt that we owed with His own life. Have you trusted Him as your Savior and had your sins forgiven so you can live for all eternity with God? If not today you can by accepting Jesus as your Savior. Please talk to one of us before you leave so we can show you from the Bible how you can be saved.
If you have been saved, whom do you go to when you have a need that cannot be met? When have you seen God take care of your needs? Did He give you even more than you could’ve imagined? Did you thank Him? Will you share this with others so they can see God’s care for you? Do you shared others how God has helped you in your life? Do you show your thankfulness to God for all He has done for you by looking for ways to help others who are going through difficult times?
Close in prayer.
Game Activity for Review: Take a manila folder and divide top flap into 6 equal parts. Cut out 6 jar shapes and color and paste them in the 6 places. Number the 6 jars. Cut to edge the top of the folder making a flap out of each of the numbered jars. On the inside of the folder divide into 6 equal parts. Find 3 unique pot pictures (2 each) or if you are artistic you can draw 3 different jars (2 each) and place them in random order on the inside 6 spaces. How the students will use this is when they answer a question correctly they can come to the front of the class and open two different flaps looking for matching jars. If they find matching jars then leave the flaps open. If the jars don’t match close the flaps and go to the next question. Play the memory game until all the jars have been matched.
1. Who were the company of prophets/sons of the prophets?
2. What happened to one of the sons of the prophets?
3. Why did a man come to the widow’s house after her husband died?
4. Who did the widow go to for help?
5. What did Elisha instruct the widow to do?
6. What miracle took place at the widow’s house behind closed doors?
7. How did God provide above and beyond for this widow’s needs?
8. How is God honored or glorified when He meets our needs? (We see His power and thank Him, We grow in our faith and walk closer to Him, others see His provision and want to know Him better)
Here is a way you can show God that you are thankful for all He has done for you. You can begin by looking for ways to help others in need and remember this acrostic of HELP. Have HELP acrostic on the board and fill in as you discuss each letter.
(Helpless: Unable to help oneself; Lacking support or protection. The definition of helpless makes us realize that there are many people all around us that need help.)
H-Hands to serve someone in need.
(Let students act out ways they can use their hands to help someone in need.)
E-Ears to hear that someone needs help.
(Let students give examples of things they might learn about someone who has a need.)
L-Lips to speak encouragement to those in need.
(Let children share Scriptures that could encourage someone in need. If they aren’t familiar with such verses bring some prepared verses written on pieces of paper that they can look up and read.)
P-Pray for people in need.
(Close this activity for praying for specific people that you and the class know that are in need.)
- Daily Devotions from Elisha
- Coloring page of jars
- Coloring page of jar
- Mission Arlington Teacher’s Lesson
- Calvary Chapel Coloring page/Puzzles
- Bible Lesson Activity