Shunammite Couple Example
On Respect, Honor, and Trust
Mutual respect and trust among Shunammite couple placed them in position to receive God’s blessing. The woman met Elisha, recognized his needs, and persuaded her husband to do what they could to alleviate the needs. The woman respected and honored her husband as family leader and the man respected and honored his wife as spiritual gateway for the family. They provided food and shelter to Elisha, thus, establishing a long-term relationship with him that brought them abundant blessing. Through the events, the woman showed she respected and honored her husband as family leader. Also, the man showed he respected and honored his wife as spiritual gateway for the family.
We begin a study series on Husband Wife Interactions, whereby we seek understanding of God’s purpose for husband-wife relationships. The study will be based on couples described in the bible. We will examine events from their life to understand how their responses may have contributed to subsequent events. Can we surmise the later events represent a blessing triggered by their responses in earlier events? Or maybe an adversity that could be construed as an unpleasant prelude to subsequent blessing or apparent punishment for earlier misbehavior. Whatever the case, we expect to gain insight into husband-wife interactions: to understand aspects of a couple’s behavior more likely to bring them closer to fulfilling God’s purpose for them, their children, and the broader human community.
Interactions between husband and wife affect how they relate to other people, both outside and within their home, especially, their children. What children learn at home influences how they relate to themselves, other people, and their environment. God created husband and wife at the core of the family unit and gave them the responsibility to direct their children to “keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just” so the children may become vehicles for conveyance of God’s promises [Genesis 18:19]. Interactions between husband and wife are important to their fulfilling the family training responsibility of bringing up children to “keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just.”
Our first study in the series focuses on interactions between the Shunammite woman and her husband. As we discuss in a previous bible study under Shunammite Woman Overcomes Adversity, the Shunammite couple developed a lasting close relationship with man of God Elisha and were blessed through their life because of the encounter: the woman gave birth to a son at a time they reasonably would not have expected a child because of the husband’s advanced age, the son was restored to life after sudden and premature death, the family escaped severe famine that ravaged their land for several years, and regained property they lost during sojourn abroad to escape the famine. Our previous study of the Shunammite womand focused on interactions between her and Elisha but also pointed to interactions between her and her husband as the events developed.
The current study focuses on the husband-wife interactions to understand their responses to the events. We find that their interactions were based on mutual recognition and respect for each other’s leadership of specific aspects of family life. The wife recognized and respected her husband’s leadership in over-all family affairs, whereas the husband recognized his wife as the family’s spiritual gateway and not only yielded to but relied on her spiritual leadership. We discuss their interactions through specific events in their life to show they trusted, relied on, and supported each other’s judgment in providing leadership according to the divided responsibilities.
GODLINESS OPENS OPPORTUNITIES Ruth’s interactions with the community during her first season in Bethlehem highlight humility, politeness, respect for authority, sensitivity to needs around her, and persistent effort at contributing what she could to alleviate the needs. The interactions opened opportunities for her to step into the life for which she is known today. As we discuss in a subsequent bible study, the events that happened during this time led to Ruth marrying Boaz, becoming the grandmother of David, therefore, a grandparent in the lineage of Christ. Ruth’s Godliness opened opportunities for fulfillment of a grand blessing in her life.
This installment of our study series on Ruth focuses on events that occurred during the first season after her arrival in Bethlehem. Her interactions with mother-in-law Naomi and with family relative Boaz highlight the value of humility, politeness, respect for authority, sensitivity to needs around her, commitment to doing what she could to alleviate the needs, and persistent diligence at accomplishing her task.
Ruth and Naomi arrived in Bethlehem during barley harvest. Having been away for a long time, they likely faced economic hardship because they did not have any farm to harvest. Ruth recognized their hardship and determined to do what she could to alleviate the condition. With the approval of her mother-in-law, she decided to go gleaning (i.e., picking grains leftover from regular harvesting) in any farm that would accept her. She was accepted at the first farm she applied, which happened to belong to Boaz, a close relative of Naomi’s husband. Boaz did not only welcome her in his farm but also offered her protection and preferential gleaning access, because of her humility, politeness, positive work habbit (diligence and persistent effort), and his prior knowledge of her positive interactions with Naomi.
In this bible study, we attempt to use information from the childhood of Jesus and other relevant bible passages to understand God’s purpose for parental responsibilities. We learn that God assigns parents responsibility to provide for the basic needs of children: physical basic needs (i.e., food and drink, clothing, and shelter), protection, and community values training.
CALL TO FAMILY TRAINING God issued his call to family training and definition of parents and parental responsibility when he appeared to Abraham in human form, accompanied by two angels. He said [Genesis 18:18–19]: “Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” Although spoken about Abraham in this account, the statement is applicable to all humankind and appears directed at defining parental responsibilities. The statement defines the responsibilities of a parent as consisting of two parts: first, providing for basic needs to bring up children; and second, training the children in the process, to direct them to follow the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Also, by corollary, the statement defines a parent as someone assigned the responsibility of providing this service to one or more children. Recall that parenthood is an appointment from God (see previous bible study at This_Link).
During trials in Jerusalem and Caesarea after his return from Ephesus, Paul demonstrated respect for Jewish laws and custom and for constituted authority. Also, he invoked his civil rights several times to win protection under the law.
BASIS FOR RESPECT FOR AUTHORITY As Paul explained in his letter to the Romans several years later [Romans 13:1–7], and Peter in his epistle [1 Peter 2:13-18], respect for authority is part of God’s mandate and a key aspect of Christian responsibilities to society. People in authority positions (such as president or prime minister, king or queen, governor, clergy, teacher, supervisor, parents, or any person in a position of leadership) help to preserve and propagate natural order and are God’s channels for protecting the good elements of society from the bad. Therefore, we honor God when we respect human authorities.
TWO-PART BIBLE STUDY In this two-part bible study, we discuss Paul’s trial in Jerusalem and Caesarea and subsequent transfer to Rome, to highlight interactions with his Jewish accusers and the Roman authorities and his invoking his rights of citizenship as part of his defense. The current discussion builds on the discussion of his Jerusalem trials in Part 1. Here, we discuss the trials in Caesarea and his transfer to Rome, where he preached the gospel as he did previously in Jerusalem, thereby fulfilling God’s promise to him regarding the trials.
RESPECT FOR AUTHORITY Respect for human authority is part of God’s mandate and a key aspect of the civil responsibilities of a Christian. As Apostles Peter [1 Peter 2:13–18] and Paul [Romans 13:1–7] explain, people in authority position; such as president or prime minister, king or queen, governor, clergy, teacher, supervisor, parents, or any person in a leadership position; have been assigned rights and responsibilities to preserve and propagate one or more aspects of natural order and to protect the good elements of society from the bad. Every authority has been established by God to serve one or more such purpose. Therefore, respect and honor for authority and for laws and customs that define or establish the authority is part of our responsibilities to society.
TWO-PART BIBLE STUDY This is a two-part study of Paul’s civil trials and defense after his return to Jerusalem from sojourn in Ephesus. The trials started in Jerusalem, continued in Caesarea, and eventually took him to Rome. During the trials, Paul demonstrated his respect for authority and invoked civil rights when necessary to support his defense. In Part 1 of the study, we look at his interactions with the authority and his accusers in Jerusalem. Part 2 discusses the trials in Caesarea and Paul’s transfer to Rome thereafter.
INVOCATION OF CIVIL RIGHTS At several points in the trial, Paul invoked his civil rights while respecting the authority and due process to influence the trial proceedings. In one remarkable example, his invocation of civil rights and respect for due process and the authority of Emperor Caesar triggered a chain of events that led to fulfilling God’s promise to him that he will proclaim the gospel in Rome as he did in Jerusalem. Going to Rome not only provided him an opportunity to extend his ministry there but also ended the trial that started in Jerusalem. Therefore, one can say that his respect for civil rights and responsibilities placed him in position to work in alliance with God.
Solomon respected and admired his father David and was humble toward the task of being king of Israel. Therefore, when he was presented an opportunity to ask anything from God, all he wanted was a wise and discerning heart to recognize right from wrong and govern effectively. God granted his request and, in addition, gave him extraordinary wealth and honor, so that “in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings” [1 Kings 3:13]. His determination to work close to God in order to govern Israel effectively was motivated by his respect and admiration for his father.