Nowhere in the scriptures will you find the idea of a “righteous (צדק, tsaw-dek) woman (אשׁת, ish-shah);” for the woman was created to obey her man, not Yehovah. What you will find is how a woman is described in Proverbs 31; a worthy woman.
Who Can Find A Worthy Woman?
Who can find a worthy woman? For her value is far above rubies. (Pro 31:10)
Here is a wonderful story about a worthy woman who appears to be married to a man who does not do righteousness but allows his woman to both learn it and do it. This woman, because of her faithful actions, becomes a blessing for her whole family both in the short-term and in the long-term. This story begins in 2 Kings chapter 4 verses 8 through 37 and concludes in chapter 8 verses 1 through 6.
The woman and her husband are wealthy and live in the land of Issachar and in the town of Shumen. There is no name given to her, she is simply called the “Shunammite woman.” Most of Israel at this point in time is not following Yehovah and His eternal and unchanging ways, kinda like our world today; their king is a wicked one and they, Israel, are under constant attack from Syria.
The story begins with the Shunammite woman recognizing a holy man of Elohim and providing for his needs. She feeds him regularly.
Now it happened one day that Elisha went to Shunem, where there was a rich woman, and she persuaded him to eat some food. So it was, as often as he passed by, he would turn in there to eat some food. (2Ki 4:8)
But this worthy woman wants to do more for this holy man of Elohim; so she petitions her husband and they build a place for the man of Elohim to stay when he comes to their area. She says,
Please, let us make a small upper room on the wall; and let us put a bed for him there, and a table and a chair and a lamp-stand; so it will be, whenever he comes to us, he can turn in there.” (2Ki 4:10)
This holy man of Elohim wanted to return the kindness that this worthy woman has shown him but she appeared to have all she needed, except a son. So he tells her that she will receive a son at the moed (the appointed time) the following year.
So he said, “What then is to be done for her?” And Gehazi answered, “Actually, she has no son, and her husband is old.” (2Ki 4:14)
Then he said, “About this time next year you shall embrace a son.” And she said, “No, my lord. Man of Elohim, do not lie to your maidservant!” But the woman conceived, and bore a son when the appointed time [מועד, moed], the time of life, as he had spoken her. (2Ki 4:16-17)
Time went by, and one day while the son is working with his father in the field, he is suddenly struck with pain and since the father does not see a problem he sends his son to his wife (his woman) for care.
And the child grew. Now it happened one day that he went out to his father, to the reapers. And he said to his father, “My head, my head!” So he said to a servant, “Carry him to his mother.” (2Ki 4:18-19)
But while the child is in her lap he dies and she then lays him on the bed of the Elohim’s man.
When he had taken him and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died. And she went up and laid him on the bed of the Elohim’s [האלהים] man [אישׁ], shut the door upon him, and went out. (2Ki 4:20-21)
Now this is the point where, for me, this story really got interesting.
Rather than telling her unbelieving husband that his son has died, she requests that he let her go to talk with the Elohim’s man. I say that this man is an “unbelieving husband” because of the way she phrases her request of him and the response he has. It is interesting also that she never lets the words that her child has died come out of her mouth; instead she says, “it is well.”
She said: ‘Send me, I pray thee, one of the servants, and one of the asses, that I may run to the Elohim’s man, and come back.’ So he said, “Why are you going to him today? It is neither the new moon nor the Sabbath.” And she said, “It is well.” (2Ki 4:22-23)
Please notice three things: This man knows when the new moon is, he knows when the Sabbath is; but it does not appear that he has the habit of learning from the Elohim’s man on either of those set-apart days, days in which the righteous do no work, nor those who dwell with them. She, however, does!
This worthy woman also acts only with her unbelieving husband’s permission. First she asked her husband, “Please, let us make a small upper room on the wall” and now she says “I pray thee” for his permission for her to leave, to take a servant and an ass with her to see the Elohim’s man.
Finally, I am not a big “name it and claim it” kind of guy and I understand well that Yehovah does not even hear the prayer of a wicked man; but I do think it is interesting that the words that came out of her mouth when she talked to her husband and when she talked to Elisha were “it is well.”
After a very rough 20 mile ride (one way) to Mount Carmel, Elisha sees her coming and sends his servant to her.
Please run now to meet her, and say to her, ‘Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with the child?’ ” And she answered, “It is well.” (2Ki 4:26)
Now, she comes to Elisha, but does NOT tell him that her child has died. She communicates her distress another way.
Now when she came to the man of Elohim at the hill, she caught him by the feet, but Gehazi came near to push her away. But the Elohim’s man said, “Let her alone; for her soul is in deep distress, and Yehovah has hidden it from me, and has not told me.” So she said, “Did I ask a son of my lord? Did I not say, ‘Do not deceive me’?” (2Ki 4:27-28)
She refers to Elisha as “my lord” and he refers to Elohim as Yehovah! I found it interesting to see that the name of the town that this Shunammite woman comes from is Shumen which means in Hebrew “two resting-places.”
This part of the story finishes with Elisha going back with her and raising her son from the dead.
I’m sure after this miracle occurred that the husband, and the surrounding area, was made aware of yet another wonder that Elisha had done. But while this may seem like the end of the story it is actually the beginning of the ongoing providential work of Yehovah on behalf of this worthy woman and her family.
2nd Kings chapter 8 begins with a Elisha warning the Shunammite woman that a seven-year famine is coming to the area.
Then Elisha spoke to the woman whose son he had restored to life, saying, “Arise and go, you and your household, and stay wherever you can; for Yehovah has called for a famine, and furthermore, it will come upon the land for seven years.” So the woman arose and did according to the saying of the Elohim’s man, and she went with her household and dwelt in the land of the Philistines seven years. (2Ki 8:1-2)
Because of the woman’s faithfulness, and the trust that Elisha has now established with her husband, they take his counsel and leave their home and land and move their family to the land of the Philistines for seven years. But upon their return, seven years later, the family home and land seems to have been taken over by others; and the woman goes to see the king in order to get her home and land back.
It seems odd to me that she and her son would go to the king instead of her husband. Was it because her elderly husband had died during that time and her son is the heir to the land? It was certainly providential that she and her son were the ones to go to the king.
It came to pass, at the end of seven years, that the woman returned from the land of the Philistines; and she went to make an appeal to the king for her house and for her land. (2Ki 8:3)
At the very same time that the worthy woman, with her son, are on their way to see the king, Elisha’s servant is meeting with him and the king is asking about all the miracles that Elisha has done. Just as the servant mentions the son being raised from the dead, the woman shows up at the king’s door and the servant says “this is the woman and this is her son!”
Then the king talked with Gehazi, the servant of the Elohim’s man, saying, “Tell me, please, all the great things Elisha has done.” Now it happened, as he was telling the king how he had restored the dead to life, that there was the woman whose son he had restored to life, appealing to the king for her house and for her land. And Gehazi said, “My lord, O king, this is the woman, and this is her son whom Elisha restored to life.” (2Ki 8:4-5)
Amazing! Only Yehovah could orchestrate these events to bless this worthy woman (and her family) who took care of the Elohim’s man and always acted with the consent of her husband. Because of her kind and obedient acts she, being apparently barren, received an heir, helped the family survive a famine and preserved their home and land for her son and his seed.
And when the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed a certain officer for her, saying, “Restore all that was hers, and all the proceeds of the field from the day that she left the land until now.” (2Ki 8:6)
To me this is a Proverbs 31 woman in action.