Teachers’ Overview of Lifeway’s “Explore The Bible” lesson: II Kings 7:1-15 “God Provides”

(A brief overview for Sunday School teachers and Bible Study leaders, of Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible” lesson for July 31, 2022. Video version of these notes is available at:

INTRO: In 1776 George Washington and the Colonial army had the British penned in to the City of Boston after Bunker Hill, but things were beginning to get desperate. There had been virtually no good news for 6 months; they were woefully short of supplies of all kinds. Washington was very despondent. But all of the sudden came glad tidings: the American ship Lee captured a British supply ship Nancy just north of Boston. It was the first ship the new American Navy had actually captured. And it was loaded with military treasure: 2500 sets of arms, canon, mortar, bayonets, virtually everything they needed. Washington wrote to his aide-de-camp Joseph Reed, that it was “an instance of divine favor, for nothing surely ever came more apropos.” (David McCullough, 1776, p. 64) America’s founding fathers believed that God was a God who provided for them — and our lesson today from II Kings 7 reminds us that He indeed IS a Provider, not only for our country, but for our churches, and for us personally.

ANOTHER way you could begin would be to ask: have you ever been in a crisis situation where you saw some “price gouging” — Cheryl & I lived in SW Louisiana in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina & Rita, and we saw some of that. (600 businesses in SE Texas were prosecuted for “price gouging.”) You and your group could share some stories about when you’ve seen that —

THEN you can say: this morning we’re going to look at an EXTREME situation of price gouging in a crisis in Israel — but God turned it around in a moment and showed Himself to be a Providing God.

OR you could open by sharing stories of God’s provision that you & your class have experienced, though I might do that later.

CONTEXT: We were introduced to the ministry of EliSHA last week, with the healing of Naaman in II Kings. Now we are later in the ministry of Elisha, in the Northern Kingdom of Israel (the 10 tribes that broke away from Judah).

The immediate context is 6:24, where Ben-Hadad the King of Aram (or Syria, north of Israel) comes down begins a siege of Samaria, where Jehoram, a son of the wicked Ahab, is king of Israel. (Not to be confused with ANOTHER Jehoram, who is king of Judah, the southern Kingdom – that threw me for a while, so don’t let it throw you; there are TWO Jehorams!) So when it says “the king,” which it repeatedly does in this chapter, it is speaking of Israel’s King Jehoram, son of Ahab.)

So Ben-Hadad puts a siege around the city of Samaria and Jehoram. A “siege,” of course, is when an army comes to a city and doesn’t attack it directly, because its walls are too strong and it would be too costly militarily, so instead they just surround it and basically try to “starve it out.”

That’s what happened here. 6:25 tells how when the city was surrounded, of course food got scarce, so scarce it says: “a donkey’s head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and a fourth of a kab (about a pint) of dove’s dung was sold for 5 shekels. So talk about “price gouging” (if you don’t use those stories to open, you might ask for experiences about that here) that’s what was happening. It was a horrible situation — in fact, you can see how bad it was from the story in Chapter 6 of the woman who complains to the king that she and another woman made a pact to eat her son today, and the other woman’s tomorrow, so they ate her son — but the 2nd woman hid her son! That’s just unspeakably horrific!

So when King Jehoram hears this he gets mad at Elisha (why he was mad at HIM doesn’t make sense; but we often take our anger out on the wrong people) and says he is going to kill him.

THAT is the context for our focus passage today, II Kings 7.

So the chapter opens with Elisha sharing God’s word: “Thus says the LORD, ‘tomorrow about this time a measure of fine flour will be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel” — of course this would be a HUGE turnaround from the starvation/price gouging situation they were in.

And he says; “Thus says the LORD (YHWH).” GOD is going to do this; God is going to provide.

So Elisha announces God’s promise of provision. Israel had NOT been the most godly nation; Ahab the wicked king had been ruling there, and now his wicked son Jehoram. The people had been worshiping the Baals. But Elisha says, This siege is going to end; Yahweh is going to provide. It would be a witness to them of who the true God really was.

Our God is a God who provides. The title of this lesson is “God Provides.” And I would indeed make this a key emphasis for this week’s lesson, the Provision of God.

You COULD present the lesson through teaching a series of several different points, such as:

— The NEED for God’s Provision (the siege and starvation that was going on)

— The PROMISE of God’s Provision (the word of the Lord that God gave Elisha in :1

— The DOUBT of God’s provision (the royal officer who doubted in :2) There are always “naysayers” who doubt that God will do it.

— The sometimes UNUSUAL nature of God’s provision. Sometimes God provides in what we call “normal” ways: through the sun growing crops, water falling from the sky, our hard work — which, if you really think about it, all these are miraculous too! How does a ball of fire 93 million miles away grow food here? How does water fall from the sky regularly for us to drink — how did THAT come about? It is a continual miracle! How do we have the strength and energy and creativity to work. Even these “normal” things are all miracles of God’s provision.

But in addition to that, we often see unusual instances of God’s provision, like :5-8 of this passage describe, the Arameans thought another army had come upon them, and so they deserted their camp and left all their supplies behind. The lepers tell the king what they’d found, and they went out and got those supplies and God’s provision was given, just as He said, in a very unusual way.

So you could divide the passage up that way into those 4 points.

??? Somewhere in this lesson I think a good exercise for your group would be to share testimonies of God’s provision that you have all experienced over the years. For example:

— When Cheryl & I graduated from seminary, we were not called to a church right off. It would be over a year until we were. In the mean time, we had just had our first baby, we had had to move out of seminary housing, and I only had a part-time job, and it was a tough time financially. One month, we had just paid the electric bill, and we didn’t have enough for the rent, which was $500 and was due in a couple of days. A day or so later, we got a letter in the mail from a high school friend of Cheryl’s, and in the letter she included a check — for $500! Exactly what we needed for the rent!

— Another experience we had, a more long-term experience, was when I got sick in 2012. After a year of being pretty much bedfast, I had to step down as a full-time pastor, we had to sell our house and 2/3 of our possessions, and we moved to Oklahoma, we thought at time to take medical disability. It was a scary outlook, financially, from a human perspective. As it turns out, I started to get better and two years later I would go back into full-time ministry. But looking back over that two years, our testimony was like Israel in the wilderness: we didn’t lack a thing the whole time. God provided for us all along the way, and we were never in what you might call “financial distress.” He showed Himself, again, to be our Provider.

You yourself may have a testimony like that which you can share, and/or I’m sure numbers of your class members do as well, and you can share how He has provided for your church in years gone by too — because that is who God is; He is a Provider God. Spending some time in class sharing testimonies of God’s provision will remind everyone that this is NOT just a history lesson; God provides TODAY too!

Then I might go on to make this point:

One of the names of God that many of us love to use, is “Jehovah Jireh”: “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” is the personal name of God, and “Jireh” means “the Provider.”

(You may know the song, “Jehovah Jireh, my Provider, Your grace is sufficient for me, for me, for me …”. You could have that song playing as your members enter/leave class, or play at it some point.)

But the background for that name, Jehovah/YHWH Jireh, makes for another really good point for the class this week.

This name comes from Genesis 22, when God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. You might go back and review that story so you can tell it. But as they were on their way to the mountain to sacrifice, Isaac asks Abraham, where is the lamb for the burnt offering? In :8 Abraham says, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering.” Of course they get there, and Abraham stretches out his hand to take the knife, and sacrifice Isaac, but God stops him, and he sees a ram caught in the thicket which God provided for the sacrifice. And :14 says, “Abraham called the name of that place ‘The LORD will Provide,’” literally YHWH-Jireh, or Jehovah Jireh.

So the first and great application of God’s provision, the one for which He was given the name, Jehovah Jireh, is of providing a substitute for our salvation. That is what this story of Isaac was all about: God providing a ram to take the place of Isaac pictures how God provided “the lamb” to be the substitute for our salvation — Jesus, who died in our place on the cross, to pay for our sins.

So as you teach this lesson, include this point: We can be grateful that God provides for us all kinds of temporal things, like we’ve talked about but we need to remember that THE GREATEST PROVISION GOD HAS MADE FOR US IS THE PROVISION OF HIS SON JESUS FOR OUR SALVATION! All other provision is temporary; this is eternal, and the greatest, and most important provision of all!

SO if you use the outline I sketched above for the lesson, you might also add one more point to it: WITNESSING/SHARING about God’s Provision. This comes from the story of the lepers who went out to the camp to surrender and found all the abandoned food — it says they were eating and drinking, and carrying off silver and gold — really partying it up! But in :9 they said, “We are not doing right. This is a day of good news, but we are keeping silent … let us go and tell.” They said, we can’t keep this to ourselves; we need to go tell everybody about this.

And of course this is a great picture of our responsibility to share the good news of God’s provision.

1. We should tell other people whenever God provides for us. It is a witness to Him and His goodness.

2. This is especially a reminder to us to share about the most important provision God made for us: the provision of Christ on the cross to pay for our sins. This is THE best news in all the world. It is the most important provision we need. Too many of us as God’s people can say of ourselves just like the lepers did here: “This is a day of good news (sharing the gospel!) but we are keeping silent …. let us go and tell!”

You might challenge your class: how long has it been since you told someone the good news? Maybe someone can share of an opportunity they had recently to witness to someone, as an encouragement to your whole group to watch for those opportunities.

So as you close your class, you might pray for a couple of things:

— First of all, pray for any provision that some of your class members or loved ones need; you might give them the opportunity to share some specific needs;

— but then secondly, also pray that God would give you each an opportunity to share the good news of God’s provision of Jesus with someone this week. He is the best thing God ever provided!

OK, I hope this will give you some ideas you can use this week. Talk about how He’s a God of Provision, but especially of His provision of Jesus.

May God bless you this week as you share how God is “Jehovah Jireh” the Lord our Provider!

About Shawn Thomas

My blog, shawnethomas.com, features the text of my sermons, book reviews, family life experiences -- as well as a brief overview of the Lifeway "Explore the Bible" lesson for Southern Baptist Sunday School teachers.
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14 Responses to Teachers’ Overview of Lifeway’s “Explore The Bible” lesson: II Kings 7:1-15 “God Provides”

  1. jonhurdibm says:

    Thanks for sharing this helpful resource!

  2. Linda Shields says:

    Hello, Shawn. Thank you so much for these wonderful notes. As always, this is going to be very helpful for my class! GOD bless. BTW, is there a way I can ‘copy & paste’ your lesson into a WORD document? Thanks.

    • Shawn Thomas says:

      I am so thankful that they are helpful to you Linda! Thank you for commenting and letting me know. And YES, you should be able to click the mouse and scroll over the text on a computer, or highlight it with your finger on an iPad, and copy and paste any of my blog posts to a Word document. I do that every week to paste certain parts of my messages to Facebook, etc. God bless you as you teach this week — I’ll be praying for you!

  3. Ron Hardt says:

    Use your lesson from 2 Kings 5:1-12 last week it was a great help. Thank you

  4. Sandy Ring says:

    Thank you once again for a wonderful commentary for our Sunday School Lesson ! Most helpful, God Bless You and Your Ministry ! Jehovah Jireh! My Provider..

    • Shawn Thomas says:

      I’m grateful that it is helpful to you in your preparation, Sandy. Amen; praying that God will help you share Him as Jehovah Jireh to your group tomorrow!

  5. Ingy winders says:

    I just discovered your bright and helpful blog. Thank you for sharing it with us …lots of helpful information to bring the Scripture alive for my class! This is yet another example of Jehovah Jireh😊

    • Shawn Thomas says:

      Thank you for reading, and giving the encouraging feedback, Ingy. I’m so thankful that it is helpful to you! YES Jehovah Jireh! He is good! Praying for you tonight!

  6. Billy Dobbs, Augusta, Ga. says:

    Enjoyed the overview, it was helpful, 😊

  7. Joyce Margarce says:

    As I review your note and my notes again this morning, I can’t help but think about Ukraine and the dire situation there, Russia seizing the grain. I will ask my class this morning how we can share the abundant provision God has blessed us with. Thank you for providing your insight.

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