Lectio Divina Passage: The Widow’s Olive Oil, A Lesson in Abundance from 2 King 4:1-7

Resources and Hope

In the midst of scarcity, when resources dwindle and hope wanes, God’s provision often arrives in unexpected ways.

The story of the widow and the overflowing jar of olive oil in 2 Kings 4:1-7 is a testament to God’s abundant grace and the power of faith.

Step 1: Lectio (Reading)

Read the passage slowly and attentively, listening for the words or phrases that resonate with you.

The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, 'Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.' Elisha replied to her, 'How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?' 'Your servant has nothing there at all,' she said, 'except a small jar of olive oil.' Elisha said, 'Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.' She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, 'Bring me another one.' But he replied, 'There is not a jar left.' Then the oil stopped flowing. She went and told the man of God, and he said, 'Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.'

2 King 4:1-7 NIV

Step 2: Meditatio (Meditation)

Take a moment to silently reflect on the words or phrases that stood out to you. Consider why these particular words resonate with you.

Meditation Reflection

The widow’s small jar of oil held more potential than she realized. In her perceived lack, God saw an opportunity for abundance. Her act of faith in gathering jars and pouring oil, even when it seemed impossible, unleashed a torrent of provision.

More Questions to Help You Relate to the Story of the Scripture

  • How do you think the widow felt when she realized she had only a small jar of oil left?
  • Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like you had very little to offer? How did it make you feel?
  • What do you think prompted Elisha to ask the widow about what she had in her house?
  • Why do you think the instruction was to borrow empty jars from her neighbors? What might this symbolize?
  • How do you think the widow’s perspective on her situation changed as she began pouring the oil?
  • In what ways do you see God’s provision and abundance in your own life, even in moments of apparent scarcity?

More Prompts to Help You Imagine Yourself in the Story

  • Take a moment to imagine yourself in one of the characters’ shoes. How would you feel in her situation? What do you see, hear, smell, taste and touch in the story? What do you feel? 
  • Picture the scene as the widow and her sons gather the empty jars. Describe the surroundings, the day, the emotions around you. What emotions might the widow, sons, or the neighbors be experiencing?
  • As you meditate on the pouring of the oil, consider the symbolism of the oil. What might it represent in your own life?
  • Reflect on the idea of God’s abundance. How does this story challenge your perceptions of scarcity and plenty?
  • Imagine being a witness to this miracle. How would you feel? How would it impact your faith and trust in God’s provision?

When practicing Lectio Divina in solitude, we often rely on familiar images that come to mind. Instead, invite the Holy Spirit, who resides within you, to lead your imagination and guide you wherever He sees fit. Allow Him to harness your creativity and imagination fully, uncovering the insights He intends to impart during this contemplative session.

Step 3: Oratio (Prayer)

Talk to God about what you’ve reflected on. It could be gratitude, a request for guidance, or a deeper understanding of the passage.

Sample Prayer

Gracious Father, like the widow, we sometimes underestimate the resources You’ve placed in our hands. Open our eyes to the abundance that can flow from the seemingly meager. Give us the faith to pour out, knowing that Your provision knows no bounds. Amen.

Freestyle Prayers

You have the freedom to pray in silence, to immerse yourself in the narrative, to offer your prayers while listening to worship music, or even while taking a contemplative stroll while pondering the scripture. 

Your approach to prayer during Lectio Divina is not confined to spoken words. Embrace the diverse ways in which you can commune with the Divine.

Step 4: Contemplatio (Contemplation)

Take a moment of silence. Rest in God’s presence. Listen for any further insights or guidance.

Practice Meditative Reading with the Parables of Jesus:
Lectio Divina with Jesus’ Parables

For a Church Gathering for Women, You Can Try:
10 Lectio Divina Bible Passages for Women

To Teach Teenagers the Beauty of Lectio Divina, We Have:
30 Lectio Divina Passages for Teenagers

Step 5: Sharing and Discussion

Gather with others and discuss your reflections. Be open to hearing their insights and learn from one another’s experiences.

If you are in a small group setting for this Lectio Divina session, you can now share what you experience, learn and discover with other participants. 

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