The Poisoned Stew, part one

If you want to experience some Old Testament magic you can always read about the prophets Elijah and Elisha. The story of Elijah begins in 1 Kings chapter 17 and he eventually passes his mantle to Elisha who continues to do mighty works for the Lord. There are a lot of incredible moments in the lives of these two men, but today I want to look at a short little story from the book of 2 Kings. This ties in with what we’ve been talking about on the blog recently and felt like a great way to close out our look at sexual immorality and the things we can do to keep ourselves pure.

2 Kings 4:38-41 And Elisha came again to Gilgal when there was a famine in the land. And as the sons of the prophets were sitting before him, he said to his servant, “Set on the large pot, and boil stew for the sons of the prophets.” 39 One of them went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine and gathered from it his lap full of wild gourds, and came and cut them up into the pot of stew, not knowing what they were.40 And they poured out some for the men to eat. But while they were eating of the stew, they cried out, “O man of God, there is death in the pot!” And they could not eat it. 41 He said, “Then bring flour.” And he threw it into the pot and said, “Pour some out for the men, that they may eat.” And there was no harm in the pot.

I love this for a lot of reasons. In this quick little event that the Bible records we can learn several different lessons. While tomorrow I’ll start tying this together with the series of posts about sexual immorality and immorality in general, first I want to touch upon something else that these Bible verses show us. Ignorance can kill. Look at the servant of Elisha. The guy’s just listening to his boss, doing what he was told, and prepping a delicious stew for people. The servant wasn’t trying to poison people, he was trying to do the opposite. His goal was to carry out his master’s wishes and feed these people a great meal. But because he was ignorant, he poisons them instead.

I think one of my most hated things to hear someone say is “I didn’t know.” It’s a favored excuse among my nephews, and I know I’m guilty of using it too. How could you drink my one and only Dr. Pepper? I didn’t know it was yours. Why did you push your brother into the electric fence? I didn’t know it was electric. Why did you put poison berries in the stew? I didn’t know they were poisonous.

Sometimes we honestly just don’t know. But if we’re taking actions where “I didn’t know” has to be our excuse then we’re probably taking actions we shouldn’t. Look at my examples above. If I’m not sure who the Dr. Pepper belongs to, maybe I shouldn’t drink it. I shouldn’t be pushing my brother into any fences, electric or not. If I don’t know what kind of berries I’ve found in the forest, maybe I shouldn’t put them into a stew and feed them to people.

My examples are pretty tame, but I stand by my previous statement. Ignorance can kill. I didn’t know the other people didn’t have a stop sign. I didn’t know the gun was loaded. There are tragic situations that can occur because we’re putting ourselves in situations and taking actions without all the information we need, without taking the time to be certain we know the things we need to know. God gives us wisdom, and if you feel like your wisdom is lacking, then ask for more.

James 1:5-6 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith,with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

We should be putting our God given wisdom into action. And we should stop demonizing the word ignorance. All that means is that we have a lack of knowledge or information. There are a trillion things I’m ignorant about. We’re so afraid of looking ignorant that we do ignorant things to try to cover our ignorance. And yes, I’m talking to myself here. Because this carries over to sharing God with other people. If they ask you a question about God that you don’t have the answer for, don’t make something up! Rely on the Holy Spirit to help give you an answer, but if an answer doesn’t come then just admit ignorance. Tell the person you’ll get in prayer and study your Bible and get back to them with an answer. If they can’t handle the fact that you don’t have every inch of the Bible memorized or that you haven’t solves all the mysteries of God then that’s on them, not you. More often than not, you’re going to win some respect for admitting that you don’t know everything. But, if you toss out some vague platitude or make something up out of your mind and they later realize you were wrong, you’ve lost your ability to effectively minister to them in the future.

I feel bad for Elisha’s servant, because he was just trying to make dinner. But he didn’t make a wise choice in his ingredients, did he? He didn’t know he was dropping in some poisonous stuff. And look, it’s fine that he didn’t know what those gourds were that were growing on that vine. No one is expected to know everything about everything. His lack of knowledge about the vine and it’s gourds isn’t an issue here. There’s nothing wrong with the fact that he didn’t know. But he took his ignorance to the next step. He didn’t know what the gourds were, and he used them in the stew anyways. He took one of those “I didn’t know” actions.


Father God, we need your wisdom.  It’s just simple, absolute truth.  We need your wisdom, and I’m asking for more of it right now.  I ask according to your word, full of faith, no doubting in my mind.  I want to be a wise man, and I ask that you continue to grow me into one.  Lord, I pray right now that you’ll change our hearts and our minds.  Too often we do things without thinking, too often we’re putting ourselves in those “I didn’t know” situations.  And I’m just as guilty as anyone.  But your word illustrates so much to us, and I love that you show the dangers of ignorance through the situation with the poisoned stew. Thank you for the multiple ways you teach us.  I love that the bible tells us many things, but just as often it shows us those same things.  You accommodate our different ways of learning and of hearing, and it just shows how much care you put into the bible and the care you have for us.  You want us to grow and to learn, you want to guide us from ignorance into wisdom, and I’m so thankful for that.  You’re not a God that leaves a man where he is, you raise us up, you build us up, and then you send us out for you.  Send us out today, Lord Jesus, so that we may share your love with others.  Give us the backbone to admit ignorance, the wisdom to know the areas in which we are unwise, and the confidence to always approach you and ask for more wisdom when we find ourselves lacking.  You are my provider, my home base, the guiding light of my life, and I thank you so deeply and dearly for all that you are.  Thank you for the way you love us.  In the precious name of Jesus I pray, for the glory of God, amen.

Another Monday is upon us, and this week, I’m declaring something.  Monday’s are pretty universally despised as most people have to head back to work after the weekend.  But today, I’m declaring it a day of victory in the world.  Monday is a day of breakthrough, a day of deliverance, and a day in which God is going to do mighty things in our lives.  So if you’ve got some Monday blues going on, prepare yourself for a move of God.  Every day belongs to Him, and I just speak His love and power over this Monday in particular.

I love you guys, and I hope every one of you is doing great and feeling loved on by the Lord today.  Talk to God about your needs today, tell Him what hurts in life.  I just really feel that He’s looking to do big things in people’s lives today.  Seize that, and meet up with God in prayer and in worship today.



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