Disaster at the Potluck

potluck bring something to share

2 Kings 4:38-41 (NLT)
Elisha now returned to Gilgal, and there was a famine in the land. One day as the group of prophets was seated before him, he said to his servant, “Put a large pot on the fire, and make some stew for the rest of the group.”
39 One of the young men went out into the field to gather herbs and came back with a pocketful of wild gourds. He shredded them and put them into the pot without realizing they were poisonous.
40 Some of the stew was served to the men. But after they had eaten a bite or two they cried out, “Man of God, there’s poison in this stew!” So they would not eat it.
41 Elisha said, “Bring me some flour.” Then he threw it into the pot and said, “Now it’s all right; go ahead and eat.” And then it did not harm them.

Church Potlucks; as a pastor, I confess that this is my least favorite church activity.  And here’s the issue, I am a bit OCD.  So… being OCD, I cannot control what is brought in at the potluck.  This is a big issue for me (and that’s why I am in therapy).  Seriously though, the passage above has nothing to do with a church potluck and everything to do with God and our faith.

As you can read from the story, Elisha is preparing a meal for a group of prophets.  Now these guys would be the equivalent to our current Bible college kids.  They are off to school learning what it means to be a prophet.  And what’s more, like in our current Bible colleges, some of them would not be true believers in God.  This is a great object lesson for Elisha as he is at the school to visit these young men.

What Could Go Wrong?

One of the young men went out into the field to gather herbs and came back with a pocketful of wild gourds. He shredded them and put them into the pot without realizing they were poisonous.

Here’s what I find interesting, no one told the boy to go get anything – he did it on his own.  Now we could give him the benefit of the doubt and say, “Now that boy showed leadership, he saw a need and did something about it.”  Or we could look at it this way; “That boy didn’t trust Elisha and what God would provide for them, so he had to do it himself.”

In good Bible study, we have to look at the entire passage (the context) to fully understand what is going on.  So what is going on?  First, there is a famine in the land.  Second, geographically, the area is inhabited by Baal worshipers (Baal was the god of fertility – specifically fertile fields).  Don’t you think it’s interesting that during a famine Baal has no power to help out?

Things haven’t changed much.  We too take matters into our own hands.  We see a need and instead of seeking “wise-counsel” or asking God for direction, we jump right in. Maybe it’s with that “impulse buy” or maybe it going around someone’s authority to take care of a problem.  It seems right at the time but it was impulsive.  I like to call it the savior syndrome; that is, we position ourselves to be the savior of others.  That’s what I think this young man was doing in the story.  The food Elisha was providing wasn’t enough so he was going to take matters into his own hands.

Happy Ending

Here’s what’s amazing, God demonstrates His power over our feeble wisdom.  The group had no idea there was poison in the stew until they tasted it.  Elisha calls out for some flour (it could not have been much because there was a famine – they didn’t have much) to put in the stew.  God then miraculously changes the stew demonstrating that He is sufficient for our needs.


Put yourself in the story, who do you associate with the most?  The boy, the other prophets, Elisha, God?  (If it’s God, we should probably talk and go see a therapist together).

Do you see yourself trying to “fix issues” that are not yours to fix?  What could be the lasting damage for doing that?

What need is in your life right now that you are trying to solve in your own power, but you keep coming up short?  Have you tried giving it up to God and trusting Him with it?

Usually it is a financial issue, what would it look like to step out in faith and become a giver even if you think you don’t have it?  Can you trust God to provide for you?


Thanks for stopping by today, I hope today’s thought was encouraging.

God Bless

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