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Initial when the shunammite woman had been promised a child she seemed to doubt the word of prophet Elisha.

2 Kings 4:12 NASB

12 Then he said to Gehazi his servant, “Call this Shunammite.” And when he had called her, she stood before him. 13 He said to him, “Say now to her, ‘Behold, you have been [g]careful for us with all this [h]care; what can I do for you? “At this season [k]next year you will embrace a son.” And she said, “No, my lord, O man of God, do not lie to your maidservant.”

later when she receives & then losses the child again she sounds very sarcastic & ungrateful towards the prophet

2 Kings 4:28 NASB

28 Then she said, “Did I ask for a son from my lord? Did I not say, ‘Do not deceive me’?”

Was the shunammite woman sarcastic or just ungrateful?

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The background to this event is interesting The woman is described as a wealthy married woman in the village of Shunem. She had no child. This woman got permission from her husband to set up a guest room for Elisha, acknowledging Elisha as a true prophet and holy man of God. Elisha often passed that way in his travels, and he stayed in the guest room.

Elisha asked his servant, Gehazi, how he could help the woman in return for her hospitality. Gehazi mentioned that she had no son and her husband was old. Elisha then called the woman and told her she would have a son by that time next year. The prophecy was fulfilled, and the woman had a child, but the story was not over. Several years later, the child came down with some kind of sickness, and he died that same day in his mother’s lap. She immediately left to find Elisha and asked him to come heal her son. Elisha came back with the woman to Shunem. The NLT expresses the emotions of the Shunammite woman thus:

“No, my lord!” she cried. “O man of God, don’t deceive me and get my hopes up.”

The NLT Study Bible notes explain that when she caught hold of Elisha’s feet it was a sign of deep respect and supplication. The loss of her son undid all the joy she felt at the birth of her son and seemed to make that birth a cruel deception. After Elisha miraculously brought her dead son to life, the Shunammite woman again fell at Elisha’s feet and bowed before him, overwhelmed with gratitude (2 Kings 437). She was neither being sarcastic nor was she ungrateful.

The Shunammite woman’s heartfelt hospitality to Elisha and simple, sincere faith led to many blessings. God again performed another miracle in her life after her land had been lost when she was warned to depart to avoid famine. That’s in 2 Kings 8:1-6. God saw fit to bless her.

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I see it as grief induced. She had prayed for a son and been granted one, only to lose him. She may have felt that she would have preferred never to have had her child than to have had him and watch him die.

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  • Agreed. There's no reason to look down on her response. To be given a son just to watch him die would feel like a cruel trick from the prophet. – Luke Sawczak Aug 1 '18 at 15:20

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