The stories fly in quick succession, and they are astounding.
But the question every serioius Bible stuident should ask is: “Why is this story here? What role does it play in this book?”
If some of these stories seem familiar, they should. The repetition serves to make a point.
First, Elisha is a prophet of the Lord. In the story of Ahab, he teams with Jehosha[hat of Judah to make war against the king of Syria. Jehoshaphat asks if there is not a “prophet of the Lord” in the land they might inquire of. Micaiah is brought and he prophesies of defeat. Later, Jehoshaphat allies himself with Joram, king of Israel against Moab, and Jehoshaphat asks the same question. This time they inquire of Elisha and defeat occurs again. The accounts put Elisha and Micaiah in the same league.
Second, Elisha is a prophet like Elijah. Remember that he had asked Elijah for “a double portion of your spirit.” From the “Elijah like” stories, It would appear he got it. As Elijah’s presence provided oil for the widow of Zarepath (1 Kings 17), so Elisha’s direction provided oil for a needy widow in 2 Kings 4. As Elijah raised to live the son of the widow of Zarepath, so Elisha raises to life the Shunammite’s son – but that resurrection is a bit more spectacular. Both women may have been gentiles. His ability to make poison food safe, and feed people from unlimited resources extends his ability beyond that described in the life of Elijah. A “double-portion indeed!
But most importantly, these stories of this seemingly invincible man, whose powers extended beyond those of other mortals, proclaim that indeed, there was a prophet in Israel, the Northern Kingdom. No such demonstrations are recounted in the history of Judah. If anyone should have been paying attention to God, it should have been Israel.
But sadly, they did not.