2 Kings 4:40

Robert Hawker

"And it came to pass as they were eating of the pottage, that they cried out, and said, Oh thou man of God, there is death in the pot!"–2 Kings iv. 40.

It was at a time of great famine, that the prophet Elisha ministered among the sons of the prophets at Gilgal; no wonder, therefore, that their diet was reduced to a dinner of herbs. During the season of persecution in our kingdom, somewhat more than a century and half since, there was a spiritual famine, not of bread or of water, but of hearing the word of the Lord: and so precious was the word of the Lord in those days, that our good old fathers used to remark, "bread and water, with the gospel, was choice fare." We find, in the household of Elisha, that wild gourds by the ignorance of him that gathered the herbs, were served up in the pottage of the people, which, as soon as they were discovered, occasioned the cry to the prophet, "O thou man of God, there is death in the pot!" And is there not death in the pot, when any matters of a poisonous quality are mingled and served up to God's people with the word of his grace? Surely, the springs of all spiritual food and life are in Jesus: his blood, his righteousness, his finished salvation, the graces of his Holy Spirit, and the rest and dependence upon God the Father's covenant love and mercy in him; these are the only food of the soul by which it can be nourished. To drop these rich and savoury truths, whereby the soul is kept alive to God, and brought nigh to God in Christ; or, what is the same thing to mingle, like the wild gourds of the field, the righteousness of the creature, as being partly the means of salvation, with this only wholesome food of the soul; may surely cause the believing soul to cry out, "O thou man of God, there is death in the pot!" I charge it upon thee, my soul, this evening, in the view of this scripture, concerning the sons of the prophets, that thou take heed to receive not mingled things for the good old fare of the gospel. The smallest introduction to error is as one that letteth out water. Where the person of Jesus, his work, and glory, are neglected to be set forth, there will be death in the pot, whatever else be substituted in the place. A real believer cannot live in his soul's health a day, no more than a labouring man in his body, where the food suited to each is not given. And it surely were a pity, when there is such an infinite fulness in Christ, to substitute any thing for him. See to it then, my soul, that all thy food be Jesus, and let "all thy fresh springs be in him." Remember the promise, for in the saddest times of dearth, if Jesus be looked to, it never can fail: "They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house, and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures: for with thee is the fountain of life;" Ps. xxxvi. 8, 9.


Robert Hawker

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