The Queen Of Glory

2 Kings

The Queen Of Glory

May 8th, 1955 @ 10:50 AM

2 Kings 4:8

And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread.
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THE QUEEN OF GLORY

Dr. W. A. Criswell

2 Kings 4:8

5-8-55    10:50 a.m.

 

You are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in downtown Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the morning message entitled The Queen Of Glory, referring to our dedicated and consecrated mothers.  One of the highest and happiest weeks in the life of our First Baptist Church is always the first week in May.  How different to us is May Day and the first of May, [than] to the atheistic, communistic, anti-Christ, anti-God, anti-church, communistic world.  For the first Sunday in May to us is Baby Day, and the second Sunday in May in keeping with all of the rest of the Christian world, is Mother’s Day.  And between we always have a series of services dedicated to the Christian home.  And that service—finally the week, its consummating service—is Sunday night, and you can see the decorations in the auditorium at the front, in keeping with the beautiful, beautiful program tonight, which closes in a dedication of our homes to Christ.  All of it is of a piece: baby and Baby Day, the weekday, and our Christian homes—today, Mother’s Day, and this evening, the dedication, consecration service with the beautiful and meaningful play.

The passage of Scripture that will form the basis of the message is in the Book of the 2 Kings and the fourth chapter: one of the beautiful stories in all of the Word of the Lord.  Second Kings, the fourth chapter, and we begin reading at the eighth verse:

It fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread.  And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread.

And she said unto her husband, Look, I perceive that this is a holy man of God, which passeth by us continually.

Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick:  and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither.

[2 Kings 4:8-10]

I have had that done for me in the days when I was the pastor of one of my little country churches.  Being a single young man in school and going out every weekend and all summer, one of the families built for me a little chamber, a little room, a little place into which I could turn, rest for the night, and prepare for the Lord’s Day.  And they called it, as you would know, the “prophet’s chamber.”  Many times, in the old‑fashioned home, there was a room where the preacher stayed, and they called it the prophet’s chamber.

Well:

It fell on a day, that he came thither, and turned into the chamber, and lay there.

And he said to Gehazi his servant, Call this Shunammite.  And when he had called her, she stood before him.

And he said unto him, Say now unto her—

talking to Gehazi—

say to her, Behold, thou hast been careful for us with all this care;  what is to be done for thee? wouldst thou be spoken for to the king, or to the captain of the host?

And she answered, I dwell among mine own people—

I do not want anything for it.  Nothing—

And he said, What then is to be done for her?  And Gehazi answered, Verily, she hath no child . . .

And he said, Call her.  And when he had called her, she stood in the door.

And he said, About this season, according to the time of life, thou shall embrace a son.  And she said, Nay, my lord, thou man of God, do not lie unto thine handmaid.

But the woman conceived, and bare a son at that season that Elisha had said unto her, according to the time of life.

And when the child had grown—

to be a big boy—

it fell on a day, that he went out to his father to the reapers.

And he said unto his father, My head, my head.  And the father said to a servant, Carry him to his mother.

And when he had taken him, and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees ’til noon, and died.

And she went up, and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the door upon him, and went out.

[2 Kings 4:11-21]

And now may I briefly summarize the rest of the story before going back to my text?  She came to Elisha the man of God and said, “Did I not say unto thee, lie not unto thine handmaiden? [2 Kings 4:16].  Deceive me not” [2 Kings 4:28].  Don’t promise me a boy, then he doesn’t materialize or he’s taken away.  And Elisha knew that the boy had died.  So he sent Gehazi to lay his staff upon the boy’s face, that the lad might live [2 Kings 4:29].  But the Shunammite woman had keen, motherly perception.  She stayed by Elisha, kneeling at his feet, saying, “I will not leave thee until you accompany me.  Come back with me” [2 Kings 4:30].  So Elisha came with her to the home where he had often stayed and went up to the prophet’s chamber, and saw there the lad on his bed, silent and cold in death [2 Kings 4:32].

Then you have the story of Elisha praying to God as he put his mouth upon the mouth of the boy, his eyes against the eyes of the boy, his hands on the hands of the boy, his body on the body of the boy.  And the warmth of the heart’s blood of Elisha entered into the still form of the lad.  And in answer to prayer, God restored the soul of the boy, and the lad lived again.  So he called the mother and delivered the lad into her arms, alive again.  Now that’s the story [2 Kings 4:33-37]. 

Now this is the part that I say is my text; but text or no text, when I read it, this thing always appeals to me, “And when the child was grown,” not a man, but a big boy, “it fell on a day that he went out to his father in the reapers . . .” [2 Kings 4:18].  Oh, watching them gather the grain, “And, while he was there, he became ill.”  Maybe the sun was too strong for the little fellow or he became ill, and he cried, saying, “My head!  My head!” [2 Kings 4:19].  And the father, who was busy with the reaping, said to one of his servants, “Carry the boy to his mother” [2 Kings 4:19].  Would you expect anything else?  In your experience in your home, was it any different?  “Carry the boy to his mother.”  Why certainly, “Take the lad to his mother.”  What would the father know what to do?  Who ministers to these little children, watches over their health, cares so beautifully and wonderfully for them?  “Take the boy to his mother.”  So the servant carried the boy to his mother.

And what did she do?  Well, what did mother do for you? Put her arms around the boy, took the lad in her arms, held that big overgrown boy in her lap, nursed him until the boy died [2 Kings 4:19-20].  He died in her arms.  That is so true to life.  It is so much the experience of every home and of every son.  I say, every time I read that story, it is that part of it that speaks so eloquently and truly to life and to heart, to your experience and to mine.

Now there’s a corollary with that, and the corollary is this: the most obvious of all of the observations that one could make in life is this; that there is no shaping, guiding, molding influence that controls destiny as the shaping, guiding influence of the mother in the home.  It is a truism that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.  As it came to pass, I visited three shrines to Abraham Lincoln in this order.  I didn’t choose it this way, it just happened to be that I visited them in this order.  And by the way, I’ve never heard or read anything about Abraham Lincoln that didn’t raise him higher in my estimation.  To me, he is America’s greatest citizen, the greatest man outside of God, and God’s will and purpose through His people, that we’ve ever produced: Abraham Lincoln.

The first place that I visited was Springfield, Illinois.  He is buried there, a beautiful monument.  Inside the monument—those dim, quiet corridors—and there above a flag‑draped room lies the beautiful sarcophagus, and beyond, the words that Stanton, Secretary of State said as Lincoln’s life ebbed away, “He now belongs to the ages.”  It is a very impressive memorial.

The next one that I visited was the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.; it’s at this end of the Mall.  At that end of the Mall is the United States Capitol and then in between, the government buildings and the tall Washington Monument, then the beautiful reflecting pool, then you have the Lincoln Memorial—above the majestic Potomac—a magnificent memorial, a wonderful, wonderful thing.  That was the second one.

Then the third one was the memorial at the birthplace in Hodgenville, Kentucky.  I passed it twice every week for several years.  It also is a beautiful marble building, and it faces the south.  And across the top, the frieze above the columns are the words from his famous second inaugural, facing the South, “With malice toward none; with charity for all.”  Then on the inside of that beautiful marble building is the rudest, smallest, crudest little log cabin that you could think for: a little-bitty thing, crudely, rudely made.  That’s the place where Tom Lincoln and Nancy Hanks Lincoln—both of them Baptist, by the way—that’s the place, that’s the home into which the little boy, Abraham, was born.  Around those beautiful marble walls there are inscriptions, but the one that would captivate any man’s heart is the one directly above and back the little log cabin, and it is from Lincoln himself, as he said, “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”

And as I read it, my mind went back to the story of a ten year old boy.  He and his father saw the mother die, and with their hands, they made boards out of rough lumber, fashioned them into a coffin, placed the mother in the coffin.  And the father and the ten year old boy, Abraham, buried the mother in the heart of the earth.  But he never forgot, he never grew beyond it; he never got bigger or prouder than the memory, “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”  The fashioning of destiny and the molding and the shaping of life is so largely, so eternally so—so everlastingly so, in her blessed and precious hands. That has been true through all of the history of our race.

In the days of the Bible, it was so: that lad Moses who, when he came of age, chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; who renounced the throne of the pharaohs that he might give himself to the people of the Lord [Hebrews 11:24-26].  That boy was trained and shaped in the days of his childhood, his infancy, his babyhood, by a nurse hired by Pharaoh’s daughter, but unknown to her, the nurse was the child’s mother [Exodus 2:1-10].  That is the story that lies back of little Samuel, the great and first prophet of Israel: lending the lad to the Lord, once a year, the mother came to see the child, bringing him a little red coat [1 Samuel 2:18-19].  That is the thing that humanly speaking lies back of the gospel message of the Son of God.  It begins with the story of Elizabeth and her kinswoman, Mary, who, the two brought to this world and trained under their hands the little fellow, John, who became the great Baptist preacher, and Jesus, who was, of the virgin, the Son of God [Luke 1:5-2:52].  That is the same story that lies back of Timothy, Paul’s young preacher in the ministry: “The faith that first was in thy grandmother, Lois, and in thy mother, Eunice: and I am persuaded in thee also” [2 Timothy 1:5].  And the story doesn’t end.  It’s like a great river that proceeds on to the infinity of God.  When you turn the pages of the story of mankind, those leaves that have blessed and sanctified our race, it is the same story of the guiding, shaping hand of consecrated motherhood.

John Chrysostom of Antioch was taken to the school of Libanius, to be trained there to be an orator and a rhetorician and a philosopher.  But his mother was a Christian, and Libanius wrote in that ancient day, “He was prayed into a life of piety by his mother.”  John Chrysostom was the brightest student that Libanius ever had.  Libanius chose him to be the successor in the school.  That’s all.  His mother prayed him into the ministry of the Son of God!

It is a story of Monica and Augustine.  Monica went to the pastor of the church in Milan, in despair over such a wayward son as Augustine.  And the pastor replied, “Go thy way in peace.  The child of so many prayers could never be lost.”  And he was Augustine, the great, incomparable, early father theologian.  It is the story that lies back of Oliver Cromwell.  When Oliver Cromwell became the leader of all the British Empire, he brought his mother to the palace at Whitehall, and when she died, he buried her in Westminster Abbey, among the kings of the nation.

It is the story that lies back of the incomparable orator and leader of the reconstructive South, Henry W. Grady.  While Grady was speaking in the height of his glory, he drifted away from God.  To come back to God, he made his way back to the little country farm, to the little country home, to the plain, unassuming little country, old‑fashioned mother, and said to her, “Mother, once again, could I be a boy?  And once again, would you speak to me of the things of God and the story of Christ and fortify and renew?”  And brought back, Grady turned to the task of the reconstruction of the South again—in the love and patience and prayers of his mother.  You’ll find rarely any exception to that: The great molding, guiding, making influence of our life and our destiny lies in her consecrated hands.

This I would say, this is an order of God.  It is a choice of the great Creator, who framed and fashioned our life and the social order in which our lives are inextricably enmeshed.  When the Lord God chose for the destiny of His race and the revelation of His kingdom and the great movement of the mankind that He made, He did not entrust the fashioning of that destiny, the shaping of that consummation—He did not entrust it to government.  He did not entrust it to school; He did not entrust it to church, He did not entrust it to sit in our Congress, or township, or any other organization that a man could name.  But He entrusted the future of the destiny of that kingdom and the future of that glory, He entrusted it into the sacred, shaping hands of motherhood, of parenthood.

The Lord God said in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Exodus, which is a story of the Passover, “It shall come to pass,” said the Lord:

It shall come to pass that, in days to come, when thy children shall say unto thee, What mean thee by this service?

That thou shalt say unto thy children, We were bondsmen in the land of Egypt.  We were slaves in the land of darkness, and the Lord remembered His people and brought us out with a high hand.

[Exodus 12:26-27, 42]

You will find there the reason for the existence of the Hebrew race through the ages and today.  Where are the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites, and the Gergashites, and all of the other “-ites?”  They all went out like a candle in the night.  But the Hebrew people go on forever.  Why?  Because God taught those fathers back there that they were to entrust their children with the same heritage they received from the hand of God, and they were taught in the home as they are taught today!  Same thing in the fourth chapter of the Book of Joshua:  and Joshua had each leader out of every tribe to pick up a stone and take the stone and there, by Gilgal, make a monument out of it.  “For,” said Joshua, “It shall come to pass that in days to come, thy children shall ask thee, What meanth thee by these stones?  And thou shalt say…” [Joshua 4:19-24], teaching that child the destiny of religion, and of nation, and of kingdom’s glory in the guiding, shaping hand of the parent in the home; motherhood.

And this little final word: whenever, whenever womanhood, motherhood is faithful in that commitment, you will always find a noble son and a worthy daughter.  I am not saying that there will not be times in the life of Christian parenthood when there are not broken hearts and tears in the night.  I am not saying that there will not be, in the Christian home, the day to come when, maybe one of the sons will say, “Give me that which falleth unto me, for I’m leaving.  I’m staying no longer.”  And the prodigal goes away [Luke 15:11-13], but I do say according to the Word of God that is immutable and unchangeable [Isaiah 40:8], I do say that the Word of God is everlastingly true: when you teach up the child in the way he should go, when he is old he will not depart from it [Proverbs 22:6].

Look down the road.  Keep looking down that road, and one of these days you will find that boy, you will find that girl, coming back to mother’s God, and mother’s church, and mother’s Christ; it never fails.  It never fails.  It is the Word and the assurance of the living God.  I could not tell you the number and number and numbers of times that I sat in my study and there before me will be a man or a woman, the years of his manhood or womanhood may have been compromised and sent out and lost in the world, but something, never forgetting, something always remembering, “Pastor, I’m coming back.  I’m coming back.”  It never fails, it is the promise of the Lord [Proverbs 22:6].  Most of the time, most of the times, almost all of the times, the fruit of the godly, consecrated home and of the precious and teaching mother will be children who are a joy and a delight to their hearts forever and forever.

May I close with a little poem that I’ve always liked?  The reason for the Scripture, this is a little turning of the Word:

Lift up your heads, O ye gates,

And be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors,

And the queen of glory will come in.

Who is this queen of glory?

Mother, sweet and gentle mother,

Mother, great in character.

Lift up your heads, O ye gates.

Even lift them up, ye everlasting doors,

And the queen of glory will come in.

Who is this queen of glory?

Mother, precious mother.

She is the queen of glory.

[adapted from Psalm 24:8-10]

Well, God bless her memory if she’s in the Paradise of God.  God bless her life if she is with you today.

Now if I have preached the gospel, if I have been true to the Spirit of the Book, if I have opened and broken the bread of life, then may God honor it.  And as we make appeal today, somebody you give your heart to Christ, somebody you come into the fellowship of the church, as the Lord shall say the word and make appeal, as the Spirit shall call, while we sing this song of appeal, today would you come? In the topmost balcony, down that stairwell, here to the front, anywhere you, while we stand and while we sing.