1 Kings 18

1 A long time passed. Then, in the third year, the word of ADONAI came to Eliyahu: "Go, present yourself to Ach'av, and I will send rain down on the land."
2 When Eliyahu went to present himself to Ach'av, the famine in Shomron had become severe.
3 Ach'av called 'Ovadyah, who was in charge of the palace. Now 'Ovadyah greatly revered ADONAI;
4 for example, when Izevel was murdering ADONAI's prophets, 'Ovadyah took a hundred prophets, hid them in two caves, fifty in each, and supplied them with food and water.
5 Ach'av said to 'Ovadyah, "Go throughout the land, and check all the springs and vadis; maybe we can find grass somewhere, so that we can keep the horses and mules alive and not lose all the animals."
6 So they divided between them the territory to be visited; Ach'av went one way by himself, and 'Ovadyah went another way by himself.
7 'Ovadyah was on the road when suddenly Eliyahu encountered him. 'Ovadyah recognized him, fell on his face and said, "Is it really you, my lord Eliyahu?"
8 He answered, "Yes, it is I; go, tell your master, 'Eliyahu is here.'"
9 'Ovadyah replied, "How have I sinned, that you would hand your servant over to Ach'av to kill me?
10 As ADONAI your God lives, there can't be a single nation or kingdom where my master hasn't sent to search you out; and in each kingdom or nation where they said, 'He isn't here,' he made them take an oath that they hadn't found you.
11 Now you say, 'Go tell your master, "Eliyahu is here."'
12 But as soon as I leave you, the Spirit of ADONAI will carry you off to I don't know where; so that when I come and tell Ach'av, and he can't find you, he will kill me. But I your servant have revered ADONAI from my youth -
13 wasn't my lord told what I did when Izevel killed ADONAI's prophets, how I hid a hundred of ADONAI's prophets by fifties in caves and supplied their food and water?
14 Now you say, 'Go tell your master, "Look, Eliyahu is here."' Why, he'll kill me!"
15 Eliyahu said, "As ADONAI-Tzva'ot lives, before whom I stand, I will present myself to him today."
16 So 'Ovadyah went, found Ach'av and told him; and Ach'av went to meet Eliyahu.
17 When Ach'av saw Eliyahu, Ach'av said to him, "Is it really you, you troubler of Isra'el?"
18 He answered, "I haven't troubled Isra'el, you have, you and your father's house, by abandoning ADONAI's mitzvot and following the ba'alim.
19 Now order all Isra'el to assemble before me on Mount Karmel, along with the 450 prophets of Ba'al and the 400 prophets of the asherah who eat at Izevel's table."
20 Ach'av sent word to all the people of Isra'el and assembled the prophets together on Mount Karmel.
21 Eliyahu stepped forward before all the people and said, "How long are you going to jump back and forth between two positions? If ADONAI is God, follow him; but if it's Ba'al, follow him!" The people answered him not a word.
22 Then Eliyahu said to the people, "I, I alone, am the only prophet of ADONAI who is left, while Ba'al's prophets number 450.
23 Let them give us two young bulls, and they can choose the bull they want for themselves. Then let them cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood but put no fire under it. I will prepare the other bull, lay it on the wood and put no fire under it.
24 Then, you, call on the name of your god; and I will call on the name of ADONAI; and the God who answers with fire, let him be God!" All the people answered, "Good idea! Agreed!"
25 Then Eliyahu said to the prophets of Ba'al, "Choose one bull for yourselves, and prepare it first; because there are many of you. Then call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it."
26 They took the bull that was given to them, prepared it and called on the name of Ba'al from morning till noon - "Ba'al! Answer us!" But no voice was heard; and no one answered, as they jumped around on the altar they had made.
27 Around noon Eliyahu began ridiculing them: "Shout louder! After all, he's a god, isn't he? Maybe he's daydreaming, or he's on the potty, or he's away on a trip. Maybe he's asleep, and you have to wake him up."
28 So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and knives, as their custom was, until blood gushed out all over them.
29 By now it was afternoon, and they went on ranting and raving until it was time for the evening offering. But no voice came, no one answered, no one paid any attention.
30 Then Eliyahu said to all the people, "Come here to me." All the people came up to him, as he set about repairing the altar of ADONAI that had been broken down.
31 Eliyahu took twelve stones, in keeping with the number of tribes of the sons of Ya'akov, to whom the word of ADONAI had come, saying, "Your name is to be Isra'el."
32 With the stones he built an altar in the name of ADONAI. Then he dug a trench around the altar large enough for half a bushel of grain.
33 He arranged the wood, cut up the bull and laid it on the wood.
34 Then he said, "Fill four pots with water, and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood." They did it. "Do it again," he said, and they did it again. "Do it a third time," he said, and they did it a third time.
35 By now the water was flowing around the altar, and it had filled the trench.
36 Then, when it came time for offering the evening offering, Eliyahu the prophet approached and said, "ADONAI, God of Avraham, Yitz'chak and Isra'el, let it be known today that you are God in Isra'el, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word.
37 Hear me, ADONAI, hear me, so that this people may know that you, ADONAI, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back to you."
38 Then the fire of ADONAI fell. It consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones and the dust; and it licked up the water in the trench.
39 When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, "ADONAI is God! ADONAI is God!"
40 Eliyahu said to them, "Seize the prophets of Ba'al! Don't let one of them escape!" They seized them; and Eliyahu brought them down to Vadi Kishon and killed them there.
41 Then Eliyahu said to Ach'av, "Get up, eat, and drink, because I hear the sound of heavy rain."
42 Ach'av went up to eat and drink, while Eliyahu went up to the top of the Karmel. He bowed down to the ground and put his face between his knees.
43 "Now," he said to his servant, "go up, and look out toward the sea." He went up, looked, and said, "There's nothing there." Seven times he said, "Go again."
44 The seventh time, the servant said, "Now there's a cloud coming up out of the sea, no bigger than a man's hand." Eliyahu said, "Go up, and say to Ach'av, 'Prepare your chariot, and get down the mountain before the rain stops you!"
45 A little later, the sky grew black with clouds and wind; and heavy rain began falling; as Ach'av, riding in his chariot, made for Yizre'el.
46 The hand of ADONAI was on Eliyahu; he tucked up his clothing and ran ahead of Ach'av to the entrance of Yizre'el.

1 Kings 18 Commentary

Chapter 18

Elijah sends Ahab notice of his coming. (1-16) Elijah meets Ahab. (17-20) Elijah's trial of the false prophets. (21-40) Elijah, by prayer, obtains rain. (41-46)

Verses 1-16 The severest judgments, of themselves, will not humble or change the hearts of sinners; nothing, except the blood of Jesus Christ, can atone for the guilt of sin; nothing, except the sanctifying Spirit of God, can purge away its pollution. The priests and the Levites were gone to Judah and Jerusalem, 2Ch. 11:13, 2Ch. 11:14 , but instead of them God raised up prophets, who read and expounded the word. They probably were from the schools of the prophets, first set up by Samuel. They had not the spirit of prophecy as Elijah, but taught the people to keep close to the God of Israel. These Jezebel sought to destroy. The few that escaped death were forced to hide themselves. God has his remnant among all sorts, high and low; and that faith, fear, and love of his name, which are the fruits of the Holy Spirit, will be accepted through the Redeemer. See how wonderfully God raises up friends for his ministers and people, for their shelter in difficult times. Bread and water were now scarce, yet Obadiah will find enough for God's prophets, to keep them alive. Ahab's care was not to lose all the beasts; but he took no care about his soul, not to lose that. He took pains to seek grass, but none to seek the favour of God; fencing against the effect, but not inquiring how to remove the cause. But it bodes well with a people, when God calls his ministers to stand forth, and show themselves. And we may the better endure the bread of affliction, while our eyes see our teachers.

Verses 17-20 One may guess how people stand affected to God, by observing how they stand affected to his people and ministers. It has been the lot of the best and most useful men, like Elijah, to be called and counted the troublers of the land. But those who cause God's judgments do the mischief, not he that foretells them, and warns the nation to repent.

Verses 21-40 Many of the people wavered in their judgment, and varied in their practice. Elijah called upon them to determine whether Jehovah or Baal was the self-existent, supreme God, the Creator, Governor, and Judge of the world, and to follow him alone. It is dangerous to halt between the service of God and the service of sin, the dominion of Christ and the dominion of our lusts. If Jesus be the only Saviour, let us cleave to him alone for every thing; if the Bible be the world of God, let us reverence and receive the whole of it, and submit our understanding to the Divine teaching it contains. Elijah proposed to bring the matter to a trial. Baal had all the outward advantages, but the event encourages all God's witnesses and advocates never to fear the face of man. The God that answers by fire, let him be God: the atonement was to be made by sacrifice, before the judgment could be removed in mercy. The God therefore that has power to pardon sin, and to signify it by consuming the sin-offering, must needs be the God that can relieve from the calamity. God never required his worshippers to honour him in the manner of the worshippers of Baal; but the service of the devil, though sometimes it pleases and pampers the body, yet, in other things, really is cruel to it, as in envy and drunkenness. God requires that we mortify our lusts and corruptions; but bodily penances and severities are no pleasure to him. Who has required these things at your hands? A few words uttered in assured faith, and with fervent affection for the glory of God, and love to the souls of men, or thirstings after the Lord's image and his favour, form the effectual, fervent prayer of the righteous man, which availeth much. Elijah sought not his own glory, but that of God, for the good of the people. The people are all agreed, convinced, and satisfied; Jehovah, he is the God. Some, we hope, had their hearts turned, but most of them were convinced only, not converted. Blessed are they that have not seen what these saw, yet have believed, and have been wrought upon by it, more than they that saw it.

Verses 41-46 Israel, being so far reformed as to acknowledge the Lord to be God, and to consent to the execution of Baal's prophets, was so far accepted, that God poured out blessing upon the land. Elijah long continued praying. Though the answer of our fervent and believing supplications does not come quickly, we must continue earnest in prayer, and not faint or give over. A little cloud at length appeared, which soon overspread the heavens, and watered the earth. Great blessings often arise from small beginnings, showers of plenty from a cloud of span long. Let us never despise the day of small things, but hope and wait for great things from it. From what small beginnings have great matters arisen! It is thus in all the gracious proceedings of God with the soul. Scarcely to be perceived are the first workings of his Spirit in the heart, which grow up at last to the wonder of men, and applause of angels. Elijah hastened Ahab home, and attended him. God will strengthen his people for every service to which his commandments and providence call them. The awful displays of Divine justice and holiness dismay the sinner, extort confessions, and dispose to outward obedience while the impression lasts; but the view of these, with mercy, love, and truth in Christ Jesus, is needful to draw the soul to self-abasement, trust, and love. The Holy Spirit employs both in the conversion of sinners; when sinners are impressed with Divine truths, they should be exhorted to set about the duties to which the Saviour calls his disciples.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO 1 KINGS 18

In this chapter Elijah has an order from the Lord to show himself to Ahab, who, going first, and meeting with a servant of his, Obadiah, charges him to tell his master where he was, that he might meet him, 1Ki 18:1-16, and, upon meeting him, desires that all Israel, and the prophets of Baal, might be convened, which was accordingly done, 1Ki 18:17-20, when he expostulated with the people of Israel for their idolatry, mocked and confounded the prophets of Baal, and gave the strongest proofs, to the conviction of the people, that Jehovah is the true God, 1Ki 18:21-39, on which all the prophets of Baal were slain, 1Ki 18:40, and rain in great abundance was given at the prayer of the prophet, 1Ki 18:41-46.

1 Kings 18 Commentaries