1 Kings 17

The Book of 1 Kings
Chapter 17

Chapter Overview:

Elijah foretells the drought, ver. 1.
Is fed by ravens, ver. 2 - 7.
By a widow, whose meal and oil are multiplied, ver. 8 - 16.
He raises her dead son, ver. 17 - 24
17:1Elijah - The most eminent of the prophets, who is here brought in, like Melchisedek, without any mention of his father, or mother, orbeginning of his days; like a man dropt out of the clouds, and raised byGod's special providence as a witness for himself in this most degeneratetime that by his zeal, and courage and miracles, he might give some check,to their various and abominable idolatries, and some reviving to that smallnumber of the Lord's prophets, and people, who yet remained in Israel.He seems to have been naturally of a rough spirit. And rough spirits arecalled to rough services. His name signifies, my God Jehovah is he: hethat sends me, and will own me, and bear me out. Said to Ahab - Havingdoubtless admonished him of his sin and danger before; now upon hisobstinacy in his wicked courses, he proceeds to declare, and execute thejudgment of God upon him. As the Lord, &c. - I Swear by the God ofIsrael, who is the only true and living God; whereas the gods whom thouhast joined with him, or preferred before him, are dead and senseless idols.Before whom - Whose minister I am, not only in general, but especially inthis threatening, which I now deliver in his name and authority.There shall not, &c. - This was a prediction, but was seconded with hisprayer, that God would verify it, 5:17 , And this prayer wastruly charitable; that by this sharp affliction, God's honour, and the truthof his word (which was now so horribly and universally contemned) might bevindicated; and the Israelites (whom impunity had hardened in theiridolatry) might be awakened to see their own wickedness, and the necessityof returning to the true religion. Those years - That is, These followingyears, which were three and an half, 4:25 1ki 17: , 5:17 , .My word - Until I shall declare, that this judgment shall cease, and shallpray to God for the removal of it.
17:3Hide thyself - Thus God rescues him from the fury of Ahab and Jezebel, who, he knew, would seek to destroy him. That Ahab did notseize on him immediately upon these words must be ascribed to God'sover - ruling providence.
17:4Have commanded - Or, I shall command, that is, effectually move them, by instincts which shall be as forcible with them, as a law orcommand is to men. God is said to command both brute creatures, andsenseless things; when he causeth them to do the things which he intends toeffect by them. The ravens - Which he chuseth for this work; to shew hiscare and power in providing for the prophet by those creatures, which arenoted for their greediness, that by this strange experiment he might betaught to trust God in those many and great difficulties to which he was tobe exposed. God could have sent angels to minister to him. But he chosewinged messengers of another kind to shew he can serve his own purposes aseffectually, by the meanest creatures as by the mightiest. Ravens neglecttheir own young, and do not feed them: yet when God pleaseth, they shallfeed his prophet.
17:6And flesh - Not raw, but boiled by the ministry of some angel or man, and left in some place 'till the ravens came for it: in all which,there is nothing incredible, considering the power and providence of God.
17:7A while - Heb. at the end of days; that is, of a year; for so the word days is often used. Dried - God so ordering it, for thepunishment of those Israelites who lived near it, and had hitherto beenrefreshed by it: and for the exercise of Elijah's faith, and to teachhim to depend upon God alone.
17:9Zarephath - A city between Tyre and Sidon, called Sarepta by St. 4:26 , and others.Zidon - To the jurisdiction of that city, which was inhabited byGentiles. And God's providing for his prophet, first, by an uncleanbird, and then by a Gentile, whom the Jews esteemed unclean, was apresage of the calling of the Gentiles, and rejection of the Jews.So Elijah was the first prophet of the Gentiles.Commanded - Appointed or provided, for that she had as yet no revelationor command of God about it, appears from ver. 12 .
17:12She said - Therefore though she was a Gentile, yet she owned the God of Israel as the true God. Two sticks - A few sticks, thatnumber being often used indefinitely for any small number. And die - Forhaving no more provision, we must needs perish with hunger. For though thefamine was chiefly in the land of Israel, yet the effects of it were inTyre and Sidon, which were fed by the corn of that land. But whata poor supporter was this likely to be? who had no fuel, but what shegathered in the streets, and nothing to live upon herself, but an handfulof meal and a little oil! To her Elijah is sent, that he might liveupon providence, as much as he had done when the ravens fed him.
17:13But make, &c. - This he requires as a trial of her faith, and obedience, which he knew God would plentifully reward; and so this wouldbe a great example to encourage others to the practice of the same graces.
17:14The barrel, &c. - The meal of the barrel So the cruse of oil for the oil of the cruse.
17:15Many days - A long time, even above two years, before the following event about her son happened. And surely the increase of herfaith to such a degree, as to enable her thus to deny herself and trustthe promise, was as great a miracle in the kingdom of grace, as theincrease of her oil in the kingdom of providence. Happy are they who canthus against hope believe and obey in hope.
17:16Wasted not - See how the reward answered the service. She made one cake for the prophet and was repaid with many for herself and her son.What is laid out in charity is set out to the best interest, an upon thebest securities.
17:17No breath - That is, he died. We must not think it strange, if we meet with sharp afflictions, even when we are in the way of eminentservice to God.
17:18She said - Wherein have I injured thee? Or, why didst thou come to sojourn in my house, if this be the fruit of it? They are the words ofa troubled mind. Art thou come - Didst thou come for this end, that thoumightest severely observe my sins, and by thy prayers bring down God'sjust judgment upon me, as thou hast brought down this famine upon thenation? To call, &c. - To God's remembrance: for God is said inscripture, to remember sins, when he punisheth them; and to forgetthem, when he spares the sinner.
17:19Into a loft - A private place, where he might more freely pour out his soul to God, and use such gestures as he thought most proper.
17:20He cried - A prayer full of powerful arguments. Thou art the Lord, that canst revive the child: and my God; and thereforewilt not, deny me. She is a widow, add not affliction to the afflicted;deprive her not of the support and staff of her age: she hath given mekind entertainment: let her not fare the worse for her kindness to aprophet, whereby wicked men will take occasion to reproach both her,and religion.
17:21Come into him - By which it is evident, that the soul was gone out of his body, this was a great request; but Elijah was encouraged tomake it; by his zeal for God's honour, and by the experience which he hadof his prevailing power with God in prayer.
17:22Into him again - This plainly supposes the existence of the soul in a state of separation, and consequently its immortality: probablyGod might design by this miracle to give an evidence hereof, for theencouragement of his suffering people.