1 Kings 18

The Book of 1 Kings
Chapter 18

Chapter Overview:

Elijah sends notice to Ahab of his coming, ver. 1 - 16.
His interview with Ahab, ver. 17 - 19.
His interview with all Israel upon mount Carmel, ver. 21 - 39.
He slays the prophets of Baal, ver. 40.
Obtains rain, and runs before Ahab to Jezreel, ver. 41 - 46.
18:1The third year - Either,
  1. From the time when he went to hide himself by the brook Cherith; six months before which time the famine might begin. And so this being towards the end of the third year, it makes up these three years and six months, 5:17 . Or,
  2. From the time of his going to Sarepta, which probably was a year after the famine begun; So this might be in the middle of the third year, which also makes up the three years and six months.
Go to Ahab - To acquaint him with the cause of this judgment, and toadvise him to remove it, and upon that condition to promise him rain.Will send - According to thy word and prayer, which thou shalt make forit. Thus God takes care to maintain the honour of his prophet, and injudgment remembers mercy to Israel, for the sake of the holy seed yetleft among them, who suffered in this common calamity.
18:2Elijah went - Wherein he shews a strong faith, and resolute obedience, and invincible courage, that he durst at God's commandrun into the mouth of this raging lion.
18:3Obadiah - Being valued by Ahab for his great prudence and fidelity, and therefore indulged as to the worship of the calves andBaal. But how could he and some other Israelites be said tofear the Lord, when they did not go up to Jerusalem to worship, asGod had commanded? Although they seem not to be wholly excusable in thisneglect, yet because they worshipped God in spirit and truth, and performedall moral duties to God and their brethren, and abstained from idolatry,being kept from Jerusalem by violence, God bares with their infirmityherein.
18:4Prophets - This name is not only given to such as are endowed with an extraordinary spirit of prophecy, but to such ministers as devotedthemselves to the service of God in preaching, praying, and praising God.And fed - With the hazard of his own life, and against the king's command;as wisely considering, that no command of an earthly prince could over - rulethe command of the king of kings. Bread and water - With meat and drink.See how wonderfully God raises up friends for his ministers and people whereone would least expect them!
18:7And fell - By this profound reverence, shewing his great respect and love to him.
18:8Thy lord - Ahab: whom, though a very wicked man, he owns for Obadiah's Lord and king; thereby instructing us, that the wickednessof kings doth not exempt their subjects from obedience to their lawfulcommands.
18:9He said - Wherein have I offended God, and thee, that thou shouldest expose me to certain ruin.
18:10No nation - Near his own, where he could in reason think that Elijah had hid himself. It does not appear, that Ahab sought him,in order to put him to death: but rather in hopes of prevailing upon him,to pray for the removal of the drought.
18:12Carry thee - Such transportations of the prophets having doubtless been usual before this time, as they were after it.Slay me - Either as one that hath deluded him with vain hopes: or,because I did not seize upon thee, and bring thee to him.But I, &c. - He speaks not these words, in a way of boasting; but thathe might move the prophet to spare him, and not put him upon thathazardous action.
18:17Ahab said - Have I at last met with thee, O thou disturber of my kingdom, the author of this famine, and all our calamities?
18:18He answered - These calamities are not to be imputed to me, but thine and thy father's wickedness. He answered him boldly, because he spokein God's name, and for his honour and service. Ye - All of you haveforsaken the Lord, and thou in particular, hast followed Baalim.
18:19Send - Messengers, that this controversy may be decided, what is the cause of these heavy judgments. All Israel - By their heads, orrepresentatives, that they may be witnesses of all our transactions.Carmel - Not that Carmel, in Judah, but another in Issachar bythe midland sea, which he chose as a convenient place being not far from thecenter of his kingdom, to which all the tribes might conveniently resort,and at some distance from Samaria, that Jezebel might not hinder.Prophets of Baal - Who were dispersed in all the parts of the kingdom.Of the groves - Who attended upon those Baal's or idols that wereworshipped in the groves, which were near the royal city, and muchfrequented by the king and the queen.
18:20Ahab sent - He complied with Elijah's motion; because the urgency of the present distress made him willing to try all means toremove it; from a curiosity of seeing some extraordinary events; andprincipally, because God inclined his heart.
18:21And said - Why do you walk so lamely and unevenly, being so unsteady in your opinions and practices, and doubting whether it isbetter to worship God or Baal? If the Lord - Whom you pretend toworship. Follow - Worship him, and him only, and that in such placeand manner as he hath commanded you. If Baal - If Baal can provehimself to be the true God. Answered not - Being convinced of thereasonableness of his proposition.
18:22I only - Here present, to own the cause of God. As far the other prophets of the Lord, many of them were slain, others banished, or hidin caves.
18:23Let then, &c. - To put this controversy to a short issue.
18:24By Fire - That shall consume the sacrifice by fire sent from heaven; which the people knew the true God used to do. It was a greatcondescension in God, that he would permit Baal to be a competitor withhim. But thus God would have every mouth to be stopped, and all fleshbecome silent before him. And Elijah doubtless had a special commissionfrom God, or he durst not have put it to this issue. But the case wasextraordinary, and the judgment upon it would be of use not only then, butin all ages. Elijah does not say, The God that answers by water, tho'that was the thing the country needed, but that answers by fire, let himbe God; because the atonement was to be made, before the judgment couldbe removed. The God therefore that has power to pardon sin, and to signifythat by consuming the sin - offering, must needs be the God that can relieveus against the calamity.
18:25Dress it first - And I am willing to give you the precedency.This he did, because if he had first offered, and God had answered by fire,Baal's priests would have desisted from making the trial on their part;and because the disappointment of the priests of Baal, of which he waswell assured, would prepare the way for the people's attention to his words,and cause them to entertain his success with more affection; and this cominglast would leave the greater impression upon their hearts. And this theyaccepted, because they might think, that if Baal answered them first,which they presumed he would, the people would be so confirmed andheightened in their opinion of Baal, that they might murder Elijahbefore he came to his experiment.
18:26Dressed - Cut it in pieces, and laid the parts upon the wood.From morning - From the time of the morning sacrifice; which advantageElijah suffered them to take. They leapt upon - Or, beside thealtar: or, before it. They used some superstitious and disorderlygestures, either pretending to be acted by the spirit of their god, and tobe in a kind of religious extasy; or, in way of devotion to their god.
18:27Mocked them - Derided them and their gods, which had now proved themselves to be ridiculous and contemptible things.
18:28Cut themselves - Mingling their own blood with their sacrifices; as knowing by experience, that nothing was more acceptable to their Baal(who was indeed the devil) than human blood; and hoping thereby to movetheir god to help them. And this indeed was the practice of divers Heathensin the worship of their false gods.
18:29Prophesied - That is, prayed to, and worshipped their god.
18:30The altar - This had been built by some of their ancestors for the offering of sacrifice to the God of Israel, which was frequentlydone in high places. Broken down - By some of the Baalites, out oftheir enmity to the true God, whose temple, because they could not reach,they shewed their malignity in destroying his altars.
18:31Twelve stones - This he did, to renew the covenant between God and all the tribes, as Moses did, Exodus 24:4 , to shew, that heprayed and acted in the name, and for the service of the God of all thePatriarchs, and of all the tribes of Israel, and for their good:and, to teach the people, that though the tribes were divided as to theircivil government, they ought all to be united in the worship of the sameGod. Israel - Jacob was graciously answered by God when he prayed tohim, and was honoured with the glorious title of Israel, which notedhis prevalency with God and men. And I, calling upon the same God, doubtnot of a like gracious answer; and if ever you mean to have your prayersgranted, you must seek to the God of Jacob.
18:33With water - This they could quickly fetch, either from the river Kishon; or, if that was dried up, from the sea; both were at the foot ofthe mountain. This he did to make the miracle more glorious, and moreunquestionable.
18:36The evening sacrifice - This time he chose, that he might unite his prayers with the prayers of the godly Jews at Jerusalem, who atthat time assembled together to pray. Lord God of, &c. - Hereby he shewsfaith in God's ancient covenant, and also reminds the people, of theirrelation both to God and to the patriarchs. Done these things - Broughtthis famine, gathered the people hither, and done what I have done, or amdoing here; not in compliance with my own passions, but in obedience to thycommand.
18:37Hast turned - Let them feel so powerful a change in their hearts, that they may know it is thy work. Back again - Unto thee, from whom theyhave revolted.
18:38Consumed - Solomon's altar was consecrated by fire from heaven; but this was destroyed, because no more to be used.
18:39They fell - In acknowledgment of the true God.He is God - He alone; and Baal is a senseless idol. And theydouble the words, to note their abundant satisfaction and assuranceof the truth of their assertion.
18:40Elijah said - He takes the opportunity, whilst the peoples hearts were warm with the fresh sense of this great miracle.The brook Kishon - That their blood might be poured into that river,and thence conveyed into the sea, and might not defile the holy land.Slew them - As these idolatrous priests were manifestly under a sentenceof death, passed upon such by the sovereign Lord of life and death, soElijah had authority to execute it, being a prophet, and an extraordinaryminister of God's vengeance. The four hundred prophets of the groves,it seems, did not attend, and so escaped, which perhaps Ahab rejoiced in.But it proved, they were reserved to be the instruments of his destruction,by encouraging him to go up to Ramoth - Gilead.
18:41Get up - From the river, where he had been present at the slaughter of Baal's priests, to thy tent: which probably was pitchedon the side of Carmel. Eat, &c. - Take comfort, and refresh thyself:for neither the king, nor any of the people could have leisure to eat,being wholly intent upon the decision of the great controversy.For there is, &c. - The rain is as certainly coming, as if you heardthe noise which it makes.
18:42The top of Carmel - Where he might pour out his prayers unto God; and whence he might look towards the sea. He had a large prospect of thesea from hence. The sailors at this day call it cape Carmel.Between his knees - That is, bowed his head so low, that it touched hisknees; thus abasing himself in the sense of his own meanness, now God hadthus honoured him.
18:43Go - While I continue praying. Elijah desired to have timely notice of the first appearance of rain, that Ahab and the people mightknow that it was obtained from Jehovah by the prophet's prayers, andthereby be confirmed in the true religion.
18:44Like a man's hand - Great blessings often rise from small beginnings, and showers of plenty from a cloud of a span long. Let ustherefore never despise the day of small things, but hope and waitfor greater things from it.
18:46The hand, &c. - God gave him more than natural strength, whereby he was enabled to outrun Ahab's chariot, for so many miles together.He girded, &c. - That his garments, which were long, might not hinder him.Ran before Ahab - To shew how ready he was to honour and serve the king,that by this humble and self - denying carriage, it might appear, what hehad done was not from envy or passion, but only from a just zeal for God'sglory: that by his presence with the king and his courtiers, he mightanimate and oblige them to proceed in the reformation of religion: and, todemonstrate, that he was neither ashamed of, nor afraid for what he haddone, but durst venture himself in the midst of his enemies.