1 Kings 17

Elijah Predicts Drought

1 Now Elijah the Tishbite, who was of 1the settlers of Gilead, said to Ahab, "2As the LORD, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely 3there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except * by my word."
2 The word of the LORD came to him, saying,
3 "Go away from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east * of the Jordan.
4 "It shall be that you will drink of the brook, and 4I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there."
5 So he went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and lived by the brook Cherith, which is east * of the Jordan.
6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he would drink from the brook.
7 It happened after * a while that the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land.
8 Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying,
9 "Arise, go to 5Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there; behold, 6I have commanded a widow there to provide for you."
10 So he arose and went to Zarephath, and when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks; and 7he called to her and said, "Please get me a little water in a jar, that I may drink."
11 As she was going to get it, he called to her and said, "Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand."
12 But she said, "8As the LORD your God lives, 9I have no bread, only * a handful * of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and 10die."
13 Then Elijah said to her, "Do not fear; go, do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from it first and bring it out to me, and afterward you may make one for yourself and for your son.
14 "For thus says the LORD God of Israel, 'The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain on the face of the earth.' "
15 So she went and did according to the word of Elijah, and she and he and her household ate for many days.
16 The bowl of flour was not exhausted nor did the jar of oil become empty, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke through Elijah.

Elijah Raises the Widow's Son

17 Now it came about after these things that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became sick; and his sickness was so severe that there was no breath left in him.
18 So she said to Elijah, "11What do I have to do with you, O 12man of God? You have come to me to bring my iniquity to remembrance and to put my son to death!"
19 He said to her, "Give me your son." Then he took him from her bosom and carried him up to the upper room where * he was living, and laid him on his own bed.
20 He called to the LORD and said, "O LORD my God, have You also brought calamity to the widow with whom I am staying, by causing her son to die?"
21 13Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and called to the LORD and said, "O LORD my God, I pray You, let this child's life return to him."
22 The LORD heard the voice of Elijah, 14and the life of the child returned to him and he revived.
23 Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper room into the house and gave him to his mother; and Elijah said, "See, your son is alive."
24 Then the woman said to Elijah, "15Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth."

1 Kings 17 Commentary

Chapter 17

Elijah fed by ravens. (1-7) Elijah sent to Zarephath. (8-16) Elijah raises the widow's son to life. (17-24)

Verses 1-7 God wonderfully suits men to the work he designs them for. The times were fit for an Elijah; an Elijah was fit for them. The Spirit of the Lord knows how to fit men for the occasions. Elijah let Ahab know that God was displeased with the idolaters, and would chastise them by the want of rain, which it was not in the power of the gods they served to bestow. Elijah was commanded to hide himself. If Providence calls us to solitude and retirement, it becomes us to go: when we cannot be useful, we must be patient; and when we cannot work for God, we must sit still quietly for him. The ravens were appointed to bring him meat, and did so. Let those who have but from hand to mouth, learn to live upon Providence, and trust it for the bread of the day, in the day. God could have sent angels to minister to him; but he chose to show that he can serve his own purposes by the meanest creatures, as effectually as by the mightiest. Elijah seems to have continued thus above a year. The natural supply of water, which came by common providence, failed; but the miraculous supply of food, made sure to him by promise, failed not. If the heavens fail, the earth fails of course; such are all our creature-comforts: we lose them when we most need them, like brooks in summer. But there is a river which makes glad the city of God, that never runs dry, a well of water that springs up to eternal life. Lord, give us that living water!

Verses 8-16 Many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, and some, it is likely, would have bidden him welcome to their houses; yet he is sent to honour and bless with his presence a city of Sidon, a Gentile city, and so becomes the first prophet of the Gentiles. Jezebel was Elijah's greatest enemy; yet, to show her how powerless was her malice, God will find a hiding-place for him even in her own country. The person appointed to entertain Elijah is not one of the rich or great men of Sidon; but a poor widow woman, in want, and desolate, is made both able and willing to sustain him. It is God's way, and it is his glory, to make use of, and put honour upon, the weak and foolish things of the world. O woman, great was thy faith; one has not found the like, no not in Israel. She took the prophet's word, that she should not lose by it. Those who can venture upon the promise of God, will make no difficulty to expose and empty themselves in his service, by giving him his part first. Surely the increase of this widow's faith, so as to enable her thus readily to deny herself, and to depend upon the Divine promise, was as great a miracle in the kingdom of grace, as the increase of her meal and oil in the kingdom of providence. Happy are all who can thus, against hope, believe and obey in hope. One poor meal's meat this poor widow gave the prophet; in recompence of it, she and her son did eat above two years, in a time of famine. To have food from God's special favour, and in such good company as Elijah, made it more than doubly sweet. It is promised to those who trust in God, that they shall not be ashamed in evil time; in days of famine they shall be satisfied.

Verses 17-24 Neither faith nor obedience shut out afflictions and death. The child being dead, the mother spake to the prophet, rather to give vent to her sorrow, than in hope of relief. When God removes our comforts from us, he remembers our sins against us, perhaps the sins of our youth, though long since past. When God remembers our sins against us, he designs to teach us to remember them against ourselves, and to repent of them. Elijah's prayer was doubtless directed by the Holy Spirit. The child revived. See the power of prayer, and the power of Him who hears prayer.

Cross References 15

  • 1. Judges 12:4
  • 2. 1 Kings 18:10; 1 Kings 22:14; 2 Kings 3:14; 2 Kings 5:20
  • 3. 1 Kings 18:1; Luke 4:25; James 5:17
  • 4. 1 Kings 17:9
  • 5. Obadiah 20; Luke 4:26
  • 6. 1 Kings 17:4
  • 7. Genesis 24:17; John 4:7
  • 8. 1 Kings 17:1
  • 9. 2 Kings 4:2-7
  • 10. Genesis 21:15, 16
  • 11. 2 Samuel 16:10; 2 Kings 3:13; Luke 4:34; John 2:4
  • 12. 1 Kings 12:22
  • 13. 2 Kings 4:34, 35; Acts 20:10
  • 14. Luke 7:14; Hebrews 11:35
  • 15. John 2:11; John 3:2; John 16:30

Footnotes 16

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO 1 KINGS 17

This chapter begins with a prophecy of Elijah, that there should be want of rain for some years to come, and he is directed to go first to the brook Cherith, where he should be fed by ravens, 1Ki 17:1-7, and afterwards he is sent to a widow at Zarephath, where he, she, and her son, were supported for a considerable time with a handful of meal, and a little oil in a cruse miraculously increased, 1Ki 17:8-16, whose son falling sick and dying, he restored to life, 1Ki 17:17-24.

1 Kings 17 Commentaries