But what saith the answer of God unto him?
&c.] The divine response, or oracle, the (lwq tb) , "Bath Kol", or voice from heaven; the still small voice of the Lord, which Elijah heard, ( 1 Kings 19:12 ) :
I have reserved to myself;
for his worship and service, to be partakers of his grace, inheritors of his kingdom, to show forth his praise, and for his name's sake, for his honour and glory: these he reserved in eternal election, in the council and covenant of peace; separated them in time from others by his grace, and preserved them from the general defection and apostasy: even
seven thousand men:
meaning either that precise and exact number, which was but small in comparison of the very large multitude of persons that were in the ten tribes, or else a certain number for an uncertain:
who have not bowed the knee;
a sign of reverence and adoration:
to [the image] of Baal;
Jezebel's god, the god of the Zidonians; a name common to many of the "deities" of the Gentiles, and signifies "lord", or "master"; we read of "Baalim" in the plural number, for there were "lords many" of this name: in the Greek text the article is of the feminine gender, wherefore our translators have supplied the word image. This word has, in the Septuagint version, sometimes a feminine article as here; see ( 2 Kings 21:3 ) ( Jeremiah 2:8 Jeremiah 2:23 Jeremiah 2:28 ) ( 7:9 ) ( 11:13 ) ( Jeremiah 12:16 ) ( 19:5 ) ( 23:27 ) ( Jeremiah 32:29 Jeremiah 32:35 ) ( Hosea 2:8 ) ( 13:1 ) ; but in ( 1 Kings 19:18 ) , from whence this passage is taken, the article is masculine, as it is also in ( Judges 2:11 Judges 2:13 ) , and in other places. This deity being either of both sexes, or of no distinguished sex; or it may be, the reason it has so often a feminine article is, because it was a young heifer, or in the form of one; so in the history of Tobias 1:5, it is said, that "all the tribes which apostatized together sacrificed", (th baal th damalei) , "to Baal the heifer". The apostle's view in mentioning this instance is to show, that when the church and cause of God are at the lowest, God has always some true worshippers of him; and that he never casts away his foreknown people, whose numbers are generally more than they are thought to be by the saints themselves; good men, as Elijah, may be mistaken in this matter; all which he accommodates to the then present state of God's people, in ( Romans 11:5 ) .