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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

1 Kings 17



Verses 1-24

1 Kings 17:1. And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.

How abruptly this man breaks in upon the scene! He leaps like a lion from the thicket. There is no previous announcement of his coming; but here he stands, God’s own man ordained to bear witness in evil times, — to stand like a brazen pillar when everything around him seems to be moving from its place. Ahab had not been accustomed to be spoken to in this fashion. Mark how personal is Elijah’s message; he does not begin even by saying, as the prophets usually did, “Thus saith the Lord.” There is something that at first seems almost audacious about his expression: “There shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.” A man may sometimes seem self-assertive when, really, he has so completely lost himself in God that he does not care what people think about him, whether they regard him as an egotist or not. Some men appear to be modest because they are proud, while others seem to be proud because they have sunk themselves, and only speak so boldly because they have their Master’s authority at the back of their words Bravely did Elijah say, “There shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.”

1 Kings 17:2-3. And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.

Of course, the prophet would have had to share in the general want unless God had provided for him, and therefore the Lord took care that his servant should be hidden away where a brooklet would continue to run after the moisture had departed from other places.

1 Kings 17:4. And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.

Perhaps someone says, “Ravens were more likely to rob the prophet than to feed him;” and so they were. Some have objected that these ravens were unclean; what if they were? Things are not made unclean because they are carried by unclean creatures. Did not Abigail bring to David food upon asses which were unclean? There is no sense in that objection. “Oh, but!” somebody else asks, “how should ravens bring food?” How should they not, if God commanded them? All creatures are under his control. A God, and a miracle is simple enough. If God does not feed his people by any other means, he will command ravenous beasts and unclean birds to feed them.

1 Kings 17:5. So he went and did according unto the word of the LORD: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.

It is the glory of Elijah that he does whatever God bids him, asking no questions. He simply, like a child, goes to the brook just as, like a hero, he had previously stood before the king.

1 Kings 17:6-7. And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook. And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.

Brooks will dry up, even if godly men are being sustained by them. Is there anyone here whose brook is drying up? Has it quite dried up? Still trust you in God; for, if the ravens are put out of commission, God will employ some other agency.

1 Kings 17:8-9. And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.

It was a time of famine, yet God sent him to a widow woman! She is sure to need sustaining herself; yes, and she shall get it, too, through sustaining the prophet, he that could command the ravens to feed his servant could command a widow woman to do the same thing; and he did so. This woman does not appear to have been originally a worshipper of Jehovah. She lived in a heathen country, and probably was herself a heathen; but she reverenced the servant of Jehovah, and she did his bidding, and doubtless became a true follower of the living God.

1 Kings 17:10. So he arose and went to Zarephath.

There is the same unreasoning faith: “So he arose;” just as, in the 5th verse, it is written: “So he went;” that is, with all alacrity, he did his Lord’s bidding without any question.

1 Kings 17:10. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there-

There she was, the woman who was to sustain him. She had come, no doubt, with a carriage and pair, to take him home, to her mansion. Oh, no! “The widow woman was there” —

1 Kings 17:10. Gathering of sticks:

She was a poor woman to sustain him, but there she was: “gathering of sticks.”

1 Kings 17:10. And he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.

Water was scarce then; every drop was very precious; it was therefore a large request that Elijah made to her.

1 Kings 17:11. And as she was going to fetch it,-

For she saw, by his garment, and by his majestic bearing, that he was a messenger of God: “As she was going to fetch it,” —

1 Kings 17:11-12. He called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.

It was such a little quantity, that two sticks would be quite enough; yet this is the woman who is to sustain Elijah! Poor creature, she needs someone to sustain her and her son! How often does God use very strange means for the accomplishment of his blessed purposes

1 Kings 17:13. And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.

What a trial for her faith! This stranger must have the first portion of her last meal; yet she had faith enough to obey his word.

1 Kings 17:14-15. For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth. And she went and did according to the Saying of Elijah:

Faith is blessedly contagious. God, by his Spirit can make the faith of one to beget faith in others. This woman learns, from the very boldness of Elijah, to believe in God; and she does as he tells her.

1 Kings 17:15-18. And she, and he, and her house, did eat many days. And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke by Elijah. And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him. And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?

Poor creature, having lost her husband, her heart was wrapped up in her son! Under this sharp trial, she condemned herself; but she also began to have hard thoughts of the man of God. We none of us know what we may say when we are overwhelmed with a great trouble. It is easy to find fault with the utterance of a poor distracted spirit, and to say, “That is improper language.” Hast thou never spoken so in the hour of thy grief? Blessed is that man from whose lips there has never escaped a wrong word in the time of his anguish. This widow woman was a mother with a dead child in the house; do not find fault with her, but tenderly pity her, and all who are in a like case.

1 Kings 17:19-20. And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed. And he cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son!

The words of the woman had touched his heart, and perhaps he also spoke unadvisedly; but who are we that we should judge? He seemed to feel that, wherever he went, he was bringing trouble upon people. All Israel was afflicted with drought because of his prophecy, and now this poor woman had lost her darling child. Yet even in this desperate case he did not give up hope, and prayer, and effort.

1 Kings 17:21. And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again.

This was splendid faith on the part of the prophet. Nobody had ever prayed before for the restoration of one who was dead; no one had ever attempted to work such a miracle as this; but Elijah’s faith was strung up to a wonderful pitch. Here was faith ready to receive the blessing, so the blessing would surely come. Here was the faith that could move mountains, and stir the very gates of death. Elijah treads an unaccustomed road, and asks for what had never been given before.

1 Kings 17:22-23. And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth.

Elijah was never a man of many words; he was a prophet mighty in deeds; he said little, but what he did spoke loudly.

1 Kings 17:24. And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in thy mouth is truth.

Did she not know this before? Yes, or else she would not have given him the first portion of her meal. She must have known it, for she had been living for a long time upon the meal and the oil which he had multiplied. But now she said that she knew it, as if she had never known it before. God has a way of bringing truth home to the heart with such vividness that, though we have been perfectly acquainted with it for years, yet we are compelled to cry, “Now I know it; now I have it as I never had it before; now I grasp it and embrace it with my very soul!” May we all know the truth of God in this grand fashion! Amen.


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Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on 1 Kings 17:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". 2011.

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