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Bible Commentaries

The Pulpit Commentaries

1 Kings 19

 

 

Verses 1-21

EXPOSITION

ELIJAH'S FLIGHT THE THEOPHANY OF HOREB AND THE CALLING OF ELISHA.—We can readily understand with what a sense of humiliation and shame the weak and excited king, who must have been awed and impressed by the strange portent he had witnessed, would recount the day's proceedings to his imperious and headstrong consort, and with what intense mortification and rage she must have heard of the triumph of the proscribed religion and of the defeat and death of the priests of Baal. One might almost have expected that the testimony of an eyewitness, and that her husband, to the greatness and completeness of Elijah's victory; that his unprejudiced, and indeed unwilling, account of the sacrifices, of the descent of the heavenly fire, of the cries it wrung from the people, etc; would have brought conviction to her mind and taught her how useless it was to kick against the pricks. But there are eyes so blinded (2 Corinthians 4:4) and hearts so steeled against the truth that no evidence can reach them, and this fierce persecutor of the prophets had long been given over to a reprobate mind. She listens to his story, but her one thought is of revenge.

1 Kings 19:1

And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain [Heb. and all which he had slain. The construction, if it were not for the כָל would be usual enough. As that word is omitted in some MSS. and versions, it is possible it has been inserted by a transcriber, mechanically, from the אֵת כָל־אֲשֶׁר preceding] all the prophets, [sc; of Baal, all who were present] with the sword.

1 Kings 19:2

Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah [The prophet, wrapped in his abba, was seemingly about to spend the night in the open air, possibly at the gate, or in the plain. There, in the darkness, the messenger found him, Bähr assumes that this message had Ahab's sanction; i.e; that he must have known of it and was too weak to prevent it. But it is just as likely that it was sent without his privity. On the evening of that day he would be afraid to threaten one vested with such tremendous powers as Elijah had just proved himself to possess], saying [Here the LXX. inserts "If thou art Eliou and I Jezebel"], So let gods [As אֱלֹהִים is here found with a the plural verb, it is rightly assumed that the reference is to the divinities of Phoenicia or of paganism generally. Besides, Jezebel would hardly swear by the one God of Elijah and of Israel. The LXX; however, has ὁ θεὸς], do to me, and more also [Heb. and so let them add. See on 1 Kings 2:23. Stanley appositely recalls to our minds "the tremendous vows which mark the history of the Semitic race, both within and without the Jewish pale, the vow of Jephthah, the vow of Saul, the vow of Hannibal." Rawlinson remarks that this oath was "familiar in the mouths of kings about this time" (1 Kings 20:10; 2 Kings 6:31). But it was a standing formula in Israel at all times. See Ruth 1:17; 1 Samuel 3:17; etc.], if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time. ["That queen consort, it seems, was, in effect, queen regent" (Henry). What induced the queen to send this message? For it is obvious that if she really meant to slay Elijah, she took the very means to defeat her purpose by thus forewarning him of her intentions. Some of the older expositors have seen in the act a proof of her blind infatuation, of that infatuation which God often employs to defeat the machinations of wicked men, and this view is not to be lightly rejected. That she fully meant what she said is hardly to be doubted. But later writers, including Keil, Bähr, and Wordsworth, see in the threat nothing more than a scheme for ridding herself of the presence of Elijah. They argue that, finding herself unable to put him to death, partly because of the impression he had made upon the people, and partly, too, because of the ascendancy he had just gained over the king, she resolved, by threatening him with instant death, to give him an opportunity for flight. But this view hardly takes sufficiently into account the exasperation, the blind unreasoning hate, or the reckless and desperate character of the queen. It must be remembered that this message was despatched, not after she had had time for thought and calculation, but on the spur of the moment, as soon as she had heard of the massacre of the priests of Baal. That night she could do nothing, nor perhaps could she see her way clearly to compass his death on the morrow. But she will have him know that he is not going to escape her, and that, whatever the effect on her husband, she is unconquered and unrelenting. She does not stop to argue that he may take the alarm and flee. But she must gratify her impotent rage forthwith by threatening him with death the next day.]

1 Kings 19:3

And when he saw that [Heb. and he saw and arose, etc. But the LXX. has καὶ ἐφοβήθη, and the Vulgate timuit, and it is to be observed that this meaning, "and he feared," can be extracted from this word וירא without any change of radicals, for the full form יִירָא is occasionally abbreviated into יִרָא; see 1 Samuel 18:12; 1 Samuel 21:13; 2 Kings 17:28. A few MSS. have here וייּרא and it certainly suits the context better. Bähr, who interprets, "he saw how matters stood," i.e; that she meant him to flee, is not justified in asserting that this expression would require an accusative of the person feared. (See, e.g; Genesis 3:10; Genesis 15:1; Genesis 18:15.) Both he and Keil furthermore object to this interpretation that it is contrary to actual fact, neither of them being willing to allow that Elijah was afraid. Bähr says it is inconceivable that the man who had that day faced alone king and priests and the entire people should have become all at once afraid of a bad woman, and he explains Elijah's flight as caused by the discovery that he could not carryon his work of reformation, and by the absence of any intimation (like that of 1 Kings 18:1) that he was to stay and hazard his life. But apart from the fact that we are distinctly told that he "went for his life" (cf. 2 Kings 17:4, 2 Kings 17:10), and that his flight seems to have been instant and hurried, history tells of many great souls, hardly less brave than Elijah's, which have succumbed to a sudden panic. Anyhow, it is evident that for the moment Elijah had lost faith in God, otherwise he would certainly have waited for the "word of the Lord," which had hitherto invariably guided his movements (1 Kings 17:2, 1 Kings 17:8; 1 Kings 18:1). No doubt other emotions besides that of fear were struggling in his breast, and prominent among these was the feeling of profound disappointment and mortification. It is clear that he had hoped that the "day of Carmel" would turn the heart of the entire nation back again (1 Kings 18:37), and the great shout of 2 Kings 17:39, and the subsequent execution, at his command, of the men who had deceived and depraved the people, might well justify the most sanguine expectations. We can readily imagine, consequently, how, especially after the excitement and fatigues of that day, the threatening and defiant message of the queen would seem the death blow of his hopes, and how, utterly dispirited and broken down, he lost all trust, all faith, and, while fleeing for his life, "requested for himself that he might die" (2 Kings 17:4)], he arose, and went for his life [Keil is compelled, by his refusal to allow that Elijah was actuated by fear, to render these words, "went to commit his soul to God in the solitude of the desert." But the men meaning is settled for us by the like expression in 2 Kings 7:7; nor does Jeremiah 44:7 lend any support to Keil's view. Gesenius compares τρέχειν περὶ ψυχῆς. Od. 9:423. The A.V. exactly represents the meaning], and came to Beer-sheba [Genesis 21:31; Genesis 26:33. The southern boundary of Palestine (Joshua 15:28; 2 Samuel 24:7; 20:1; 1 Chronicles 21:2, etc.), allotted to the tribe of Simeon (Joshua 19:2), which tribe, we gather from this passage (see also 2 Chronicles 19:4), was now absorbed in the southern kingdom. (See note on Genesis 11:31.) Wordsworth suggests that "perhaps he resorted to Beer-sheba in order to strengthen his faith with the recollection of the patriarchs who had dwelt there," etc. But if that had been his object, a journey to the place was hardly necessary, and it is clear that he only passed through it on his way to Mount Sinai. "Beer-sheba was about 95 miles from Jezreel"—Rawlinson, who adds that Elijah cannot have reached it till the close of the second day. But we must remember that his pace would be regulated by the powers of his servant, probably a mere lad (LXX. παιδάριον), so that it is hardly likely he could travel day and night without stopping to rest], which belongeth to Judah [It is part of Keil's argument in proof that Elijah did not flee from fear of Jezebel, that, had such been the case, he would have remained in the kingdom of Judah, where he would have enjoyed the protection of Jehoshaphat. But it is by no means certain that this prince, considering his close alliance with Ahab (1 Kings 22:4; cf. 1 Kings 18:10; 2 Kings 8:18; 2 Chronicles 18:1), would have sheltered the prophet. Indeed, it is remarkable, as Blunt has well pointed out, that the prophet never took refuge in the southern kingdom. At one time he found a sanctuary beyond the Jordan; at another in the kingdom of Tyre, but never in the realm of Jehoshaphat. When he does come in haste to Beer-sheba, "it is after a manner which bespeaks his reluctance to set foot within that territory, even more than if he had evaded it altogether." The reason partly was, no doubt, as Wordsworth says, that his mission was to idolatrous Israel. Judah had both priests and prophets of its own], and left his servant [There is no warrant for the assertion (Stanley) that "one only of that vast assembly remained faithful to him, the Zidonian boy of Zarephath." The identity of this boy with the servant is by no means certain; nor is the defection of the people at all proven] there. [Probably because he wished to be alone with God; possibly because the boy was then too exhausted to go further, and there was no reason why he should be subjected to the uncertainties and privations of desert life; hardly for the security of both (Blunt). It is perhaps implied, however, that the kingdom of Judah, though not a safe abode for him, would be for his servant. When we remember that this servant never rejoined him, but that presently Elisha took his place, we can scarcely help wondering whether he was afraid to accompany Elijah any longer (cf. Acts 15:38).]

1 Kings 19:4

But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness [Cf. Genesis 21:14, Genesis 21:21; Jeremiah 9:2; Revelation 12:6. Beer-sheba stands on the fringe of the desert of Et-Tih. It was not for the sake of security alone that the prophet plunged into the "great and terrible wilderness." It is probable that from the first, "Horeb, the mount of God," was in his thoughts. He may well have seen that he was destined to be a second Moses; that he was raised up to assert and enforce the covenant of which Moses was the mediator. We have seen already that he cites the words spoken to Moses at the bush (1 Kings 18:36); that to him as to Moses there was granted an apparition of fire; we now find him rejected as Moses had been before him (Acts 7:25, Acts 7:35). How natural that, like Moses, he should flee into the land of Midian, to the place where God had spoken With Moses face to face. Wordsworth reminds us that the Jewish Church, by its cycle of lessons, suggests a comparison between the Law Giver and the Law Restorer], and came and sat down under a [Heb. one; see note on 1 Kings 13:11] juniper tree [The רֹתֶם, here found with a feminine numeral (Keri, masculine), in 1 Kings 13:5 with a masculine, is not the juniper, but the plant now known to the Arabs as retem, i.e; the broom (genista monosperma, or G. raetam), "the most longed for and most welcome bush of the desert, abundant in beds of streams and valleys, where spots for camping are selected, and men sit clown and sleep in order to be protected against wind and sun". It does not, however, afford a complete protection. Every traveller remarks on its abundance in the desert; it gave a name, Rithmah, to one of the stations of the Israelites. Its roots are still used by the Bedouin, for the manufacture of charcoal (cf. Psalms 120:4, "coals of rethern"), which they carry to Cairo]: and he requested for himself [Heb. asked as to his life, accusative of reference] that he might die [Again like Moses, Numbers 11:15; Exodus 32:32]; and said, It Is enough [or, Let it be enough. LXX. ἱκανούσθω. See note on 1 Kings 12:28]; now, O Lord, take away my life ["Strange contradiction! Here the man who was destined not to taste of death, flees from death on the one hand and seeks it on the other." Kitto]; for I am not better than my fathers. [These words clearly reveal the great hopes Elijah had formed as to the result of his mission, and the terrible disappointment his banishment had occasioned him. Time was when he had thought himself a most special messenger of Heaven, raised up to effect the regeneration of his country. He now thinks his work is fruitless, and he has nothing to live for longer. Keil concludes from these words that Elijah was already of a great age, but this is extremely doubtful.]

1 Kings 19:5

And as he lay and slept ["While death was called for, the cousin of death comes unbidden" (Hall)] under a [Heb. one] Juniper tree, behold, then [Heb. זֶה this; "behold here," siehe da, Gesen.], an angel [Heb. messenger; the same word as in verse 2, but explained in verse 7 to be a messenger of God. Cf. Genesis 16:9; Genesis 21:17] touched [Heb. touching] him and said unto him, Arise and eat. [Probably he had eaten little or nothing since leaving Jezreel. Food was now what he most needed. This circumstance suggests that the profound depression betrayed in his prayer (verse 4) was largely the result of physical weakness.]

1 Kings 19:6

And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake [same word as in 1 Kings 17:13] baken on the coals [Heb. a cake of stones, or coals. LXX. ἐγκρυφίας. The thin, flat bread of the East, especially among the nomadic desert tribes, is constantly baked in a rude oven, constructed in the sand or soft. A little hollow is made; sometimes it is lined with stones to retain the heat; fuel, often the root of the genista, is placed upon it and kindled, and when the sand or stones are sufficiently hot, the embers are raked to one side, and the dough is placed in the oven, where it is sometimes covered with the ashes. Hence the Vulgate calls it sub-cinericius panis], and a cruse of water at his head [i.e; the place of his head. Marg. bolster. The word is almost used as a preposition. Cf. 1 Samuel 19:13; 1 Samuel 26:7]. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. [Heb. returned and laid down.]

1 Kings 19:7

And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him [i.e; to awaken him. It was the food was to strengthen him], and said, Arise and eat [Probably he had eaten but little the first time, for sorrow and weariness]; because the journey is too great for thee. [The LXX. ὅτι πολλὴ ἀπὸ σοῦ ἡ ὁδός and the Vulgate grandis enim tibi restat via, which Bähr follows, seem hardly so true to the Hebrew idiom as the A.V. rendering. Keil cites Vatablus, iter est majus quam pro viribus tuis. It is very improbable that (Rawlinson al.) the journey to Horeb was now suggested to him for the first time by the angel.]

1 Kings 19:8

And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights [Cf. Exodus 24:18; Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 9:9, Deuteronomy 9:25; Jonah 3:4; Matthew 4:2; Acts 1:3. But the primary reference is perhaps to the "forty days and forty nights" which Moses spent in Horeb, during which he "neither did eat bread nor drink water" (Deuteronomy 9:9), or to the forty years during which Israel was sustained in this same desert with "angels' food" (Psalms 78:25). It is noteworthy how both Moses and Elias were precursors of our Lord in a forty days' fast. "The three great rasters met gloriously on Tabor" (Hall). It is not implied that it took the prophet the whole of this time to reach Horeb, which is only distant from Beer-sheba some 130 miles. "There are eleven days' journey from Horeb, by the way of Mount Seir to Kadesh Barnes" (Deuteronomy 1:2). It is of course possible that he wandered aimlessly hither and thither during this period, but it seems better to understand the words of the whole of his desert sojourn] unto Horeb the mount of God. [See note on 1 Kings 8:9. It is just possible that Horeb was already known as "the mount of God" at the time God appeared to Moses there—the whole of the Sinaitic peninsula was sacred in the eyes of the Egyptians; but it is more probable that this designation is used in Exodus 3:1 prophetically, and that it was Bestowed on the Mount of the Law because of the special revelation of the Godhead there (Exodus 3:6; Exodus 19:3, Exodus 19:11, Exodus 19:18; Deuteronomy 1:6; Deuteronomy 4:10; Deuteronomy 5:2, etc.)]

1 Kings 19:9

And he came thither unto a cave [Heb. the cave. LXX. τὸ σπήλαιον. Many commentators identify this with "the cliff of the rock" where Moses was concealed while the Lord "passed by" (Exodus 33:22), and the use of the same word, עבֵר in verse 11 certainly favours this view. But is it clear that the clift ( נִקְרָה fissure) was a cave? Ewald understands "the cave in which at that time travellers to Sinai commonly rested." It is perhaps worth remembering that a part of the desert, though at some distance from Horeb; boars at this day the name of Magharah, or cave. But there is a "narrow fret" pointed out by tradition as the abode of Elijah, on the side of Jebol Muss. "There is nothing to confirm, but there is nothing to contradict, the belief that it may have been in that secluded basin, which has long been pointed out as the spot No scene could be more suitable for the vision which follows" (Stanley). There is, however, one formidable difficulty in the way of this identification, viz; that the cave is only just large enough for a man's body, which does not agree with verse 18], and lodged [ לוּן means strictly to pass the night. It is possibly connected radically with לַיְלָה] there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him [Not "in vision as he slept" (Rawlinson). He could not "go forth" in his sleep. That he was to go forth "on the morrow" is equally unlikely see verse 11, note], and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? [Many writers, Bähr and Keil among them, will not allow that there is aught of reproof in this question, or that Elijah had in any way erred in his hasty flight. The former asks how it comes to pass that the angel, instead of reproving him, succoured and strengthened him (verses 6, 7), if he was acting in faithlessness or disobedience. But surely it does not follow that God denies all grace and sustenance to His elect servants even if they do, in a moment of despair, forget or distrust Him. Elijah may have been strengthened for this very journey, Because God would meet with him and teach him the lessons of patience and trust he needed to learn, at the "mount of God" itself. And his answer, especially when contrasted with that of verse 14 (where see note), certainly betrays, not only irritation and despair, but a "carnal zeal which would gladly have called down the vengeance of the Almighty upon all idolaters" (Keil). The question in itself, it is true, does not necessarily impart censure—it might merely mean, "What wouldst thou learn of me?" But when it is remembered that the prophet had been sent to every other destination by the "word of the Lord," and that he had left Jezreel without any such word—left it in terror and bitter disappointment and sheer distrust of God—it does look as if the words conveyed a gentle reminder that he had deserted the post of duty, and had no right to be there. So Clerieus, "Quasi Deus diceret nihil esse Eliae negotii in solitudine, sed potius in locis habitatis, ut illic homies ad veri Dei cultum adduceret."]

1 Kings 19:10

And he said, I have been very jealous [Cf. Numbers 25:11, which the prophet may have had in his mind. But the jealousy of Phinehas was in harmony with that of God (Numbers 25:13)] for the Lord God of hosts ["The title of Lord God of hosts is first heard in the mouth of Elijah the prophet, who had been very jealous for Jehovah in opposition to Baal and Ashtaroth [Ash-toreth?] the Phoenician deifies; of. 2 Kings 23:5, 'Baal, the sun, and moon, and planets, and all the host of heaven'" (Wordsworth)]: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant [he had memories of the covenant all around him], thrown down thine altars [cf. 1 Kings 18:30, note. It is clear that many altars, similar to that on Carmel, had been built, and had been overturned], and slain thy prophets with the sword [If the "hundred prophets" of 1 Kings 18:15 escaped, of which we cannot be certain, others did not]; and I, even I only, am left [See note on 1 Kings 18:22. It must be confessed that the prima facie view is that the prophets had been well nigh exterminated. But we must take into account the deep despondency with which Elijah spoke, and remember the correction which his words received (1 Kings 18:18)]; they seek my life, to take it away. [The commentators are hopelessly divided as to the spirit and temper with which these words were spoken. Bähr, as before, is very positive that there is no complaint or murmuring against God on Elijah's part. He contends that the prophet has been led to Sinai simply by the earnest longing for a disclosure concerning the dealings of God, and for instructions as to his future conduct; and this view has the support of other weighty authorities. But it is extremely difficult to resist the conclusion that we have here at the least a "tacit reproof that God had looked on so quietly for such a length of time, and had suffered things to come to such an extremity" (Keil). St. Paul speaks of him as pleading with God against Israel ( ἐντυγχάνει τῷ θεῷ κατὰ τοῦ ἰσραὴλ. Romans 11:2), said certainly represents the χρηματισμός he received as a connection. And the ides which this verse, taken in connexion with the prophet's flight (1 Kings 18:3) and his prayer (1 Kings 18:4), leaves on the unbiassed mind certainly is that in his zeal for God he resented not only the growing corruption of the age, but above all the frustration of his efforts to stay it. What burdened and vexed his righteous soul was that in the very hour of victory, when the people had confessed that Jehovah alone was God, he, the one solitary witness for the truth, should be driven from his post to escape as best he might, and to leave the covenant people to the baneful influence of Jezebel and her army of false prophets. It is the cry which we hear over and over again in the Old Testament, the complaint of the silence and apparent indifference of God, of the persecution of the righteous, and the impunity of evil doers.]

1 Kings 19:11

And he said, Go forth [The LXX. inserts αὔριον, which, however, is destitute of authority, and was probably inserted from Exodus 34:2, to explain the difficulty which the prophet's apparent disregard of this command creates], and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed, by [Heb. passeth by. Only used here and in Exodus 33:22; Exodus 34:6 of the Divine Being. The beatific vision must be transient. An abiding presence, a שֹׁכֵן, was more than man could bear. So Bähr. As Elijah does not seem to have gone forth from the cave until he heard the still small voice (Exodus 34:13 ), some would take the participle עבֵר which is probably employed as more graphic, as a future, i.e; "the Lord will pass by," and this is the interpretation of the LXX.; ἰδοὺ παρελεύσιται κύριος καὶ ἰδοὺ πνεῦμα μέγα κ. τ. λ. The effect of this rearrangement of the text would be that the words, "And behold the Lord passing by," must be taken as a part of the message, "Go forth," etc; and not as a statement of what happened. That statement would then begin with the next words, "And a great and strong wind," etc. But in that case we might have expected "For behold," etc; or the "And behold" would have come before "a great and strong wind," etc. It is also to be considered—and this seems to me decisive—that the words "rent," "break," etc; are also participles, which it would be unnatural to divorce from the participle preceding], and a great and strong wind [Such as was net uncommon in that region. The approach to Sinai from the west is known as Nukb-Hawy, "the pass of the winds." Elsewhere we find the Wady-el-Burk, or "valley of lightning." These phenomena—the tempest, fire, etc.—would be all the more awful and impressive because of the surrounding desolation and the utter solitude] rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind [Heb. not in the wind Jehovah]: and after the wind an earthquake [Once before (Exodus 19:18) an earthquake accompanied the descent of God upon the same mountain. The desert of Sinai, with the exception of the Hammam Pharoun and other hot springs, affords no traces of volcanic action. "Everywhere there are signs of the action of water, nowhere of fire" (Stanley). But רַעַשׁ properly means (compare rauschen, rush) a crashing noise (Job 39:24; Isaiah 9:4), and the mysterious sounds of Jebel Musa have often been remarked]; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:

1 Kings 19:12

And after the earthquake a fire [For the association of tempest, earthquake, fire, etc; as punishments of God, see Isaiah 29:6, and Psalms 18:7, Psalms 18:8. "Fire" may well signify lightning (Job 1:16; Exodus 9:23). For a vivid description era thunderstorm at Sinai, see Stewart's "Tent and Khan," pp. 139, 140; ap. Stanley, "Jew. Ch.," vol. 1. p. 149]: but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. [Heb. a voice of gentle silence. דְּמָמָה an onomatopoetic word, is allied to our word dumb. Very similar expression Job 4:16. What was the object and meaning of this succession of signs? First, let us remember that Elijah was the prophet of deeds. He taught his contemporaries not by word but by set. He is here taught in turn by signs. There passes before him in the mountain hollow, in the black and dark night, a procession of natural terrors-of storm, and earthquake, and fire. But none of these things move him; none speak to his soul and tell of a present God. It is the hushed voice, the awful stillness, overpowers and enchains him. He is to learn hence, first, that the Lord is a God "merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth" (Exodus 34:6); and secondly, that as it has been with himself, so it will be with others; the name of the Lord will be proclaimed in a voice of gentle silence (ib; Job 4:5). The weapons of His warfare, the instruments of religious progress, must be spiritual, not carnal. Not in fire and sword and slaughter, but by a secret voice speaking to the conscience, will God regain His sway over the hearts of Israel. (See Homiletics.) The striking similarity between this theophany and that which Moses saw in the same place, or at no great distance from it, must not be overlooked, for this constitutes another link between law giver and law restorer. The proclamation of Exodus 34:3, Exodus 34:7 is the best exponent of the parable of Exodus 34:11, Exodus 34:12. To each was the vision of God granted after a faithful witness against idolatry, and after a slaughter of idolaters; each was in a clift of the rock; in either case the Lord passed by; the one was taught by words, the other rather by signs, but the message in each case was the same—that judgment is God's strange work, but that He will by no means clear the guilty (cf. Exodus 34:17).]

1 Kings 19:13

And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle [Like Moses, Exodus 3:6.; cf. Exodus 33:20; Exodus 34:33; 2 Corinthians 3:13; Isaiah 6:1, Isaiah 6:2. This mantle (see note on 1 Kings 18:46) was probably a sheepskin. The LXX. calls it νηλωτή (cf. Hebrews 11:37). In Zechariah 13:4 we find that the prophets wore a mantle of hair], and went out, and stood [Same words as in verse 11. It was the still small voice, apparently, that first brought him to obey the command there given. He would perhaps be afraid to issue from the shelter of his cave during the tempest and the earthquake, which may have followed directly after the instruction to go forth was given. Possibly there was a lesson for him here also, viz; that amid the din and excitement and torture of drought and famine and fire and blood the commands of God are less likely to be heard in the soul and obeyed, than in the hour of peace and stillness. The drought and famine and sword have their work to do, even as the tempest and the earthquake have theirs; but it is by the voice of mercy and love that the hearts of men are turned back again. "Not in the strong east wind that parted the Red Sea, or the fire that swept the top of Sinai, or the earthquake that shook down the walls of Jericho would God be brought so near to man as in the still small voice of the child of Bethlehem" (Stanley)] in the entering in of the cave. [He hardly obeyed the letter of the command of verse 11 even then. Does not this point to a rebellious and unsubdued heart? Is it not a confirmation of the view taken above, that he fled to Horeb, full of bitter disappointment and murmuring against God; and that the purpose of this revelation was not only to teach him as to God's dealings with men, but also to school and subdue his own rebellious heart?] And, behold, there came a voice unto him [The expression is different from that of Zechariah 13:9. There we read of the "word of the Lord," here of a "voice." But this is not to be identified with the "still small voice" of verse 12], and said, What doest, thou here, Elijah? [As in Zechariah 13:9.]

1 Kings 19:14

And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. [Verbatim as in 1 Kings 19:10. What are we to understand from this repetition of the former answer? Has the lesson of this theophany been lost upon him? Has he failed to grasp its significance? It is probable that he only partially understood its meaning, and it certainly looks as if he still felt himself an injured and disappointed man; as if the recollection of the way in which his work had been frustrated still rankled in his soul. But though the words are the same, it is possible, and indeed probable, that the tone was entirely different; that instead of speaking, as he had spoken before, querulously and almost defiantly, he now, catching his inspiration from the still small voice, speaks with bated breath and profound self humiliation. The facts are the same. He repeats them, because they and they alone explain why he is there, and because he cannot see as yet how they are to be remedied. But he is now conscious of a misgiving as to the wisdom and piety of his course. He feels he has acted hastily and faithlessly, and has wanted to do God's work in his own rough way. He will go back, if it be God's will; he will be content to wait God's time, and to follow His leading. The commission which is straightway given him almost proves that he had experienced a change. It implies that he is now fitted for his high ministry.]

1 Kings 19:15

And the Lord said unto him, Go, return on thy way [Heb. to thy way, as in Genesis 19:2; Genesis 32:2; Numbers 24:25, etc.] to the wilderness of Damacus [The construct case with ה local. Keil refers to Deuteronomy 4:41; Joshua 12:1; and Ewald 216 b. This cannot mean "through the desert to Damascus," for he could not possibly go any other way, nor yet "to the desert (through which he had just come) to Damascus," for he was then in the heart of the desert. He was to find a hiding place—we find the king of Damascus at war with Ahab, Joshua 20:1-9.—or possibly a sphere for work,—he would be near Hazael—in the rugged desert which stretches south and east of the Syrian capital. Here, too, the prophet would be at no great distance from his own country. See on 1 Kings 17:3]: and When thou comest, anoint [Heb. and thou shalt come and anoint. LXX. καὶ ἥξεις καὶ χρίσεις. The A.V. increases the difficulty. In the Hebrew the time of the anointing is indefinite. This commission has long been a crux interpretum. For neither Hazael, nor Jehu, nor Elisha, so far as we have any record, was ever anointed by Elijah. Elisha was called by him to the prophetic office. Hazael, it is barely possible, may have been anointed secretly, like David (1 Samuel 16:2, 1 Samuel 16:13), but all that we gather from Scripture is, that he was called in an indirect way, and certainly not anointed, by Elisha (2 Kings 8:12-15). Jehu was certainly anointed, but it was neither by Elisha nor Elijah (2 Kings 9:1, 2 Kings 9:6), but by one of the sons of the prophets.All we can say, consequently, is that the command was obeyed in the spirit, and no doubt in the best possible time and way. There may have been good reasons, of which we know nothing, why Elijah should devolve the appointment of the two kings upon his successor, and we can readily understand that the word "anoint" was, as in 9:8, Isaiah 61:1, never meant to be construed literally. For in the first place, we have no record elsewhere of the anointing of any prophet; and secondly, it is remarkable that when Elijah might so easily have anointed Elisha, he did nothing of the kind. It is clear, therefore, that he understood the word to mean "appoint." And the root idea of anointing, it must be remembered, was the setting apart for the service of God (Exodus 29:6). Hence it was (Bähr) that vessels (Exodus 30:26 sqq.), and even stones (Genesis 28:18), were anointed. And when we find that these three persons were set apart sooner or later, and in different ways, to fulfil the high purposes of God, that ought to suffice us. The author of this history clearly found no difficulty in reconciling this account and that of 2 Kings 8:9. It has also been objected to this charge (Rawlinson) that it is no "explanation or application of the preceding parable." But this is precisely what it appears to have been intended to be. The prophet is here taught by word much the same lesson that had been conveyed by signs, in the preceding vision. 1% doubt there are additional particulars—the vision dealt only with principles, the charge descends to &tans and prescribes duties—but still the great lesson that souls are to be won, that God's kingdom is to be advanced, not by wrath and vengeance, by fire and sword, but by meekness and gentleness, through the reason and the conscience, is proclaimed. Hazael and Jehu, each was God's instrument to punish; each was like the sweeping siena or the devouring fire, each was an engine of destruction; but by neither of these were the hearts Of men turned to the Lord. It was the sword of Elisha, the sword of his mouth (cf. Isaiah 11:4; Isaiah 49:2; Revelation 1:16; Revelation 2:16), should constrain men to hide their faces and humble themselves before God] Hazael [the seer of God. This name, viewed in connection with Elijah's vision of God, is noticeable] to be king over Syria:

1 Kings 19:16

And Jehu [Jehovah is he. The name was as appropriate as Elijah's] the son [i.e; descendant, probably grandson (2 Kings 9:2, 2 Kings 9:14). Nimshi may have been a person of more importance than Jehoshaphat] of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel [The prophet thus learns that the house of Omri is to share the fate of the dynasties which had preceded it. Jezebel's triumph is not to endure]: and Elisha [My God is salvation. This name, berne by the successor of Elijah, "My God is the Lord," looks like a fresh revelation of God's nature and purpose of grace] the son of Shaphat [Judge] of Abel-meholah [The mention of his abode, Abel-meholah, "the meadow of the dance" (cf. 1 Kings 4:12; 7:22), a town in the Jordan valley, at no great distance from Beth-shean, almost implies that he was hitherto unknown to Elijah. It is to be observed that no such addition follows the mention of Hazael or Jehu] shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room [So far from Elijah's work being fruitless, or from the prophetic order being extinguished, provision is now made for his successor.]

1 Kings 19:17

And it Shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael [See 2 Kings 8:12, 2 Kings 8:28; 2 Kings 10:32; 2 Kings 13:3, 2 Kings 13:22] shall Jehu slay [2 Kings 9:24-33; 2 Kings 10:1-36. passim. Cf. Isaiah 66:16]: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. [Elijah might reasonably interpret the commission to "anoint" Hazael, etc; as a figure, seeing there is an undoubted figure of speech here. Elisha was a man of peace. His sword was the "sword of the Spirit, the word of God." It was by "the breath of his lips he slew the wicked" (Isaiah 2:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Hosea 6:5). Not only are Isaiah 66:16, Isaiah 66:17 an interpretation, in some sort, of the vision, but they are an answer to Elijah's complaint (Isaiah 66:10, Isaiah 66:14). The "children of Israel" who had forsaken the covenant should be punished by Hazael (cf. 2 Kings 8:12, "I know what thou wilt do unto the children of Israel," and cf. 1 Kings:32); the king and queen who had thrown down the altars and slain the prophets should be slain, one by the sword of Syria, the other at the command of Jehu; while to his allegation that the prophets were extinct and he was left alone is opposed the ordination of a successor, and the mention of the "seven thousand" in Isaiah 66:18.]

1 Kings 19:18

Yet I have left me [So St. Paul, Romans 11:4, κατέλιπον; but the LXX. ( καταλείψεις) and all the versions translate the word as future, as in the margin, 1 will leave, and so the ו conversive seems to require. See Gesen; Gram. § 124-26] seven thousand [not so much a round as a symbolical number—"the ἐκλογή of the godly" (Keil). "The remnant according to the election of grace" (Romans 11:5). It is like the 144,000 and the 12,000 of Revelation 7:4-8. The prominent idea is perhaps this: Though the children of Israel have forsaken My covenant, yet I have kept and will keep it. It also suggests how the still small voice had been speaking in the silence] in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him. [We gather from Job 31:26, Job 31:27 that it was customary to kiss the hand to the idol, or object of worship, and from Hosea 13:2 to kiss the image itself. Most of the commentators adduce Cicero in Verrem 4:43, where he speaks of the statue of Hercules at Agrigentum, the lips and chin of which were a little worn by the kisses of devotees.]

1 Kings 19:19

So he departed thence, and found [Nothing can be concluded from this word as to previous acquaintance] Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was ploughing [It was in the winter, consequently. "Elisha is found not in his study, but in the field: not with a book in his hand, but the plough" (Hall). with twelve yoke of oxen [Heb. ploughing twelve yoke, from which Ewald gathers that he was ploughing twelve yoke of land— צֶמֶד like jugum, is used as a measure of land in 1 Samuel 14:14, Isaiah 5:10—and was then at work on the twelfth and last. But the meaning of the "twelve yoke" here is surely settled by the "yoke of oxen;" cf. Isaiah 5:21 and see below] before him [This word also points to animals, not land. The twelve pair of oxen, it is generally thought, are mentioned to show that Elisha was a man of substance. It is not certain, however, that all the twelve belonged to him. See next note], and he with the twelfth ["I have seen more than a dozen ploughs thus at work. To understand the reason of this, several things must be taken into account. First, that the arable land of nearly all villages is cultivated in common; then that Arab farmers delight to work together, partly for mutual protection, and partly from their love of gossip," etc. Thomson, L. and B. 1:208]: and Elijah passed by him [Heb. to him. The idea that he may have "crossed the stream of the Jordan" (Rawlinson) is extremely improbable. The current is strong, and it is not everywhere fordable, especially in winter], and cast his mantle upon him. [Heb. to him אֱלָיו . But LXX. ἐπ αὐτόν. Already, it would seem, the rough hairy mantle had come to be recognized as the garb of a prophet (of. Zechariah 13:4). "The prophet's cloak was a sign of the prophet's vocation" (Keil). To cast the cloak to or upon Elisha was therefore an appropriate and significant way of designating him to the prophetic office. "When Elijah went to heaven Elisha had the mantle entire" 2 Kings 2:13 (Henry). The Germans use the word mantel-kind of an adopted child.]

1 Kings 19:20

And he left the oxen [As, being the last in the line, he could do, without stopping the others. It is probable too that, Elisha being the last, Elijah's action would not have been observed by the rest], and ran after Elijah [It is clear that Elisha both understood the act, and made up his mind at once. No doubt he too had long sighed and prayed over the demoralization of his country and the dishonour done to his God. Elijah, after casting the mantle, strode on, leaving it for Elisha to take or reject it. The latter soon showed his choice by running after him], and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him; Go back again [Heb. go, return]: for what have I done to thee? [There is not a word of reproof here, as Wordsworth and Rawlinson imagine. Indeed, it would have been strange if there had been. A greater readiness to obey the prophetic summons, Elisha could not well have showed. Forthwith, as soon as he realized his call, "he left the oxen and ran after" his newmaster. True, he asks permission—and why should he not? for "grace is no enemy to good nature"—to give a parting embrace to the father and mother to whom he owed his life, and whom he had been required by God to honour. But there is no proof of "a divided heart" here. If he had begged to be allowed to stay and bury his mother and father (St. Luke 9:59-61) it might have been otherwise. But he suggests nothing of the kind. He says: "One kiss, one farewell, and then I will follow thee." It is a complete mistake, consequently, to interpret Elijah's words to mean, "Go, return to thy ploughing, for why shouldst thou quit it?… Thou canst remain as thou art" (Rawlinson). Their true meaning, as evidenced by the sequel (verse 21), clearly was, "Go back and kiss them; why shouldst thou not? For what have I done to thee? I have summoned thee to follow me. But I have not required thee to repudiate thine own flesh and blood."]

1 Kings 19:21

And he returned back from him [Wordsworth is not warranted in affirming that Elisha "did not go back and kiss," etc. The text rather implies that he did], and took a yoke [Heb. the yoke; Cf. verse 19] of oxen, and slew them [Heb. sacrificed; LXX. ἔθυσε. But the word, though generally restricted to sacrificial Ac, primarily means, to slay" simply, as here, and in Genesis 31:54; 1 Samuel 28:24; 2 Chronicles 18:2; Ezekiel 39:17. There was no altar there, and the flesh of a sacrifice was never boiled], and boiled their flesh [Heb. boiled them, the flesh] with the Instruments of the oxen [the plough, yoke, etc. The plough of the East is extremely rude and slender, but the yoke, shaft, etc; would afford a fair supply of wood. The scarcity of timber may have had something to do with this application of the "instruments of the oxen;" but it is much more important to see it in a symbolical act, expressive of Elisha's entire renunciation of his secular calling. He would henceforth need them no longer. Cf. 1 Samuel 6:14; 2 Samuel 24:22], and gave unto the people [Not only the servants or peasants who had been ploughing with him, but possibly his neighbours and friends. This was a farewell, not a religious feast. Cf. Luke 5:29, where Levi makes a "great feast" on the occasion of his call], and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him [i.e; became his attendant, as Joshua had been the minister of Moses (Exodus 24:13; Joshua 1:1), and as Gehazi subsequently became servant to him. See 2 Kings 3:11 : "Elisha… which poured water on the hands of Elijah;" and cf. Acts 13:5.]

HOMILETICS

God and the Man of God.

This chapter lends itself more readily to textual than to topical treatment.

1 Kings 19:1

"And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done." Was there no word, then, of what God had done? Did he think that Elijah, by his own power or holiness, had brought down fire from heaven? Or if Elijah brought it, was there no thought of Him who sent it? But it is an everyday experience that men will think of anything, talk of anything but their Maker. They do not "like to retain God in their thoughts" (Romans 1:28). Perhaps Ahab was afraid in the presence of Jezebel to connect the awful portent with the name of the Lord. That would be tantamount to confessing before her that the Lord He was God (1 Kings 18:24). Jezebel, therefore, may think it was magic if she will Men are not unseldom cowards in religion, even before their own wives and children. How blessed it is when husband and wife rehearse to each other the righteous sets of the Lord; how doubly blessed when the believing husband wins and saves the unbelieving wife (1 Corinthians 7:14, 1 Corinthians 7:16). Then marriage is a sacrament indeed.

"And … how he had slain all the prophets," etc. There was no need to tell her that, at least that night. This communication shows that Ahab's heart was unchanged, otherwise he would have practised a discreet reserve. He must have known full well what the effect of those dark tidings would be. Had he wished for her conversion, he would surely have waited till the morning light. That would have given the other tidings he had brought a chance to work repentance. To speak of the death of the prophets would be to fill her with ungovernable rage. It was charity to hold his peace. That was "a time to keep silence."

1 Kings 19:2

"Then Jezebel sent a messenger." Not, as we might have expected, to sue for forgiveness, but to threaten reprisals. "She swears and stamps at that whereat she should have trembled" (Hall). There is no hate like's woman's, no wickedness like hers. They never do things by halves.

"Men differ at most as heaven and earth,

But women, best and worst, as heaven and hell."

This woman will not be persuaded though one rose from the dead (Luke 16:1). The fiery sign was lost upon her ("Faith cometh by hearing, not by apparitions"). Ahab witnessed the execution of the priests and was too much awed to prevent it. Jezebel only hears of it, and straightway vows vengeance against its author. "Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression" (1 Timothy 2:14).

"The gods do so," etc. This is like much of the profane swearing that we hear, "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." It costs very little to invoke factitious deities. "The gods she sware by could do her no harm." They had not been able to save their own prophets. Cf. 6:31.

"If I make not thy life," etc. The enemies of God's Church and prophets are always chained, and sometimes are infatuate too. They cannot "go beyond the word of the Lord to do less or more" (Numbers 22:18). "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord he turneth it whithersoever he will" (Proverbs 21:1). "He taketh the wise in their own craftiness" (1 Corinthians 3:19), and turns the counsel of an Ahithophel into foolishness (2 Samuel 15:31). The wrath of man is made to praise Him (Psalms 76:10). "Her threat preserved him whom she meant to kill." "It were no living for godly men if the hands of tyrants were allowed to be as bloody as their hearts" (Hall).

1 Kings 19:3

"He arose and went for his life." Elijah, the intrepid apostle of Carmel, who had met the king without fear and faced the four hundred Baal prophets, and stood alone contra mundum, is seized with panic fear. The champion of the morning becomes the coward of the evening. We may well exclaim here, Quantum mutatus ab illo! well ask, "Lord, what is man?" Some have called man a demigod; have seen in him "the peer of the angels." "What a piece of work," says Hamlet, "is man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculties! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god!" In Elijah we see man at his best. He was one of the "first three." He is distinguished even from his brother prophets by the work he was called to do, by the powers with which he was entrusted, by the grace given to him, the care taken of him, the triumphant end granted to him. But how weak and unworthy does this elect messenger of God now appear. "Should such a man as I am flee?" (Nehemiah 6:11.) "How are the mighty fallen 1" How completely he is the sport of circumstances; how full of contradictions his conduct. At one moment he flees for his life; at the next he requests for himself that he may die. "Doth be wish to be rid of his life because he feared to lose it?" (Hall.) Yesterday strong in faith, fearing neither man nor devil; today trembling before a woman, wretched and despairing. But more than that, we find him impatient, petulant, proud, arraigning the providence and wisdom of God. "Take away my life," this is the cry of a mortified ambition; of one who cannot trust himself in God's hands any longer. "I am not better than my fathers." What do these words reveal, but that he had thought himself better than they; that he had been "exalted above measure through the abundance of revelations"? (2 Corinthians 12:7.) And this is Elijah, the restorer of the law, the express ambassador of heaven. It is well said that he was "a man subject to like passions as we are" (James 5:18). "I have seen an end of all perfection." Here is humanity at its best, and how poor and weak it is. If man is "the glory" he is also "the scandal of the universe."

"Chaos of passions, passions all confused,

Still by himself abused or disabused,

Created half to rise and half to fall,

Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all:

Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurled,

The glory, jest, and riddle of the world."

1 Kings 19:5

"Behold, an angel touched him." So that he was watched and guarded, even while he slept. His impatience and faithlessness have not diminished the loving care and tenderness of God. "He knoweth our frame." His very sleep was ordained in mercy. Observe the contrast between the pity and love of God and the childish repining and discontent of the man of God! Observe, too, how God uses the ministry of angels! Compare Matthew 4:11; Luke 22:43; Acts 27:23; Acts 5:19; Acts 12:8. "Are they not all ministering spirits?" (Hebrews 1:14.) "No wilderness is too solitary for the attendance of those blessed spirits." "While he slept, his breakfast is made ready for him by those spiritual hands."

"How oft do they their silver bowers leave

To come to succour us that succour want!

How oft do they with golden pinions cleave

The flitting skyes, like flying pursuivant,

Against fowle fiendes to ayd us militant!

They for us fight, they watch, and dewly ward,

And their bright squadrons round about us plant;

And all for love and nothing for reward.

O why should heavenly God to men have such regard?"

1 Kings 19:6

"A cake baken on the coals," etc. Not only was the prophet protected, he was provided for by the angel. What a commentary on that verse, "He giveth it to his beloved while they sleep "(Psalms 127:2, Hebrews) And does not God give us all food in like manner? While the farmer sleeps, the seed springs and grows up, he knoweth not how (Mark 4:27). Our Keeper neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalms 121:4). Observe also how God prepares a table in the wilderness. It is not the first time He has given angels' food in the desert (Psalms 78:25; Nehemiah 9:21; Deuteronomy 8:16).

1 Kings 19:7

"Arise and eat." Though this was supernatural food, so far as we can see miraculously provided, and in any case of preternatural efficacy, yet it must be taken and eaten in the ordinary way. Elijah might have been endued with strength for his desert journey without the aid of any material elements. The angel's touch or even the word of the Lord would surely have sufficed ( 6:21; Ezekiel 2:2; Ezekiel 3:24; Luke 7:7). Instead of which a cake is baken on the coals, and he must rise and eat thereof, eat thereof twice. God works by means, and it is for man to use them. It is presumption to expect God to dispense with them because He can do so.

1 Kings 19:8

"Went in the strength of that meat," etc. It is very noticeable how many miraculous feedings we have in Holy Scripture. Not only does the New Testament record a feeding, now of five thousand with five loaves, now of four thousand with seven loaves (Matthew 15:9, Matthew 15:10); not only is one or other of these mentioned by all four evangelists; but the Old Testament, in addition to such narratives as those of 1 Kings 17:14 sqq.; 2 Kings 4:1-6, 2 Kings 4:42 sqq; tells of a miraculous supply of food which extended over forty years (Exodus 16:14 -85; Deuteronomy 8:3, Deuteronomy 8:4, Deuteronomy 8:16). Is not all this to teach us that man doth not live by bread alone? (Deuteronomy 8:3.) Are they not rehearsals, adumbrations of the great mystery of our religion, of the true "bread from heaven which giveth life unto the world"? (John 6:32 sqq.) We too are journeying to Horeb, the mount of God. The home of our souls is the "mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense" (Song of Solomon 4:6). And the journey is too great for us. Without Divine aid, without soul food, we shall "faint by the way." But God has provided for us a gracious viaticum, a meat which the world knows not of, flesh which is meat indeed, blood which is drink indeed (John 6:55).

1 Kings 19:9

"The word of the Lord came to him." Though he had not merited such a favour, for he had acted without that word when he fled. True, he fled to the desert, so far as we can see, that he might hear what God would say concerning him, but he had no right to presume that He who had not spoken at Jezreel would speak at Sinai. But God never deals with us as we deserve, or as we deal with one another. "If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?" (Psalms 130:8.) "If they break my statues… then will I visit their transgression with the rod… nevertheless, my loving kindness will I not utterly take from him," etc. (Psalms 89:31-38). "Thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the Lord" (Jeremiah 3:1). If the word did not come to us when we stray, how could we be reclaimed? God must take the first step (John 6:44).

"What doest thou here, Elijah?" It is more than doubtful whether there was any audible voice (see 1 Kings 19:12). God spoke through the conscience. And this is still the organ used by the Holy Ghost. Have we never heard this question in our secret souls? perhaps when we stood in the way of sinners, or sat in the seat of the scornful. We should do well to put it repeatedly to our own hearts. "Bernarde, ad quid venisti?"it was thus that the greatest saint of the Middle Ages often tried his motives and conduct.

1 Kings 19:10

"I have been very jealous." We often confound zeal for our own ends and purposes with zeal for God; often misread our own motives. Jehu cried, "Come and see my zeal for the Lord" (2 Kings 10:16); "but Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel," etc. (verses 29, 81). Saul's "zeal for the children of Israel and Judah" (2 Samuel 21:2) procured the impalemant of seven of his sons. St. Paul bears witness of the Jews, that" they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge," and testifies of himself," concerning zeal, persecuting the Church" (Philippians 3:6; cf. Acts 26:9, Acts 26:11). We can understand the cynical warning. Surtout, point de zele, when we remember what crimes have been committed in its name. The spirit of Elias, the spirit of fire and sword (2 Kings 1:10; 1 Kings 19:1), is not the spirit of our Lord or His Church (Luke 9:55, Luke 9:56). There was not improbably in this complaint something of the resentment which James and John felt when the Samaritans did not receive them. Was it not in part pique at his rejection by Israel led to Elijah's intercession against them? (Romans 11:2.) It is true, he begins, "They have rejected thee," but he ends, "They have rejected me" (1 Samuel 8:7). And our lamentations over the non-success of our ministry, are they inspired by the dishonour done to God, or the indifference manifested towards ourselves? There may be both pride and temper in the complaint, "He followeth not us" (Mark 9:1-50 :88).

1 Kings 19:11

"Standbefore the Lord." Only thus can we know ourselves, and self-knowledge must be our first aim. "E caelo descendit, γνῶθι σεαυτόν." "In thy light shall we see light." We compare ourselves with pigmies when we compare ourselves with others (2 Corinthians 10:12). It is only in the presence of our Maker that we learn our nothingness and sinfulness. "Now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:6, Job 42:6). "Beholding the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image" (2 Corinthians 3:18).

1 Kings 19:12

"A still small voice." The terrors of the Lord awe the soul; His love melts and wins it. What the law could not do, the gospel has done (Rein 1 Kings 8:8). Christ draws men unto Him by the sweet attraction of His cross (John 12:32). The lightnings and thunders, the trumpet and the voices of Sinai, do not move the world as do the seven last words of the Crucified. "Not in the wind that parted the Red Sea, or the fire that swept the top of Sinai," was God brought so near to man, "as in the ministrations of Him whose cry was not heard in the streets, as in the still small voice of the child at Bethlehem" (Stanley). This parable may be compared with the familiar fable which tells how storm and sun strove together for the mastery. The former made the traveller wrap his garments more closely about him; the latter made him cast them aside. Love is more powerful than fear, and that because "love is of God." Judgment is His strange work. "God loves to make a way for Himself by terror, but He conveys Himself to us in sweetness" (Bp. Hall)—a truth well brought out in Theodore Monod's exquisite hymn—

"Yet He found me: I beheld Him

Bleeding on the cursed tree;

Heard Him pray, 'Forgive them, Father;'

And my wistful heart said faintly,

'Some of self, and some of Thee.'

"Day by day His tender mercy

Healing, helping, full and free;

Sweet and strong, and, ah I so patient,

Brought me lower, whilst I whispered,

'Less of self, and more of Thee.'

"Higher than the highest heavens,

Deeper than the deepest sea,

Lord, Thy love at last hath conquered;

Grant me now my spirit's longing,

'None of self, and all of Thee.'"

1 Kings 19:13

"Wrapped his face in his mantle." He was afraid to look upon God (Exodus 3:6; cf. Genesis 3:10, "I hid myself"). "Conscience makes cowards of us all." Besides, no man can see His face and live (Exodus 33:20). The beatific vision is too much for our poor mortality, too much for the angelic powers (Isaiah 6:2). It is in mercy that God is veiled from our view. The seeing God as He is belongs to the times of restitution (Matthew 5:8; Hebrews 12:14; Revelation 1:7; Revelation 22:4; 1 Corinthians 13:12).

1 Kings 19:14

"I have been very jealous," etc. The same question, and precisely the same words in reply. But everything was not the same. The man and the manner wore alike changed (cf. 1 Samuel 10:6). He has heard the "still small voice," and it has hushed his own. How true it is, "It is not the words we say, but the manner and spirit in which we say them, gives them their force and significance."

1 Kings 19:15

"Go, return." This is God's answer to the question, "What doest thou here?" "Thou hast now no business here. Thou hast a work to do elsewhere. Thou art not left alone, nor has God ceased to watch over and care for His Church. His ministers of wrath are already nominated; it is for thee to call them to their work." Which of God's servants has not desponded like Elijah? Who has not been tempted to think his work a failure? Who has not had to complain of a gainsaying and disobedient people? How many have been induced to desert their posts? But no man's work can be a failure unless he is a failure himself. Our work is to witness, whether men will hear or whether they will forbear. If they forbear, who shall say that that work is not successful? And it may be suggested here that work is often the very best remedy for despondency and doubt. The diligent sour has no time for self. torture. Its eye is fixed on others. There is a quaint legend which tells how, some years after the event, St. Thomas was again troubled with agonizing doubts as to our Lord's resurrection. He sought the apostles, and began to pour his soul's troubles into their ears. But first one, then the other, looked at him in astonishment, and told the unhappy doubter that he was sorry for him, but really he had so much to do he had no time to listen to his tale. Then he was fain to impart his woes to some devout women. But they, as busy as Dorcas and in like employment, soon made him understand that they had no leisure for such thoughts as these. At last it dawned upon him that perhaps it was because they were so busy that they were free from the doubts by which he was tortured. He took the hint; he went to Parthia; occupied himself in preaching Christ's gospel, and was never troubled with doubts any more.

1 Kings 19:18

"Yet have I left me seven thousand." There is always a remnant (Romans 11:4, Romans 11:5). The gates of hell cannot prevail against the Church. God has His secret ones, unknown to men. The number of the elect must be accomplished. (Revelation 7:4). The prophets have been too much given to pessimist views. "God's faithful ones are often his hidden ones" (Psalms 83:8).

"Yet in fall'n Israel are there hearts and eyes,

That day by day in prayer like thine arise,

Thou know'st them not, but their Creator knows."

Archbishop Ussher used to say to say that in the great Assize, if the King should set him on His right hand, three things would surprise him. First, to find himself there; secondly, to find that numbers of whose salvation he had always been confident were not there; thirdly, to find that thousands of whose salvation he had always despaired were there after all.

1 Kings 19:19

"Found Elishaploughing." God never calls an idle man. "If ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?" (Luke 16:11.) The man who will not plough by reason of the cold (Proverbs 20:4), if he put his hand to the gospel plough, will presently look back (Luke 9:62), and go not to the work (Acts 15:38). The apostles were called from their ships, their nets, the receipt of custom, etc; none from the market place or the street corners. They only exchanged one department of God's work for another, for "the man who makes two blades of grass grow where only one grew before is a fellow worker with God. "Laborare est orate."An honest calling in the world does not at all put us out of the way of our heavenly calling." "In all labour is profit."

1 Kings 19:20

"He left the oxen." No service without sacrifice. Sometimes it is only ships and nets (Mark 1:20), sometimes it is houses and lands, father and mother, wife and child (Matthew 19:29).

"Go back again." Why should he not kiss his father and mother? "For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother," and it is not for the greatest of the prophets to make the commandment of God of none effect (Matthew 15:4-6). Religion developes and intensifies the domestic affections. Ties of flesh become stronger and closer when cemented and consecrated by grace. It would be strange if the religion of love made husband or wife, parent or child, love each other less.

1 Kings 19:21

"Took a yoke of oxen and slew them." He has done with earthly pursuits. He burns his ships behind him. It would be well for the Church of Christ if her ministers acted in like manner. The temptation to eke out a scanty income by trade, especially among missionaries, must be great; but a man cannot be half a clergyman, and must not be entangled with the affairs of this life. Some of the Swiss pastors have become hotel keepers, but if they have been the gainers, religion has not. Of all masters, religion and business are the two which can least be served together.

HOMILIES BY J.A. MACDONALD

1 Kings 19:1-8

Elijah's Prayer for Death.

How erratic have been the movements of this prophet! Our first introduction to him is at the court of Ahab, whence, as soon as he utters his prophecy, he is away to Cherith in the east, among the wilds of Gilead. Next we find him in the north, at Zarephath of Zidon. Then he meets Obadiah, probably in the plain of Esdraelon, whence he passes over to Carmel in the west. From Carmel he runs before Ahab's horses to the entrance of Jezreel. The next day finds him on his way to Beer-sheba in the extreme south of Judah. The day following he is pushing his way into the wilderness of Sinai, where we now find him under a shrub, requesting for himself that he may die. Let us consider—

I. THE OCCASION OF THIS PRAYER.

1. Jezebel had threatened his life.

2. To save his life hefted.

3. Alone with God he asks to die.

II. THE ANSWERS GIVEN TO IT.

1. They come in the form of physical refreshment.

2. They came to him in spiritual blessing.

1 Kings 19:9-18

Elijah at Horeb.

Elijah went in the strength of the refreshment he had received from the Angel-Jehovah a forty days' journey to Horeb. He was now on holy ground. It was the "mount of God" on which Moses had seen the Angel-Jehovah in the bush, and was within sight of Sinai, memorable for the giving of the law. On Horeb he lodges in a cave, perhaps the very recess from which Moses witnessed the Shechinah (see Exodus 32:22), and here becomes the subject of Divine communications and revelations. Consider now—

I. HIS INTERCESSION AGAINST ISRAEL.

1. Observe the occasion.

2. The matter of the accusation.

II. THE ANSWER OF GOD UNTO HIM.

1. This was first given in symbol.

(a) First, "a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord." Here was a sign of wrath upon the rulers and people, through invasion. (Compare Jet Hebrews 4:11-15; Ezekiel 6:2; Amos 4:1).

(b) "And after the wind an earthquake." This is a sign of revolution, whether in things civil, ecclesiastical, or both. (Compare, Psalms 68:8; Revelation 6:12; Revelation 16:18).

(c) "And after the earthquake a fire. This is the symbol of judgments more immediately from God (see Deuteronomy 4:24; Psalms 18:12-14; Psalms 66:12; Jeremiah 48:45).

2. It was afterwards expounded in words.

1 Kings 19:19-21

The Call of Elisha.

After the visions of Horeb, and in pursuance of the commission there received, Elijah returned from the wilderness and re-entered the land of Israel. Whether he went round by Damascus, and in his course anointed Hazael to be king over Syria, as Samuel had anointed David long before he ascended the throne of Israel, we are not informed. It is not necessary for the fulfilment of his instructions (1 Kings 19:15) to suppose that he did so; for prophets are said to do things which they predict. (See Jeremiah 1:10; Ezekiel 43:3; Romans 4:17.) The reason is that their predictions are sure to be accomplished; and upon the same principle a true faith in the promises of God is said to be the "substance" or subsistence of "things hoped for" (Hebrews 11:1). It is certain that Elisha made provision for the anointing of Jehu; Elisha also informed Hazael that he should be king over Syria (see 2 Kings 8:13; 2 Kings 9:1-3). The call of Elisha was by the hand of Elijah.

I. THE CALL OF ELISHA WAS FROM GOD.

1. Elijah threw his mantle over Elisha.

2. Elijah acted under Divine direction.

II. THE RESPONSE OF ELISHA WAS TO GOD

1. He accordingly renounced the world.

2. He followed Elijah.

Observe:

1. Elisha, though evidently a great man at Abel-Meholah, could handle the plough. There is no disgrace in honest labour. It is even honourable.

2. While in pursuit of his business he was called of God. Business will not be honest if it prevent us from hearing God's voice.

3. He returned to kiss his father and mother and make a farewell feast with his household before following Elijah. Natural affection and social endearments, within proper limits, are respected by religion.

4. Elisha's parents do not seem to have hindered him. Those parents incur fearful responsibilities who, under worldly influences, hinder their sons from responding to a call of God to enter His ministry.—J.A.M.

HOMILIES BY J. WAITE

1 Kings 19:1-18

The Desponding Prophet.

A marvellous change has come over Elijah. It is difficult to imagine a more complete contrast than is presented by his moral attitude in this and the previous chapters. He who just before has so boldly confronted the proud king, and defied the priests of Baal, standing without fear before his flaming altar, and sternly carrying out the judgment of God on the corrupters of His people, is now filled with dismay, and flies from the post of duty and of danger. So unstable are the grandest forms of human virtue, and so weak are the noblest of men when God is pleased for a while to leave them to themselves. Consider

I. THE PROPHET'S STATE OF MIND. It is one of deep despondency. Fear of the queen's revenge is not enough of itself to explain it. There is disappointment at the apparent result of the events of the previous day, weariness of life, disgust at the condition of the land, a sense of powerlessness before the difficulties of his position, perhaps doubt as to the wisdom of what he has done. He speaks and acts as a dispirited, broken-hearted man. Note some of the manifest causes of this despondency. We can never thoroughly understand the feelings of a man unless we take into account the sources and occasions of them, and try to put ourselves in his place.

1. Physical exhaustion. His bodily frame was worn and weary. animal spirits had had a great strain upon them, and now suffered a corresponding relapse. Unwonted exertion of strength was followed by unwonted weakness. The relation that exists between the state of the body and the state of the mind is very mysterious, but very real. The elation or depression of our religious feeling depends far more on mere physical conditions than we often imagine. A diseased body will often cause a dark cloud to come over the spirit's firmament; much that is morbid in the religious thoughts and emotions of good men needs to be dealt with by the physician of the body rather than of the soul.

2. Loneliness. He was without the companionship and sympathy of those who would share his labours and perils. "I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life to destroy it." It is a single-handed conflict in which he is involved. There are none to stand by him, none whom he can trust. Such isolation is the severest possible test of fidelity, As the rock never appears more majestic than when seen standing alone, with the ocean billows rolling round it, so with one who is "faithful found among the faithless," cut off from all natural and human supports, isolated in a surrounding sea of indifference or iniquity. (Think of Paul: "At my first answer no man stood with me, but all forsook me," 2 Timothy 4:16; above all the Christ. "I have trodden the winepress alone, and of the people there was none with me," Isaiah 63:3.) Supernatural help will often come for special emergencies, and will make the soul sublimely independent of external aid; but it is hard to carry on a long, patient conflict with difficulties alone.

3. Want of success. His ministry, seems all in vain. His words are but as the dreams of the false prophets. The solemn testimony given on Carmel has passed away without effecting any real change in the condition of things. The fire that consumed his sacrifice has gone out. Righteous vengeance has been inflicted on the idolatrous prophets, and the Kishon has swept away their blood. The drought has done its work, and the rain has returned upon the land. And now all seems to be going on just as it was before. Ahab and Jezebel are as hostile and treacherous and full of cruel hate as ever; and as for the people, there is no kind of security for their constancy to their recent vows. Surely he is living his sad life in vain! That dreariest of all thoughts to a man of high and holy purpose—that his labour is utterly fruitless—sweeps like a withering wind through his soul, and he wishes he were dead. "O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers."

4. The sense of having forsaken the post of responsibility. It may have been a natural impulse that moved him to "fly for his life," but no wonder his despondency deepened as he lost himself in the solitudes of the wilderness. His was the inward disquietude which will always be the penalty of a man's having weakly or wilfully deserted the path of duty. When good men place themselves in a false position, they must expect the shadow of some morbid condition of feeling to fall upon their spirits. When the hands of those who ought to be busy about some work for God are idle, their hearts are left a prey to all sorts of evil influences. Religious activity is one of the main secrets of religious health. What is our grand business in this world but just to battle against the weaknesses of our own nature, and the force of adverse circumstances? And when the difficulties of our position gather thickest about us, then is the time to cast ourselves most fearlessly on the Divine power that will enable us to overcome them and listen to the voice that says, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life."

II. GOD'S WAY OF DEALING WITH HIM. Taking a general view of the Divine method, we see that each successive step is wisely adapted to the prophet's need.

1. Physical refreshment. An angel is sent with food for the nourishment of his exhausted frame; not to talk with him, not by remonstrance or persuasion to chase away his morbid feelings, but to feed him. The disease of the mind is to be cured by first removing the weakness of the body, which was one of its causes. It is a suggestive incident. Our physical nature is as truly an object of Divine thought and care as the spiritual. God will not fail to supply the meaner wants of His children. The beneficent ministries of His providence are ever auxiliary to the higher purposes of His grace.

2. A significant revelation of the Divine presence and power. The remarkable phenomena described in the eleventh and twelfth verses on doubt had a symbolic meaning. The wind, the earthquake, and the fire were emblems of the conspicuous and extraordinary manner in which Elijah probably expected the work of God to be carried on. The "still small voice" that followed taught him that God's chosen way of working was rather one that is calm and noiseless. The stirring events that had recently taken place were only preparatory to the silent but mightier energy of His spirit working through the voice of the prophet. We are apt to overestimate the power of that which "cometh with observation." Why should the wind, and the fire, and the earthquake be God's only instruments? Is He not equally in the gently dawning light, the soft-whispering breeze, the silent, secret forces of nature? Your path of usefulness may be obscure, your influence unobserved, its issues slowly developed. But be not disheartened. Remember the "still small voice" breathing in the ear of the prophet at the mouth of the cave when the tumult was over and learn that it is by a feeble instrument and a quiet, patient process that God will accomplish His grandest work in the moral sphere. This is the method of the world's Redeemer. "He shall not cry nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the streets, etc. (Isaiah 42:2, Isaiah 42:8, Isaiah 42:4).

3. Words of rebuke and encouragement. "What doest thou here, Elijah?" "Go, return on thy way." "Yet have I left me seven thousand in Israel," etc. Thus does God reprove him for the faithlessness that lay at the root of his despondency. If the veil that hid the secret life of Israel could at that hour have been uplifted, he would have seen how little real reason there was for it. Seven thousand living witnesses might have come forth from their obscurity to show that his work was not in vain. We little know what God is doing beneath the surface, at the secret heart of society, when appearances seem most unfavourable. Let us be true to ourselves and to Him, doing faithfully the work He has given us to do in storm or in calm, and leave it to Him to bring about the glorious issue. "Be ye therefore steadfast, immovable," etc. (1 Corinthians 15:58).—W.

1 Kings 19:19-21

The Call of Elisha.

It was by an express Divine command that Elijah summoned Elisha to the prophetic office (1 Kings 19:16). And yet we may discern a purely human element in this. He did it by the impulse of natural feeling. Stern, rugged, self reliant as he was, he needed sympathy and companionship. He yearned for the society of a kindred spirit. He could not bear to live alone. Whether he had any previous personal knowledge of Elisha we know not; but it is certain that, totally different as the two men were, he found in him a faithful friend and servant. And scanty as the materials of the narrative may be, there is enough to show how deep and tender an affection existed between them. Note in reference to this call—

I. THE SOVEREIGNTY OF THE DIVINE CHOICE. No indication is given as to why Elisha particularly should have been called to this office. So it has generally been in the case of those who, in the olden times, were raised up to occupy distinguished positions in the development of the Divine plan. (Abraham, Moses, Saul, David, etc.) So was it in Christ's choice of the inner circle of His disciples; as when to the sons of Zebedee mending their nets, and to Matthew at the receipt of custom, He said, "Follow me." But the elections of God are never arbitrary and capricious. He chooses whom He will to be the instruments of His purpose, "taking one of a city and two of a family" as it pleases Him (Jeremiah 3:14). But there is always some deep and sufficient reason for this, though we may not be able to trace it. Every man who has done any great work for God in the world has been more or less deeply impressed with this sense of a special Divine call and commission. And it has given a dignity to his bearing and strength and courage to his spirit that nothing else could give. Every true Christian finds highest inspiration in the thought that God has singled him out from the crowd and summoned him to the service of a consecrated life. "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you," etc. (John 15:16).

II. THE SACRED PERSONAL RELATION IT ESTABLISHED BETWEEN THE PROPHET AND HIS SERVANT. Elijah's throwing his "mantle" upon him as he passed by was a symbolic act indicative of this. It was the sign of their common prophetic vocation, the seal and bond of the new relation existing between them. It betokened

(1) some kind of adoption to sonship. "My Father, my Father" (2 Kings 2:12).

III. THE COMPLETENESS OF ELISHA'S SELF SURRENDER. Natural feeling for a moment throws an obstacle in the way. "Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother." It was a hard task for him at once to loosen himself from family ties, and relinquish the comforts of what was probably a prosperous pastoral life, and cast in his lot with the wandering prophet. Elijah's answer seems to disown the exercise of any undue constraint upon him, and simply leaves him free to choose. But the loyalty of his spirit to the Divine authority soon settles the alternative, and aider an act expressive of his entire abandonment of the associations of his former life, "he arose and went after Elijah and ministered unto him." We are reminded of the way in which Christ called on men to surrender their all and follow Him (Luke 9:57-62). Fidelity to Him demands complete self-sacrifice. The strongest fascinations, and even the dearest ties of earth, will give way to the realized sovereignty of His claims. "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me" (Matthew 10:37).—W.

HOMILIES BY J. WAITE

1 Kings 19:1-18

The Desponding Prophet.

A marvellous change has come over Elijah. It is difficult to imagine a more complete contrast than is presented by his moral attitude in this and the previous chapters. He who just before has so boldly confronted the proud king, and defied the priests of Baal, standing without fear before his flaming altar, and sternly carrying out the judgment of God on the corrupters of His people, is now filled with dismay, and flies from the post of duty and of danger. So unstable are the grandest forms of human virtue, and so weak are the noblest of men when God is pleased for a while to leave them to themselves. Consider

I. THE PROPHET'S STATE OF MIND. It is one of deep despondency. Fear of the queen's revenge is not enough of itself to explain it. There is disappointment at the apparent result of the events of the previous day, weariness of life, disgust at the condition of the land, a sense of powerlessness before the difficulties of his position, perhaps doubt as to the wisdom of what he has done. He speaks and acts as a dispirited, broken-hearted man. Note some of the manifest causes of this despondency. We can never thoroughly understand the feelings of a man unless we take into account the sources and occasions of them, and try to put ourselves in his place.

1. Physical exhaustion. His bodily frame was worn and weary. animal spirits had had a great strain upon them, and now suffered a corresponding relapse. Unwonted exertion of strength was followed by unwonted weakness. The relation that exists between the state of the body and the state of the mind is very mysterious, but very real. The elation or depression of our religious feeling depends far more on mere physical conditions than we often imagine. A diseased body will often cause a dark cloud to come over the spirit's firmament; much that is morbid in the religious thoughts and emotions of good men needs to be dealt with by the physician of the body rather than of the soul.

2. Loneliness. He was without the companionship and sympathy of those who would share his labours and perils. "I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life to destroy it." It is a single-handed conflict in which he is involved. There are none to stand by him, none whom he can trust. Such isolation is the severest possible test of fidelity, As the rock never appears more majestic than when seen standing alone, with the ocean billows rolling round it, so with one who is "faithful found among the faithless," cut off from all natural and human supports, isolated in a surrounding sea of indifference or iniquity. (Think of Paul: "At my first answer no man stood with me, but all forsook me," 2 Timothy 4:16; above all the Christ. "I have trodden the winepress alone, and of the people there was none with me," Isaiah 63:3.) Supernatural help will often come for special emergencies, and will make the soul sublimely independent of external aid; but it is hard to carry on a long, patient conflict with difficulties alone.

3. Want of success. His ministry, seems all in vain. His words are but as the dreams of the false prophets. The solemn testimony given on Carmel has passed away without effecting any real change in the condition of things. The fire that consumed his sacrifice has gone out. Righteous vengeance has been inflicted on the idolatrous prophets, and the Kishon has swept away their blood. The drought has done its work, and the rain has returned upon the land. And now all seems to be going on just as it was before. Ahab and Jezebel are as hostile and treacherous and full of cruel hate as ever; and as for the people, there is no kind of security for their constancy to their recent vows. Surely he is living his sad life in vain! That dreariest of all thoughts to a man of high and holy purpose—that his labour is utterly fruitless—sweeps like a withering wind through his soul, and he wishes he were dead. "O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers."

4. The sense of having forsaken the post of responsibility. It may have been a natural impulse that moved him to "fly for his life," but no wonder his despondency deepened as he lost himself in the solitudes of the wilderness. His was the inward disquietude which will always be the penalty of a man's having weakly or wilfully deserted the path of duty. When good men place themselves in a false position, they must expect the shadow of some morbid condition of feeling to fall upon their spirits. When the hands of those who ought to be busy about some work for God are idle, their hearts are left a prey to all sorts of evil influences. Religious activity is one of the main secrets of religious health. What is our grand business in this world but just to battle against the weaknesses of our own nature, and the force of adverse circumstances? And when the difficulties of our position gather thickest about us, then is the time to cast ourselves most fearlessly on the Divine power that will enable us to overcome them and listen to the voice that says, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life."

II. GOD'S WAY OF DEALING WITH HIM. Taking a general view of the Divine method, we see that each successive step is wisely adapted to the prophet's need.

1. Physical refreshment. An angel is sent with food for the nourishment of his exhausted frame; not to talk with him, not by remonstrance or persuasion to chase away his morbid feelings, but to feed him. The disease of the mind is to be cured by first removing the weakness of the body, which was one of its causes. It is a suggestive incident. Our physical nature is as truly an object of Divine thought and care as the spiritual. God will not fail to supply the meaner wants of His children. The beneficent ministries of His providence are ever auxiliary to the higher purposes of His grace.

2. A significant revelation of the Divine presence and power. The remarkable phenomena described in the eleventh and twelfth verses on doubt had a symbolic meaning. The wind, the earthquake, and the fire were emblems of the conspicuous and extraordinary manner in which Elijah probably expected the work of God to be carried on. The "still small voice" that followed taught him that God's chosen way of working was rather one that is calm and noiseless. The stirring events that had recently taken place were only preparatory to the silent but mightier energy of His spirit working through the voice of the prophet. We are apt to overestimate the power of that which "cometh with observation." Why should the wind, and the fire, and the earthquake be God's only instruments? Is He not equally in the gently dawning light, the soft-whispering breeze, the silent, secret forces of nature? Your path of usefulness may be obscure, your influence unobserved, its issues slowly developed. But be not disheartened. Remember the "still small voice" breathing in the ear of the prophet at the mouth of the cave when the tumult was over and learn that it is by a feeble instrument and a quiet, patient process that God will accomplish His grandest work in the moral sphere. This is the method of the world's Redeemer. "He shall not cry nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the streets, etc. (Isaiah 42:2, Isaiah 42:8, Isaiah 42:4).

3. Words of rebuke and encouragement. "What doest thou here, Elijah?" "Go, return on thy way." "Yet have I left me seven thousand in Israel," etc. Thus does God reprove him for the faithlessness that lay at the root of his despondency. If the veil that hid the secret life of Israel could at that hour have been uplifted, he would have seen how little real reason there was for it. Seven thousand living witnesses might have come forth from their obscurity to show that his work was not in vain. We little know what God is doing beneath the surface, at the secret heart of society, when appearances seem most unfavourable. Let us be true to ourselves and to Him, doing faithfully the work He has given us to do in storm or in calm, and leave it to Him to bring about the glorious issue. "Be ye therefore steadfast, immovable," etc. (1 Corinthians 15:58).—W.

1 Kings 19:19-21

The Call of Elisha.

It was by an express Divine command that Elijah summoned Elisha to the prophetic office (1 Kings 19:16). And yet we may discern a purely human element in this. He did it by the impulse of natural feeling. Stern, rugged, self reliant as he was, he needed sympathy and companionship. He yearned for the society of a kindred spirit. He could not bear to live alone. Whether he had any previous personal knowledge of Elisha we know not; but it is certain that, totally different as the two men were, he found in him a faithful friend and servant. And scanty as the materials of the narrative may be, there is enough to show how deep and tender an affection existed between them. Note in reference to this call—

I. THE SOVEREIGNTY OF THE DIVINE CHOICE. No indication is given as to why Elisha particularly should have been called to this office. So it has generally been in the case of those who, in the olden times, were raised up to occupy distinguished positions in the development of the Divine plan. (Abraham, Moses, Saul, David, etc.) So was it in Christ's choice of the inner circle of His disciples; as when to the sons of Zebedee mending their nets, and to Matthew at the receipt of custom, He said, "Follow me." But the elections of God are never arbitrary and capricious. He chooses whom He will to be the instruments of His purpose, "taking one of a city and two of a family" as it pleases Him (Jeremiah 3:14). But there is always some deep and sufficient reason for this, though we may not be able to trace it. Every man who has done any great work for God in the world has been more or less deeply impressed with this sense of a special Divine call and commission. And it has given a dignity to his bearing and strength and courage to his spirit that nothing else could give. Every true Christian finds highest inspiration in the thought that God has singled him out from the crowd and summoned him to the service of a consecrated life. "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you," etc. (John 15:16).

II. THE SACRED PERSONAL RELATION IT ESTABLISHED BETWEEN THE PROPHET AND HIS SERVANT. Elijah's throwing his "mantle" upon him as he passed by was a symbolic act indicative of this. It was the sign of their common prophetic vocation, the seal and bond of the new relation existing between them. It betokened

(1) some kind of adoption to sonship. "My Father, my Father" (2 Kings 2:12).

III. THE COMPLETENESS OF ELISHA'S SELF SURRENDER. Natural feeling for a moment throws an obstacle in the way. "Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother." It was a hard task for him at once to loosen himself from family ties, and relinquish the comforts of what was probably a prosperous pastoral life, and cast in his lot with the wandering prophet. Elijah's answer seems to disown the exercise of any undue constraint upon him, and simply leaves him free to choose. But the loyalty of his spirit to the Divine authority soon settles the alternative, and aider an act expressive of his entire abandonment of the associations of his former life, "he arose and went after Elijah and ministered unto him." We are reminded of the way in which Christ called on men to surrender their all and follow Him (Luke 9:57-62). Fidelity to Him demands complete self-sacrifice. The strongest fascinations, and even the dearest ties of earth, will give way to the realized sovereignty of His claims. "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me" (Matthew 10:37).—W.

HOMILIES BY J. URQUHART

1 Kings 19:1-8

The Prophet's Despair.

I. ELIJAH'S WEAKNESS.

1. His disappointment. With the hand of the Lord upon him he had come to Jezreel (1 Kings 18:46). Was it not because a further success for God awaited him there? Could Carmel's wonders and the mercy of God in the rain now flooding the earth be resisted? Jezebel's message, displaying only determined and increased hostility, rudely dispels the dream. The blighting of the long-expected fruit of prayer and waiting and mightiest effort is worse to bear than all the hardships which went before. Other trials may depress, but under this the spirit is utterly broken.

2. His flight. He shows no trust in Him who was mightier than Jezebel tie flees to the south of Judah. Even there it does not seem to him that he is in safety, and he goes a day's journey into the wilderness; but neither at Jezreel nor at Beer-sheba does he seek direction from the Lord. The overthrow of hope is also the overthrow of faith. Ceasing to hope in God we cease to wait on God.

3. His prayer.

II. HOW GOD BINDS UP THE BROKEN HEARTED.

1. He gives rest. "He lay and slept." Even in the desert to which we flee unbidden, God gives shelter and rest. "For so he giveth his beloved sleep."

2. He imparts strength for the onward way to where light will break upon the darkness and a new mission will be given. Elijah is fed once and again with angel food, and in the strength of it goes "forty days and forty nights unto Horeb, the mount of God." We are revived with tender heavenly ministrations: we see His goodness in the land of the living, and pass onward to the place where we shall meet with Him and hear His voice.—J.U

1 Kings 19:9-18

Elijah at Horeb.

I. How GOD DEALS WITH THE DESPAIRING.

1. Elijah's mistake. Because Jezebel's enmity remained unsubdued the straggle was at once given over as hopeless; "and he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there." The same mistake is made by those who labour on with unexpectant toil, whose wrestling with God is given up, whose feeble thought and listless tones proclaim their hopelessness: by those who have laid down the work to which God called them—preachers in retirement or in other spheres, teachers, etc.—and those who have ceased to strive against their own sin.

2. God's remedy.

II. THE PATH OF DELIVERANCE FOR THE HOPELESS.

1. The vision of God. Elijah's thoughts of God's way were corrected.

2. The recognition of ourselves as only part of the manifold agency of God. Other hands as well as his were to carry on the work of judgment and of mercy (1 Kings 19:15-17). To feel our brotherhood with the servants of God fills us with joy and power.

3. The assurance that God never works in vain (1 Kings 19:18). The results may be hid from us, but they are known to Him.—J.U.

1 Kings 19:19-21

The Prophet's Call.

I. THE CALL TO SERVICE.

1. Where it found him—in the field engaged in laborious, careful toil. The Master chooses servants for higher trusts who have been faithful in lower.

2. How it came. The mantle cast upon him was a sign of adoption. It was a call to share the prophet's home and love. Elijah was to find a son in the newly-called servant of God, and Elisha a father in the great prophet of Israel. We pass into God's service through union with His people.

II. INDECISION REBUKED (1 Kings 19:20).

1. The request. He "ran after Elijah," yet with entreaty for permission to go back and kiss father and mother. The new ties and the old were both binding him, and the vain attempt was made to comply with both. God's call must from the first have the mastery. The seeming severity which we are called upon to exercise will yield fruits of joy. God, fully chosen, will be fully known; and the breaking of lower ties may preach the claims of God to those we love best.

2. The answer. "Go back again, for what have I done to thee?" The gift neglected is taken away. As we value it and sacrifice for it, in that measure is it given to us. Treat God's grace as nothing, and to you it becomes nothing.

III. THE CHOICE MADE.

1. The past was broken with. His own yoke of oxen were slain, the instruments of his toll consumed.

2. It was done with gladness. He made a feast for the people.

3. He took the place which God meanwhile assigned him. "Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him." Humble, loving companionship with God's people is preparation for taking up their work.—J.U.

HOMILIES BY E. DE PRESSENSE

1 Kings 19:4 - 21

Return of Elijah to the Desert.

It is well for us to recognize that the great servants of God are men like ourselves, that they were formed of the same clay, and that they share our infirmities. Elijah had no time to magnify himself after his triumph on Mount Carmel. It was at this very moment God allowed him to pass through the most terrible mental conflict. Led into the bare and arid solitudes of Horeb, he fell into a state of depression bordering on despair, and, throwing himself down under a juniper tree in the wilderness, he cried, "O Lord, now take away my life!" (1 Kings 19:4.) spiritual crisis like this comes in the life of most men of God, and may be explained by two reasons.

1. There is a spiritual necessity for it. The man of God who has gained the first great victory is apt to think that it is decisive and final, and that he may now cease to fight. And behold, the evil that was vanquished yesterday lifts up its head again, and the conflict has to be begun anew. "I hare been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant" (1 Kings 19:10).

2. This painful crisis is permitted by God, who will not have His servants uplifted in their own eyes, even by the most splendid triumphs of the cause which it is their honour to maintain. This is the explanation of the mysterious thorn in the flesh with which St. Paul was buffeted (2 Corinthians 12:7). This is the cause of the momentary despondency of John the Baptist, which prompted that utterance of a faltering faith, "Art thou he that shoed come?" (Matthew 11:3.) To the same source we may trace the anguish of Luther in the Wartburg. He who is pleased thus to exercise the soul of his children is Himself their only efficient Comforter. God raises His downcast servant Elijah by means of a glorious vision. The Lord is not in the wind, not in the earthquake; these are but the symbols of His awful majesty. He is in the still small voice, which whispers the name afterwards to be proclaimed to the whole world by the beloved disciple, and written in letters of blood upon the cross: "God is love" (1 John 4:16). Let us not forget, however, that if God is not in the stormy wind and earthquake, these manifestations of His severity necessarily preceded the manifestation of that love which is His true essence. It was needful that the reed which had presumed to lift up itself against God should be bent, that the hard heart, like the stone, should be broken in order that the still small voice might gain an entrance to it. Repentance must come before the deliverance and joy of pardon. It is by this path through the desert that God leads every soul of man; it was thus that He led His servant Elijah. His overwhelming anguish of soul was like the whirlwind which prepared the way for the soft whisper of heavenly peace. This desert of spiritual desolation is to be made to blossom like the rose under the re. riving breath of the Lord (Isaiah 35:1). Elijah comes forth from it with renewed strength and courage, after the wholesome discipline of humiliation, a witness to us of the truth of the Divine assurance uttered by the lips of Christ Himself: "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted" (Matthew 5:4).—E. de P.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 1 Kings 19:4". The Pulpit Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tpc/1-kings-19.html. 1897.

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