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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 19

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-21

Chapter 19

So Ahab told his wife Jezebel the whole story of what had happened, what Elijah did, and how he killed all of her prophets with the sword. And Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, and she said, So let the gods do to me, and even more also, if I don't make your life like the life of those prophets by to morrow this time. And when he got the message from Jezebel, he got up, and he began to run for his life, and he came all the way to Beersheba, [which is about eighty miles, eighty-five miles south from this area,] and he left his servant there ( 1 Kings 19:1-3 ).

Probably so bushed he couldn't go on any further.

But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, he came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested that he might die; he said, It is enough; now, O LORD, [I've had it] take away my life, slay me, I'm through ( 1 Kings 19:4 ).

Now this is, you know, out of a distraught condition. You're all upset. And it's interesting how that when we are so upset, we oftentimes say things we don't really mean. You know, you get real upset and you just say things you don't really mean. Afterwards you're even sorry that you said them many times. But I was just upset so I just you know didn't really engage my brain. I just let my mouth run and I said these things. But I really didn't mean them. You know a lot of times we say things that we don't really mean. We ought to be really more careful with our speech. You know, you say to your child, "Get back in this house or I'll knock your head off." You really don't mean that.

The prophet is saying, "Lord, slay me, I've had it. I'm through. Just kill me, Lord. I don't want to go any further." If he wanted to die, he didn't have to run. He could have stayed right back there in Jezreel and Jezebel would have taken care of it very gladly. So the very fact that he was running showed that he wanted to survive. That was the whole purpose of the flight is to get away from the threat of Jezebel to kill him.

And so he went to sleep and when he woke up, the angel was there, [had prepared a meal for him,] and said, Come on and eat ( 1 Kings 19:5 ).

Because you're going to go a long way on this food. So he had angel's food and it lasted for forty days. Good stuff. Very nutritious. He went forty days on the strength of that meat.

And he came to Horeb the mountain of God ( 1 Kings 19:8 ).

Down in the Sinai, way down. Man, he's really fleeing from her. Down in the barren wilderness, Mount Sinai or Mount Horeb, both names given to this mount, the mountain where Moses met God and received the Lord.

And he came to a cave, and he stayed there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him [there in the cave], and said unto him, What are you doing here, Elijah? ( 1 Kings 19:9 )

Now Elijah didn't really understand the question. The question was, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" And Elijah answered why he was there, not what he was doing there, but why he was there.

He said, I've been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because Israel has really turned against God, they have forsaken His covenant, they have broken down His altars, they have slain His prophets; and I'm the only one left; and they're even looking for me to kill me ( 1 Kings 19:10 ).

How bad can things get? The nation Israel in total apostasy. They have forsaken the Lord, broken down His altars, killed His prophets. Only one prophet left and they're looking for him. Now that is Elijah's overstatement of the case because he is so upset and discouraged.

And that's one thing about discouragement and despair, it causes you to overstate the case so it actually looks worse than it really is. You know, we get so discouraged and so despondent, we don't want anyone to cheer us up. I just want sympathy at this point. This is so bad. No one's ever had it this bad, you know, and we always are overstating then the case, as Elijah was actually overstating the case of the problems in Israel. They've killed all of Your prophets and I, only I am left, and they're looking for me to kill me. "God, You don't have a single one left in Israel." That isn't quite right, Elijah, but you're upset and I understand, you know. You get so down that you just can't see any glimmer of hope, any light.

The Lord said, Elijah, come on out here and stand here on the mount. [So Elijah came out the entrance of the cave and he stood there] and there came this fierce wind whipping through there, tearing rocks lose, [rolling down the hillside]; but God wasn't in the wind: Then there came this earthquake, [just shook the whole place]; God wasn't in the earthquake: then there came a fire just raging through, God wasn't in the fire: then there came a still small voice ( 1 Kings 19:11-12 ).

You know, quite often we miss the voice of God because we are anticipating God to speak in such, you know, great thunderous tones or in such a mystic way. I say, "Well, the Lord spoke to me."

"Oh, how did He speak?" My, the voice of God must really rumble like thunder or something, you know. And we think that when God is leading us that there must be something almost like a trance experience where I become, you know, almost in this trance and I hear a little sign saying, "Beep, beep, beep, beep, turn right. Beep, beep, beep, beep, go forward," you know. "Beep, beep, stop." And that some kind of a mystic thing where I'm walking around in a trance. God is leading me. I'm being led by the Spirit. Not so. In fact, when God is leading your life He does it in such natural ways that generally, you're not even aware that God is leading you because it just seems such a natural thing.

Years ago I was driving up to Ventura to have services in a church up there where I grew up. And they had invited me back to speak on a Sunday evening. So I decided to go up on Saturday, take a leisure drive, stay with my aunt in Santa Barbara Saturday night and then drive back to Ventura on Sunday and speak there on Sunday evening. And so I had started up to Ventura and I was in Hollywood and I came to Sunset Boulevard and it just flashed to me, I had a convertible, flashed on me, What a beautiful day. Why not just flip the top down, drive down Sunset Boulevard to Pacific Coast and go up past Malibu. I love that drive up the coast through Malibu and Point Mugu and on in that way. Such a beautiful day, you know, I thought. Just put the top down and take a drive up the coast.

So I started winding down Sunset Boulevard, winds all the way through until it finally drops you there in Santa Monica at the Pacific Coast Highway. And as I was coming down, the skies were so blue, so clear and it was just such a beautiful day, spring day. And there was a couple who were hitchhiking. And oh, well, I'm all by myself, might as well pick them up and so I picked them up and I started asking them questions. Found out they were from Montana.

I said, "Well, what are you doing here in California?"

They said, "Oh, we're looking for work."

I said, "What kind of work do you do?"

"I'm a farmer." And he said, "I haven't been able to find anything in Los Angeles."

I said, "Where are you going?"

They said, "Well, we're going to San Francisco."

I said, "There are no farms in San Francisco." I said, "It's the same as Los Angeles, it's just a big city." I said, "Now between here and San Francisco there's a lot of farm country. In fact," I said, "I'm going through Ventura." I said, "There's a lot of farms around Ventura. There's a lot of ranches and all." And I said, "If you want to really get farm work, you better stop in one of these communities between here and San Francisco, Salinas or somewhere, you're never going to get a job on a farm up there."

Poor kids, they didn't know anything about California. They just heard that it was sunny and all and they were tired of the snow in Montana and just newly married and decided to move to California and get a job. Then I started witnessing to them about the Lord. And when we got to Ventura, they decided that they would stay and look for work there. And I drove them by the church where I would be the next evening, invited them to come and meet me at the church the next evening. And we had prayer with them, they both accepted Christ. And so I bid them farewell and went on up to Santa Barbara to stay with my aunt and never really expected to see them again.

When I got to Santa Barbara my aunt was making enchiladas and she was the greatest enchilada maker in the world. And the phone rang and it was my mother. And there were problems at our home in Santa Ana. I had an alcoholic uncle that I kicked out and he came back while I was gone and my mother was quite desperate. She couldn't take him. It was my dad's brother and she said, "It's either him or me."

And so I had to drive right on back to Santa Ana that night and deal with my uncle and get him out of there for my mother's sake. So my whole trip to Santa Barbara was sort of in vain anyhow, I thought. But then I drove up the next night to Ventura, spoke at the church. We gave an invitation for those at the end who would like to receive Christ to come forward. And this couple who I never expected to see again came forward.

And so there were several people that came forward that evening and I went down and prayed with many of them. And I went up to this young couple and I told them how great it was to see them and how thrilled I was that they were there. And they were just beaming all over, telling me just how glorious it was that they had accepted the Lord and how happy they were.

And they said, "This man who came to pray with us, I knew him, his name was Mr. Jenkins. I grew up in Ventura and I knew him quite well. And he was a foreman at the Del Mar Liminary Ranch." And so he came forward, prayed with them, and they shared what the situation was.

So he said, "Hey, I got an opening out in the ranch right now." And he hired them and they had a job and housing and everything else. And God just put the whole thing together.

Then I got to thinking, it must have been the Lord that put into my mind, "Why don't you flip the top down and go up the coast?" You know it seemed like so me because I love the ocean and all. It seemed like such a natural thought that I really wasn't aware at that moment in Hollywood that it was actually the Spirit of God speaking to me and directing me to this couple that were really searching for the Lord, as much as anything else, because they were wide open to receive the witness and all. And yet I realized, "Hey, God was directing me, because though I love the coast, being that well along on my way in the inland route, I don't like Sunset Boulevard and all the signals going up to the coast." And yet suddenly I realized it was the Lord. Now it wasn't something mystical and there wasn't thunder and lightning and great winds and earthquakes or anything else. It was just a very natural way. And what the Scripture is saying is that God usually speaks to us in very natural ways.

Don't expect God to speak in some earthquake, or in fact, it's awfully hard to hear God many times when our earth is shaking around us. It's awfully hard to hear God in the midst of the tempest and the storms of life. It's hard to hear God when it seems like everything around us is being consumed. Many times we need to get our hearts very quiet before God. We need to get away from the tempest. We need to get away from the shaking and the things around us to get alone to where I can really hear that still, small voice of God within as He guides me, as He assures me of His love, as He assures me of His purpose. And I get the strength and the help from God when He speaks to me. And it's that still, small voice within. So natural that it seems like it comes maybe even from your own heart or your own mind. But in reality, it is God speaking to you. It's always an exciting experience when I come to the realization that that thought didn't come out of my own subconsciousness, that thought came to me from God. God planted that thought in my mind, that still, small voice. It was God speaking to me. And it's beautiful. It's a glorious experience to hear the still, small voice.

The Lord said, repeated the same question, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" And Elijah still didn't understand the question. He answered the Lord the same way.

I've been very jealous for You: for Israel has forsaken the covenant, they've broken down your altars, they've slain your prophets; I, only I am left; and they're looking for me to take my life ( 1 Kings 19:14 ).

Now the question was, "What are you doing here?" Not "Why are you here?" So the Lord got then to specifics with this upset prophet because in reality, he was doing nothing. He was hiding. Doing nothing. He had put himself out of service. He was out of commission. He wasn't. There was no one to witness to down there. There was no work for God to be done in that barren wilderness. So he was doing nothing. God doesn't like for us to do nothing. And so the Lord re-commissioned him.

He said, Now look, get out of here, and get on up to Damascus: and when you get there, anoint Hazael to be the king over Syria: And then get down and anoint Jehu to be the king over Samaria: and then anoint Elisha to take your place and all ( 1 Kings 19:15-16 ).

God put him back to work. God got him away from this place of hiding in a cave, of doing nothing and commissioned him back into service for the Lord. Even as God wants to get you off your duff and get you back doing something that's worthwhile for Him.

And then the Lord sort of puts a little thing on the end. "Elijah, you were exaggerating."

For I have seven thousand men in Israel, whose knees have not bowed to Baal, whose lips have not kissed his image ( 1 Kings 19:18 ).

"I, only I am left." No, no, you're not alone. "I've got seven thousand." God knew them. God had been observing.

So he departed from there, and he found Elisha, and Elisha was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, [actually there were ten before him and he had the twelve beside him]: and as Elijah passed by, he took his mantle and he threw it on him. And Elisha left his oxen there, and came running after Elijah, and he said, Wait a minute, I pray you, let me go back and kiss my father and mother goodbye, and I will follow you. And he said, Go on back to your oxen: what have I done to you? But he returned back and he took a yoke of oxen, and he killed them, and he boiled their flesh, and he gave it to the people, and he ate. And he arose, and went after Elijah, and became the servant of Elijah ( 1 Kings 19:19-21 ). "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 1 Kings 19". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/1-kings-19.html. 2014.
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