1 Kings 19:2. Jezebel swore to destroy Elijah. Ahab would perhaps have received the prophet as his monitor and guide, had it not been for this woman, now given over to a reprobate mind.
1 Kings 19:11-12. Wind, earthquake, flames were the ancient array, in which the Divinity was pleased to make his will known to man. Psalm 18., 114. Habakkuk 3.
1 Kings 19:15. Anoint Hazael. The prophet must travel another circuitous journey of five hundred miles.
1 Kings 19:19. Cast his mantle upon him; a prophet’s cloak, for they were known by their dress. It was also a figure of the unction of the Spirit, in divine endowments for the work. It was a divine call to leave agriculture, and travel through the land feeding the flock. Thus the Lord calls his servants from the treasures of his providence.
We have seen Elijah magnify the Lord, and doing honour to religion on Carmel. We have seen him gird himself, and run with the agility of youth to grace the return of Ahab, after purging the country of the idolatrous priests. But prophets can find little rest in a land where God is not revered. New troubles, and a new exile were prepared for Elijah, on the part of Jezebel. This worst of women, unawed by the divine judgments, swore by the life of her gods to take away the life of the prophet.
But mark how God preserved his servant from her malice. She was so transported with rage that she could not conceal her purpose: and Elijah, feeling an unaccountable transition from courage to fear, fled from his polluted country to the rocks of Horeb, where God had once given water and manna to his sojourning people. And where can the afflicted and the disconsolate fly, but to the bosom of their God? From Beersheba to Horeb was usually eleven days journey; though now this holy man, wandering like his ancestors, was forty days in reaching this hallowed spot. The first day, being weary with wading through the sands, and wearier still with the gloomy reflections of his mind, he sat down under a tree to enjoy his grief. What, said he, is all the glory of Carmel lost by a single woman: has fire falling from heaven failed to convert a faithless people! Must idolatry shoot up again, and with the greater strength for being cut down. Oh Israel, Israel, once the chosen people, for thee I have no more hope. If the revealed presence of the Lord has failed to reclaim thee from idols, all other means are unavailing. Not a prophet now remains alive, nor a knee that has not, or must now bow to Baal. My hopes are all fled, my work is done: Lord let me die, for I am not better than my fathers. The highest courage we see, and the most spotless piety are not exempt, on some occasions, from great weakness and temptation. Their horizon is beclouded, and discouragements overshadow the soul. Thus Job, thus Moses, and thus Isaiah for a moment were distressed. So David, a little before the crown was laid at his feet, said, I shall one day fall by the hand of Saul; and Jeremiah sighed for a lodgingplace in the wilderness.
The Lord however is wont to encourage his tried and faithful servants in temptation, with the choicest marks of his favour. The ravens indeed brought Elijah neither bread nor flesh; but when he had slept away the weariness of his limbs, and the anguish of his mind, an angel brought him a cake and water, that in the strength of this meat he might travel to the mount of God. So Jesus comforts us with promises, with ordinances, and with all the aids of grace, that we may run and not be weary, that we may walk and not faint.
We have next, God’s approach to his poor and dejected servant. The word of the Lord came to him first, to apprize him that his Maker was near; and that he might utter the anguish of his soul. Then a tempest went before, and disengaged the rocks from their ancient seat. Then the earth trembled, as formerly at the Lord’s approach. Next, a fire devoured before him; all of which show that the elements fulfil his pleasure, and that hosts of angels presede his presence. All these Elijah, sheltered by his cavern, sustained; but when he heard a calm and gentle voice he trembled also, and wrapped his face in his mantle. And while thus revering, the Lord said, What doest thou here, Elijah? Should the first of prophets be concealed in a cave? Shouldst thou shrink from the contest while winds and flame, while heaven and earth are engaged in thy defence? Wish not to die; thou hast yet a great and terrible work to do. Thy ministry of mercy having failed of effect, I will henceforth make thee a minister of justice. Go and anoint Hazael to be king over Syria, and Jehu to be king over Israel; and him who escapes the sword of Hazael, shall Jehu slay. Go also and anoint Elisha to be prophet in thy room, for I have yet seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal; and I will never forsake them. God’s first care is over the church, to remove her enemies, and to raise up a succession of faithful pastors. Oh how sanctifying is God’s approach to man; how compassionate is he to his discouraged servants. Oh what comfort he is preparing for his people, and terror for the impenitent. Thus God still approaches man by the gospel. A tempest is excited in the sinner’s conscience by the terrors of the law; the rock is rent within by the hammer of his word; and flames of heavenly fire melt and awe the most obdurate heart. Then with calm and gentle voice he soothes our sorrows, and forgives our sins. So also his gospel is preached amidst the four winds of heaven; he shakes all nations, and removes all opposition and power, that his kingdom may stand for ever. Let not his ministers fear: for at the worst of times God is their defence, and heaven and earth are at his command.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Kings 19". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week after Epiphany