Lectionary Calendar
Friday, June 21st, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 17

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

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

And Elijah the Tishbite. — So he is called of his country. The Hebrews tell us In Genesi, magn. cap. 37. of another name that he had before that acclamation drawn by him from the people, "The Lord he is God, the Lord he is God." 1 Kings 18:39 Elijah signifieth, "My God, he is the Lord." This wonder working prophet - who comes to our knowledge as, another Melchizedek, "without father or mother, or descent" Hebrews 7:3 Genesis 14:18 - observing Ahab’s and Hiel’s height of wickedness, and desperate obdurateness, denounceth with great boldness the ensuing judgment upon the whole land of drought and famine.

Said unto Ahab. — Who might sit in his ivory palace, having gold, and silver, and jewels in every place; but is here given to know that he was not out of the reach of God’s rod; and that since he had done what he ought not, done evil as he could, he should now hear what he would not, and share deeply in the common calamity.

Before whom I stand. — As a servant; as a suppliant; as one who will stand to and for the Lord, though I stand alone.

There shall not be dew nor rain. — The drought, it seems, was begun already, but lengthened out by Elijah’s prayer, as St James first telleth us. James 5:17

But according to my word,i.e., According to my prediction, and my prayer; which seems to have been the same in effect with that of Luther, Fiat voluntas mea; mea, inquam, Domine, quia tua voluntas: Let my will herein be done; mine, I say, Lord, because the same with thy holy will.

Verse 2

And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,

And the word of the Lord came. — The Lord is said to have come to Balsam, Laban, and other profane wretches, but the word of the Lord to his prophets only, as was afore noted.

Verse 3

Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that [is] before Jordan.

Get thee hence. — It was a sweet providence, that wicked Ahab had not laid present hold on the prophet, whom afterwards he so sought for to no purpose in all countries. But he slighted him, likely, as an idle and empty headed fellow, no whit to be regarded.

That is before Jordan. — That by a direct line runneth into Jordan.

Verse 4

And it shall be, [that] thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.

Thou shalt drink of the brook. — Adam’s ale (water) he had, and food cooked by the angels, likely; though the Rabbis tell us - but who told them? - that the ravens pillaged it out of king Ahab’s kitchen.

And I have commanded the ravens,i.e., I have prepared them, and put this instinct into them. All creatures are ready to serve the saints. God hath taken the best of them, and bound them over to cater for his people. Hosea 2:22-23 Peter Martyr observeth, that the ravens especially did owe the Lord this service, for the benefit which they singularly above other fowls enjoy by his providence when they are young; according to Job 38:41 Psalms 147:9 . See Trapp on " Job 38:41 " See Trapp on " Psalms 147:9 "

Verse 5

So he went and did according unto the word of the LORD: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that [is] before Jordan.

For he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith. — In some cave, likely: as 1 Kings 19:9 , where Joh. Hierosolymitanus saith he was taught of God a form of solitary living, and had various good people directed to him by the angels: whom he taught and confirmed. But whether this were so or not, Elijah could not be alone, so long as he had God and himself to converse with. A good man is never less alone, than when alone.

Verse 6

And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.

And the ravens brought him bread and flesh. — Which he knew could not be done but by a miracle. This was to Elijah a sensible demonstration of the divine care and providence: and therefore must every bit needs be more pleasing to him, than a whole tableful of Ahab’s best cheer. Angeli autem hos panes et carnes apparabant, saith one; the angels made ready this bread and flesh. Luther saith, that at the continual feast of a good conscience angels are cooks and butlers; and the three persons in Trinity joyful guests. Elijah was ever at this feast, over and besides his food for the day, in the day, duly brought him in by the ravens; which are naturally ravenous, unnatural, malignant, and inanspicate creatures Who hath not heard how Rochelle, in a strait siege and sore famine, was likewise miraculously relieved by God, who made the tide their purveyor to bring them in an ocean of shell-fish: the like whereof was never known before, nor since. The patrons of monkery tell us of Paul the Hermit, of St Benedict - as they call him - and some other such fed by ravens in like manner. But so did Mohammed boast, and David George - those notorious impostors - that they had communication with wild beasts and birds in all languages, and that they brought them meat for their sustenance.

Verse 7

And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.

That the brook dried up. — So will all human helps and comforts fail, in time, those that confide in them. Only God is an inexhaustible and ever-springing fountain.

Verse 8

And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,

And the word of the Lord. — See 1 Kings 17:2 .

Verse 9

Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which [belongeth] to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.

Arise, get thee to Zarephath. — Which was, say chorographere, a hundred miles from the brook Cherith. But the Popish friars stick not at a journey to China or Peru, if their superiors command them to go it.

Which belongeth to Zidon. — And was inhabited by Gentiles; to figure out the rejection of the Jews, and vocation of the Gentiles, as our Saviour showeth. Luke 4:25

Verse 10

So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman [was] there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.

Gathering of sticks.Ea nempe ligna quae prima obviam habebat. - Vat. Which showeth her low condition. God chooseth "the poor in this world rich in faith." James 2:5

A little water in a vessel. — Or, In this vessel, viz., that he had used at the brook Cherith, after his long journey; from whence he might well be thirsty, hungry, and weary.

Verse 11

And as she was going to fetch [it], he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.

And as she was going, … — He found her facile to the first motion, saw God in it, and maketh a second.

Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread. — Buccellam, frustum. He calleth not for cates, but bread; and a little of that shall serve him too. It doth ill become a servant of the Highest to be a slave to his palate.

Verse 12

And she said, [As] the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I [am] gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.

I have not a cake. — Not so much food ready as a cake. Half a cake, we say, is better than no bread: but here it was not to be had. It is God’s glory to help at a pinch. This poor widow was not alone distressed, but the rest of the Zidonians also, who as they had sent their idolatry to Israel, together with their daughter Jezebel, so do they partake of their punishment. Menander, a heathen historian, brought in by Josephus, telleth of a great drought and dearth in the time of Ithobaal, king of the Zidonians, and that when he had appointed supplications to be made, a great thunder followed, and much rain fell. Ita Diabolus operum Dei Momus et Mimus, per Menandrum hoc egit, ut divinum miraculum in Iudaea editum vilesceret, fidem et authoritatem amitteret, et tanti operis gloria ad turpissima dola rediret!

But a handful of meal in a barrel. — Happy was it for this widow, that she was no niggard of her last handful. Her barrel and cruse had thereby no bottom. The mercy of God crowneth our beneficence with abundance. Not getting, but giving, is the right way to wealth.

For me and my son. — The Greek version hath it, My sons, as if she had many: and then her goodness was the greater in parting with any to the prophet, as Eucherius observeth.

Verse 13

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

But make me thereof a little cake first. — Here "the trial of" this poor widow’s "faith, being much more precious than that of gold which perisheth, though it be tried in the fire, is found to praise, and honour, and glory." 1 Peter 1:7

Verse 14

For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day [that] the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth.

The barrel of meal shall not waste. — This was hard to believe: but true faith, when it is in heart, will eat its way over all alps of opposition. See 1 Kings 17:12 .

Verse 15

And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat [many] days.

And her house. — Which till now we read not of, more than of a son only. See on 1 Kings 17:12 .

Many days, — viz., Till the Lord gave rain, and the earth returned to its former fertility. When means may be had and used, miracles are not to be expected.

Verse 16

[And] the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah.

And the barrel of meal wasted not. — There is nothing lost by bounty to God’s prophets: yea, it is ars omnium quaestuossima, the most gainful of all arts or trades. Chrysost. There is in Spain, they say, a great mountain of salt, de quo quantum demas, tanturn accrescit; from which take never so much, it grows out as much again.

Verse 17

And it came to pass after these things, [that] the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him.

After these things. — When the woman had by experience tasted how good the Lord was: and she was thereby the better fitted to suffer.

That the son of the woman. — Whom the Hebrews hold to be Jonah the prophet; επεχω .

Fell sick.Miscentur tristia laetis. This dashed all her comfort.

That there was no breath left in him. — He was downright dead. And therefore they do much elevate [Make light of; from levis. ] this miracle who deny that this youth was really dead, but that he was in a swoon only, abusing hereunto that text in Daniel, Et anima non relicts fuit in me. This was the opinion of Rabbi Moses Cordubensis.

Verse 18

And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?

What have I to do with thee? — An unkind challenge of a perplexed, and therefore over passionate, woman, imputing the death of her son to the presence of the prophet. How ready are the best to mistake the grounds of their afflictions, and to cast them upon false causes! But what said the emperor? Let us quarrel with our faults, and not with our friends. Vatablus rendereth it, Qua in re te unquam laesi? what wrong have I ever done thee?

Art thou come unto me to call, …? — In the midst of her passion she retaineth her penitency for her sin, - which she acknowledged to be the mother of her misery, - and her good esteem of Elijah, whom she calleth "man of God"; and feareth that he had complained to God of some miscarriage of hers. Ever since the fall, we tremble before God, angels, and good men. See Luke 5:8 .

Verse 19

And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed.

And he said unto her. — So to clear himself.

Carried him up into a loft. — For privacy’s sake, which is a good help to fervency in prayer; therefore Isaac got forth into the fields, Peter up to the leads, Daniel to the river side, …

Verse 20

And he cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?

Hast thou also brought evil? — Words of wonder, and all full of weight. Quot verba, tot argumenta: this humble expostulation flowed from faith, as appeareth in 1 Kings 17:21 .

Verse 21

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

And he stretched himself. — As well to express the fervency of his prayer, as the desire he had to make him even partaker of his own life. See a like posture, 2 Kings 4:34 .

Three timesAlternis incubates et orans. Pray on still. He prayed thrice, saith one, to intimate his praying to the blessed Trinity. He prayed at first, saith another, but nothing came: he prayed therefore again more fervently, and yet a third time with greatest ardency, and had his request.

Verse 22

And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.

And the Lord heard. — The effectual fervent prayer of the righteous man availed much. James 5:16

Verse 23

And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth.

And delivered him unto his mother. — Of this the apostle seemeth to write, when he saith, "Women received their dead raised to life again." Hebrews 11:35

Verse 24

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

Now by this I know. — I am better assured of that which also I knew and believed before. So John 6:69 ; "we believe and are sure."

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 17". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/1-kings-17.html. 1865-1868.
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