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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 19

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.

And Ahab told Jezebel — As being in no small care how to satisfy this imperious whorish woman, how to stop the mouth of this hen that crowed so loud at court, and ruled all.

Verse 2

Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do [to me], and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.

So let the gods do to me, …Detexit facinus fatua et non implevit, as Tacitus saith of another. There was a providence in it, that she should threaten; for praemonitus praemunitus, forewarned and half-armed; but still revenges are most dangerous.

Verse 3

And when he saw [that], he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which [belongeth] to Judah, and left his servant there.

That he arose and went for his life. — But better he had stood to his task as a prophet, and answered as Chrysostom did when Eudoxia the Empress threatened him, Go tell her, said he, nil nisi peccatum timeo, I fear nothing but sin; or as Basil did when Valens, the Arian Emperor, sent him word he would be the death of him, I would he would, said he; Eιθε γενοιτο μοι I shall but go to heaven the sooner. Sed non est omnium placide ferre offensiones et contemnere furores magnatum, saith one; - But it is not so easy a matter to bear the displeasure and slight the rage of great ones. Luther had his fits of fear, though ordinarily he could say, Contemptus est a me Romanus et favor et furor, I care neither for the Pope’s favour nor fury. Elijah, who so lately confronted Ahab, and cut off his Baalites, now trembleth at the threats of a wicked woman, factus seipso imbecillior. Gregory doubteth not to say, that because he began to be tickled with high conceits of himself for the great acts which he had done, he was suffered thus to fear, and to fall beneath himself, for his humiliation. The like we see in Peter, scared by a silly wench; to show us how weak even as water we are, when left never so little to ourselves.

And left his servant there. — Heb., His boy, as not willing to expose him to the wants of the wilderness, et ut ipse solus secretius fugeret et lateret, and for privacy’s sake.

Verse 4

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I [am] not better than my fathers.

But he himself went a day’s journey in the wilderness. — As not holding himself sufficiently safe in the land of Judah, because of the great correspondency that was betwixt Ahab and Jehoshaphat. Kings have long hands, and can despatch at a distance.

Came and sat under a juniper tree. — The shadow whereof driveth away serpents, saith Pliny, so that he might the more safely sleep there. The berries of this tree are hot, strong, and effectual to warm the stomach, … Talis est zelosus, saith one. Such is the true zealot, of whom that proverb of the Arabians is verified, Praestat granum piperis (vel iuniperi) decem peponibus, One corn of pepper is far beyond ten melons.

And he requested for himself that he might die. — He who so much feared to die by the hand of a woman, lest she and her chimney chaplains should triumph over him and the cause he defended, beggeth now to die by the hand of God, as having no longer joy of this mortal and miserable life. This showed that "Elias was a man subject to like passions" with others. James 5:17 The holiest saint upon earth hath his qualms, his outbursts, as had Job, Jonah, Peter, Luther, … And how many such are there at this day that sit under Elias’s juniper, willing and wishing to lay down that heavy burden imposed upon them by the Almighty!

O Lord, take away my life. — Lest Jezebel take it from me. Little thought Elias now that he should one day be bodily translated into heaven. God of his goodness so provided for his servant, that neither Jezebel, nor death, which devoureth all men, should have power over him.

Verse 5

And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise [and] eat.

And slept under a juniper tree. — See on 1 Kings 19:4 .

An angel touched him. — Holding himself happy in such an office. Hebrews 1:14

Verse 6

And he looked, and, behold, [there was] a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again.

There was a cake baken on the coals. — Heb., A cake of coals; that is, hot out of the oven. The angel was not long in bringing of it.

Verse 7

And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise [and] eat; because the journey [is] too great for thee.

Because the journey is too great for thee. — Fill thee, therefore, that thou mayest the better hold out. Do we the like for our souls, when at the holy ordinances, where the Angel of the covenant seemeth to say to us, as in Song of Solomon 5:1 , "Eat, O friend: drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved!"

Verse 8

And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.

And he arose, and did eat and drink. — Let us do the like at the Lord’s supper, where to be a holy glutton is a great virtue.

Forty days and forty nights. — So long fasted Moses, Elias, and Christ; which three great fathers met afterwards gloriously in mount Tabor.

Unto Horeb the mount of God. — To this mount from Beersheba is reckoned fourscore miles; so that the prophet needed not to have been so long in going thither; but for safety’s sake, he might haply make many turnings, and fetch many bouts, through pathless places, to shun the pursuers; and whether he at first intended to go to Horeb, who can tell?

Verse 9

And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD [came] to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?

And he came thither unto a cave. — The same, saith R. Solomon, wherein was Moses when he first saw God’s backparts. Exodus 34:6 Hence this cave was in no small esteem among the ancients, as Josephus testifieth. Certes, it could not but be a great confirmation of Elijah to renew the sight of those sensible monuments of God’s favour and protection to his faithful predecessor Moses.

What dost thou here, Elijah?Accusatur hic obliquae nimiae timiditatis et trepidationis. Here he is secretly taxed for leaving his station out of too much fear of Jezebel, q.d., Is this a fit place for truth’s champion?

Verse 10

And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for 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.

And he said, I have been very jealous. — Or, Zealous. Zelando zelavi: vel crucior in honorem Dei quadam quasi zelotypia: it irketh me to see God’s spouse so play the harlot. Where it is well observed, Bp. Hall. that the prophet - herein also too much a man - had rather say, I have been jealous for the Lord God of hosts, than I have been fearful of Jezebel; and here I hide my head from her malicious pursuit. We are all willing to make the best of our own case.

For the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant. — Here, Elijah maketh "intercession to God against Israel." Romans 11:2 Woe be to that people that putteth a godly minister to this unpleasing task: and to sing as the poet, -

Eheu quam pingui macer est mihi taurus in arvo!

Verse 11

And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; [but] the LORD [was] not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; [but] the LORD [was] not in the earthquake:

And a great and strong wind. — These first terrible apparitions might well be to humble the prophet, and to prepare him to hearken more heedfully to the still voice, and to whatsoever God should say unto him, who could have confounded him, but is content to deal more gently with him: accounting the execution of "judgment" - set forth here by these dreadful representations - "his work, his strange work." Isaiah 28:21

Verse 12

And after the earthquake a fire; [but] the LORD [was] not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

And after the fire a still small voice. — This was scintillatio Divinitatis, saith Tertullian, a small sparkle of the Deity, a sweet expression of God’s mind. And in this gentle and mild breath there was omnipotency; in the foregoing fierce representations there was but powerfulness. God’s saving revelation of himself, saith Mr Diodate here, is in the gospel only, which soundeth grace and comfort, and not in his terrible law. Hereby also is showed, saith another, that God hath sanctified a voice to be the ordinary mean of coming to his creature, mastering the strongholds of sin and Satan in us.

Verse 13

And it was [so], when Elijah heard [it], that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, [there came] a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?

He wrapped his face in his mantle. — As not able to behold God’s surpassing brightness, whereby the very angels might have their eyes put out, did they not cover their faces with their wings as with a double scarf.

What dost thou here, Elijah?q.d., Speak out, man; let me have a more direct answer. But this his guiltiness would not let him do. He is at it, therefore, as before.

Verse 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.

I have been very zealous. — See on 1 Kings 19:10 .

And I, even I, am left alone. — Such was the paucity and obscurity of God’s people in these times, that the prophet miserably crieth out of his aloneness. Such was it in Basil’s time, Basil, Epist. 17. by reason of Arianism overspreading all, that he crieth out, Hath the Lord utterly forsaken his churches? Is it now the last hour? … The ship of the church was then almost overwhelmed, saith Jerome. The church was not then to be sought in palaces and outward pomp, saith Hilary, but rather in prisons and dens of the desert. Where was the church in Elias’s time, said Mr Bradford? Doth not he say, I only am left? And whereas God saith there were "seven thousand that had not bowed their knees to Baal," these were not known. And the text saith, Reliqui mihi, I have reserved to myself, to mine own knowledge, …

Verse 15

And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael [to be] king over Syria:

To the wilderness of Damascus. — Where it is probable that Elijah with his own hand anointed Hazael, and afterwards Jehu and Elisha, though these unctions might be reiterated at the time of their accomplishment.

Verse 16

And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint [to be] king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint [to be] prophet in thy room.

Of Abelmeholah. — Which was, say some, Jerome. Adrichom. in the tribe of Manasseh, on this side of Jordan, like as Elias was of the tribe of Gad. Isidor and Epiphanius tell us that at the birth of Elisha one of Jeroboam’s golden calves lowed so loud, that it was heard at Jerusalem, and that thereupon one of the priests pronounced that there was one born that day that should be the ruin of idolatry. Others, to set forth the transcendent zeal of Elijah, have legended of him, that when he drew his mother’s breasts he was seen to suck in fire.

Verse 17

And it shall come to pass, [that] him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay.

Shall Elisha slay. — Elisha then hath his sword as well as Jehu and Hazael, though of another nature; viz., prayers, They that can stand against or escape the power of two kings, shall yet fall by the hand of prayer. threatenings, curses, which did all most certainly and infallibly come to pass. And whensoever Elisha unsheatheth and brandisheth his sword, it is a fair warning that the sword of Jehu and Hazael are at hand. See Hosea 6:5 Jeremiah 1:10 .

Verse 18

Yet I have left [me] seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.

Yet I have left me seven thousand. — See on 1 Kings 19:14 . By this, as by a bookcase, saith one, doth the apostle prove that God had not cast off all the Israelites in his time. Romans 11:2-4 According to the fashion of the wealthy, saith another, God pleaseth himself in hidden treasures. It is enough that his own eyes behold his riches.

Which have not bowed their knees. — There are thought to be no fewer than twenty thousand Protestants in Seville itself, a chief city of Spain. Yea, even in Italy, the nest of Antichrist, there are full four thousand professed Protestants. Sandys’s Relation.

And every mouth which hath not kissed him. — With a kiss of homage, as Psalms 2:12 . Cicero telleth of the image of Hercules, whose chin was much worn with the kisses of those that adored him. So are many marble pictures and crosses in Popish churches, by the devouter sex especially.

Verse 19

So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who [was] plowing [with] twelve yoke [of oxen] before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him.

Ploughing with twelve yoke. — He was therefore a man of great wealth, likely. Paterna rura bobus exercens suis.

And cast his mantle upon him. — In token that God, who had called him to be his successor, would clothe him with his Spirit, and so fit him for the office. This is apishly imitated by Popish monks taking upon them the clothes of their order, whatever it is, at their first entrance thereinto.

Verse 20

And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, 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: for what have I done to thee?

Go back again. — Heb. Go return, q.d., Go thou must; but see thou return speedily, and wait on thy office. "Neglect not the grace of God that is in thee," the powerful impression made by God upon thy spirit.

Verse 21

And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.

And took a yoke of oxen. — The same likely wherewith he ploughed, to show that he was now of another vocation.

And gave unto the people. — Making them a farewell feast, as also to express his joy. St Matthew did the like when first called to the apostleship.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 19". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/1-kings-19.html. 1865-1868.
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