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Bible Commentaries

Wells of Living Water Commentary

1 Kings 17

Verses 1-24


Selections from 1 Kings 17:1-24


Our God is the God who is enough. There is no good thing which He withholds from them who walk uprightly. Our God is able to make all grace abound unto us, so that we, having all sufficiency in all things, may abound unto every good word and work.

Let us spend a few moments in observing some particular places in which our God supplies our need.

1. God meets our physical needs. Before ever God created man, He created the beasts and the birds and all vegetation to provide food and raiment for man. In each separate creation for man's welfare, God said, "It was good."

God also placed in the heavens above, two great lights to give light upon the earth; He stored the physical earth, itself, with minerals such as coal, and wood, oil, iron, brass, silver, gold, and all things to meet man's need.

When David wrote, he said, "I have never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread."

The Lord Jesus plainly said, Be not anxious, saying, "What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?" For, said He, "Your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things."

2. God supplies our spiritual needs. These needs are many. First of all, man needed salvation from sin. This was fully provided in Christ, in His vicarious death upon the Cross.

Man needed strength with which to combat the enemy, and with which to meet the demands for holy living. This also was fully provided in the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Man needed spiritual understanding. The natural man could not receive the things of God, nor could he understand them. The Holy Spirit came to be our Teacher and to reveal these very things unto us.

Man needed wisdom with which to meet the issues of life. This is also freely given us of God. To those who ask, nothing doubting, God giveth liberally and upbraideth not.

3. God supplies our eternal need. Man is not created for the period that spans the cradle to the grave. He is created for all eternity. God has therefore provided in Christ Jesus that this eternity may be spent with Him above.

God has builded mansions beyond the skies. He has prepared a city, of which He is "Builder and Maker." He has fashioned a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. These things are proclaimed in the Word of God; and, if they were not so, God would not have told us of them.

God not only supplies our eternal abiding places, but He provides redemption by the Blood of His Cross, by which we may enter in through the gates into the City.

Let us take courage. He who watches over the sparrow, watches over us. He who clothes the grass of the field and the lily of the valley, will clothe us. In every need our God is our Jehovah-Jireh.

"Tenderly guide us, O Shepherd of love,

To the green pastures and waters above,

Guarding us ever by night and by day,

Never from Thee would we stray.

What though the heavens with clouds be o'ercast!

Fearful the tempest, and bitter the blast!

Still with the light of Thy Word on the way,

Never from Thee would we stray."

I. A CURSE PRONOUNCED (1 Kings 17:1 )

Ahab had grievously sinned against the Lord. He did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him. He married Jezebel, a godless Zidonian. He served Baal and worshiped him. He even reared an altar unto him and made a grove in his honor.

As a result of Ahab's sin, Elijah the Tishbite was commanded to announce unto Ahab: "There shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to My Word."

We are living in a world reeking with immorality; we are dwelling in the midst of a religious condition reeking with apostasy. The result is plain the curse of God has fallen upon men.

The same famine which consumed Ahab and his godless court, fell with a like severity upon Elijah, and upon all of the true and faithful. Have we not read that no man liveth unto himself.

When God sent a storm upon Jonah, the innocent suffered with the guilty: and, the mariners were afraid for their lives. There were doubtless, also, other storm-tossed boats, due to Jonah's running away from the face of the Lord.

God visits the sins of the father upon the children, to the third and the fourth generation.

Where the curse of rum prevails, the righteous, who never drink intoxicating liquors, suffer many dangers of drink-crazed men, along with those who drink.

Let us mark the solemnity of all of this, and seek to so live that our life may prove a blessing and not a bane to those whom we touch, and with whom we mingle.

God's curse is upon all present-day Ahabs. Famines and pestilences come still as judgments from a wrathful God. As sin increases these judgments increase. They will, indeed, mark the curses of God, in the end times.

II. A SPECIAL PROVISION PROVIDED (1 Kings 17:4 ; 1 Kings 17:6 ; 1 Kings 17:9 )

When the curse was pronounced upon the earth because of Ahab, God command Elijah to hide by the brook Cherith, saying, "Thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there." Thus it was that every morning bread and flesh were brought unto Elijah; and every evening bread and flesh were again his: and he drank of the brook.

After a while as the rain ceased, the brook dried up. Then the Word of the Lord came to Elijah saying, "Arise, get thee to Zarephath, * * and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee."

There are some things which need emphasis.

1. In the midst of darkness God giveth light. We have noticed how the righteous suffer with the wicked, the inconveniences and deprivation which sin entails. Now, however, we come to see that God will make a special provision for those who trust Him. This is grace superabounding over the natural results of the curse. It is accomplished only by the miraculous. The famine that affected Ahab would have also affected Elijah, if God had not wrought the supernatural in Elijah's behalf. Therefore, God stretched forth His hand, and the unusual occurred. God will move Heaven and earth to care for the faithful. He has even said, "Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday."

2. God gives help from most unexpected sources. First of all, He commanded the ravens to feed His Prophet. Secondly, He commanded a widow to sustain him. Neither of these aids followed natural law. Ravens are unclean birds, caring commonly for none but themselves. The widow was poor and had nothing to give. Yet, both did their part in sustaining the Prophet. "God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform." He does the unexpected, and the humanly inexplicable, to care for his own.


1. Giving what we have. When Elijah first beheld the widow of Zarephath, she was gathering sticks to make a fire to bake her last cake for herself and her son. Elijah cried, "Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel that I may drink." The widow did not hesitate. She immediately started to get the water. She was willing to give what she had, and to serve God's Prophet in the giving.

How precious is that promise of our Lord, "Whosoever shall give to drink * * a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, * * shall in no wise lose his reward." Our God judges our gifts and rewards us not according to that we have not, but according to that we have.

The little lad, who had the barley loaves and fishes, gladly gave them, even though they were as nothing, seemingly, for the feeding of the multitude. We believe that lad will have a great reward for his deed.

The widow who cast in but two mites cast in more than they all; because, out of her penury, she gave all her living. Her gift was indeed meager, but it was reckoned as larger than the much which was given by the rich.

2. Trusting God for what we have not. As the widow went to fetch the water, Elijah called to her and said, "Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand." The woman willing to share the water, at first held back the bread saying: "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."

We shall see how the woman was finally willing to share even her last meal with the Prophet of God, and to trust God for the future. This will be developed under our next heading.

"On the parched and desert way,

Where I tread, where I tread,

With the scorching noontide ray

O'er my head, o'er my head;

Let me find a welcome shade,

Cool and still, cool and still

And my weary steps be stayed,

While I will."


1. The natural thing was that which this woman desired to do. She had but enough meal and oil to furnish one last supply of food for herself and son. She thought, within herself, that they two would eat it and die. We doubt not that if she had followed her first thought, and eaten as she said, that she and her son would both have died, for the famine was sore in the land.

We remember a little saying that was upon the wall of our Alma Mater. This is the way it read: "This first of all to thine own self be true; and it shall follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man." There is a sense in which this is a worthy saying; however, if it is forced to mean, "Take care of yourself, shield yourself, feed yourself first of all," then, it becomes false.

2. The Divine thing was that which Elijah commanded the widow to do. "Make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son." In putting God, and God's Prophet first, the woman, in reality, enriched herself and her son. Elijah said, "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."

Has not God said as much unto us. "Give and it shall be given unto you." And again, "There is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty"; and there is that which scattereth abroad, and increaseth.

Is not God able to make all grace abound toward us; so that we, having all sufficiency in all things, may abound unto every good work?

Let us determine to follow the example of the Macedonians. In a deep trial of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. Whatever we do let us put God first in all things.

"And I have brought to thee,

Down from My Home above,

Salvation full and free,

My pardon and My love.

Great gifts I brought to thee:

What hast thou brought to Me?"


How soul-stirring are the words "The barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail"!

1. The Lord is able to make all grace abound. In the days of privation and of testing we need to remember that the cattle on a thousand hills belong to God. He has said, "Thy silver and thy gold is Mine." "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof." Can we not say with the lone little violet:

"I feel as weak as a violet,

Alone neath the deep blue sky,

As weak, yet as trustful also,

For the whole year long I see

All the wonders of faithful nature

Still work for the like of me,

Winds wander and dew drips earthward,

Rain falls, suns rise and set,

Earth whirls, and all but to prosper

A poor little violet."

Shall we then not trust the Lord and cease to worry and fret. He can make our barrel of meal to waste not, and He can cause our cruse of oil not to fail.

2. The Lord will keep His promises. Our key verse says that the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail according to the Word of the Lord. What God hath spoken He is not only able, but He is willing to perform.

When Joshua entered the land of Canaan, the people confessed, that there had not failed one good thing of all that was spoken by the Lord.

We may run through the promises of God, and confidently place our feet upon them knowing that we are standing on solid ground. Christ said, "Verily I say unto you, Till Heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled."

"What though clouds are hovering o'er me,

And I seem to walk alone

Longing, 'mid my cares and crosses,

For the joys that now are flown!

If I've Jesus, 'Jesus only,'

Then my sky will have a gem;

He's the Sun of brightest splendor,

And the Star of Bethlehem."

VI. THE GOD WHO IS ENOUGH (1 Kings 17:17-23 )

A test awaited the widow of Zarephath, that was more severe than the test of the famine which had prevailed in the land. The son of the woman fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that "there was no breath left in him." Then the woman cried 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?" Then Elijah took her son and laid him upon his own bed, and cried unto the Lord. And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived."

We find that the God who caused the barrel of meal and the cruse of oil not to fail; that the God who was enough in that matter, was also enough in the hour of this greatest sorrow. Elijah took up the child and delivered him unto his mother; saying, "See, thy son liveth."

We may not use this as a claim upon God to immediately give back unto us our dead. However, we do praise God that the hour is coming when the "Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them."

Our God carries the keys of death and of hell. Our God, the Son, and, Son of God, is the resurrection and the life.

The resurrection of this son was a resurrection, only to die again. The resurrection of our dead in Christ will be a resurrection unto life, never to die.

We wonder if this special blessing from Heaven was not granted unto the woman of Zarephath, because she had trusted God in the matter of the meal and the oil; and had obediently provided for His servant? This certainly was true in the case of Dorcas. They brought before Peter all the garments which she had made for the poor. Then it was that Peter said, "I say unto thee arise," and she was restored to them all.


When the woman received her son alive, from the hands of Elijah, she said, "Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the Word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth."

It is not what we say that establishes our verity. It is what we do. Jesus Christ said unto the Pharisees, "Whether is easier to say unto the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (He saith to the sick of the palsy.) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house."

"We live in deeds not words,

In facts, not in figures on a dial."

The Gospel which we preach must be backed and enforced by the life which we live, and the works which we do.

"We are the only Bible the careless world will read,

We are the sinner's Bible, we are the scoffer's creed,

We are the Lord's last message, given in deed or word.

What if the type is crooked, what if the type is blurred?

What if our hands are busy with other work than His?

What if our feet are walking where sin's allurement is?

What if our lips are speaking words that His heart would spurn

How can we hope to help Him and hasten His Return?"



Able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20 ). A young bride was going to entertain some friends, and lacking a few necessary things, went to a neighbor to borrow. "Is that all you want?" asked the generous neighbor. "Yes, I think so," replied the bride. "But you will need this, and that, and the other," said the experienced woman, naming the articles. "I was so thankful," said the young hostess afterward, "that I went to some one who knew just exactly what I needed better than I did myself, and was willing to supply it." Our Heavenly Father knows our needs better than we do, and in the richness of His love He supplies our known and unknown lack. From the C. E. World.

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Bibliographical Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on 1 Kings 17". "Living Water".