1 Kings 19:1. And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.
Jezebel was the chief patroness of the idolatrous prophets, and therefore you may imagine how her wrath was stirred when her husband told her what Elijah had done to the men who ate at her table.
1 Kings 19:2-3. 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. 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.
This is the man who could fearlessly face the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of the groves, and slay them at the brook Kishon, the dauntless prophet of fire, who dared to call King Ahab the troubler of Israel; yet now he trembles before a woman’s threatening, and arises, and flees for his life. Verily, the best of men are but men at the best, and the strongest of men are weak as water when once the power of God is withdrawn from them. The high-strung tension of the top of Carmel was now to be followed by a not unnatural reaction, and the heroic prophet was to sink into the lowest state of despondency. He left his servant at Beersheba;-
1 Kings 19:4. 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;
What inconsistent beings men are! Elijah had fled to save his life, yet “he requested for himself that he might die;” — that he might die because he was afraid of death, die under a juniper tree in the wilderness in order to escape death at the hand of Jezebel.
1 Kings 19:4. And said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.
This was the man who never died, yet “he requested for himself that he might die.” How gracious it is, on God’s part, not to grant the requests of his people when they are unwise, as this petition of Elijah was! Had he known that he would go up by a whirlwind into heaven, riding in a chariot of fire drawn by horses of fire, surely he would not have prayed after this fashion, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.”
1 Kings 19:5-6. And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. 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.
He was very sad at heart because of the apostasy of Israel; and beside that, he was very weary, utterly exhausted by the tremendous excitement through which he had passed, and by the long journey which he had already taken; so he did the wisest thing possible, “he did eat and drink, and laid him down again.”
1 Kings 19:7. 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.
God exercises foresight on behalf of his people which they cannot themselves exercise. He knows when we are to be called either to unusual service or unusual suffering, and he prepares us for it. He not only gives us spiritual meat to eat because we know that we are hungry, but he also gives it to us because of our future needs which, for the present, are quite unknown to us.
1 Kings 19:8-9. 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 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?
“Thou, Jehovah’s courageous prophet, why hast thou fled? Why art thou here when so much is necessary to be done for the apostate people? ‘What doest thou here?’ How comest thou to be here, in a cave, when the nation needs thy presence? ‘What doest thou here, Elijah?’”
1 Kings 19:10. 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.
He despaired of the good cause, and this was a great pity; for a man such as he was ought never to have given way to such feelings. Was not God with him; and where God is, must there not be victory?
1 Kings 19:11-13. 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 after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. 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?
God will repeat his questions to his people if they have not due effect the first time, for he is very tender, and pitiful, and patient.
1 Kings 19:14. And he said,-
A second time pouring out the bitterness of his soul before his God,-
1 Kings 19:14. 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.
It was a good thing that Elijah could thus pour out his complaint into the sympathizing ear of the Most High. Such bitterness of soul as his is very apt to ferment, and to breed all manner of ills, but when we can tell the Lord all that is in our heart, then a time of blessed relief is not far off.
1 Kings 19:15. And the LORD said unto him, go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus:-
“Get back to thy work; be not a deserter from the field of battle; return, for thou art wanted for various duties.”
1 Kings 19:15-16. And when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria 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.
Thus there shall be a successor to carry on your work when you have really done your part of it.
1 Kings 19:17-18. 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. 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.
How this gracious assurance must have revived the prophet’s spirit! He knew nothing about those seven thousand faithful Israelites, and he must have been amazed and delighted to hear of them. There was no need for him to say, “I, even I only, am left,” for there was a noble band of stalwarts to stand up with him, and defend the name and cause of Jehovah.
1 Kings 19:19. So he departed thence,-
Cheered and comforted, he went back to his work without uttering another word, and we do not read of his spirit flagging again: “So he departed thence,” —
1 Kings 19:19-20 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. 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?
The Lord wants no pressed men in his service; his soldiers must all be volunteers; but Elisha was a man of a true heart and a brave spirit, so we read:-
1 Kings 19:21.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.
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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on 1 Kings 19". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany