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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Kings 17:17

Now it came about after these things that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became sick; and his sickness was so severe that there was no breath left in him.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Children;   Dead (People);   Elijah;   Hospitality;   Miracles;   Poor;   Women;   Zarephath;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Diseases;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Elijah;   Zarephath;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Elijah;   Heal, Health;   Miracle;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Elijah;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Breath;   Diseases;   Elijah;   Kings, 1 and 2;   Prophecy, Prophets;   Resurrection;   Zarephath;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Ahab;   Haggai;   Medicine;   Zarephath;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Lazarus;   Possession;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Miracles;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Chief parables and miracles in the bible;   Elijah;   Zarephath;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Kingdom of Israel;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Elijah;   Elisha;   Mistress;   Sick;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Amittai;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Verse 1 Kings 17:17. There was no breath left in him — He ceased to breathe and died.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Kings 17:17". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-kings-17.html. 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary


16:29-22:53 MINISTRY OF ELIJAH

Jezebel’s Baalism in Israel (16:29-17:24)

In a new political alliance, Ahab, the new king of Israel, married Jezebel, daughter of the king-priest of Phoenicia. Ahab not only accepted his wife’s Baalism, but also gave it official status in Israel by building a Baal temple in the capital (29-33). The Baalism imported by Jezebel was of a kind far more evil and far more dangerous to Israel’s religion than the common Canaanite Baalism practised at the high places. Jezebel’s Baalism (as we shall refer to it, to distinguish it from the common Baalism) was that of the great god Melqart, whose dwelling place was the Tyre-Sidon region of Phoenicia where Jezebel came from. Jezebel then set about making this the official religion of Israel.

The rebuilding of Jericho further demonstrated the spirit of rebellion against God that characterized Israel. The project was in direct opposition to God’s clear command (34; cf. Joshua 6:26).

Israel’s religious life was in such danger that God intervened with an unusually large number of miracles and judgments. First he sent the prophet Elijah to announce a three-year drought throughout the land (17:1). This showed the powerlessness of Baal, who was supposed to be the God of nature and fertility. At the same time it showed the power of Yahweh, who was still God of Israel. Elijah was no doubt unpopular because of the drought, so God directed him to hide near a stream in his home territory of Gilead, east of Jordan. No one knew where he was, and he did not even need to go out to look for food, because God provided it miraculously (2-6).

When Elijah’s water supply dried up (7), God sent him to Zarephath in Phoenicia. This was Baal’s home territory, but the drought there was just as severe. The miraculous feeding of Elijah, the widow and her household showed that God’s power was greater than Baal’s even in Baal’s home country; and, unlike Baal’s, it could work independently of nature. The events showed also that faith, not nationality, was the basis for God’s blessing (8-16; cf. Luke 4:25-26). The healing of the widow’s son confirmed her faith in God, and assured Elijah of God’s presence and power in the dangerous and lonely days ahead (17-24).


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 1 Kings 17:17". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/1-kings-17.html. 2005.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

ELIJAH RESTORED THE WIDOW'S SON TO LIFE

"And it came to pass after these things,' that the son of the mistress of the house fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him. And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? thou art come unto me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son! And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into the chamber, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed. And he cried unto Jehovah, and said, O Jehovah my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son? And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto Jehovah, and said, O Jehovah my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again. And Jehovah hearkened unto the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. 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 the woman said to Elijah, Now I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of Jehovah in thy mouth is truth."

"There was no breath left in him" (1 Kings 17:18). Anyone who has stopped breathing is, to all intents and purposes, dead. Although the text does not declare in that terminology that the child was dead, "It is presumed from the woman's use of the words `slay my son' (1 Kings 17:18),"[19] and by Elijah's use of similar words in 1 Kings 17:20.

"Thou art come ... to bring my sin to remembrance" (1 Kings 17:18). This thought of the child's mother was due to the ancient error of supposing that any kind of hardship or disaster was due to the sin of the person afflicted, an error that persisted in Israel until Jesus himself exposed it as a false view (John 9:3). We may believe that the death of this woman's son was also for the reason mentioned by Jesus, in the same verse, "That the works of God might be manifest in him."

"And he ... carried him up into the chamber, where he abode" (1 Kings 17:19). "This woman was a person of property, a householder, with a dwelling strong enough to have an upper chamber."[20] "The upper chamber was on the roof, accessible by an outside stairway."[21]

"And the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived" (1 Kings 17:22). The word "revived" here is an intransitive verb, the first definition of which is, "to come back to life again, to return to consciousness."[22]

"The word of Jehovah in thy mouth is truth" (1 Kings 17:24). "This last word, from which Amittai is formed (Jonah 1:1), perhaps gave rise to the tradition that this boy was afterward known as the prophet Jonah. Amittai is held to have been this woman's husband."[23]

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 1 Kings 17:17". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/1-kings-17.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

No breath - Or, “no spirit,” “no soul.” (Compare Genesis 2:7). The word used is translated “spirit” in Proverbs 20:27; Ecclesiastes 3:21; Job 26:4; and elsewhere.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Kings 17:17". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-kings-17.html. 1870.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

By Chuck Smith

Let's turn to the First Kings, chapter seventeen.

The seventeenth chapter of First Kings introduces us now to a very interesting character, Elijah the Tishbite, whatever Tishbite means. Now Elijah came from the area of Gilead, which you'd call today TransJordan if you were in Israel; it was across Jordan in the area of Gad. And so he came from the area of Gilead. It is thought that it is possible that Tishbite means that he was not really an Israelite, that he was some other nationality. But that is only a conjecture, we don't know for sure. But he certainly had a very interesting career. And he comes to the apostate northern tribe at really sort of its lowest point when Ahab is the king with his wicked wife Jezebel. And they have just about eliminated the worship of Jehovah.

They have introduced Baal worship to Israel. They have broken down the altars of God. They have slain the prophets of God and they have just about eliminated the worship of God from the Northern Kingdom of Israel. And so at this dark period of history, Elijah comes on the scene with the message of God and the warning of God for the people, and so he's a very interesting character indeed. It is prophesied in Malachi that before Jesus comes again, that Elijah will come and will be turning the hearts of the children to their fathers. And God is going to send Elijah back to the nation Israel to really bring a great revival to Israel before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Now when Zechariah the priest, recorded in Luke chapter one, was in the temple fulfilling his course of ministry, the angel Gabriel stood beside the altar and informed Zechariah that his wife Elisabeth in her old age was to bear a son.

And he said, "And he shall go forth in the spirit and in the power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the children unto their fathers." The key there, I think, is the spirit and the power of Elijah.

We then follow when in the first chapter of John when John the Baptist was fulfilling his ministry, they came to John and they said unto him, "Who gave you the authority to do these things? Are you Elijah?"

And he said, "No."

Are you that other prophet? "No."

Then who are you?

He said, "I'm the voice of one crying in the wilderness saying, Make straight the path of the Lord."

Now John denied that he was Elijah. However, after the death of John the Baptist, Jesus was talking about John and He said, "Of all men born of women there is not risen a greater prophet than John the Baptist: yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he" ( Matthew 11:11 ).

The disciples then said to the Lord, how is it then, He's giving John the Baptist this credit for being one of the greatest prophets? He said, "How is it then that the Bible says Elijah must first come?"

And Jesus said, "Elijah shall first come." In other words, the prophecy of Malachi will be fulfilled. Before Jesus comes again, Elijah will first come. But He said, "if you are able to receive it, this is Elijah," referring to John the Baptist.

Now we realize that there are two aspects of the coming of Jesus Christ. His first coming was to give Himself as God planned as a sacrifice for our sins. His Second Coming is to reign and to establish God's kingdom upon the earth. But there are two aspects to the coming of Christ; and thus, there are two aspects to the prophecy of Elijah being the forerunner. And thus John the Baptist in the spirit and in the power of Elijah was the forerunner at the first coming; but Elijah will return to be the forerunner before Jesus comes again.

John the Baptist was in the spirit and in the power of Elijah. Now Elijah did appear with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. When Jesus went up into the high mountain with His disciples, Peter, James and John, He was transfigured before them, Elijah appeared there on the Mount of Transfiguration with the Lord. No doubt in Revelation, chapter eleven, verse two where it speaks of the Lord sending the two witnesses, His two witnesses unto the nation Israel, that one of the two witnesses will indeed be Elijah and the fulfillment of the prophecy of Malachi.

So Elijah is a very interesting character because he is interwoven. This is the beginning of his career but he showed up on the Mount of Transfiguration and he's going to show up once more before Jesus comes again. Now because of the prophecy that Elijah will first come, that is why the Jews at every Passover when they celebrate Passover they always set the empty chair and leave the door open. They're waiting for Elijah to come. The door is open. He's welcome and they've got the chair set for him at the table and it is a sign of their anticipation of the Messiah's return. But they know before He returns, or their anticipation of the Messiah, they are not really looking for Him to return, but their anticipation of the Messiah and the chair set for Elijah before the return.

So very interesting character and now we get into the study of this fellow Elijah who came into Israel at this dark period of their history when there is such a great spiritual decline.

And he comes in very dramatically, with a dramatic announcement and then he disappears. He came to Ahab, the wicked king and he said,

As the LORD God lives, before whom I stand, there is not going to be dew or rain for these years, until I say so ( 1 Kings 17:1 ).

And then he took off. And he was gone for three-and-a-half years. And for three-and-a-half years, there was a drought, not a drop of rain, no dew from heaven until the land became very dry and parch.

Now he took off first of all over to the brook Cherith, which is back towards Gilead, from which he had come. And the Lord instructed him to go to the brook and drink of its water and the Lord said, "I'll feed you there." And God commissioned a couple of ravens to bring him food to eat every day, actually in the morning and in the evening. They brought him bread and they brought him meat. And so he was there by the brook Cherith, morning and evening the ravens would show up with this food and he was just staying there until the brook dried up because of the lack of rain.

And so the Lord then commanded him to get to Zarephath, over near Zidon. So it would be in the area of the Lebanon today. Zidon is about ten miles north from Accho. And there is a widow woman there, the Lord said, "And she will take care of you."

So he went and he came to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, he saw this widow woman and she was gathering sticks ( 1 Kings 17:10 ):

Now in the more primitive cultures, the ladies go out and gather sticks for their fires. You can go down to Guatemala and see the ladies today out gathering sticks for their fires and all. And over in Israel in the primitive culture, and it still does exist in many areas there, the ladies out gathering sticks and they of course, cook over the open fires and it's quite interesting.

And so she was gathering these sticks and he said to her, "Would you bring me a drink of water?"

And so while she was going to get him a drink of water, he said, "Oh, while you're bringing me the water, how about bringing me some bread, too?"

And so she poured out her heart. She said, "I'm sorry, sir. I don't have any bread. In fact, I'm gathering a couple sticks now to build a fire and I have just a little oil and a little flour left, enough to make a couple of pieces of bread for my son and we're going to eat those and then we're just going to die. I'm just- we're depleted. We have no flour, no oil."

So Elijah said, "First make me some bread. And then make it for you and your son. And according to the Lord and the word of the Lord, the flour shall not cease nor the oil until this whole drought is over."

And so the widow lady went in and she made Elijah some bread and she found out that there was still flour left in the barrel, still oil. And she kept feeding him. And during this whole period of the drought, the flour did not fail, nor the oil, it was always enough to make just one more.

It's really a miracle indeed and there is no taking away from the miraculous aspect of it, how that God supplied miraculously. But it is interesting the prophet said, "Make it for me first, and then for yourself." There is sort of a spiritual kind of a thing here, as far as giving to God the firstfruits of our lives. Jesus said, "Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these other things will be added unto you" ( Matthew 6:33 ).

Now if I twist this priority, and I start seeking first other things, then my life will be so involved in seeking other things that I don't have time for God. But if I seek first my relationship with God, then all of my other relationships come into balance. They all just work on in. You see, my life exists on two plains-the vertical axis upon which my life revolves, and the horizontal plain, this outer area, my relationship with other people. Now if the vertical axis of my life is correct, if my relationship with God is what it should be, then the horizontal plain of my life is in balance. My relationship with those around me is in balance and I am living a well-balanced life if the vertical axis is correct, if my relationship with God is all that it should be.

However, if the vertical axis of my life is not correct, if my relationship with God isn't all that it should be, then the horizontal plain of my life is also going to be out of kilter. And I find myself on this crazy topsy-turvy kind of an experience, where I'm always trying to balance my life. And I'm spending all my time trying to get my life into balance and things in the proper focus. And I just never can seem to quite make it. Just about the time I get up here to try and balance this side, then I come overboard this way, you know. And I'm constantly working to get my life into balance, never seeming to be able to do it. My relationships are all messed up.

Now if I spend my time in just trying to balance my life, I am only treating the symptoms. It's like trying to treat a brain tumor with aspirin. You know, just to sort of deaden the pain so you don't feel it so bad and you don't feel these headaches quite so severely. But you're only treating symptoms; you're not getting to the heart of the problem. Now any doctor who only treats symptoms is a quack. Stay away from him. You want a doctor that's going to find out what the cause is that's creating the symptoms. "Why are you getting dizzy? Why do you have this severe pressure in the head?" You want something more than aspirin. Now people are so often treating only the symptoms, the relationship, and trying to get this relationship to work. "No, I've got to work on this and I've got to work on that. And oh, this is all messed up now, you know." And we're so busy in the horizontal plain trying to get it in balance when in reality the solution is very simple. Get the vertical axis correct. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness."

Elijah said, "Make me first the cake." Now had she gone in to make first of all the cake for herself and her son, that'd have been it. The barrel would have been empty of flour, the oil would have been gone; they would have died. "Make me first the cake and then for you and your son." Put the Lord first. Get your priorities correct and God will take care of you. God will take care of the other aspects of your life. So the most important relationship that I have in all this world is my relationship with God and nothing should get before it. And if I'm going to work on any relationship at all, I should be working on this relationship with God above every other relationship, because if this gets correct, then the others are all going to fall into balance. If this relationship with God is out of kilter, then there is no way I'm going to be able to balance my life. It will always be in this crazy topsy-turvy way. There is no way you can have a well-balanced life until your life is centered in God. And that is the vertical axis upon which your life is rotating. And until then it's always going to be out of balance, out of kilter.

So Elijah set forth really a principle for this gal for God to work. Put God first and God will take care of you. He'll take care of the seconds and the thirds and the fourths. But it's priority and it's simple and it's basic, and yet it's one of the most important truths that you need to learn in your whole experience of life, is that your relationship with God must supersede every other relationship. Make sure that you have a right relationship with God because that will see you through everything else.

So the little woman did what Elijah said and God took care.

Verse sixteen,

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. Now it came to pass, that the son of this woman became very sick; and actually he was so sick, he quit breathing. And so she said to Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? Are you come to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son ( 1 Kings 17:16-18 )?

Now it is interesting that she was sort of thinking that the death of her son was somehow related to her own sin.

And Elijah said unto her, Give me your son. And he took him out of her bosom, and he carried him up into a loft, [where he stayed in a loft there next to her house,] and he laid him on his own bed. And he cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, have you brought this evil upon this woman that I'm staying with in slaying her son? And he stretched himself out on the child three times, and he cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul or consciousness come into him again. And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came to him again, and he revived. And Elijah took the child, and brought him down to his mother and presented him to her: and he said, Look, your son is living. And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that you are a man of God, and the word of the LORD is in your mouth in truth ( 1 Kings 17:19-24 ).

"





Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 1 Kings 17:17". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/1-kings-17.html. 2014.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

God’s revelation of His power 17:8-24

God had a very unusual ministry for Elijah to perform in which he would stand alone against hundreds of opponents (1 Kings 18:16-40). This section reveals how the Lord prepared him for it.

The site of Zarephath was between Tyre and Sidon in Phoenicia, the stronghold of the cult that Ahab had imported into Israel (cf. 1 Kings 16:31). Widows were poor in the ancient Near East and would have been the first to run out of food in a drought. [Note: See Richard D. Patterson, "The Widow, the Orphan, and the Poor in the Old Testament and the Extra-Biblical Literature," Bibliotheca Sacra 130:519 (July-September 1973):223-34.] Elijah’s request for water and then bread (1 Kings 17:10-11) evidently identified the widow God had in mind (cf. Genesis 24:10-21). Her response revealed a Gentile believer in Yahweh (1 Kings 17:12; cf. 1 Kings 17:1; Luke 4:26). Elijah asked the widow to put God’s interests-represented by himself, a prophet of Yahweh-before her own as the condition for her blessing (1 Kings 17:13; cf. Matthew 6:33; Mark 12:41-44). She responded obediently to the word Elijah gave her from God, showing she really believed that Yahweh, not Baal, was the God who could provide food and fertility (1 Kings 17:14). God honored her faith; He provided her need for food (1 Kings 17:15-16).

"In the absence of Baal who lies impotent in the Netherworld, Yahweh steps in to assist the widow and the orphan, and this is even done in the heartland of Baal, Phoenicia." [Note: F. C. Fensham, "A Few Observations on the Polarisation between Yahweh and Baal in 1 Kings 17-19," Zeitschrift für die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 92:2 (1980):234.]

This situation undoubtedly strengthened Elijah’s faith in God’s power and faithfulness, as well as the faith of the woman.

"The fact that Elijah had to sustain the widow and boy points not only to YHWH as provider for the needy but also as one who ’trained’ his prophet, as it were, to be obedient to him. Flour and oil signify life; they are the two common staples in any ancient, as well as modern, Near Eastern household." [Note: James R. Battenfield, "YHWH’s Refutation of the Baal Myth through the Actions of Elijah and Elisha," in Israel’s Apostasy and Restoration: Essays in Honor of Roland K. Harrison, p. 22.]

The sickness of the widow’s son corresponded to Israel’s spiritual condition at this time (1 Kings 17:17). The widow incorrectly blamed herself for her son’s predicament (1 Kings 17:18; cf. John 9:2-3). Elijah realized that only God could bring the boy back to life, so he called on God in prayer to do so (1 Kings 17:20-21). Often in cases of miraculous restoration, God’s servant placed his hand on the afflicted one. He did so to indicate that the power of God in him was passing to the needy individual (cf. Matthew 8:3). In this instance Elijah placed his whole body against the boy’s body for the same reason (1 Kings 17:21; cf. 2 Kings 4:34; Acts 9:31-43; Acts 20:10). This is the first restoration to life of a dead person that Scripture records. Elijah prayed shamelessly, one of the fundamental requisites for obtaining one’s petitions in difficult cases (1 Kings 17:21; cf. Matthew 7:7-8; Luke 11:5-13). God restored the lad’s life (1 Kings 17:22). In the process Elijah learned the power of God and the power of prayer. He applied both of these lessons in his contest with the Baal prophets (1 Kings 18:16-46). His confidence in his own ability as a channel of God’s blessing and word received added strength from the widow’s confession (1 Kings 17:24).

"The best proof of the effectiveness of Elijah’s preparation is that he was verified as an authentic man of God and the bearer of God’s word by a daughter of the very people he opposed (1 Kings 17:24)." [Note: Rice, p. 145.]

If God could raise a dead Gentile boy back to life in response to believing prayer, He could also revive the chosen people of Israel who had become spiritually dead.

". . . the emphasis in this text [1 Kings 17:17-24] is not so much on Elijah as on the word of the Lord which is in Elijah’s mouth." [Note: Marion Soards Jr., "Elijah and the Lord’s Word: A Study of 1 Kings 17:17-24," Studia Biblica et Theologica 13:1 (April 1983):39-40.]

1 Kings 17:17-24 display a chiastic structure that highlights Elijah’s control of the situation and his intimate relationship with Yahweh that resulted in the miraculous resuscitation of the boy.

"A    ’What have you against me, O man of God?’

    B    ’Give me your son!’

        C    And he took him and brought him up

    D    And he cried to the Lord and said, ’O Lord my God.’

E    And he stretched upon the boy

D’    And he called to the Lord and said, ’O Lord my God.’

E’    And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah

        C’    And Elijah took the child and brought him down

    B’    ’See your son lives!’

A’    ’Now I know that you are a man of God.’" [Note: Cohn, "The Literary . . .," p. 336.]

"The whole point of the story, however, seems to be paramountly a demonstration that YHWH, not Baal, has the power of life over death." [Note: Battenfield, p. 23.]

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Kings 17:17". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/1-kings-17.html. 2012.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And it came to pass after these things,.... Not only after the conversation that passed between the prophet, and the widow, but after they had lived together many days, a year or years, upon the miraculous provision made for them:

that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; that is, the son of the widow woman in whose house the prophet dwelt; the Jews say h this woman was the mother of Jonah, and that he was this son of her's:

and his sickness was so sore that there was no breath left in him: it was a sickness unto death, it issued in it; for that he was really dead appears from all that follows.

h Pirke Eliezer, c. 33.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 17:17". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-kings-17.html. 1999.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

The Widow's Child Raised to Life. B. C. 908.

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

      We have here a further recompence made to the widow for her kindness to the prophet; as if it were a small thing to be kept alive, her son, when dead, is restored to life, and so restored to her. Observe,

      I. The sickness and death of the child. For aught that appears he was her only son, the comfort of her widowed estate. He was fed miraculously, and yet that did not secure him from sickness and death. Your fathers did eat manna, and are dead, but there is bread of which a man may eat and not die, which was given for the life of the world, John 6:49; John 6:50. The affliction was to this widow as a thorn in the flesh, lest she should be lifted up above measure with the favours that were done her and the honours that were put upon her. 1. She was nurse to a great prophet, was employed to sustain him, and had strong reason to think the Lord would do her good; yet now she loses her child. Note, We must not think it strange if we meet with very sharp afflictions, even when we are in the way of duty, and of eminent service to God. 2. She was herself nursed by miracle, and kept a good house without charge or care, by a distinguishing blessing from heaven; and in the midst of all this satisfaction she was thus afflicted. Note, When we have the clearest manifestations of God's favour and good-will towards us, even then we must prepare for the rebukes of Providence. Our mountain never stands so strong but it may be moved, and therefore, in this world, we must always rejoice with trembling.

      II. Her pathetic complaint to the prophet of this affliction. It should seem, the child died suddenly, else she would have applied to Elijah, while he was sick, for the cure of him; but being dead, dead in her bosom, she expostulates with the prophet upon it, rather to give vent to her sorrow than in any hope of relief, 1 Kings 17:18; 1 Kings 17:18. 1. She expresses herself passionately: What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? How calmly had she spoken of her own and her child's death when she expected to die for want (1 Kings 17:12; 1 Kings 17:12) --that we may eat, and die! Yet now that her child dies, and not so miserably as by famine, she is extremely disturbed at it. We may speak lightly of an affliction at a distance, but when it toucheth us we are troubled,Job 4:5. Then she spoke deliberately, now in haste; the death of her child was now a surprise to her, and it is hard to keep our spirits composed when troubles come upon us suddenly and unexpectedly, and in the midst of our peace and prosperity. She calls him a man of God, and yet quarrels with him as if he had occasioned the death of her child, and is ready to which she had never seen him, forgetting past mercies and miracles: "What have I done against thee?" (so some understand it), "Wherein have I offended thee, or been wanting in my duty? Show me wherefore thou contendest with me." 2. Yet she expresses herself penitently: "Hast thou come to call my sin to thy remembrance, as the cause of the affliction, and so to call it to my remembrance, as the effect of the affliction?" Perhaps she knew of Elijah's intercession against Israel, and, being conscious to herself of sin, perhaps her former worshipping of Baal the god of the Sidonians, she apprehends he had made intercession against her. Note, (1.) When God removes our comforts from use he remembers our sins against us, perhaps the iniquities of our youth, though long since past, Job 13:26. Our sins are the death of our children. (2.) When God thus remembers our sins against us he designs thereby to make us remember them against ourselves and repent of them.

      III. The prophet's address to God upon this occasion. He gave no answer to her expostulation, but brought it to God, and laid the case before him, not knowing what to say to it himself. He took the dead child from the mother's bosom to his own bed, 1 Kings 17:19; 1 Kings 17:19. Probably he had taken a particular kindness to the child, and found the affliction his own more than by sympathy. He retired to his chamber, and, 1. He humbly reasons with God concerning the death of the child, 1 Kings 17:20; 1 Kings 17:20. He sees death striking by commission from God: Thou hast brought this evil for is there any evil of this kind in the city, in the family, and the Lord has not done it? He pleads the greatness of the affliction to the poor mother: "It is evil upon the widow; thou art the widow's God, and dost not usually bring evil upon widows; it is affliction added to the afflicted." He pleads his own concern: "It is the widow with whom I sojourn; wilt thou, that art my God, bring evil upon one of the best of my benefactors? I shall be reflected upon, and others will be afraid of entertaining me, if I bring death into the house where I come." 2. He earnestly begs of God to restore the child to life again, 1 Kings 17:21; 1 Kings 17:21. We do not read before this of any that were raised to life; yet Elijah, by a divine impulse, prays for the resurrection of this child, which yet will not warrant us to do the like. David expected not, by fasting and prayer, to bring his child back to life (2 Samuel 12:23), but Elijah had a power to work miracles, which David had not. He stretched himself upon the child, to affect himself with the case and to show how much he was affected with it and how desirous he was of the restoration of the child--he would if he could put life into him by his own breath and warmth; also to give a sign of what God would do by his power, and what he does by his grace, in raising dead souls to a spiritual life; the Holy Ghost comes upon them, overshadows them, and puts life into them. He is very particular in his prayer: I pray thee let this child's soul come into him again, which plainly supposes the existence of the soul in a state of separation from the body, and consequently its immortality, which Grotius thinks God designed by this miracle to give intimation and evidence of, for the encouragement of his suffering people.

      IV. The resurrection of the child, and the great satisfaction it gave to the mother: the child revived, 1 Kings 17:22; 1 Kings 17:22. See the power of prayer and the power of him that hears prayer, who kills and makes alive. Elijah brought him to his mother, who, we may suppose, could scarcely believe her own eyes, and therefore Elijah assures her it is her own: "It is thy son that liveth; see it is thy own, and not another," 1 Kings 17:23; 1 Kings 17:23. The good woman hereupon cries out, Now I know that thou art a man of God; though she knew it before, by the increase of her meal, yet the death of her child she took so unkindly that she began to question it (a good man surely would not serve her so); but now she was abundantly satisfied that he had both the power and goodness of a man of God, and will never doubt of it again, but give up herself to the direction of his word and the worship of the God of Israel. Thus the death of the child (like that of Lazarus, John 11:4) was for the glory of God and the honour of his prophet.

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Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on 1 Kings 17:17". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/1-kings-17.html. 1706.