Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Kings 17:21

Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and called to the Lord and said, "O Lord my God, I pray You, let this child's life return to him."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Blessing;   Children;   Dead (People);   Elijah;   Hospitality;   Intercession;   Miracles;   Poor;   Women;   Zarephath;   Thompson Chain Reference - Association-Separation;   Contact;   Elijah;   Personal Contact;   Power;   Prayer;  
Dictionaries:
Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Elijah;   Heal, Health;   Magic;   Miracle;   Prayer;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Eutychus;   Prayer;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Elijah;   Eutychus;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Diseases;   Elijah;   Kings, 1 and 2;   Prayer;   Prophecy, Prophets;   Resurrection;   Zarephath;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Ahab;   Haggai;   Inwards, Inward Parts;   Medicine;   Prayer;   Zarephath;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Exorcism;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Miracles;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Chief parables and miracles in the bible;   Elijah;   Zarephath;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Soul;   Stretch;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Kingdom of Israel;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Death;   Elijah;   Elisha;   Eschatology of the Old Testament (with Apocryphal and Apocalyptic Writings);   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Amittai;   Numbers and Numerals;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Stretched himself upon the child three times - It is supposed that he did this in order to communicate some natural warmth to the body of the child, in order to dispose it to receive the departed spirit. Elisha, his disciple, did the same in order to restore the dead child of the Shunammite, 2 Kings 4:34. And St. Paul appears to have stretched himself on Eutychus in order to restore him to life, Acts 20:10.

Let this child's soul come into him again - Surely this means no more than the breath. Though the word נפש nephesh may sometimes signify the life, yet does not this imply that the spirit must take possession of the body in order to produce and maintain the flame of animal life? The expressions here are singular: Let his soul, נפש nephesh, come into him, קרבו על al kirbo, into the midst of him.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Kings 17:21". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-kings-17.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

He stretched himself upon the child three times - This action of Elijah is different from that of Elisha (marginal reference), and does not imply the use of any natural means for the restoration of suspended animation. It is nearly parallel to the “touch,” through which our Lord performed similar miracles Matthew 9:25; Luke 7:14.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Kings 17:21". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-kings-17.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And he stretched himself upon the child three times,.... Or "measured himself"F9ויתמדד "et mensus est se", Pagninus, Montanus; "admensus se", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. on it, or put himself into a posture in some respects equal to the child; putting his mouth on its mouth, his eyes on its eyes, his hands on its hands, as Elisha afterwards did in a like case, perhaps in imitation of him, 2 Kings 4:34, thereby showing his great affection to the child, and in order to increase it the more, and to make him the more fervent and importunate in his prayers for its life; and hereby signifying also that he would if he could infuse his breath and life into it, and warm it with his own heat:

and cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again: which shows that the child was really dead; and a proof this that the soul dies not with the body, but exists in a separate state without it.

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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.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 17:21". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-kings-17.html. 1999.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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.

Come into him — By which it is evident, that the soul was gone out of his body, this was a great request; but Elijah was encouraged to make it; by his zeal for God's honour, and by the experience which he had of his prevailing power with God in prayer.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 17:21". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/1-kings-17.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Kings 17:21 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.

Ver. 21. 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 times] Alternis 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.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 17:21". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-kings-17.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

1 Kings 17:21. And he stretched himself upon the child three times We are persuaded, that neither words nor gestures have any virtue; and yet we read, that the prophets of the Old Testament used extraordinary gesticulations, which would be smiled at now-a-days, and considered as superstitious ceremonies. Elijah, in raising up the only son of the widow of Sarepta, stretched himself upon the child three times; and Elisha, the disciple of this great prophet, did the same thing when he raised up the son of the Shunamite woman, 2 Kings 4:34-35. Certainly no one can think that these children were only entranced with cold, or in a swoon; so that the prophets, by stretching themselves upon them, only warmed them afresh, 1:e. cured them. They were perfectly dead, as appears from the event; for, the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. Besides, how could a recovering from a swoon, or warmth restored, merit that the Scripture should make express mention of it, and place this fact among those of the prophets? When the soul is once separated from the body, it is useless for a living body to stretch itself, lie down, and place its hands upon those of the dead. All the powers of nature can do nothing in this case; because it requires an overcoming of that very law of nature which unites the body to the soul, a law which cannot be reversed but by God the author of it.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Kings 17:21". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/1-kings-17.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

He stretched himself upon the child; not as if he thought this could contribute any warmth or life to the child; but partly to express, and withal to increase, his grief for the child’s death, and his desire of its reviving; that thereby his prayers might be more fervent, and consequently more prevalent with God; and partly that it might appear that this miracle, though wrought by God alone, yet was done for the sake of Elijah, and in answer to his prayers. Compare 2 Kings 4:34 John 9:6 Acts 20:10.

And cried unto the Lord: first he stretched himself, then he prayed, and that for three times successively.

Let this child’s soul come into him again; by which it is evident that the soul was gone out of his body, and therefore doth subsist without it after death. Compare Genesis 35:18. This was a great request; but Elijah was encouraged to make it; partly, by his zeal for God’s honour, which he thought was concerned in it, and would be eclipsed by it; partly, by the experience which he had of his prevailing power with God in prayer; and partly, by a Divine impulse moving him to desire it.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Kings 17:21". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/1-kings-17.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

21.He stretched himself upon the child three times — This procedure should be compared with Elisha’s in raising the son of the Shunammite woman, (2 Kings 4:34, note,) and Paul’s in restoring Eutychus, (Acts 20:10.) Elijah had no power, like Christ, to raise the dead by a single word of command; (Luke 7:14; Luke 8:54; John 11:43;) but confident that God would, through his agency, bring the child’s soul back again, he resorts to every rational means, and prays with greatest fervency for the desired result. Three was a sacred number; and the prophet’s thrice stretching himself upon the child was in keeping with the threefold form of daily prayer among the pious Israelites, (Psalms 55:17, Daniel 6:10,) and the threefold benediction of the high priest. Numbers 6:23.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Kings 17:21". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-kings-17.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

1 Kings 17:21. He stretched himself upon the child three times — Not as if he thought this could contribute any warmth or life to the child; but partly to express, and withal to increase, his grief for the child’s death, and his desire of its reviving; that thereby his prayers might be more fervent, and consequently more prevalent with God: and partly to give a sign of what God would do by his power, and what he doth by his grace in the raising of souls dead in sin to a spiritual life: the Holy Ghost comes upon them, and the power of the Highest overshadows them, and puts life into them. Let this child’s soul come into him again — By this way of speaking, Elijah expressed his certainty that the child’s soul had left his body, and that he was properly dead. And he asks, not that he might be recovered from a fainting fit, swoon, or trance; but reanimated by the departed soul, and raised from the dead. This certainly was a great and most extraordinary request, and such as there is every reason to think had never been asked of God before by any human creature. Certainly he had no precedent to plead for requesting such a thing, much less did he know of an instance of any mortal’s resurrection having taken place in answer to any one’s prayers or otherwise. Nevertheless, he was encouraged and induced to make this request, partly by his zeal for God’s honour, which he judged was concerned in it, and would be eclipsed, if the child of this widow remained in death; partly by the experience which he had of his prevailing power with God in prayer; and partly by a divine influence, moving him to desire the child’s restoration to life.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Kings 17:21". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/1-kings-17.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Times, in honour of the blessed Trinity. (Menochius) --- He puts himself in this posture, as if the co-operate with God in warming the child; as Eliseus did, (4 Kings iv. 34,) as well as St. Paul, (Acts xx. 10,) and St. Benedict. (St. Gregory, Dial. ii. 32.) This posture represented the condescension of Jesus Christ in assuming our nature, to give us life; and the Old Testament affords few more striking figures of this union. (Calmet) (St. Augustine, ser. 201. de Temp.; St. Bernard xvi. in Cant.) (Tirinus)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Kings 17:21". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/1-kings-17.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

stretched = measured.

soul = life. Compare 1 Kings 17:23, "liveth". Hebrew. nephesh. App-13.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 Kings 17:21". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/1-kings-17.html. 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(21) He stretched himself upon the child.—To suppose that this implies merely the use of some natural means of reviving the dead, is simply to explain the whole description away. The idea in this passage (as in 2 Kings 4:34; 2 Kings 13:21, and, perhaps, Acts 20:10) clearly is of a certain healing “virtue,” attaching in measure to the person of the prophets, as without measure it belonged to our Lord Himself (Luke 8:45-46). But it is to be noted that in the case of the prophet, the power to heal or raise up is made distinctly conditional on prayer, “the Lord heard the voice of Elijah.”

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 17:21". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/1-kings-17.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
stretched himself
Heb. measured himself.
2 Kings 4:33-35; Acts 10:10
O Lord my God
Acts 9:40; Hebrews 11:19
Reciprocal: 2 Kings 4:34 - General2 Kings 20:11 - cried unto;  Matthew 17:21 - but;  Luke 7:14 - Young;  Luke 8:55 - her spirit;  John 5:21 - as;  John 11:43 - Lazarus;  Acts 20:10 - and fell;  James 5:14 - pray

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Kings 17:21". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-kings-17.html.