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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary
New American Standard Version
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Nave's Topical Bible - Elijah; Hospitality; Miracles; Poor; Prophets; Women; Zarephath;
Verse 1 Kings 17:24. The word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth. — Three grand effects were produced by this temporary affliction:
1. The woman was led to examine her heart, and try her ways;
2. The power of God became highly manifest in the resurrection of the child;
3. She was convinced that the word of the Lord was truth, and that not one syllable of it could fall to the ground.
Through a little suffering all this good was obtained.
THE subject in the fourth verse of this chapter deserves a more particular consideration.
I have commanded the ravens to feed thee. - It is contended that if we consider ערבים orebim to signify ravens, we shall find any interpretation on this ground to be clogged with difficulties. I need mention but a few. The raven is an unclean bird, And these ye shall have in abomination among the fowls - every raven after his kind; Leviticus 11:13-15; that is, every species of this genus shall be considered by you unclean and abominable. Is it therefore likely that God would employ this most unclean bird to feed his prophet? Besides, where could the ravens get any flesh that was not unclean? Carrion is their food; and would God send any thing of this kind to his prophet? Again: If the flesh was clean which God sent, where could ravens get it? Here must be at least three miracles: one to bring from some table the flesh to the ravens; another, to induce the ravenous bird to give it up; and the third, to conquer its timidity towards man, so that it could come to the prophet without fear. Now, although God might employ a fowl that would naturally strive to prey on the flesh, and oblige it, contrary to its nature, to give it up; yet it is by no means likely that he would employ a bird that his own law had pronounced abominable. Again, he could not have employed this means without working a variety of miracles at the same time, in order to accomplish one simple end; and this is never God's method: his plan is ever to accomplish the greatest purposes by the simplest means.
The original word orebim has been considered by some as meaning merchants, persons occasionally trading through that country, whom God directed, by inspiration, to supply the prophet with food. To get a constant supply from such hands in an extraordinary way was miracle enough; it showed the superintendence of God, and that the hearts of all men are in his hands.
But in answer to this it is said, that the "original word never signifies merchants; and that the learned Bochart has proved this." I have carefully read over cap. 13, part. ii., lib. 2, of the Hierozoicon of this author, where he discusses this subject; and think that he has never succeeded less than in his attempt to prove that ravens are meant in this passage. He allows that the Tyrian merchants are described by this periphrasis, ערבי מערבך, the occupiers of thy merchandise, Ezekiel 27:27; and asserts that ערבים orebim, per se, mercatores nusquam significat, "by itself, never signifies merchants." Now, with perfect deference to so great an authority, I assert that ערבי oreby, the contracted form of ערבים orebim, does signify merchants, both in Ezekiel 27:9 and Ezekiel 27:27, and that מערב maarab signifies a place for merchandise, the market - place or bazaar, in Ezekiel 27:9; Ezekiel 27:13; Ezekiel 27:17; Ezekiel 27:19; as also the goods sold in such places, Ezekiel 27:33; and therefore that ערבים for aught proved to the contrary, signify merchants in the text.
As to Bochart's objection, that, the prophet being ordered to go to the brook Cherith, that he might lie hid, and the place of his retreat not be known, if any traders or merchants supplied his wants, they would most likely discover where he was, c., I think there is no weight in it for the men might be as well bound by the secret inspiration of God not to discover the place of his retreat, as they were to supply his wants; besides, they might have been of the number of those seven thousand men who had not bowed their knees to the image of Baal, and consequently would not inform Ahab and Jezebel of their prophet's hiding place.
Some have supposed that the original means Arabians; but Bochart contends that there were no Arabians in that district: this is certainly more than he or any other man can prove. Colonies of Arabs, and hordes and families of the same people, have been widely scattered over different places for the purpose of temporal sojournment and trade; for they were a wandering people, and often to be found in different districts remote enough from the place of their birth. But, letting this pass merely for what it is worth, and feeling as I do the weight of the objections that may be brought against the supposition of ravens being the agents employed to feed the prophet, I would observe that there was a town or city of the name of Orbo, that was not far from the place where Elijah was commanded to hide himself. In Bereshith Rabba, a rabbinical comment on Genesis, we have these words עיר היא בתחום ביתשאן ושמה ערבו ir hi bithchom Beithshean, veshemo Orbo; "There is a town in the vicinity of Beth-shan, (Scythopolis,) and its name is Orbo." We may add to this from St. Jerome, Orbim, accolae villae in finibus Arabum, Eliae dederunt alimenta; "The Orbim, inhabitants of a town in the confines of the Arabs, gave nourishment to Elijah." Now, I consider Jerome's testimony to be of great worth, because he spent several years in the holy land, that he might acquire the most correct notion possible of the language and geography of the country, as well as of the customs and habits of the people, in order to his translating the sacred writings, and explaining them. Had there not been such a place in his time, he could not have written as above: and although in this place the common printed editions of the Vulgate have corvi, "crows or ravens;" yet in 2 Chronicles 21:16, St. Jerome translates the same word ערבים, "the Arabians;" and the same in Nehemiah 4:7; it is therefore most likely that the inhabitants of Oreb or Orbo, as mentioned above, furnished the aliment by which the prophet was sustained; and that they did this being specially moved thereto by the Spirit of the Lord. Add to all these testimonies that of the Arabic version, which considers the words as meaning a people, [Arabic] Orabim, and not ravens or fowls of any kind. In such a case this version is high authority.
It is contended that those who think the miracle is lost if the ravens be not admitted, are bound to show,
1. With what propriety the raven, an unclean animal, could be employed?
2. Why the dove, or some such clean creature, was not preferred?
3. How the ravens could get properly dressed flesh to bring to the prophet?
4. From whose table it was taken; and by what means?
5. Whether it be consistent with the wisdom of God, and his general conduct, to work a tissue of miracles where one was sufficient?
6. And whether it be not best, in all cases of this kind, to adopt that mode of interpretation which is most simple; the wisdom, goodness, and providence of God being as equally apparent as in those cases where a multitude of miracles are resorted to in order to solve difficulties?
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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Kings 17:24". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-kings-17.html. 1832.
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).
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 1 Kings 17:24". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/1-kings-17.html. 2005.
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.
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 © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 1 Kings 17:24". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/1-kings-17.html. 2014.
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.]
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Kings 17:24". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/1-kings-17.html. 2012.
And the woman said to Elijah, now by this I know that thou art a man of God,.... She took him to be one at his first coming to her; she was in a great measure confirmed in it by the miracle of the barrel of meal and cruse of oil; but upon the death of her son, which she was ready to impute to the prophet, she was staggered at it; but now, by his resurrection from the dead, was fully assured of it:
and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth; she had known before that what he said concerning the meal and oil not failing was true; but now she was more and more convinced and assured that the God, whose prophet he was, was the true God, and that the religion he professed was the true religion, and he a true prophet, and that all his prophecies would be exactly fulfilled.
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
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 17:24". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-kings-17.html. 1999.
|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.
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on 1 Kings 17:24". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/1-kings-17.html. 1706.
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28