View 1st Kings 17 in the note window.
Elijah foretells the drought, ver. 1.
Is fed by ravens, ver. 2 - 7.
By a widow, whose meal and oil are multiplied, ver. 8 - 16.
He raises her dead son, ver. 17 - 24
1: Elijah - The most eminent of the prophets, who is here brought in,
like Melchisedek, without any mention of his father, or mother, or
beginning of his days; like a man dropt out of the clouds, and raised by
God's special providence as a witness for himself in this most degenerate
time that by his zeal, and courage and miracles, he might give some check,
to their various and abominable idolatries, and some reviving to that small
number of the Lord's prophets, and people, who yet remained in Israel.
He seems to have been naturally of a rough spirit. And rough spirits are
called to rough services. His name signifies, my God Jehovah is he: he
that sends me, and will own me, and bear me out. Said to Ahab - Having
doubtless admonished him of his sin and danger before; now upon his
obstinacy in his wicked courses, he proceeds to declare, and execute the
judgment of God upon him. As the Lord, &c. - I Swear by the God of
Israel, who is the only true and living God; whereas the gods whom thou
hast joined with him, or preferred before him, are dead and senseless idols.
Before whom - Whose minister I am, not only in general, but especially in
this threatening, which I now deliver in his name and authority.
There shall not, &c. - This was a prediction, but was seconded with his
prayer, that God would verify it, (Jam 5:17), And this prayer was
truly charitable; that by this sharp affliction, God's honour, and the truth
of his word (which was now so horribly and universally contemned) might be
vindicated; and the Israelites (whom impunity had hardened in their
idolatry) might be awakened to see their own wickedness, and the necessity
of returning to the true religion. Those years - That is, These following
years, which were three and an half, (Lu 4:25,Jam 5:17).
My word - Until I shall declare, that this judgment shall cease, and shall
pray to God for the removal of it.
3: Hide thyself - Thus God rescues him from the fury of Ahab and
Jezebel, who, he knew, would seek to destroy him. That Ahab did not
seize on him immediately upon these words must be ascribed to God's
over - ruling providence.
4: Have commanded - Or, I shall command, that is, effectually
move them, by instincts which shall be as forcible with them, as a law or
command is to men. God is said to command both brute creatures, and
senseless things; when he causeth them to do the things which he intends to
effect by them. The ravens - Which he chuseth for this work; to shew his
care and power in providing for the prophet by those creatures, which are
noted for their greediness, that by this strange experiment he might be
taught to trust God in those many and great difficulties to which he was to
be exposed. God could have sent angels to minister to him. But he chose
winged messengers of another kind to shew he can serve his own purposes as
effectually, by the meanest creatures as by the mightiest. Ravens neglect
their own young, and do not feed them: yet when God pleaseth, they shall
feed his prophet.
6: And flesh - Not raw, but boiled by the ministry of some angel or
man, and left in some place 'till the ravens came for it: in all which,
there is nothing incredible, considering the power and providence of God.
7: A while - Heb. at the end of days; that is, of a year; for so
the word days is often used. Dried - God so ordering it, for the
punishment of those Israelites who lived near it, and had hitherto been
refreshed by it: and for the exercise of Elijah's faith, and to teach
him to depend upon God alone.
9: Zarephath - A city between Tyre and Sidon, called
Sarepta by St. (Lu 4:26), and others.
Zidon - To the jurisdiction of that city, which was inhabited by
Gentiles. And God's providing for his prophet, first, by an unclean
bird, and then by a Gentile, whom the Jews esteemed unclean, was a
presage of the calling of the Gentiles, and rejection of the Jews.
So Elijah was the first prophet of the Gentiles.
Commanded - Appointed or provided, for that she had as yet no revelation
or command of God about it, appears from ver.(12).
12: She said - Therefore though she was a Gentile, yet she owned
the God of Israel as the true God. Two sticks - A few sticks, that
number being often used indefinitely for any small number. And die - For
having no more provision, we must needs perish with hunger. For though the
famine was chiefly in the land of Israel, yet the effects of it were in
Tyre and Sidon, which were fed by the corn of that land. But what
a poor supporter was this likely to be? who had no fuel, but what she
gathered in the streets, and nothing to live upon herself, but an handful
of meal and a little oil! To her Elijah is sent, that he might live
upon providence, as much as he had done when the ravens fed him.
13: But make, &c. - This he requires as a trial of her faith, and
obedience, which he knew God would plentifully reward; and so this would
be a great example to encourage others to the practice of the same graces.
14: The barrel, &c. - The meal of the barrel So the cruse of oil
for the oil of the cruse.
15: Many days - A long time, even above two years, before the
following event about her son happened. And surely the increase of her
faith to such a degree, as to enable her thus to deny herself and trust
the promise, was as great a miracle in the kingdom of grace, as the
increase of her oil in the kingdom of providence. Happy are they who can
thus against hope believe and obey in hope.
16: Wasted not - See how the reward answered the service. She made
one cake for the prophet and was repaid with many for herself and her son.
What is laid out in charity is set out to the best interest, an upon the
17: No breath - That is, he died. We must not think it strange, if
we meet with sharp afflictions, even when we are in the way of eminent
service to God.
18: She said - Wherein have I injured thee? Or, why didst thou come
to sojourn in my house, if this be the fruit of it? They are the words of
a troubled mind. Art thou come - Didst thou come for this end, that thou
mightest severely observe my sins, and by thy prayers bring down God's
just judgment upon me, as thou hast brought down this famine upon the
nation? To call, &c. - To God's remembrance: for God is said in
scripture, to remember sins, when he punisheth them; and to forget
them, when he spares the sinner.
19: Into a loft - A private place, where he might more freely pour
out his soul to God, and use such gestures as he thought most proper.
20: He cried - A prayer full of powerful arguments. Thou art
the Lord, that canst revive the child: and my God; and therefore
wilt not, deny me. She is a widow, add not affliction to the afflicted;
deprive her not of the support and staff of her age: she hath given me
kind entertainment: let her not fare the worse for her kindness to a
prophet, whereby wicked men will take occasion to reproach both her,
21: 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.
22: Into him again - This plainly supposes the existence of the soul
in a state of separation, and consequently its immortality: probably
God might design by this miracle to give an evidence hereof, for the
encouragement of his suffering people.