So sad was the character both of the princes and people of Israel, as
described in the foregoing chapter, that one might have expected God
would cast off a people that had so cast him off; but, as an evidence
to the contrary, never was Israel so blessed with a good prophet as
when it was so plagued with a bad king. Never was king so bold to sin
as Ahab; never was prophet so bold to reprove and threaten as Elijah,
whose story begins in this chapter and is full of wonders. Scarcely any
part of the Old-Testament history shines brighter than this history of
the spirit and power of Elias; he only, of all the prophets, had the
honour of Enoch, the first prophet, to be translated, that he should
not see death, and the honour of Moses, the great prophet, to attend
our Saviour in his transfiguration. Other prophets prophesied and
wrote, he prophesied and acted, but wrote nothing; but his actions cast
more lustre on his name than their writings did on theirs. In this
chapter we have,
I. His prediction of a famine in Israel, through the want of rain,
1 Kings 17:1.
II. The provision made for him in that famine,
1. By the ravens at the brook Cherith,
1 Kings 17:2-7.
2. When that failed, by the widow at Zarephath, who received him in the
name of a prophet and had a prophet's reward; for
(1.) He multiplied her meal and her oil,
1 Kings 17:8-16.
(2.) He raised her dead son to life,
1 Kings 17:17-24.
Thus his story begins with judgments and miracles, designed to awaken
that stupid generation that had to deeply corrupted themselves.
Elijah's First Prophecy; Elijah Fed by Ravens.
B. C. 910.
1 And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of
Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth,
before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years,
but according to my word.
2 And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,
3 Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by
the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.
4 And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I
have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.
5 So he went and did according unto the word of the LORD: for
he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.
6 And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning,
and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.
7 And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up,
because there had been no rain in the land.
The history of Elijah begins somewhat abruptly. Usually, when a prophet
enters, we have some account of his parentage, are told whose son he
was and of what tribe; but Elijah drops (so to speak) out of the
clouds, as if, like Melchisedek, he were without father, without
mother, and without descent, which made some of the Jews fancy that he
was an angel sent from heaven; but the apostle has assured us that
he was a man subject to like passions as we are
which perhaps intimates, not only that he was liable to the common
infirmities of human nature, but that, by his natural temper, he was a
man of strong passions, more hot and eager than most men, and therefore
the more fit to deal with the daring sinners of the age he lived in: so
wonderfully does God suit men to the work he designs them for. Rough
spirits are called to rough services. The reformation needed such a man
as Luther to break the ice. Observe,
1. The prophet's name: Elijahu--"My God Jehovah is he" (so it
signifies), "is he who sends me and will own me and bear me out, is he
to whom I would bring Israel back and who alone can effect that great
2. His country: He was of the inhabitants of Gilead, on the
other side Jordan, either of the tribe of Gad or the half of Manasseh,
for Gilead was divided between them; but whether a native of either of
those tribes is uncertain. The obscurity of his parentage was no
prejudice to his eminency afterwards. We need not enquire whence men
are, but what they are: if it be a good thing, no matter though it come
out of Nazareth. Israel was sorely wounded when God sent them this
balm from Gilead and this physician thence. He is called a
Tishbite from Thisbe, a town in that country. Two things we have
an account of here in the beginning of his story:--
I. How he foretold a famine, a long and grievous famine, with which
Israel should be punished for their sins. That fruitful land, for want
of rain, should be turned into barrenness, for the iniquity of those
that dwelt therein. He went and told Ahab this; did not whisper it to
the people, to make them disaffected to the government, but proclaimed
it to the king, in whose power it was to reform the land, and so to
prevent the judgment. It is probable that he reproved Ahab for his
idolatry and other wickedness, and told him that unless he repented and
reformed this judgment would be brought upon his land. There should be
neither dew nor rain for some years, none but according to my
word, that is, "Expect none till you hear from me again." The
apostle teaches us to understand this, not only of the word of
prophecy, but the word of prayer, which turned the key of the clouds,
He prayed earnestly (in a holy indignation at Israel's apostasy, and a
holy zeal for the glory of God, whose judgments were defied) that it
might not rain; and, according to his prayers, the heavens became
as brass, till he prayed again that it might rain. In allusion
to this story it is said of God's witnesses
These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of
their prophecy. Elijah lets Ahab know,
1. That the Lord Jehovah is the God of Israel, whom he
2. That he is a living God, and not like the gods he worshipped,
which were dead dumb idols.
3. That he himself was God's servant in office, and a messenger sent
from him: "It is he before whom I stand, to minister to him," or
"whom I now represent, in whose stead I stand, and in whose name I
speak, in defiance of the prophets of Baal and the groves."
4. That, notwithstanding the present peace and prosperity of the
kingdom of Israel, God was displeased with them for their idolatry and
would chastise them for it by the want of rain (which, when he withheld
it, it was not in the power of the gods they served to bestow; for
are there any of the vanities of the heathen that can give rain?
which would effectually prove their impotency, and the folly of those
who left the living God, to make their court to such as could do
neither good nor evil; and this he confirms with a solemn oath--As
the Lord God of Israel liveth, that Ahab might stand the more in
awe of the threatening, the divine life being engaged for the
accomplishment of it.
5. He lets Ahab know what interest he had in heaven: It shall be
according to my word. With what dignity does he speak when he
speaks in God's name, as one who well understood that commission of a
I have set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms. See the
power of prayer and the truth of God's word; for he performeth the
counsel of his messengers.
II. How he was himself taken care of in that famine.
1. How he was hidden. God bade him go and hide himself by the brook
1 Kings 17:3.
This was intended, not so much for his preservation, for it does not
appear that Ahab immediately sought his life, but as a judgment to the
people, to whom, if he had publicly appeared, he might have been a
blessing both by his instructions and his intercession, and so have
shortened the days of their calamity; but God had determined it should
last three years and a half, and therefore, so long, appointed Elijah
to abscond, that he might not be solicited to revoke the sentence, the
execution of which he had said should be according to his word.
When God speaks concerning a nation, to pluck up and destroy, he
finds some way or other to remove those that would stand in the gap to
turn away his wrath. It bodes ill to a people when good men and good
ministers are ordered to hide themselves. When God intended to send
rain upon the earth then he bade Elijah go and show himself to
1 Kings 18:1.
For the present, in obedience to the divine command, he went and dwelt
all alone in some obscure unfrequented place, where he was not
discovered, probably among the reeds of the brook. If Providence calls
us to solitude and retirement, it becomes us to acquiesce; when we
cannot be useful we must be patient, and when we cannot work for God we
must sit still quietly for him.
2. How he was fed. Though he could not work there, having nothing to do
but to meditate and pray (which would help to prepare him for his
usefulness afterwards), yet he shall eat, for he is in the way of his
duty, and verily he shall be fed, in the day of famine he shall be
satisfied. When the woman, the church, is driven into the
wilderness, care it taken that she be fed and nourished there,
time, times, and half a time, that is, three years and a half, which
was just the time of Elijah's concealment. See
Elijah must drink of the brook, and the ravens were appointed to
bring him meat
(1 Kings 17:4)
and did so,
1 Kings 17:6.
(1.) The provision was plentiful, and good, and constant, bread and
flesh twice a day, daily bread and food convenient. We may suppose that
he fared not so sumptuously as the prophets of the groves, who did
eat at Jezebel's table
(1 Kings 18:19),
and yet better than the rest of the Lord's prophets, whom Obadiah fed
with bread and water,
1 Kings 18:4.
It ill becomes God's servants, especially his servants the prophets, to
be nice and curious about their food and to affect dainties and
varieties; if nature be sustained, no matter though the palate be not
pleased; instead of envying those who have daintier fare, we should
think how many there are, better than we, who live comfortably upon
coarser fare and would be glad of our leavings. Elijah had but one meal
brought him at a time, every morning and every evening, to teach him
not to take thought for the morrow. Let those who have but from hand to
mouth learn to live upon Providence, and trust it for the bread of
the day in the day; thank God for bread this day, and let to-morrow
bring bread with it.
(2.) The caterers were very unlikely; the ravens brought it to
him. Obadiah, and others in Israel that had not bowed the knee to Baal,
would gladly have entertained Elijah; but he was a man by himself, and
must be red in an extraordinary way. He was a figure of John the
baptist, whose meat was locusts and wild honey. God could have sent
angels to minister to him, as he did afterwards
(1 Kings 19:5)
and as he did to our Saviour
but he chose to send by winged messengers of another nature, to show
that when he pleases he can serve his own purposes by the meanest
creatures as effectually as by the mightiest. If it be asked whence the
ravens had this provision, how and where it was cooked, and whether
they came honestly by it, we must answer, as Jacob did
The Lord our God brought it to them, whose the earth is and the
fulness thereof, the world and those that dwell therein. But why
[1.] They are birds of prey, ravenous devouring creatures, more likely
to have taken his meat from him, or to have picked out his eyes
but thus Samson's riddle is again unriddled, Out of the eater comes
[2.] They are unclean creatures.Every raven after his kind was,
by the law, forbidden to be eaten
yet Elijah did not think the meat they brought ever the worse for that,
but ate and gave thanks, asking no question for conscience' sake.
Noah's dove was to him a more faithful messenger than his raven; yet
here the ravens are faithful and constant to Elijah.
[3.] Ravens feed on insects and carrion themselves, yet they brought
the prophet man's meat and wholesome food. It is a pity that those who
bring the bread of life to others should themselves take up with
that which is not bread.
[4.] Ravens could bring but a little, and broken meat, yet Elijah was
content with such things as he had, and thankful that the was fed,
though not feasted.
[5.] Ravens neglect their own young ones, and do not feed them; yet
when God pleases they shall feed his prophet. Young lions and young
ravens may lack, and suffer hunger, but not those that fear the Lord,
[6.] Ravens are themselves fed by special providence
and now they fed the prophet. Have we experienced God's special
goodness to us and ours? Let us reckon ourselves obliged thereby to be
kind to those that are his, for his sake. Let us learn hence,
First, To acknowledge the sovereignty and power of God over all
the creatures; he can make what use he pleases of them, either for
judgment or mercy. Secondly, To encourage ourselves in God in
the greatest straits, and never to distrust him. He that could furnish
a table in the wilderness, and make ravens purveyors, cooks, and
servitors to his prophet, is able to supply all our need according to
his riches in glory.
Thus does Elijah, for a great while, eat his morsels alone, and
his provision of water, which he has in an ordinary way from the brook,
fails him before that which he has by miracle. The powers of nature are
limited, but not the powers of the God of nature. Elijah's brook dried
(1 Kings 17:7)
because there was no rain. If the heavens fail, earth fails of
course; such are all our creature-comforts; we lose them when we most
need them, like the brooks in summer,
But there is a river which makes glad the city of God and which
never runs dry
a well of water that springs up to eternal life. Lord, give us
that living water!
The Widow of Zarephath.
B. C. 908.
8 And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,
9 Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and
dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to
10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the
gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering
of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee,
a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.
11 And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and
said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.
12 And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a
cake, but a handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a
cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in
and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.
13 And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast
said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it
unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.
14 For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal
shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the
day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth.
15 And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and
she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.
16 And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse
of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by
We have here an account of the further protection Elijah was taken
under, and the further provision made for him in his retirement. At
destruction and famine he shall laugh that has God for his friend
to guard and maintain him. The brook Cherith is dried up, but God's
care of his people, and kindness to them, never slacken, never fail,
but are still the same, are still continued and drawn out to those that
When the brook was dried up Jordan was not; why did not God send him
thither? Surely because he would show that he has a variety of ways to
provide for his people and is not tied to any one. God will now
provide for him where he shall have some company and opportunity of
usefulness, and not be, as he had been, buried alive. Observe,
I. The place he is sent to, to Zarephath, or Sarepta, a
city of Sidon, out of the borders of the land of Israel,
1 Kings 17:9.
Our Saviour takes notice of this as an early and ancient indication of
the favour of God designed for the poor Gentiles, in the fulness of
Many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, and some, it is
likely, that would have bidden him welcome to their houses; yet he is
sent to honour and bless with his presence a city of Sidon, a Gentile
city, and so becomes (says Dr. Lightfoot) the first prophet of the
Gentiles. Israel had corrupted themselves with the idolatries of
the nations and become worse than they; justly therefore is the
casting off of them the riches of the world. Elijah was hated and
driven out by his countrymen; therefore, lo, he turns to the Gentiles,
as the apostles were afterwards ordered to do,
But why to a city of Sidon? Perhaps because the worship of Baal, which
was now the crying sin of Israel, came lately thence with Jezebel, who
was a Sidonian
(1 Kings 16:31);
therefore thither he shall go, that thence may be fetched the destroyer
of that idolatry, "Even out of Sidon have I called my prophet, my
reformer." Jezebel was Elijah's greatest enemy; yet, to show her the
impotency of her malice, God will find a hiding-place for him even in
her country. Christ never went among the Gentiles except once into
the coast of Sidon,
II. The person that is appointed to entertain him, not one of the rich
merchants or great men, of Sidon, not such a one as Obadiah, that was
governor of Ahab's house and fed the prophets; but a poor widow woman,
destitute and desolate, is commanded (that is, is made both able and
willing) to sustain him. It is God's way, and it is his glory, to make
use of the weak and foolish things of the world and put honour
upon them. He is, in a special manner, the widows' God, and feeds them,
and therefore they must study what they shall render to him.
III. The provision made for him there. Providence brought the widow
woman to meet him very opportunely at the gate of the city
(1 Kings 17:10),
and, by what is here related of what passed between Elijah and her, we
1. Her case and character; and it appears,
(1.) That she was very poor and necessitous. She had nothing to live
upon but a handful of meal and a little oil, needy at the best, and
now, by the general scarcity, reduced to the last extremity. When she
has eaten the little she has, for aught she yet sees, she must die for
want, she and her son,
1 Kings 17:12.
She had no fuel but the sticks she gathered in the streets, and, having
no servant, she must gather them herself
(1 Kings 17:10),
being thus more in a condition to receive alms than give entertainment.
To her Elijah was sent, that he might still live upon Providence as
much as he did when the ravens fed him. It was in compassion to the low
estate of his handmaiden that God sent the prophet to her, not to beg
of her, but to board with her, and he would pay well for his table.
(2.) That she was very humble and industrious. He found her gathering
sticks, and preparing to bake her own bread,
1 Kings 17:10,12.
Her mind was brought to her condition, and she complained not of the
hardship she was brought to, nor quarrelled with the divine Providence
for withholding rain, but accommodated herself to it as well as she
could. Such as are of this temper in a day of trouble are best
prepared for honour and relief from God.
(3.) That she was very charitable and generous. When this stranger
desired her to go and fetch him some water to drink, she readily went,
at the first word,
1 Kings 17:10,11.
She objected not to the present scarcity of it, nor asked him what he
would give her for a draught of water (for now it was worth money), nor
hinted that he was a stranger, an Israelite, with whom perhaps the
Sidonians cared not for having any dealings, any more than the
She did not excuse herself on account of her weakness through famine,
or the urgency of her own affairs, did not tell him she had something
else to do than to go on his errands, but left off gathering the sticks
for herself to fetch water for him, which perhaps she did the more
willingly, being moved with the gravity of his aspect. We should be
ready to do any office of kindness even to strangers; if we have not
wherewith to give to the distressed, we must be the more ready to work
for them. A cup of cold water, though it cost us no more than the
labour of fetching, shall in no wise lose its reward.
(4.) That she had a great confidence in the word of God. It was a great
trial for her faith and obedience when, having gold the prophet how low
her stock of meal and oil was and that she had but just enough for
herself and her son, he bade her make a cake for him, and make
his first, and then prepare for herself and her son. If
we consider, it will appear as great a trial as could be in so small a
matter. "Let the children first be served" (might she have said);
"charity begins at home. I cannot be expected to give, having but
little, and not knowing, when that is gone, where to obtain more." She
had much more reason than Nabal to ask, "Shall I take my meat and my
oil and give it to one that I know not whence he is?" Elijah, it
is true, made mention of the God of Israel
(1 Kings 17:14),
but what was that to a Sidonian? Or if she had a veneration for the
name Jehovah, and valued the God of Israel as the true God, yet
what assurance had she that this stranger was his prophet or had any
warrant to speak in his name? It was easy for a hungry vagrant to
impose upon her. But she gets over all these objections, and obeys the
precept in dependence upon the promise: She went and did according
to the saying of Elijah,
1 Kings 17:15.
O woman! great was thy faith; one has not found the like, no,
not in Israel: all things considered, it exceeded that of the widow
who, when she had but two mites, cast them into the treasury. She took
the prophet's word, that she should not lose by it, but it should be
repaid with interest. Those that can venture upon the promise of God
will make no difficulty of exposing and emptying themselves in his
service, by giving him his dues out of a little and giving him his part
first. Those that deal with God must deal upon trust; seek first his
kingdom, and then other things shall be added. By the law, the
first-fruits were God's, the tithe was taken out first, and the
heave-offering of their dough was first offered,
But surely the increase of this widow's faith, to such a degree as to
enable her thus to deny herself and to depend upon the divine promise,
was as great a miracle in the kingdom of grace as the increase of her
oil was in the kingdom of providence. Happy are those who can thus,
against hope, believe and obey in hope.
2. The care God took of her guest: The barrel of meal wasted not,
nor did the cruse of oil fail, but still as they took from them
more was added to them by the divine power,
1 Kings 17:16.
Never did corn or olive so increase in the growing (says bishop Hall)
as these did in the using; but the multiplying of the seed sown
(2 Corinthians 9:10)
in the common course of providence is an instance of the power and
goodness of God not to be overlooked because common. The meal and the
oil multiplied, not in the hoarding, but in the spending; for there
is that scattereth and yet increaseth. When God blesses a little,
it will go a great way, even beyond expectation; as, on the contrary,
though there be abundance, if he blow upon it, it comes to little,
(1.) This was a maintenance for the prophet. Still miracles shall be
his daily bread. Hitherto he had been fed with bread and flesh, now he
was fed with bread and oil, which they used as we do butter. Manna was
both, for the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil,
This Elijah was thankful for, though he had been used to flesh twice a
day and now had none at all. Those that cannot live without flesh, once
a day at least, because they have been used to it, could not have
boarded contentedly with Elijah, no, not to live upon a miracle.
(2.) It was a maintenance for the poor widow and her son, and a
recompence to her for entertaining the prophet. There is nothing lost
by being kind to God's people and ministers; she that received a
prophet had a prophet's reward; she gave him house-room, and he repaid
her with food for her household. Christ has promised to those who open
their doors to him that he will come in to them, and sup with
them, and they with him,
Like Elijah here, he brings to those who bid him welcome, not only his
own entertainment, but theirs too. See how the reward answered the
service. She generously made one cake for the prophet, and was repaid
with many for herself and her son. When Abraham offers his only son to
God he is told he shall be the father of multitudes. What is laid out
in piety or charity is let out to the best interest, upon the best
securities. One poor meal's meat this poor widow gave the prophet, and,
in recompence of it, she and her son did eat many days
(1 Kings 17:15),
above two years, in a time of general scarcity; and to have their food
from God's special favour, and to eat it in such good company as
Elijah's, made it more than doubly sweet. It is promised to those that
trust in God that they shall not be ashamed in the evil time, but in
the days of famine they shall be satisfied,
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
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 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. 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)
--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,
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
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.
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,
1. He humbly reasons with God concerning the death of the child,
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.
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.
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.
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,
was for the glory of God and the honour of his prophet.
Matthew Henry "Verse by Verse Commentary for '1 Kings' Matthew Henry Bible Commentary".