1 Kings 17:7-9
And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.…
Towards the close of Elijah's year of seclusion, to use the words of Dr. Macduff, "the brook began to sing less cheerily; once a full rill or cascade, which, night by night, was wont to lull the prophet of Israel to sleep, it becomes gradually attenuated into a silver thread. In's few days it seems to trickle drop by drop from the barren rock, until, where pools of refreshing water were before, there is nothing now left but sand and stones." It is time for the prophet to look to God for further direction; and in response to his prayer, "the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, Arise," etc. How different are the resources of the believer from those of the worldling! When the Cherith of the worlding fails he has nothing further to look to, but when from the believer one comfort is withdrawn another is at hand (Psalm 37:19). Let us meditate upon -
I. THE COMMAND OF GOD TO THE WIDOW.
1. She is to sustain the prophet of the Lord.
(1) What an honour is this! For two years and a half to entertain the man that "stands before Jehovah," at whose word the clouds are sealed or the windows of heaven opened! (See ver. 1 and 1 Kings 18:41.) The man whose prayer was to bring fire down upon the sacrifice on Carmel to the confusion of idolatry! (ch. 18:38.) Who was to bring the same element down upon the soldiers of Ahaziah I (2 Kings 1:10-12). Who was destined to ride alive into the heavens in a chariot of fire! (2 Kings 2:11). Who was destined, many centuries later, to appear in glory with Messiah on the mount of transfiguration! (Matthew 17:8). And who is yet to come before the great day of judgment to gather back the children of Israel from their dispersion! (Malachi 4:5, 6).
(2) How could she hope for such distinction? A poor widow, so poor that she has no servant and no fuel in her house! A widow with her son, both at the point of death! A stranger, and a stranger of Zidon too - the land of Baal - and the land of the wicked Jezebel! Note: God's ways are not as our ways. He brings unlikely things to pass. How little do we know what may be the thoughts of His heart concerning us!
2. But how is she to accomplish this?
(1) Unbelief might murmur at such a requisition. It might charge God foolishly as a tyrant requiring brick where he had not supplied straw. Those who shrink from Church work because of fancied incompetence fall into this error, neglecting to trust God.
(2) It is enough that God has commanded. His commands are promises. (See Exodus 3:10-12; Judges 6:14.) See how the meal and oil are multiplied in the hands of the widow. The more difficult (humanly considered) the undertaking, the more gloriously will the excellency of the power of God appear. (See 2 Corinthians 12:9.) Attempt great things for God. Expect great things from God.
II. THE REASONS OF THE COMMAND. I. Elijah needed succour.
(1) The brook is dried up. Now is the time to test the prophet's faith. But he is a man of prayer, so is familiar with God. Those who best know God have most confidence in Him. Let us be much in prayer.
(2) Then "the word of the Lord came." Man's extremity is God's opportunity. In no strait let us despair of help while we keep a single heart. God knows all things. He can do whatever He will
2. The woman needed succour.
(1) She too had come to extremity - to the last handful of meal. What a touching spectacle is that widow at the gate of Zarephath gathering a few sticks to prepare the last meal for herself and her son!
(2) Had she not prayed? No doubt; and most sincerely. She was evidently a believer in the God of Israel. Jehovah was not unknown in the land of that Hiram who "was ever a lover of David," and so materially aided Solomon in building the temple (1 Kings 5.)
(3) But then she was not an Israelite to whom "were the promises." So in addressing Elijah her words are, "As the Lord thy God liveth." She believes in the "living God," but cannot presume to call Him her God. (See Romans 9:4.) What right had a poor stranger of Zidon to lock for any special consideration from the Lord?
(4) "He giveth grace unto the humble." He that reads the heart saw that she would believe if only she had a promise to authorize her faith. He accordingly gave her the opportunity which she seized and improved. (See Acts 10:1-6.) Let us act up to our light, and God will guide us into all the truth.
3. But were thee no widows in Israel?
(1) Upon the best authority we know that there were "many," and as needy as this Zidonian. In the severity of such a famine deaths from starvation were no rare occurrence.
(2) But the same authority informs us that there were none so worthy as this widow of Sarepta (Leviticus 4:24-26). No widow in Israel would have received the prophet as this widow received him. The moral is that if we would have special favour of God we must have special faith to receive it. Let us ever be in that attitude of wholehearted consecration to God which will make us eligible for any service he may be pleased to promote us to. To be permitted to do anything for God is an unspeakable honour. - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.