Blessed For Faithfulness

1 Kings 17:8-16 I. God’s Providence in Baal’s Territory (1 Kings 17:8-10) This chapter of the Book of Kings begins with a prophecy of Elijah, that there should be want of rain for some years to come, and he is directed to go first to the brook Cherith, where he should be fed by ravens, (1 Kings 17:1). Afterwards the prophet is sent to a widow at Zarephath, where he, she, and her son, were supported for a considerable time with a handful of meal, and a little oil in a cruse miraculously increased (1 Kings 17:8).

After an earlier announcement of judgment (chapter 16), Elijah had to hide himself, by the command of God, until the period of punishment came to an end, not so much that he might be safe from the wrath and pursuit of Ahab and Jezebel, as to be in a “place of preparation” for God’s next assignment for him. Even as it was with the disciples of Jesus who instructed them to come to a place and leisure following extensive ministry in order to make ready for more (see Mark 6:30-32).

“Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there, (verse 9) — This might be a trial of the prophet’s faith, to be sent to dwell in a place belonging to the Zidonians, among whom Jezebel had an interest, being the daughter of their king, (1 Kings 16:31), the place is so called, to distinguish it from another Zarephath, (Obadiah 1:20).

II. A Widow Woman Puts Her Faith in God (1 Kings 17:11-12)

See how graciously the Lord directed the mind of the prophet to speak to her. See how the same gracious God influenced the widow’s mind, not only to attend to the call of the prophet, but, in the midst of such a pressing famine, to be ready to give to a stranger. And see what strong faith she had in the words of a stranger, as upon first sight to believe what Elijah said, that the Lord by a miracle would keep her stock undiminished. And only conceive what sweet living that must have been, kept up as it was daily by faith, both for Elijah, and the widow, and her whole house for many days, and which many days, as appears by the calculation of the time Elijah was there, could not have been less than two whole years.

Robert Hawker in his commentary admonishes readers of his exposition to pay close attention to those many interesting things in the account as history. “I beg of him (the reader) to look at one feature of it in a spiritual sense, and then say, whether it is not in this point of view beautifully enhanced” wrote Hawker. And so we read, “Make me a little cake first (said the prophet) and after, for thyself and son.”

And so it was that our Lord Jesus said somewhat of the same to His people in the exercise of their faith and dependence upon him? Our stock is low, and all supplies are seemingly over. Nevertheless, faith, real, lively, active faith, like this widow, hears Jesus command, Let me be first supplied, and hastens to do it. For when brought down to the lowest state, and the soul casts herself, and all she hath upon Jesus; acting faith upon the naked promises of God in Christ: this is precious, precious faith. And every poor believer that is enabled to do this will find, like the widow’s cruse, that seeking first Jesus and his righteousness, all other things necessary will be added. (John 21:2-4; Matthew 6:32-34)

III. The God of Israel Responds Positively to the Woman’s Faith (1 Kings 17:13) “And Elijah said unto her, fear not,” — That is to say, she and her son should die, it would not be the case:”

“Go and do as thou hast said:” — Namely, she was to mix her meal and her oil, and make a cake thereof, and bake it:

“But make thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son:” many Bible scholars agree that the prophet’s instructions were not said from a selfish spirit of the prophet, but to try the faith of the woman. His strict orders were so given because the prophet was not only hungry and thirsty through his journey, and so required to be served first, but it was for the sake of his sustenance, that the Lord would command a blessing on the meal and oil; wherefore, if she dressed it for herself and her son first, there would have been none left for the divine blessing to descend upon.


V. What Faith Will Do (1 Kings 17:14-16) In his commentary, Matthew Henry stated, “the care God took of her (the widow’s) guest.” Note: 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 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 (Proverbs 11:24). 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 (Haggai 1:9; 2:16).

Central Text: 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 Elijah. — 1 Kings 17:16

Dr. Wayne M. Williams, a Christian life coach and certified professional marriage and family counselor, is executive director of World Harvest Ministries. He presently resides in Athens with his wife, Lita. For additional study notes, see the Facebook page “International Sunday School Lessons.”

Dr. Wayne M. Williams, a Christian life coach and certified professional marriage and family counselor, is executive director of World Harvest Ministries. He presently resides in Athens with his wife, Lita. For additional study notes, see the Facebook page "International Sunday School Lessons."

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