1 Kings 19-20
The Divided Kingdom-Israel & Judah (various Kings), cont’d. 1 Kings 12-22
1 Kings 19:1-18-After Ahab tells Jezebel what Elijah had done to the prophets...she sends him a message that she is going to kill him. He becomes afraid and runs to Beersheba, in Judah. There he leaves his servant and then continues to run into the wilderness...where he sits down under a juniper tree. He is so discouraged that he asks God to let him die. He fell asleep and an angel woke him and showed him hot bread cooking and water. He fell asleep again, and the angel woke him to eat, again. He now goes to Horeb, Mt. Sinai (200 miles away). It took him 40 days because he was wandering in despondency and hiding in fear. He had no food during that time. He finally came to a cave and stayed there.
- He went into a cave: Literally, the Hebrew is definite describing the cave. "The cave may well have been the specific 'clift of the rock' where God appeared to Moses (AV, Exodus 33:22) rather than the 'cave-region' generally." (Wiseman)
- "Perhaps no spot on earth is more associated with the manifested presence of God than that sacred mount." (Meyer)
David Guzik :: Study Guide for 1 Kings 18,
God spoke to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" (:9). Elijah complained that after all he had done for the LORD...he was the only one left, and now people were seeking to kill him. God told him to out on the mountain and stand there..."before the LORD.' And behold, the LORD was passing by!" (:11). A powerful wind was moving through the mountains...so strong that it was tearing it apart..."but the LORD was not in the wind." (:11). Then there was an earthquake..."but the LORD was not in the earthquake." (:11). Then there was a fire..."but the LORD was not in the fire." (:12). Then there was "a sound of a gentle blowing." (:12)…literally, the sound of gentle stillness, quietness, peace. The storm, earthquake and fire certainly demonstrated the power of God, but those each seemed to reveal God at a distance. Then, there was quietness, calm. Elijah went to the entrance of the cave. In that stillness…God was there. Not just a demonstration of His power, but the revelation of His presence. He was close enough that He could whisper and Elijah would hear Him. Elijah covered his face with his mantel…an act of solemn respect, lest he an unworthy sinner, look upon the glory and majesty of God.
If we aren’t careful, we will be satisfied with the demonstration of God’s power, and never experience the revelation of God’s presence. We see the effect, and not the affect…the result, but not the cause. When that happens, it quickly fades away and we cry out for another experience. We’re there for the big show. We demand another demonstration, another miracle. We’re never truly satisfied because there is nothing personal about power. But there is a danger. A demonstration of God’s power requires nothing of us. We just sit in our cave…and watch. While it leaves us wanting and unfulfilled…it satisfies our human nature because it excites our emotions, demands nothing of us, and allows us to remain in control. But a revelation of God’s presence requires everything of us. We must cover our eyes in wonder…and worship.
- After the fire a still small voice: This final phenomenon was a marked contrast to the previous manifestations. God actually met Elijah in the quiet whisper of a voice instead of the earth-shaking phenomenon that had gone before.
- Wiseman calls the still small voice a gentle whisper.
- "And now the thunder ceased, and the lightning was gone, and the earth was still, and the wind was hushed, and there was a dead calm, and out of the midst of the still air there came what the Hebrew calls 'a voice of gentle silence,' as if silence had become audible. There is nothing more terrible than an awful stillness after a dread uproar." (Spurgeon)
iii. Elijah perhaps thought that the dramatic display of power at Mount Carmel would turn the nation around. Or perhaps he thought that the radical display of God's judgment against the priests of Baal following the vindication at Mount Carmel would change the hearts of the nation. Neither of these worked. This example is important for Christian ministers, especially preachers, today. It shows that displays of power and preaching God's anger don't necessarily change hearts. Instead, the still small voice of God speaking to the human heart is actually more powerful than outward displays of power or displays of God's judgment.
- "Because the success of Carmel melted like the morning mist, he thought that his career had been a failure all along, and that he had brought no one to reverence Jehovah; but he was reading with the eyes of unbelief, and his imagination was leading him rather than the facts of the case. Here are seven thousand people scattered up and down the country to whom God has blessed Elijah's testimony. If he had not blessed his big things as he had desired, yet his little things had prospered greatly. It was Elijah's daily conduct rather than his miracles which had impressed these seven thousand and led them to hold fast their integrity." (Spurgeon)
David Guzik :: Study Guide for 1 Kings 18,
Ver. 11. And he said, Go forth, &c. It is common to translate with Luther: “Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind … before the Lord.” According to this Elijah must have gone out of the cave before the wind, &c. But according to ver. 13 he did not go forth till he heard the gentle breeze; it is therefore absolutely necessary to consider the words וְהִנֵּה יְהוָֹה עֹבֵר as connected with the address to Elijah, and to begin the narrative portion withוְרוַּח. That is, the participle עֹבֵר is not preterit, but, as usual when it stands for the verbum finitum, present: Jehovah passes by, i. e., he is on the point of doing it; cf.Is. 5:5; 7:14; 10:23 (Gesenius, Gram. (Conant) p. 240). The Sept. translates: ’Εξελεύσῃ αὔριον καὶ στήσῃ ἐνώπιον κυρίου ἐν τῷ ὄρει· ίδοὺ παρελεύσεται κύριος. Καὶ ἰδοὺ πνεῡμα μέγα κ. τ. λ. This division of the sentences is entirely correct, only αὔριον, which is not found in a single manuscript, is an unauthorized addition borrowed from Ex. 34:2. The narrative in that place, moreover, serves in several ways to explain the one before us: especially the expression יְהוָֹה עֹבֵר gives clear and definite evidence. Moses desires to see the glory (כָּבוֹד, see above p. 76) of Jehovah, whereupon he receives the answer: “I will make all my goodness (טוּבִי) pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of Jehovah” (i. e., what he is), and farther: “while my glory passeth by … I will cover thee with my hand, until I have passed by;” then follows “And Jehovah passed by before him and proclaimed, Jehovah, Jehovah is a God merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but that will by no means clear,” &c. (Ex. 33:18, 19, 22; 34:6). The expression עבר is nowhere else used of Jehovah, and doubtless marks this highest revelation as one that is possible only for a moment, in distinction from a permanent, abiding revelation, for which (שְׁכִינָה) שָׁכַןis used. When now Elijah complains here of Israel that they have broken the covenant, as they did once in the wilderness through the golden calf, and desires a disclosure concerning the dealings of Jehovah, which are dark and incomprehensible to him, the answer thereupon imparted to him: Behold! יְהוֹהָ עֹבֵר, is designed to express the idea: Jehovah will reveal himself to thee as he did once to Moses, and show thee what he is in his essence, and with this thou shalt receive the desired disclosure.
Ver. 11. And a great and strong wind, &c. Tempest, earthquake, and fire, as awe-inspiring natural phenomena, are in the Old Testament especially signs and attestations not only of the absolute power of God, but particularly of His anger, i. e., of His penal justice against His enemies, the ungodly. Thus they appear in connection with one another Is. 29:5 sq. and Ps. 18:8–18, and they have the same significance here also. But since they occur here separately, one after the other in regular succession, they plainly indicate a succession of punishments differing in degree and kind. The tempest points to the rending, scattering, and turning to dust (Is. 17:13; 40:24; 57:13), the earthquake to the shaking of the foundations and the falling down (Is. 24:18 sq.;Ps. 18:8, 16; Jer. 10:10), the fire to the complete consuming (Is. 66:15 sq.;Ps. 18:9; 97:3). In none of these three now was Jehovah, only out of the gentle whispering does He speak, i. e., the punishments come indeed from Him, pass before Him and bear witness of Him; but He Himself, that which he is, his essence (name) is not to be discerned in them; to this corresponds, rather in contrast with those destructive phenomena of nature, the gentle, soothing, refreshing, revivifying breeze after the storm. The word דְּמָמָה from דָּמַם to be silent, in Poel to silence (Ps. 131:2), means properly stilling, and is used in both the other places where it appears, of the rest and refreshing which have followed pain, distress, and terror (Ps. 107:29; Job 4:16). When now Jehovah “passes by” here in this, the same thing is expressed symbolically which Moses there heard in words, as Jehovah passed by; Jehovah is a God merciful and gracious, &c. The significance of the whole phenomenon is accordingly this: Jehovah, the God of Israel, will indeed display His punishing, destroying might to His despisers and enemies, but His own true and innermost essence is grace, rescuing, preserving, and quickening love, and though the people have broken the covenant of grace, yet He maintains this covenant, and remains faithful and gracious as He promised. For the bowed down and accusing prophet this was the well-attested divine answer, which contained comfort and consolation as well as incitement to carry on His begun work, and not to despair of Israel, nor allow Himself to be wearied out or led into error by the apparent fruitlessness of His efforts thus far. According to Ewald (loc. cit. p. 542) the words before us can “in the first place be rightly conceived of only as describing how Jahve will here appear to Elijah, and how He will talk to him. His passing by announces itself first in the most distant way by the fiercest storm; but that is not He Himself; then more subtle and near by thunder and earthquake; but this also is not He Himself; then in the most, subtle way by fire (as in the tempest, according to Ps. 18:18 (16), Hab. 3:4); but this is not He Himself; only in the soft whispering that then follows, in the most subtile spiritual voice does He reveal Himself, and to this attention is to be given (as Job 4:16; 26:4 in like manner)!” Also Thenius says: “It is the most incorporeal object possible for the illustration of the presence of the divine being, such as Job has selected, 4:16.” This conception is in itself very unnatural: for why should thunder and earthquakes be regarded as “more subtile” (i. e., more immaterial) than a stormy wind, and the all-consuming tire “more subtile” than an earthquake? The gradation is rather just the reverse, from the weaker destroying element to the most powerful, and not from the grossly material to the most immaterial possible. But in general, the entire context is adverse to this conception; for by no means is the revelation to be made here to Elijah, that God’s essence is spiritual and that He is incorporeal (Elijah needed no revelation for that), but that Jehovah in His own innermost being is not a destroying, annihilating God, who only punishes, but rather a quickening, saving and preserving, a gracious and faithful God.
Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Bähr, K. C. W. F., Harwood, E., & Sumner, B. A. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: 1 Kings (pp. 220–221). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
When Elijah heard it he went to the mouth of the cave. A voice said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" (:13). Elijah repeats what he had said, before. The LORD gave Elijah instructions: return to Damascus…
- anoint Hazael to be king of Aram (this is Syria)
- anoint Jehu, son of Nimshi, king over Israel
- and Elisha (means: God is salvation), son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah to take his place as a prophet.
God tells him that Hazael, Jehu, and Elisha will put to death all of those who have worshipped Baal...7,000 will be left.
1 Kings 19:19-21-Elijah found Elisha plowing a field with 12 pairs of oxen. They made a sacrifice and Elijah anointed him. Elisha means “God is salvation”. His ministry as a prophet of God spanned the reigns of Jehoram, Jehu, Jehoahaz, and Jehoash…kings of Israel (northern kingdom). He headed up a school of prophets (2 Kings 4:38-44; 6:1-7) and performed more recorded miracles than anyone in the Bible other than Jesus Christ.
1 Kings 20:1-Ben-hadad, king of Aram (Syria) and 32 other kings attacked Samaria (Israel-northern kingdom). They won the battle and made demands of peace that were accepted (:1-4). However, when they made additional demands they were rejected by Ahab (:5-9). Ben-hadad then threatens Ahab by saying that they will destroy Israel to the point that there won’t be enough left for each of his soldiers to carry home a fistful of its dirt (:10). Ahab tells him to not count his chickens before they hatch (:12). A prophet came to Ahab and told him that the LORD was going to give him victory over this great enemy army and that as a result he would know that He was the LORD. Ahab and his men defeated a much larger army. The advisors of Ben-hadad told him that they were defeated because Israel's gods are gods of the mountains. So, the next spring they attacked Israel on the plain. "...and the sons of Israel camped before them like two little flocks of goats, but the Arameans filled the country" (:27). Israel was vastly outnumbered. A prophet told Ahab that he would be victorious. When Ahab captured Ben-hadab...he made a peace treaty with him. A prophet told him that since he had not killed Ben-hadab, like he had been told by God to do, he would die in his place. Ahab went to Samaria, very upset.
Prayer: Lord, sometimes, when great things happen, I easily see Your hand at work. At those times it is also easy to be excited and to worship You. But there are times…when it is difficult, or when I am disappointed…that I don’t see Your hand at work. At those times it is easy to ask “why” and to question myself. Help me, Lord…to hear Your voice and to know Your presence not just in the victories, but also in the valleys. It is not enough just to know of Your power, but I long to be in Your presence. Holy Spirit, help me to be near enough to You, that I hear You when You whisper.