1 Kings 18

1 After many days, the LORD’s word came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, “Go, show yourself to Ahab; and I will send rain on the earth.” 2 Elijah went to show himself to Ahab. The famine was severe in Samaria. 3 Ahab called Obadiah, who was over the household. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly; 4 for when Jezebel cut off the LORD’s prophets, Obadiah took one hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.) 5 Ahab said to Obadiah, “Go through the land, to all the springs of water, and to all the brooks. Perhaps we may find grass and save the horses and mules alive, that we not lose all the animals.” 6 So they divided the land between them to pass throughout it. Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself. 7 As Obadiah was on the way, behold, Elijah met him. He recognized him, and fell on his face, and said, “Is it you, my lord Elijah?” 8 He answered him, “It is I. Go, tell your lord, ‘Behold, Elijah is here!’” 9 He said, “How have I sinned, that you would deliver your servant into the hand of Ahab, to kill me? 10 As the LORD your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my lord has not sent to seek you. When they said, ‘He is not here,’ he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they didn’t find you. 11 Now you say, ‘Go, tell your lord, “Behold, Elijah is here.”’ 12 It will happen, as soon as I leave you, that the LORD’s Spirit will carry you I don’t know where; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he can’t find you, he will kill me. But I, your servant, have feared the LORD from my youth. 13 Wasn’t it told my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the LORD’s prophets, how I hid one hundred men of the LORD’s prophets with fifty to a cave, and fed them with bread and water? 14 Now you say, ‘Go, tell your lord, “Behold, Elijah is here”.’ He will kill me.” 15 Elijah said, “As the LORD of Armies lives, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself to him today.” 16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him; and Ahab went to meet Elijah. 17 When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” 18 He answered, “I have not troubled Israel; but you, and your father’s house, in that you have forsaken the LORD’s commandments, and you have followed the Baals. 19 Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel to Mount Carmel, and four hundred and fifty of the prophets of Baal, and four hundred of the prophets of the Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” 20 So Ahab sent to all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together to Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah came near to all the people, and said, “How long will you waver between the two sides? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” The people didn’t say a word. 22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left as a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. 23 Let them therefore give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, and put no fire under; and I will dress the other bull, and lay it on the wood, and put no fire under it. 24 You call on the name of your god, and I will call on the LORD’s name. The God who answers by fire, let him be God.” All the people answered, “What you say is good.” 25 Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one bull for yourselves, and dress it first; for you are many; and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it.” 26 They took the bull which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, “Baal, hear us!” But there was no voice, and nobody answered. They leaped about the altar which was made. 27 At noon, Elijah mocked them, and said, “Cry aloud; for he is a god. Either he is deep in thought, or he has gone somewhere, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he sleeps and must be awakened.” 28 They cried aloud, and cut themselves in their way with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them. 29 When midday was past, they prophesied until the time of the evening offering; but there was no voice, no answer, and nobody paid attention. 30 Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me!”; and all the people came near to him. He repaired the LORD’s altar that had been thrown down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the LORD’s word came, saying, “Israel shall be your name.” 32 With the stones he built an altar in the LORD’s name. He made a trench around the altar, large enough to contain two seahs of seed. 33 He put the wood in order, and cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood. He said, “Fill four jars with water, and pour it on the burnt offering, and on the wood.” 34 He said, “Do it a second time”; and they did it the second time. He said, “Do it a third time”; and they did it the third time. 35 The water ran around the altar; and he also filled the trench with water. 36 At the time of the evening offering, Elijah the prophet came near, and said, “LORD, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. 37 Hear me, LORD, hear me, that this people may know that you, LORD, are God, and that you have turned their heart back again.” 38 Then the LORD’s fire fell, and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces. They said, “The LORD, he is God! the LORD, he is God!” 40 Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal! Don’t let one of them escape!” They seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and killed them there. 41 Elijah said to Ahab, “Get up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.” 42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he bowed himself down on the earth, and put his face between his knees. 43 He said to his servant, “Go up now, and look towards the sea.” He went up, and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” He said, “Go again” seven times. 44 On the seventh time, he said, “Behold, a small cloud, like a man’s hand, is rising out of the sea.” He said, “Go up, tell Ahab, ‘Get ready and go down, so that the rain doesn’t stop you.’” 45 In a little while, the sky grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel. 46 the LORD’s hand was on Elijah; and he tucked his cloak into his belt and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–16

The severest judgments, of themselves, will not humble or change the hearts of sinners; nothing, except the blood of Jesus Christ, can atone for the guilt of sin; nothing, except the sanctifying Spirit of God, can purge away its pollution. The priests and the Levites were gone to Judah and Jerusalem, 2Ch 11:13, 14, but instead of them God raised up prophets, who read and expounded the word. They probably were from the schools of the prophets, first set up by Samuel. They had not the spirit of prophecy as Elijah, but taught the people to keep close to the God of Israel. These Jezebel sought to destroy. The few that escaped death were forced to hide themselves. God has his remnant among all sorts, high and low; and that faith, fear, and love of his name, which are the fruits of the Holy Spirit, will be accepted through the Redeemer. See how wonderfully God raises up friends for his ministers and people, for their shelter in difficult times. Bread and water were now scarce, yet Obadiah will find enough for God’s prophets, to keep them alive. Ahab’s care was not to lose all the beasts; but he took no care about his soul, not to lose that. He took pains to seek grass, but none to seek the favour of God; fencing against the effect, but not inquiring how to remove the cause. But it bodes well with a people, when God calls his ministers to stand forth, and show themselves. And we may the better endure the bread of affliction, while our eyes see our teachers.

Verses 17–20

One may guess how people stand affected to God, by observing how they stand affected to his people and ministers. It has been the lot of the best and most useful men, like Elijah, to be called and counted the troublers of the land. But those who cause God’s judgments do the mischief, not he that foretells them, and warns the nation to repent.

Verses 21–40

Many of the people wavered in their judgment, and varied in their practice. Elijah called upon them to determine whether Jehovah or Baal was the self-existent, supreme God, the Creator, Governor, and Judge of the world, and to follow him alone. It is dangerous to halt between the service of God and the service of sin, the dominion of Christ and the dominion of our lusts. If Jesus be the only Saviour, let us cleave to him alone for every thing; if the Bible be the world of God, let us reverence and receive the whole of it, and submit our understanding to the Divine teaching it contains. Elijah proposed to bring the matter to a trial. Baal had all the outward advantages, but the event encourages all God’s witnesses and advocates never to fear the face of man. The God that answers by fire, let him be God: the atonement was to be made by sacrifice, before the judgment could be removed in mercy. The God therefore that has power to pardon sin, and to signify it by consuming the sin-offering, must needs be the God that can relieve from the calamity. God never required his worshippers to honour him in the manner of the worshippers of Baal; but the service of the devil, though sometimes it pleases and pampers the body, yet, in other things, really is cruel to it, as in envy and drunkenness. God requires that we mortify our lusts and corruptions; but bodily penances and severities are no pleasure to him. Who has required these things at your hands? A few words uttered in assured faith, and with fervent affection for the glory of God, and love to the souls of men, or thirstings after the Lord’s image and his favour, form the effectual, fervent prayer of the righteous man, which availeth much. Elijah sought not his own glory, but that of God, for the good of the people. The people are all agreed, convinced, and satisfied; Jehovah, he is the God. Some, we hope, had their hearts turned, but most of them were convinced only, not converted. Blessed are they that have not seen what these saw, yet have believed, and have been wrought upon by it, more than they that saw it.

Verses 41–46

Israel, being so far reformed as to acknowledge the Lord to be God, and to consent to the execution of Baal’s prophets, was so far accepted, that God poured out blessing upon the land. Elijah long continued praying. Though the answer of our fervent and believing supplications does not come quickly, we must continue earnest in prayer, and not faint or give over. A little cloud at length appeared, which soon overspread the heavens, and watered the earth. Great blessings often arise from small beginnings, showers of plenty from a cloud of span long. Let us never despise the day of small things, but hope and wait for great things from it. From what small beginnings have great matters arisen! It is thus in all the gracious proceedings of God with the soul. Scarcely to be perceived are the first workings of his Spirit in the heart, which grow up at last to the wonder of men, and applause of angels. Elijah hastened Ahab home, and attended him. God will strengthen his people for every service to which his commandments and providence call them. The awful displays of Divine justice and holiness dismay the sinner, extort confessions, and dispose to outward obedience while the impression lasts; but the view of these, with mercy, love, and truth in Christ Jesus, is needful to draw the soul to self-abasement, trust, and love. The Holy Spirit employs both in the conversion of sinners; when sinners are impressed with Divine truths, they should be exhorted to set about the duties to which the Saviour calls his disciples.

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