Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: 1 Kings
Book: 1 Kings
Chapter: 17

Elijah fed By ravens. (1-7) Elijah sent to Zarephath. (8-16)
Elijah raises the widow's son to Life. (17-24)

1-7 God wonderfully suits men to the work he designs them for.
The times were fit for an Elijah; an Elijah was fit for them.
The Spirit of the Lord knows how to fit men for the occasions.
Elijah let Ahab know that God was displeased with the idolaters,
and would chastise them By the want of Rain, which it was not in
the power of the gods they served to bestow. Elijah was
commanded to hide himself. If Providence calls us to solitude
and retirement, it becomes us to go: when we cannot be useful,
we must be patient; and when we cannot work for God, we must sit
still quietly for him. The ravens were appointed to bring him
meat, and did So. 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. God could have sent angels to Minister to him;
but he chose to show that he can serve his own purposes By the
meanest creatures, as effectually as By the mightiest. Elijah
seems to have continued thus above a Year. The natural supply of
water, which came By common Providence, failed; but the
miraculous supply of Food, made sure to him By promise, failed
not. If the heavens fail, the Earth fails of course; such are
all our Creature-comforts: we lose them when we most need them,
like brooks in summer. But there is a River which makes glad the
City of God, that never runs dry, a Well of water that springs
up to eternal Life. Lord, give us that living water!

8-16 Many Widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, and some,
it is likely, 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 the first Prophet of the
Gentiles. Jezebel was Elijah's greatest enemy; yet, to show her
how powerless was her malice, God will find a hiding-place for
him even in her own country. The person appointed to Entertain
Elijah is not one of the rich or great men of Sidon; but a Poor
widow Woman, in want, and desolate, is made both able and
willing to sustain him. It is God's way, and it is his Glory, to
make use of, and Put honour upon, the weak and foolish things of
the world. O Woman, great was thy Faith; one has not found the
like, No not in Israel. She took the Prophet's Word, that she
should not lose By it. Those who can venture upon the promise of
God, will make No difficulty to expose and empty themselves in
his service, By giving him his part first. Surely the increase
of this widow's Faith, So as to enable her thus readily 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 meal and
Oil in the kingdom of Providence. Happy are all who can thus,
against Hope, believe and obey in Hope. One Poor meal's meat
this Poor widow gave the Prophet; in recompence of it, she and
her son did eat above two years, in a time of Famine. To have
Food from God's special favour, and in such good company as
Elijah, made it more than doubly sweet. It is promised to those
who trust in God, that they shall not be ashamed in evil time;
in days of Famine they shall be satisfied.

17-24 Neither Faith nor obedience shut out Afflictions and
Death. The Child being dead, the mother spake to the Prophet,
rather to give vent to her sorrow, than in Hope of relief. When
God removes our comforts from us, he remembers our sins against
us, perhaps the sins of our youth, though long since past. When
God remembers our sins against us, he designs to teach us to
remember them against ourselves, and to repent of them. Elijah's
Prayer was doubtless directed By the Holy Spirit. The Child
revived. See the power of Prayer, and the power of Him who hears