Bible Commentary

1 Kings 19

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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(Read all of 1 Kings 19)

Verse 1

[1] And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.

All the prophets — Of Baal.

Verse 2

[2] Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.

Jezebel sent — She gives him notice of it before hand: partly, out of the height of her spirit, as scorning to kill him secretly: partly, out of her impatience, till she had breathed out her rage: and principally, from God's all-disposing providence, that so he might have an opportunity of escaping.

Do to me, … — So far was she from being changed by that evident miracle, that she persists in her former idolatry, and adds to it a monstrous confidence, that in spight of God she would destroy his prophet.

Verse 3

[3] And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.

Left his servant — Because he would not expose him to those perils and hardships which he expected: and because he desired solitude, that he might more freely converse with God.

Verse 4

[4] But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.

Into the wilderness — The vast wilderness of Arabia. He durst not stay in Judah, tho' good Jehosaphat reigned there, because he was allied to Ahab, and was a man of an easy temper, whom Ahab might circumvent, and either by force or art seize upon Elijah.

It is enough — I have lived long enough for thy service, and am not like to do thee any more service; neither my words nor works are like to do any good upon these unstable and incorrigible people.

I am not better — That I should continue in life, when other prophets who have gone before me, have lost their lives.

Verse 7

[7] And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.

Angel of the Lord, … — He needed not to complain of the unkindness of men, when it was thus made up by the ministration of angels. Wherever God's children are, they are still under their father's eye.

Verse 8

[8] And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.

And went — He wandered hither and thither for forty days, 'till at last he came to Horeb, which in the direct road was not above three or four days journey. Thither the spirit of the Lord led him, probably beyond his own intention, that he might have communion with God, in the same place that Moses had.

Verse 9

[9] And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?

Unto a cave — Perhaps the same wherein Moses was hid when the Lord passed before him, and proclaimed his name.

Verse 10

[10] And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.

I have been, … — I have executed my office with zeal for God's honour, and with the hazard of my own life, and am fled hither, not being able to endure to see the dishonour done to thy name by their obstinate idolatry and wickedness.

I only — Of all thy prophets, who boldly and publickly plead thy cause: for the rest of thy prophets who are not slain, hide themselves, and dare not appear to do thee any service.

They seek my life — I despair of doing them any good: for instead of receiving my testimony, they hunt for my life. It does by no means appear, that he was at all to blame, for fleeing from Jezebel. If they persecute you in one city flee into another. Besides, the angels feeding and preparing him for his journey, and the peculiar blessing of God upon that food, indicated the divine approbation.

Verse 11

[11] And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:

And behold — This is a general description of the thing, after which the manner of it is particularly explained.

Strong wind — Whereby he both prepares Elijah to receive this discovery of God with greatest humility, reverence, and godly fear; and signifies his irresistible power, to break the hardest hearts of the Israelites, and to bear down all opposition that was or should be made against him in the discharge of his office.

The Lord was not — The Lord did not vouchsafe his special and gracious presence to Elijah in that wind, which possibly was to teach him not to wonder if God did not accompany his terrible administration at mount Carmel with the presence of his grace, to turn the hearts of the Israelites to himself.

Verse 12

[12] And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

A still voice — To intimate, that God would do his work in and for Israel in his own time, not by might or power, but by his own spirit, Zechariah 4:6, which moves with a powerful, but yet with a sweet and gentle gale.

Verse 13

[13] And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?

He wrapped, … — Through dread of God's presence, being sensibly that he was neither worthy nor able to endure the sight of God with open face.

And stood, … — Which God commanded him to do; and as he was going towards the mouth of the cave, he was affrighted and stopped in his course, by the dreadful wind, and earthquake, and fire; when these were past, he prosecutes his journey, and goeth on to the mouth of the cave.

Verse 16

[16] And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.

The son, … — That is, his grand-son, for he was the son of Jehosaphat, 2 Kings 9:2. This was intended as a prediction that by these God would punish the degenerate Israelites, plead his own cause among them, and avenge the quarrel of his covenant.

Verse 17

[17] And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay.

Shall Elisha slay — One or other of these should infallibly execute God's judgments upon the apostate Israelites. Elisha is said to slay them, either, because he slew those forty two children, 2 Kings 2:24, besides others whom upon like occasions he might destroy; or, because he by God's appointment inflicted the famine, 2 Kings 8:1, or rather, by the sword which came out of his mouth: the prophets being said to pull down and to destroy what they declare and foretel shall be pulled down. Hazael began to slay them before Jehu was king, though his cruelty was much increased afterward. Jehu destroyed those whom Hazael did not, as king Joram himself, and Ahaziah, and all the near relations of Ahab.

Verse 18

[18] Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.

I have left — Or, I have reserved to myself; I have kept from the common contagion: therefore thou art mistaken to think that thou art left alone.

Seven thousand — Either, definitely so many: or rather, indefinitely, for many thousands; the number of seven being often used for a great number.

Kissed him — That is, all those who have not worshipped Baal, nor professed reverence or subjection to him: which idolaters did to their idols, by bowing the knee, and by kissing them.

Verse 19

[19] So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him.

Was plowing — Who had twelve ploughs going, whereof eleven were managed by his servants, and the last by himself; according to the simplicity of those ancient times, in which men of good estate submitted to the meanest employments.

Cast his mantle — By that ceremony conferring upon him the office of a prophet, which God was pleased to accompany with the gifts and graces of his spirit.

Verse 20

[20] And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee?

He ran — Being powerfully moved by God's spirit to follow Elijah, and wholly give up himself to his function.

Let me kiss — That is, bid them farewell.

Go — And take thy leave of them, and then return to me again.

For what, … — Either first, to hinder thee from performing that office. That employment to which I have called thee, doth not require an alienation of thy heart from thy parents, nor the total neglect of them. Or, secondly, to make such a change in thee, that thou shouldst be willing to forsake thy parents, and lands, and all, that thou mayest follow me. Whence comes this marvellous change? It is not from me, who did only throw my mantle over thee; but from an higher power, even from God's spirit, which both changed thy heart, and consecrated thee to thy prophetical office: which therefore it concerns thee vigorously to execute, and wholly to devote thyself to it.

Verse 21

[21] And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.

From him — From Elijah to his parents; whom when he had seen and kissed, he returned to Elijah.

The instruments — That is, with the wood belonging to the plow, etc. to which more was added, as occasion required. But that he burned, to shew his total relinquishing of his former employment.

And gave — That is, he made thereof a feast for his servants who had been ploughing with him, and for him, and his other friends and neighbours who came to take their leave of him. Hereby he shewed how willingly and joyfully he forsook all his friends, that he might serve God in that high and honourable employment. It is of great advantage to young ministers, to spend some time under the direction of those that are aged and experienced; and not to think much, if occasion be, to minister unto them. Those who would be fit to teach, must have time to learn; those should first serve, who may hereafter rule.

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