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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. And as Obadiah was in the way, behold, Elijah met him : and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said, Art thou that my Lord Elijah?
8. And he answered him, I am: go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here.
9. And he said, What have I sinned, that thou wouldest deliver thy servant into the hand of Ahab, to slay me?
10. As the LORD thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee : and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not.
11. And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy Lord, Behold, Elijah is here.
12. And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that I the Spirit of the LORD shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me : but I thy servant fear the LORD from my youth.
1 2 Kings 2:16. Ezek. 3:12, 14. Matt. 4:1. Acts 8: 39. 6. So they divided the land between them. They separated, so as to lose no time in the search. As Elijah, in coming into Zarephath, would naturally approach from the north, and it was Obadiah that met him, probably Obadiah undertook to search the northern part of the country and Ahab the southern. — Todd. Ahab went one way. The point of departure was probably the city of Jezreel, for Ahab seems to have been residing there at that time (ver. 46). — Todd. This personal inspection by the king and one of his chief officers marks the extreme straits to which the Israelites were now reduced. — Rawlinson. The difference, however, between an Eastern and an European monarch must not be overlooked. None (of the emirs of Arabia or the chiefs of Central Asia) think it beneath them to lead an expedition in search of grass or water. - Kitto.
III. Obadiah Meets Elijah. — Vers. 7-16. 7. As Obadiah was in the way. North-west from Jezreel; probably on the slopes of the Carmel range, along which Elijah would come from Zarephath. Obadiah's meeting Elijah was a divine leading for the strengthening of the one and the proving of the other. That Elijah, journeying on his weary way, should meet the very man who was the only true friend of the prophet at the court, was no more accidental than that Obadiah, going forth in search of provender for the cattle, should find the man who was to test severely his faith and his fear of God. — Lange. And he knew him. He recognized the prophet at once by his peculiar clothing (cf. 2 Kings 1 : 7,8). As governor of Ahab's household, he must have seen Elijah when he first prophecied the famine to the king. Art thou that my Lord Elijah ? Rather an exclamation, “ Thou here, my Lord Elijah ! ” whom the king has sought for everywhere in vain.
8. Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here. The last two words are not in the Hebrew, and the sentence is much more graphic without them. — Cook.
9. What have I sinned? Obadiah thinks that to execute this commission will be fatal to him. He fears that if he goes and returns with the king, Elijah will in the meantime have disappeared (ver. 12). - Spence. When the best man finds himself in trouble, he may well consider how he has brought the trouble upon himself. — H.C. Trumbull. Even those who fear the Lord, and walk by faith, are sometimes in the hour of peril overcome by an agony of fear, which bows them down as reeds before a whirlwind. Peter, who first threatened with the sword, became suddenly terror-stricken before a damsel. It is good for us to recognize our human weakness, for this knowledge preserves us from over-security, and leads us to pray: Lord, strengthen our faith. -- Lange.
10. There is no nation or kingdom whither my lord hath not sent. This is expressed in the style of oriental hyperbole. What Obadiah means is, “all the surrounding nations.” Ahab had sought the prophet in order to compel him to recall the plague that afflicted his land and people (Keil), and to punish him. — Todd.
12. The spirit of the Lord shall carry thee. It was only in some such way as this that Obadiah could account for Elijah's escape from Ahab's vigilant search, and he feared a repetition. For he could not imagine that Elijah would be willing to face the king, his mortal enemy. – P. He shall slay me. As if he were false to the king. I thy servant fear the Lord from my youth. IIence the more strong and deep his piety, and the assurance that he was a true servant of God.
13. Was it not told my lord what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the LORD, how I hid an hundred men of the LORD's prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water?
14. And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here : and he shall slay me.
15. And Elijah said, As the LORD of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely shew myself unto him to day.
16. So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him : and Ahab went to meet Elijah.
17. And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, 1 Art thou he that 2 troubleth Israel ?
18. And he answered, I have not troubled Israel ; but thou, and thy father's house, in 3 that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.
11 Kings 21: 20.
? Josh. 7:25. Acts 16:20.
3 2 Chron. 15: 2.
SERVING GOD FROM OUR YOUTH. Youth is the best time to begin God's service. (1) It is easier to begin then, when there is less evil and a less fixed character to change. (2) If we do not begin in youth, we are not likely to begin at all. (3) The whole of life is not too long for God's service. (4) By beginning in youth, we can form a more symmetrical character. (5) We need a whole life of service of God here in order to best fit us for heaven. – P.
13. Was it not told my lord? Obadiah's motive in thus affirming his fidelity to the true religion, and in narrating what he had done for the one hundred prophets, was to show Elijah that, if he hesitated to do his errand, it was not from any want of faithfulness to Jehovah or unwillingness to serve his prophets, even at a great risk to himself. — Todd. But it was from fear that Elijah would not be found when the king should go to meet him.
15. I will surely shew myself ... to-day. The reply of Elijah convinced him that he fully intended to meet the king; and being satisfied of this, he reasoned no more about motives and consequences, but set forth in search of his master. It seems that he was not long in finding him, and soon the king and the prophet confronted each other face to face. - Kitto.
16. And Ahab went to meet Elijah. Very readily, it would seem. Anything was better than suspense and famine. And Elijah's very return contained in it a promise of rain. — Cook. It would give him an opportunity of easing his own conscience and relieving the accusations of the people, by laying the blame on the prophet.
17. Art thou he? Rather, “ Art thou here, ( troubler of Israel?” That is, "Can it possibly be that thou dost venture to present thyself before me, thou that troublest Israel by means of this terrible drought?” Ahab hopes to abash the Tishbite, and expects perbaps to have him at his feet suing for pardon. He is found at last; he is in his power; surely he trembles at the punishment in store for him; and one strong, stern speech will bring him on his knees before his incensed master. So he accuses him of “ troubling Israel."- Cook. He had no word to say of his own sin; he forgot the iniquity of the people of the land, in which he had been the leader; he took no note of the hand of Jehovah in the calamity, and spoke as if the whole matter had been a mere personal difference between him and Elijah. He cast the entire blame of it upon the prophet; much as if one suffering under a painful disease should blame the doctor for producing it, because, knowing the habits of the patient, he had predicted that it would come. There is a point at which the mercury in the thermometer is itself frozen, and marks no lower degree of cold; and there is a point in the sinner's career when his moral sense becomes torpid and takes no further note of guilt. Ahab had, I fear, reached that stage in reference to his idolatry, and so he charged Elijah with causing that which was the result of his own sin. - Taylor.
18. I have not troubled Israel. Elijah was in no sense the cause of Israel's calamity. He merely announced the punishment. The light-house and the fog-bell are not the cause of the wrecks on the rocks against which they warn. The alarm-bell does not set the house on fire. The jailor is not to blame for the confinement of his prisoners. But thou, and thy father's house, etc. The cause of the calamity was their own sins. God had warned them clearly of the danger (Deut., chaps. 28-30). To have let their sins go unpunished would have been to bring moral ruin on Ahab, and on all the people. The punishwent was for their salvation. It was a small potion of bitter medicine to save from death, and to bring health and happiness..
PRACTICAL. I. OBADIAH.
1. Early piety is helpful to strong faith. 2. Our piety should be deep and strong. 3. Great fear of God is needed to conquer great temptations. 4. Strong faith will be seen in eminently good works. 5. Circumstances are no excuse for not serving God faithfully. (If men can be saints in
Ahab's and Nero's palaces, they can be saints anywhere.) 6. The grace of God has its chosen vessels in most unlikely places. 7. We need not leave our post because its circumstances are uncongenial. 8. We should so act as to make those who hate the Gospel honor and value its profes
9. (Those who serve God among evil men have opportunity to bear testimony for God,
and to help his children.) II. AHAB. 1. Warnings and chastisements may be abused so as to harden the heart instead of
softening it. 2. A hardened heart cares for earthly trifles, and neglects God's best gifts. 3. Ungodliness is closely linked with selfishness. 4. The wicked take trouble in avoiding the effect instead of correcting the cause. 5. Sinners charge their troubles on any but themselves.
6. Ungodliness is the fountain whence flow all streams of wickedness. III. ELIJAH.
1. God's servants must not expect long seasons of ease.
Faith testifies for God. – Rev. Newman Hall, in the Sunday School Times.
SUGGESTIONS TO TEACHERS. REVIEW briefly the circumstances of the last lesson, and the one incident of Elijah's two years at Zarephath.
SUBJECT, — No Way Of ESCAPE FROM THE PENALTY OF SIN EXCEPT BY REPENTING AND FORSAKING THE SIN.
I. THE WORK OF THE FAMINE Done (vers. 1, 2). The object of the famine to lead the people to a repentant and humble state of mind. All that it could accomplish in this direction had been done by it. God would test its effects upon them.
MARK the hard duty laid upon Elijah. It could be done because God was with him.
Illustration. If there is one truth that I have grasped more strongly than another, it is this: Only be sure of your duty, and there must be an infinite store of force in God which you can lay hold of to do it with, as an engineer lays hold of a force in nature, and drives his engine right through the granite bases of an Alp. If you are sure that it is God's will you should do it, then “I can't" must be a lie on the lips that repeat, “I believe in the Holy Ghost."
“So nigh to grandeur is our dust,
So nigh is God to man,
The soul replies, 'I can.'' As St. Theresa said, in answer to some objections, when she set about founding a muchneeded orphanage with only three half-pence in her pocket, “Theresa and three half-pence can do nothing; but God and three half-pence can do all things.” I was but the three half-pence, but I might be used to redeem these men. — Ellice Hopkins, Work among Workingmen.
II. THE VAIN SEARCH FOR RELIEF WITHOUT REPENTANCE (vers. 3-6).
Illustration. Ahab, idolater though he was, knew so much of true religion as to know that one faithful to God would be most likely to be faithful to him in a place where there was the largest opportunity for dishonest gains. An unbeliever once was travelling, with a large sum of money, in a wild and lonely country. He put up with a rough-looking man, and was afraid to go to sleep, till the man, reluctantly in the presence of a stranger, took down his Bible and proceeded to have family prayers. Then the unbeliever could rest in peace and sleep sweetly.
IV. ELIJAH AND AHAB,— THE TRUE CAUSE OF THE CALAMITY (vers. 17, 18). The tendency of the sinner to blame everybody but himself. Elijah showed Ahab the true cause of the calamity, and thus showed him the one true way of escape.
LESSON VI. — AUG. 9.
THE PROPHETS OF BAAL. — 1 KINGS 18: 19–29.
GOLDEN TEXT. - If the Lord be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him. 1 KINGS 18:21
TIME. — B.C. 907. Immediately after the last lesson.
PLACE. — Mt. Carmel, on its eastern summit, overlooking the Mediterranean on the west, the plain of Esdraelon on the north, and Jezreel, Ahab's residence, on the east. The place was about 17 miles from Jezreel.
RULERS. -- Ahab, king of Israel (11th year); Jehoshaphat, king of Judah (7th year). PRONUNCIATIONS. — Cär'měl; Esdrăe'lon; Jěz'rēěl or Jēz'reel.
INTRODUCTION. In our last lesson we left Elijah and Ahab confronting one another, probably on the slopes of Carmel. Elijah had charged Ahab with being the cause of the famine because of his sins against God. He then challenged the king to a decisive trial between Baal and Jehovah, and a scene ensued upon Mount Carmel which has no parallel in the history of the world.
19. Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto Mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, ? and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel's table.
EXPLANATORY. I. The Challenge. — Vers. 19, 20. 19. Now therefore send, and gather to me. There is no passage of Scripture which exhibits more forcibly the ascendency that a prophet of the Lord, armed only with his spiritual powers, could, if he were firm and brave, exercise even over the most powerful and most unscrupulous of kings. - Cook. Unto Mount Carmel. Carmel is rather a ridge than a mountain, some twelve miles in length. Its western (or strictly N.N.W.) extremity is a bold headland some 600 feet in height, which dips almost directly into the waters of the Mediterranean. Its highest point, 1728 feet above the sea level, is about four miles from its eastern extremity, which, at an elevation of 1600 feet, rises like a wall from the great plain of Esdraelon. It is at this point, there can be no question, we are to place the scene of the burnt sacrifice. Not only does the Arab name which it bears - El Murahkah, “the Burning," or "Sacrifice" – afford striking witness to the identity, but the situation and surroundings adapt themselves with such wonderful precision to the requirements of the narrative as to leave no reasonable doubt in the mind. For (1) it is a sort of natural platform, or pulpit, raised 1000 feet above the adjoining plain, and therefore well calculated to afford a view of the proceedings, or at least of the descent of the holy fire, to spectators of all Israel. The flame would probably be seen by Jezebel in her palace at Jezreel. This eminence is visible from Nazareth, some twenty miles away. ** There is not a more conspicuous spot on all Carmel than the abrupt, rocky height of El Murahkah, shooting up so suddenly on the east" (Van de Velde, i., pp. 322, 323). “The summit . . . commands the last view of the sea behind and the first view of the great plain in front" (Stanley). (2) A sort of plateau near the summit — the table-land where the
20. So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and I gathered the prophets together unto Mount Carmel.
21. And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, 2 How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him : but if Baal, 3 then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
11 Kings 22:6.
? 2 Kings 17:41. Matt. 6: 24.
3 Josh. 24: 15.
altars were built, etc. - would accommodate a vast number of spectators (ver. 21). (3) There is a spring of water close at hand, - less than 100 yards distant, and a spring which is said to How even in the driest seasons, which would supply the water of which we read in vers. 4, 33–35. (4) The sea, though not visible from the plateau itself, is seen from a point some 300 feet higher, a detail which accords admirably with the account of vers. 42-44 — Pulpit Com. The prophets of Baal. Not persons who foretold the future, but declaimers, who uttered in wild frenzy their agitating thoughts and emotions. They were the teachers of the false religion, and those who performed the idolatrous rites of worship. Four hundred and fifty. It is likely that many of these priests, though attached to the temple at Samaria, were deputed to conduct the Baal-worship on various high places through the country, and that they did not all of them officiate in the temple at the capital. — Todd. Prophets of the groves. Rather, of Ashtoreth, the Phenician Venus (see Lesson II.). Which eat at Jezebel's table. Rather, “which eat from Jezebel's table.” Oriental etiquette would not have allowed them to eat at the table of the queen, which was spread in the seraglio. - Cook. I should think the words mean, that these four hundred prophets fed daily at a common table, in or near the temple of that idol which they served, and which was provided for at the expense of Jezebel. - Harmer's Observations.
20. So Ahab sent. He obeyed the prophet. Perhaps he thought that 450 would be more than a match for Elijah; or he dared not seem to be responsible to the people for the continuance of the famine, and hoped Elijah would bring the rain. And gathered the prophets. From the sequel it appears that the former only came. The latter, anticipating some evil, evaded the king's command. – 7., F. and B.
II. The Decision to be Made. — Vers. 21, 22, 21. And Elijah came unto all the people. He is concerned not so much with the king as the people of the Lord. His object was not “to prove that Ahab and not he had troubled Israel," but to prove that Jehovah and not Baal was God. — Spence. How long halt ye? The word halt, here, does not denote lameness merely, as some commentators give it, but, in general, a wavering, vacillating motion. - Tayler Lewis. The figure refers to the unsteady gait of a man who turns first toward one thing and then toward another, uncertain what direction to take. - Todd. Between two opinions. Whether to serve Jehovah or Baal, whether to yield to the popular influences favored by the king, or to obey their consciences and their God, and dare the murderous wrath of Jezebel. - P. Most of the people thought that Jehovah was God, and Baal was God too. No, said the prophet, this will not do. There are two opinions; they are two contradictory things. “I will build in my house," says one, “an altar for Jehovah here, and an altar for Baal there. I am of one opinion; I believe both to be God.” “No," says Elijah, “they are two: you cannot unite them.” Have I not many here who say, I am worldly, but I am religious too. May I not be a good churchman, or a right good dissenter, and be a man of the world too? Mark Antony yoked two lions to his chariot; but there are two lions no man ever yoked together yet, — the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the lion of the pit. — Spurgeon.
ILLUSTRATIONS OF HALTING BETWEEN Two OPINIONS. Assenting to the truths of religion among Christians, and professing to doubt them among skeptics. Feeling sorrow for sin and asking mercy, and then deliberately running into temptation. Professing to have our treasure in heaven, and making earthly gain a leading object in life. Saying we are only pilgrims and sojourners, and yet acting and caring as if this world was our home. Avowing that we carry the cross of Christ, and yet trying to escape it. Fancying that we aim above all to do right, and yet often acting only so as to be thought right. From time to time startled from the sleep of indifference to cry out, “ What must I do to be saved ?" and then, unwilling to make any effort, sinking back into slumber. – Newman Hall. If the Lord (Jehovah, the God of Israel) be God, follow him. Think the matter over, and make up your mind in view of the evidence, and then follow your convictions.
REASONS WHY THEY SHOULD FOLLOW God. (1) It was right; that alone was enough. But God counteracted the influence of temptation and aided their weakness by other reasons.