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comanded Elijah to retire to the brook Chetith; which was near the river Jordan.
If we had not been told that the LORD sent the ravens which fed Elijah, it would be quite astonishing to think, that creatures so voracious, and seemingly of such a cruel nature, should perform so kind an office; but with this explanation the wonder ceases, for all things are possible to GOD.
KLIJAN AND THĚ WIDOW OF ZAR EPHATH.
From 1 Kings, Chap. xviii AND the word of the LORD came unto Elijah, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there ; behold I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain theè.
So he arose, and went to Zarephath i and when he came to the gate of the city, behold the widow woman was there gathering of sticks : and he called to her, and said, Fetch
me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I
drink. And as she was going to fetch it; he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.
And she said; As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in, and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.
And Elijah' id unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said : but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son,
For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the crúse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain
And she went and did eat according to the saying of Elijah : and she and her house did eat many days.
And the barrel of meal wasted pot, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD which he spake by Elijah.
And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick, and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him.
And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my
sin to remembrance, and to slay my son ? And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him
up Joft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed.
And he cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow, with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son ?
And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again.
And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the soul of the child came into him again ; and he revived.
And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother; and Elijah said, See, thy son livetha
And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS
The place to which Elijah was sent, was a city of Sidon, or Zidon. Our SAVIOUR Himself intimates, that there was something in the character of the widow of Zarephath, which rendered her an object of dirine com. passion, in preference to all the widows.in Zidon *; and the Apostle to the Hebrews seems to refer to her as an example of faith t; we may therefore reasonably suppose, that it was for her sake, as well as his own, that the prophet was directed to go to Zidon.
Elijah had before given striking proofs that he had a stedfast faith in the power of God; and it must have ipfluenced his, conduct, when, in consequence of the D:vine command, accompanied by a promise that he should be sustained there, he set off for Zarephath, a city in that very country which had given birth to the cruel queen from whose presence he was before commanded to filee, that he might frustrate. her reseptment, which burnt against him on account of his prediction; who, in consequence of its completion, had sought for him in every place where there waß the least. probability of finding him, and who would certainly have exerted her influence with her countrymen, either to execute her vengeance on one whom she regarded as her declared enemy, or lo deliver him into her own hands.
This faith in the Divine promises must also have operated strongly in Elijah's mind, when knowing, by a Divine impulse, that the poor woman he saw. picking up sticks was his intended benefactress, he applied to her for relief; for there could be nothing in her appear. ance, at that time, to encourage him to expect sustenance.
* Luke iv. 25, 26.
+ Heb. xi. 35.
from her hands ; on the contrary, he might rather have supposed, that she would have required a recompence from him,
As the ALMIGHTY, to whom all hearts are open, knows the good and bad qualites of each, and always chooses fit instruments, to effect His purposes, and so orders events, that moral virtues shall conduce to their own reward as well as vice to its own punishment, we may reasonably infer, that this poor widow was of very charitable disposition, and had in her better days delighted in acts of beneficence. Her readiness to fetch water for the prophet, before he had given any intima tion of the LORD's intended kindness to her, proves that. she was of this amiable temper; for it was certainly a great instance of charity to attend to the necessities of another, when her own were so pressing;, when her mind was torn with a thousand anxieties for her, only child, Thus far, tbe widow of Zarephath acted according to the rule of right reason and genuine humanity, and she must be allowed to have set a pattern worthy of the imitation even of Christians.
After having, with charitable readiness agreed to do for the stranger, what was in her power,.“ ferch hin a. little water to allay his thirst," the widow of Zarephath modestly excused herself from giving him any farther relief, but in a manner which implied a tender , commiseration of his distress, and a wish that her ability to serve him was greater, This is the very disposition of mind which Gop approves. This is the charity of the extreme indigent. She was a true object of Divine compassion, and the prophet was commissioned to relieve her from despondency by a Divine promise of mi. raculous interposition, to deliver her and her child from impending death.
“ Fear not (said the holy man), the exil you dread will be averted. Thou mayest safely
indulge thy darling propensity' to benevolence.” For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of vil fail, until the day that the LORD sendelk rain upon the earth.
Convinced, by the conclusion of his speech, that the stranger was à messenger of the LORD (which she might before have guessed from his appearance), the good woman obeyed, without hesitation, in full confidence on the Divine promise. This was an act of faith, of a rational faith founded on the previous persuasion of the existence and the power of the LORD God *. The intercourse which the Sidonians had long had with the Israelites, had brought to her knowledge the name of the LORD JEHOVAH; and it is not improbable, that finding the incapacity of the idols of her. own country to relieve their votaries, her heart turned from them to the living God, whom she might in secret have implored to be her Gon. Whether this conjecture be right or net, certain it is, that before the Divine message was delivered to her, she believed His existence; for she said to the prophet, “ As the LORD thy God liveth,” &c. ; and it is evident, that she believed GoD to be a rewarder of them that serve and obey him ; for, without any information on this head from Elijah, she no sooner heard the divine promise, than she placed her whole trust in the LORD, and hasted to do honour to His prophet.
From one expression in the passage of Scripture we are considering, it may be supposed, that the LORD had by the secret energy of His Spirit, implanted faith in a supernatural way. « Get thee (said the LORD to Elijah) to Zarephath, for I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee." This certainly means no
Heb. xi. O.