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more, than that the Lord had ordained that she should give him relief; for it does not appear, frons the history, that the woman was prepared by Divine revelation to expect the prophet, as the prophet was to expect her. The widow's faith therefore was not an instantaneous irresistible Divine impalse, but (as before observed) a ra tional faith and she testified this faith by works of obe dience, and it was rewarded accordingly.
But it may be asked “ where was this faith when her son died, and she challenged the prophet as the author of her misfortune ?" There is nothing in the history which implies that it had forsaken her, or that she meant to reproach Elijah; on the contrary, we may infer, from her behaviour, that she believed the LORD to be mighty to destroy as well as to save.
For some time this woman had, through Divine good. ness, lived in ease and abundance, happy in possessing the favour of God, and ministering to His prophet, Is is likely that this prosperity might have occasioned her to be remiss in the practice of some duty, and when her darling son, who before was preserved to her by a miracle, was taken away by a sudden stroke of Pro. vidence, her conscience immediately suggested, that this calamity was a judgment inflicted for her sin ; and she regarded the prophet, who before had been the minister of good to her as the minister of Divine vengeance. Art thou come unto me (said she) to call my sin to remem. branco, and to slay my son ? Her resigning the dead child to Elijah shewed, that she had hopes that he might yet be restored to her; and, from an expression in the Epistle to the Hebrews (before alluded to *) we may judge that her child was restored to her on account of her faith in
i Web. xi.
the power of God. And it is certain that Elijah himself exercised great faith on this occasion. It does not appear that he had received any intimation that the child would be restored to life, but he was confident the LORD could raise him, and in this confidence he prayed that He would do so. This was a rational faith in him who had already seen such wonderful miracles wrought by Divine power.
It has been repeatedly observed, that the nation of the Jews was not selected from the rest of the world, to con: fine the knowledge of the Lord to themselves only, or to exclude others from serving Him : but that, by the fame of the mighty works wrought among them, distant nations might be invited to seek the LORD; and by the establishment of a pure and holy worship, all who were inclined might learn how to serve Him.
The king of Israel, in consequence of his marriage with the widow of a Zidonian monarch, had introduced the worship of Baal (the principal idol of the Zidonians) into Samária, so that Baal may be regarded as the rival of the LORD God ; and it was on account of the king and people forsaking the Lord, and worshipping Baal, that the drought and consequent famine, which Elijah predicted, were sent upon the Israelites : it extended also, as we find, to the land of Zidon. Elijah was the pereon appointed to assert the honour of the LORD'; and it was a very remarkable instance of Providence, that he should be sent to Zidon, and that a woman of that country should have the honour of sustaining him. This circumstance helps to confirm the Apostle's declaration *, that in every nation, those who fear God, and work rigtteowness, are accepted by him.
* Acts x. 34, 35,
This transaction proves that God actually is, as the Scriptures represent Him to be a FATHER to the fatherless, and a HUSBAND to the widow ; and the relation of it must afford comfort to all persons in extreme necessity, since it proves, that no condition is so hopeless, but the Providence of God can afford relief.
It is scarcely possible for any person to be in more indigent circumstances than the poor widow of Zarephath. In losing her husband she seems to have been deprived of every earthly friend, and knew not where even to procure a little fuel to dress the last morsel of nourish. ment she had a prospect of obtaining for the sustenance of herself and child. She lived in a country where the inhabitants were so devoted to vice and sensuality as to: be insensible, even in plentiful times, to the distresses of a fellow-creature ; for we find the heathen described by David, as oppressing the fatherless and widow ; and we may suppose them, during the famine, wholly intent on their own preservation.
This woman's trial was great, and great was also her reward, for the LORD graciously made her a partaker of the miraculous support which he vouchsafed to his chosen servant ; and not only, relieved the necessities of her and her child, but gave her an opportunity of exercising the benevolence of her mind, in doing good of fices for a worthy friend. Elijah received great comfort from the conversation of this good woman, and no doubt rewarded her kindness by teaching her how to praise and adore their Divine BenefactOR.
It is true, we have no Prophets in these days, neither does the ALMIGHTY relieve our distresses by supernatural means ; but, to a considering mind, the annual increase of corn, from a small quantity of grain, is full as wonderful as the multiplying of the widow's mcal and oil; and
we may daily hear of persons being relieved from distress by the most unexpected means. To a common eye, these things appear accidental; but by the history of Elijah, and the widow of Zarcphath, we are taught to ascribe them to the goodness of God; since what He has done for one, we may conclude he will do for ALL his creatures, in some way or other, if they do not forfeit His mercy by mistrust and impiety.
This incident was also particularly calculated to en. courage all those who should afterwards be employed, as Elijah was, in the immediate service of the Lord, to expect miraculous supplies in cases of extreme necessity and to admonish all others to treat the Lord's prophets
THE HISTORY OF AHAB KING OF ISRAEL CONTINUED
BAAL'S PROPHETS SLAIN.
From 1 Kings, Chafi. xvii: And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go shew thyself to Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.
And Elijah went to shew himself to Ahab : and there was a sore famine in Samaria.
And Ahab called Obadiah which was the governor of his house : (now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly.)
And Ahab said unto Obadiah, Go into the land, unto all fountains of water, and unto all brooks : peradventure
grass to save the horses and mules alive that we lose not all the beasts. So they divided the land between them to pass
throughout it: Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadia ab went another way by himself.
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 ? and he answered him, I am : ġo tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here.
And he said, Whạt have I sinned, that thou wou est. deliver thy servant into the hand of Ahab, to slay ne? As the LORD thy Gop liveth, there is no nation or king. dom, whither
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.
And now thou sayest, Go tell thy lord, behold, Elijah is here.
And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee; that the Spirit of the LORD ishall carry thee whither I know not ; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me : bụt I thy servant fear the LORD from my youth.
Was is not told my lord, what I did when Jezebel gley 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 ?
And now thou sayest, Go tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah, is here : and he shall şlay ne.
And Elijah said, As the Lord of Hosts liveth before whom I stand, I will surely shew myself unto him to-dayo
So Obadiah wept to meet Ahab, and told him ; and Ahab went to meet Elijah.
And it came to pass when Ahab saw Elijah, that. Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?
And he answered, I have not troubled Israel, but thou and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the