1 Kings 18:43
And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(43) Go again seven times.—From this delay of the answer to prayer Elijah’s example became proverbial for intensity and perseverance in supplication (James 5:17). The contrast is remarkable between the immediate answer to his earlier prayer (see 1Kings 18:36-37) and the long delay here. The one was for the sake of the people; the other for some lesson—perhaps of humility and patience—to Elijah himself. When the answer does come, it fulfils itself speedily. The “little cloud” becomes all but immediately (for so “in the mean while” should be rendered) a storm blackening the whole heavens, borne by a hurricane from the west.

1 Kings 18:43. Go up now, &c. — While I continue praying. Look toward the sea — Whence clouds and vapours usually arise. Elijah desired to have timely notice of the first appearance of rain, not out of vanity, but that Ahab and the people might know that it was obtained from Jehovah by his prayers, and thereby be confirmed in the true religion. He looked and said, There is nothing — We must not be dejected for some disappointments; but, though the answer of our fervent supplications do not come presently, yet we must continue instant in prayer, waiting on God, and not faint or grow weary, for at the end the vision shall speak and not lie.18:41-46 Israel, being so far reformed as to acknowledge the Lord to be God, and to consent to the execution of Baal's prophets, was so far accepted, that God poured out blessing upon the land. Elijah long continued praying. Though the answer of our fervent and believing supplications does not come quickly, we must continue earnest in prayer, and not faint or give over. A little cloud at length appeared, which soon overspread the heavens, and watered the earth. Great blessings often arise from small beginnings, showers of plenty from a cloud of span long. Let us never despise the day of small things, but hope and wait for great things from it. From what small beginnings have great matters arisen! It is thus in all the gracious proceedings of God with the soul. Scarcely to be perceived are the first workings of his Spirit in the heart, which grow up at last to the wonder of men, and applause of angels. Elijah hastened Ahab home, and attended him. God will strengthen his people for every service to which his commandments and providence call them. The awful displays of Divine justice and holiness dismay the sinner, extort confessions, and dispose to outward obedience while the impression lasts; but the view of these, with mercy, love, and truth in Christ Jesus, is needful to draw the soul to self-abasement, trust, and love. The Holy Spirit employs both in the conversion of sinners; when sinners are impressed with Divine truths, they should be exhorted to set about the duties to which the Saviour calls his disciples.Tradition says that Elijah's servant was the son of the widow of Sarepta 1 Kings 17:23. 43. Go up now, look toward the sea—From the place of worship there is a small eminence, which, on the west and northwest side, intercepts the view of the sea [Stanley; Van De Velde]. It can be ascended in a few minutes, and presents a wide prospect of the Mediterranean. Six times the servant went up, but the sky was clear—the sea tranquil. On the seventh he described the sign of approaching rain [1Ki 18:44]. Go up now, whilst I continue praying.

Look toward the sea; whence clouds and vapours usually arise. Elijah desired to have timely notice of the very first appearance and signification of rain, not out of vanity or ambition, but that Ahab and the people might know that it was obtained from Jehovah by the prophet’s prayers, and thereby be confirmed in the true religion.

Go again seven times; let us not be dejected for some disappointments, but continue to wait upon God, who will answer me, and that speedily. And said to his servant,.... Whom some take to be the son of the widow of Sarepta, but he must be too young to be employed in such service as this was:

go up now; still higher on Mount Carmel; than where he was, even to the highest point of it:

look towards the sea: or the west, as the Targum, the Mediterranean sea, which lay to the west of the land of Israel:

and he went up and looked, and he said, there is nothing; there was nothing in the sky, or arising out of the sea, that looked like or foreboded rain:

and he said, go again seven times; till he should see something.

And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again {p} seven times.

(p) As God's spirit moved him to pray, so was he strengthened by the same that he did not faint, but continued still till he had obtained.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
43. look toward the sea] Because from that quarter would come the indication of the approaching storm. The LXX. omits ‘he went up’ in the next clause, and adds at the close of the verse ‘and the servant went again seven times.’

seven times] Meaning an indefinite number. ‘Seven’ is thus used Psalm 12:6; Psalm 119:164; Proverbs 24:16.Verse 43. - And said to his servant [of whom we now hear for the first time. It is an old tradition that this was none other than the son of the Sareptan, who was afterwards known as the prophet Jonah (Jerome, Praef. in Jonam). See note on 1 Kings 17:24], Go up now, look toward [Heb. the way of] the sea. [It is a striking confirmation of the theory which identifies El Murahkah with the scene of Elijah's sacrifice that the sea, though not visible from the plateau itself, is from the crest of the hill, a few feet higher. Van de Velde writes, "On its west and northwest sides the view of the sea is quite intercepted by an adjacent height. That height may be ascended, however, in a few minutes and a full view of the sea obtained from the top." Similarly the latest authority, Mr. Condor: "The peak is a semi-isolated knoll with a cliff some forty feet high, looking southeast .... The sea is invisible, except from the summit, and thus it was only by climbing to the top of Carmel, from the plateau where the altar may have stood, that the prophet's servant could have seen the little cloud," etc.] And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. [Cf. Joshua 6:15-20; 2 Kings 5:14; Matthew 18:21; Psalm 119:164. The idea here is that of sufficiency, of completion, rather than, as elsewhere, of covenant. And yet it must be remembered that Elijah was only praying for what God had already promised to grant (ver. 1). This earnest prayer for rain under these circumstances suggests that the former prayer "that it might not rain" (James 5:17) had also been inspired of God. But it is worth considering whether Elijah's attitude was not one of reverent and assured expectation, as much as of prayer. When Rawlinson says that "the faithfulness and patience shown [by the servant] in executing this order without a murmur, imply devotedness of no common kind," he surely forgets that the drought had lasted for three years and a half, and that the servant had that day seen the fires of God descend at Elijah's prayer. It is inconceivable, under such circumstances, that any man could murmur.] After these preparations at the time of the evening sacrifice, Elijah drew near and prayed: "Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel (this name is used with deliberate purpose instead of Jacob: see at 1 Kings 18:31), let it be known this day that Thou art God in Israel, and I am Thy servant, and do all these things through Thy word. Hear me, Jehovah, hear me, that this people may know that Thou Jehovah art God, and turnest back their hearts!" (i.e., back from idols to Thyself.) This clearly expresses not only the object of the miracle which follows, but that of miracles universally. The perfects עשׂיתי and הסבּת are used to denote not only what has already occurred, but what will still take place and is as certain as if it had taken place already. עשׂיתי refers not merely to the predicted drought and to what Elijah has just been doing (Thenius), but to the miracle which was immediately about to be performed; and הסבּת to the conversion of the people to the Lord their God, for which Elijah's coming had already prepared the way, and which was still further advanced by the following miracle.
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