1 Kings 18:46
And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(46) The hand of the Lord was on Elijah—in a striking reaction of enthusiastic thankfulness after the stern calmness of his whole attitude throughout the great controversy, and his silent earnestness of prayer. At the head of the people he brings the king, conquered, if not repentant, home in triumph. To our conception of a prophet this frenzied excitement seems strange. Nor could it have belonged to a Samuel, an Elisha, or an Isaiah. In the simple and enthusiastic warrior of God it is natural enough.

1 Kings 18:46. The hand of the Lord was on Elijah — God gave him more than natural strength, whereby he was enabled to outrun Ahab’s chariot for so many miles together. And he girded up his loins — That his garments, which were long and loose, like those in use in that country, might not hinder him. And ran before Ahab — To show how ready he was to honour and serve the king; that by this humble and self-denying carriage, it might appear, what he had done was not from envy or passion, but only from a just zeal for God’s glory; that by his presence with the king and his courtiers, he might animate and oblige them to proceed in the reformation of religion; and, to demonstrate, that he was neither ashamed of, nor afraid for what he had done, but durst venture himself in the midst of his enemies. But surely, if Ahab had paid the respect to Elijah that he deserved, he would have taken him into his chariot, as the eunuch did Philip, that he might honour him before the elders of Israel, and confer with him further about the reformation of the kingdom: but his pride and ambition, and other corrupt dispositions, got the better of his conviction; and he was glad to get quit of him, as Felix of Paul, when he dismissed him, and adjourned his conference with him to a more convenient season. 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.Divinely directed, and divinely upheld, Elijah, instead of resting, ran in advance of the king's chariot the entire distance of at least 16 miles to the entrance of Jezreel. He thus showed himself ready to countenance and uphold the irresolute monarch, if he would turn from his evil courses, and proceed to carry out the religious reformation which the events of the day had inaugurated.

The entrance of Jezreel - Modern "Zerin." Ahab had not removed the capital from Samaria 1 Kings 22:10, 1 Kings 22:37; but he had built himself a palace at Jezreel 1 Kings 21:1, and appears to have resided there ordinarily. A contemporary Assyrian inscription speaks of him as "Ahab of Jezreel."

Elijah's caution in accompanying Ahab only to "the entrance" is like that of the modern Arabs, who can seldom be induced to trust themselves within walls. He rested on the outskirts of the town, waiting to learn what Jezebel would say or do, knowing that it was she, and not Ahab, who really governed the country.

46. Elijah … girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab—It was anciently, and still is in some countries of the East, customary for kings and nobles to have runners before their chariots, who are tightly girt for the purpose. The prophet, like the Bedouins of his native Gilead, had been trained to run; and, as the Lord was with him, he continued with unabated agility and strength. It was, in the circumstances, a most proper service for Elijah to render. It tended to strengthen the favorable impression made on the heart of Ahab and furnished an answer to the cavils of Jezebel for it showed that he who was so zealous in the service of God, was, at the same time, devotedly loyal to his king. The result of this solemn and decisive contest was a heavy blow and great discouragement to the cause of idolatry. But subsequent events seem to prove that the impressions, though deep, were but partial and temporary. The hand of the Lord was on Elijah: God gave him more than natural and ordinary strength, whereby he was enabled to outrun Ahab’s chariot, and that for so many miles together.

He girded up his loins, that his garments, which were then long, might not hinder him. See 2 Kings 4:29 9:1.

Ran before Ahab; partly, to show how ready he was to honour and serve the king, if he did not exalt himself above or against God; partly, that by this humble and selfdenying carriage it might appear that what he had done was not from envy, or ambition, or human passion, but only from a just zeal for God’s glory; partly, that by his presence with the king, and his courtiers who attended upon him, he might animate and oblige them to proceed in the well-begun reformation of religion; and partly, to demonstrate that he was neither ashamed of, nor afraid for, what he had done, though he knew how Jezebel would resent it, but durst venture himself in the midst of his enemies, as being confident of the Divine power and protection. And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah,.... Giving him more than common strength of body, as well as courage and fortitude of mind; so the Targum, the spirit of strength from the Lord was with him:

and he girded up his loins; gathered up his long loose garment, and girt it about him, that he might be more fit for travelling:

and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel; reckoned about sixteen miles from Carmel (l); this showed his humility, that he was not elated with the wonderful things God had done by him, and that he bore no ill will to Ahab, but was ready to show him all honour and respect due to him as a king; and that it were his sins, and not his person, he had an aversion to; and that he was not afraid of Jezebel, and her prophets, but entered into the city where she was, to instruct the people, and warn them against her idolatries; though some think he went no further than the gate of the city, prudently avoiding falling into her hands.

(l) Bunting's Travels, &c. p. 204.

And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran {q} before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

(q) He was so strengthened by God's spirit that he ran faster than the chariot was able to run.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
46. the hand of the Lord was on Elijah] A divine impulse which directed and supported him in what he was to do. If there was still hope of a change in Ahab, neither God nor His prophet would be wanting to help him in the struggle after better courses. The running was a sign of Bedouin endurance, the halting outside the city, at the entrance of Jezreel, was a piece of Bedouin wariness.Verse 46. - And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah [Same expression 2 Kings 3:15; Ezekiel 1:3; Ezekiel 3:14; Ezekiel 8:1; Ezekiel 33:22; cf. also Exodus 9:3; Judges 2:15; Ruth 1:13; Acts 11:21; Acts 13:11. Some of the commentators understand the words of Divine guidance, some of a supernatural strengthening. There is no need to exclude either interpretation. An impulse from on high impelled him to "gird up his loins" and go with the king; a strength not his own sustained him whilst "he ran," etc. The distance across the plain to Jezreel is about fourteen miles; the royal chariot would drive furiously, and whatever fleetness and endurance the prophet had acquired in the wilds of Gilead, it seems hardly likely that, after the fatigues and excitement of that day, he would have been able, without the hand of the Lord upon him, to keep ahead of the chariot horses], and he girded up his loins [i.e., gathered round his waist the abba, or "mantle" - the אַדֶּרֶת (cf. 1 Kings 19:13, 19; 2 Kings 2:13, 14) was so-called from its ample size - which would otherwise have impeded his movements. Probably this, apart from the girdle, was his sole garment. (See Dict. Bib. vol. 2. p. 232)], and ran before Ahab [Thomson (vol. 2. p. 227) mentions an interesting illustration of this incident which he witnessed. The forerunners of Mohammed All Pasha "kept just ahead of the horses, no matter how furiously they were ridden, and in order to run with the greatest ease they not only girded their loins very tightly, but also tucked up their loose garments under the girdle." But such a spectacle is of common occurrence in the East. Kitto remarks that the Shatirs of Persia keep pace with ease with their masters' horses. They also are tightly girded. His object was apparently twofold. First, to honour the sovereign whom he had that day humbled in the presence of his subjects. The great prophet, by assuming the lowly office of a footman, or forernnner (see note on 1 Kings 1:5), would give due reverence to the Lord's anointed, like Samuel on a somewhat similar occasion (1 Samuel 15:30, 31). Secondly, he may have hoped by his presence near the king and court to strengthen any good resolves which the former might have made, and to further the work of reformation which he could not but hope the proceedings of that day would inaugurate. That this tribute of respect would be grateful to Ahab, who hitherto had only regarded Elijah as an adversary, it is impossible to doubt. And that Elijah believed he had struck a death blow to the foreign superstitions fostered by the court, and especially by the queen, is equally certain. It is not clear, as Bahr assumes, that his servant accompanied him on the road. He may have rejoined him later on in the day or night] to the entrance [Heb. until thou comest to. The Arab aversion, which Elijah is supposed to have shared, to entering cities, has often been remarked. But there were other and deeper reasons why he should not adventure himself within the city. Probably the same guiding hand which led him to Jezreel impelled him to lodge outside the walls. It was impossible to say what Jezebel, in her transports of rage, might do. After such a day, too, any prophet would shrink from familiar contact with men and from the strife of tongues] of Jezreel. [Ahab had a palace here (1 Kings 21:1). But Samaria was still the capital, and so remained till the captivity (1 Kings 22:37; 2 Kings 15:13, 14; 2 Kings 17:5, 6). The selection of Jezreel as a royal residence is easily accounted for. It stands on "a knoll 500 feet high" (Conder), overlooking both the plain of Esdraelon and the valley of Jezreel. In fact, it is the finest situation in the "Great Plain." Hence perhaps its name "the sowing place of God." See Stanley, S. and P. pp. 336 sqq.; Porter, p. 353; Dict. Bib. vol. 1.p. 1080; Van de Velde, vol. 2. p. 370.]



Elijah availed himself of this enthusiasm of the people for the Lord, to deal a fatal blow at the prophets of Baal, who turned away the people from the living God. He commanded the people to seize them, and had them slain at the brook Kishon, and that not so much from revenge, i.e., because it was at their instigation that queen Jezebel had murdered the prophets of the true God (1 Kings 18:13), as to carry out the fundamental law of the Old Testament kingdom of God, which prohibited idolatry on pain of death, and commanded that false prophets should be destroyed (Deuteronomy 17:2-3; Deuteronomy 13:13.).

(Note: It was necessary that idolatry and temptation to the worship of idols should be punished with death, as a practical denial of Jehovah the true God and Lord of His chosen people, if the object of the divine institutions was to be secured. By putting the priests of Baal to death, therefore, Elijah only did what the law required; and inasmuch as the ordinary administrators of justice did not fulfil their obligations, he did this as an extraordinary messenger of God, whom the Lord had accredited as His prophet before all the people by the miraculous answer given to his prayer. - To infer from this act of Elijah the right to institute a bloody persecution of heretics, would not only indicate a complete oversight of the difference between heathen idolaters and Christian heretics, but the same reprehensible confounding of the evangelical standpoint of the New Testament with the legal standpoint of the Old, which Christ condemned in His own disciples in Luke 9:55-56.)

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