1 Kings 19:12
And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
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1 Kings 19:12. After the fire a still small voice — To intimate, that God would do his work in and for Israel in his own time, not by might or power, but by his own Spirit, (Zechariah 4:6,) which moves with a powerful, but yet with a sweet and gentle gate. “Elijah had perhaps expected to carry all before him, with a high hand, and with continued miracles and judgments: or he had supposed that the desired reformation was to be effected by the sanction of civil authority, or the support of the people at large; whereas, having gained their attention by the famine and its gracious removal, in answer to his prayers, by calling for and obtaining fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice, and by the execution of Baal’s priests, he ought to have proceeded to instruct them with meekness and gentleness, publicly and from house to house, and to have excited others to assist him; and then the Lord would have blessed that small still voice for the most important purposes, notwithstanding the persecuting rage of Ahab and Jezebel, and the general apostacy of the people. Thus miracles in the first ages of Christianity called men’s attention to the preaching of the gospel; which, as a small still voice, was the power of God to salvation to thousands and millions.” — Scott. For faith comes by hearing the word of God, and miracles do but make way for it.

19:9-13 The question God put, What doest thou here, Elijah? is a reproof. It concerns us often to ask whether we are in our place, and in the way of our duty. Am I where I should be? whither God calls me, where my business lies, and where I may be useful? He complained of the people, and their obstinacy in sin; I only am left. Despair of success hinders many a good enterprise. Did Elijah come hither to meet with God? he shall find that God will meet him. The wind, and earthquake, and fire, did not make him cover his face, but the still voice did. Gracious souls are more affected by the tender mercies of the Lord, than by his terrors. The mild voice of Him who speaks from the cross, or the mercy-seat, is accompanied with peculiar power in taking possession of the heart.A still small voice - literally, "a sound of soft stillness." The teaching is a condemnation of that "zeal" which Elijah had gloried in, a zeal exhibiting itself in fierce and terrible vengeances, and an exaltation and recommendation of that mild and gentle temper, which "beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." But it was so contrary to the whole character of the stern, harsh, unsparing Tishbite, that it could have found no ready entrance into his heart. It may have for a while moderated his excessive zeal, and inclined him to gentler courses; but later in his life the old harshness recurred in a deed in reference to which our Lord himself drew the well-known contrast between the spirits of the two Dispensations Luke 9:51-56. 1Ki 19:4-18. He Is Comforted by an Angel.

4-18. went a day's journey into the wilderness—on the way from Beer-sheba to Horeb—a wide expanse of sand hills, covered with the retem (not juniper, but broom shrubs), whose tall and spreading branches, with their white leaves, afford a very cheering and refreshing shade. His gracious God did not lose sight of His fugitive servant, but watched over him, and, miraculously ministering to his wants, enabled him, in a better but not wholly right frame of mind, by virtue of that supernatural supply, to complete his contemplated journey. In the solitude of Sinai, God appeared to instruct him. "What doest thou here, Elijah?" was a searching question addressed to one who had been called to so arduous and urgent a mission as his. By an awful exhibition of divine power, he was made aware of the divine speaker who addressed him; his attention was arrested, his petulance was silenced, his heart was touched, and he was bid without delay return to the land of Israel, and prosecute the Lord's work there. To convince him that an idolatrous nation will not be unpunished, He commissions him to anoint three persons who were destined in Providence to avenge God's controversy with the people of Israel. Anointing is used synonymously with appointment (Jud 9:8), and is applied to all named, although Jehu alone had the consecrated oil poured over his head. They were all three destined to be eminent instruments in achieving the destruction of idolaters, though in different ways. But of the three commissions, Elijah personally executed only one; namely, the call of Elisha to be his assistant and successor [1Ki 19:19], and by him the other two were accomplished (2Ki 8:7-13; 9:1-10). Having thus satisfied the fiery zeal of the erring but sincere and pious prophet, the Lord proceeded to correct the erroneous impression under which Elijah had been laboring, of his being the sole adherent of the true religion in the land; for God, who seeth in secret, and knew all that were His, knew that there were seven thousand persons who had not done homage (literally, "kissed the hand") to Baal.

Wherein it is implied that God was present; which peradventure was to insinuate, that God would do his work in and for Israel in his own time, not by might or power, but by his own Spirit, Zechariah 4:6, which moves with a powerful, but yet with a sweet and gentle gale.

And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire,.... As he was when he descended on this mount, and spake to Moses, Exodus 19:1, the Targum, and so Jarchi, interpret all these appearances of angels, and not amiss; the wind, of an host of angels of wind; the earthquake, of an host of angels of commotion; the fire, of an host of angels of fire; see Psalm 104:4, these ministers of the Lord went before him, to prepare the way of his glorious Majesty; which emblems may represent the power of God, the terribleness of his majesty, and the fury of his wrath, which he could display, if he would, to the destruction of his enemies; and could as easily destroy the idolatrous kingdom of Israel, which Elijah seems to be solicitous of, as the wind rent the mountains, and broke the rocks, and the earthquake shook the earth, and the fire consumed all in its way; but he chose not to do it now, but to use lenity, and show mercy, signified by the next emblem:

and after the fire a still small voice: not rough, but gentle, more like whispering than roaring; something soft, easy, and musical; the Targum is, the voice of those that praise God in silence; and all this may be considered as showing the difference between the two dispensations of law and Gospel; the law is a voice of terrible words, and was given amidst a tempest of wind, thunder, and lightning, attended with an earthquake, Hebrews 12:18, but the Gospel is a gentle voice of love, grace, and mercy, of peace, pardon, righteousness, and salvation by Christ; and may also point at the order and manner of the Lord's dealings with the souls of men, who usually by the law breaks the rocky hearts of men in pieces, shakes their consciences, and fills their minds with a sense of fiery wrath and indignation they deserve, and then speaks comfortably to them, speaks peace and pardon through the ministration of the Gospel by his Spirit; blessed are the people that hear this still, small, gentle voice, the joyful sound, Psalm 89:15.

And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
12. a still small voice] Literally, as in the margin of R.V. ‘a sound of gentle stillness.’ There is nothing to indicate to us whether the sound was articulate or not, nor is it said that the Lord was now present, but the action of the prophet shews that he knew the time was come for him to present himself before Jehovah. The Alex. LXX. adds ‘and the Lord was there,’ but the narrative is much more impressive without those words.’ For a similar recognition of God’s presence cf. Job 4:16 ‘there was silence and I heard a voice.’

Verse 12. - And after the earthquake a fire [For the association of tempest, earthquake, fire, etc., as punishments of God, see Isaiah 29:6, and Psalm 18:7, 8. "Fire" may well signify lightning (Job 1:16; Exodus 9:23). For a vivid description of a thunderstorm at Sinai, see Stewart's "Tent and Khan," pp. 139, 140; ap. Stanley, "Jew. Ch.," vol. 1. p. 149]: but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. [Heb. a voice of gentle silence. דְּמָמָה an onomatopoetic word, is allied to our word dumb. Very similar expression Job 4:16. What was the object and meaning of this succession of signs? First, let us remember that Elijah was the prophet of deeds. He taught his contemporaries not by word but by act. He is here taught in turn by signs. There passes before him in the mountain hollow, in the black and dark night, a procession of natural terrors-of storm, and earthquake, and fire. But none of these things move him; none speak to his soul and tell of a present God. It is the hushed voice, the awful stillness, overpowers and enchains him. He is to learn hence, first, that the Lord is a God "merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth" (Exodus 34:6); and secondly, that as it has been with himself, so it will be with others; the name of the Lord will be proclaimed in a voice of gentle silence (ib., ver. 5). The weapons of His warfare, the instruments of religious progress, must be spiritual, not carnal. Not in fire and sword and slaughter, but by a secret voice speaking to the conscience, will God regain His sway over the hearts of Israel. (See Homiletics.) The striking similarity between this theophany and that which Moses saw in the same place, or at no great distance from it, must not be overlooked, for this constitutes another link between law giver and law restorer. The proclamation of Exodus 34:3, 7 is the best exponent of the parable of vers. 11, 12. To each was the vision of God granted after a faithful witness against idolatry, and after a slaughter of idolaters; each was in a clift of the rock; in either case the Lord passed by; the one was taught by words, the other rather by signs, but the message in each case was the same - that judgment is God's strange work, but that He will by no means clear the guilty (cf. ver. 17).] 1 Kings 19:12After God had commanded him to come out of the cave and stand upon the mountain (that part of the mountain which was in front of the cave) before Him, "behold Jehovah went by (the participle עבר is used to give a more vivid representation of the scene); and a great and strong tempest, rending mountains and breaking rocks in pieces, before Jehovah - it was not in the tempest that Jehovah was; and after the tempest an earthquake - it was not in the earthquake that Jehovah was; and after the earthquake fire - it was not in the fire that Jehovah was; and after the fire a still, gentle rustling." דקּה דּממה קול, literally the tone of a gentle blowing. On the change of gender in וחזק גּדולה רוּח, see Ewald, 174, e. - Tempest, earthquake, and fire, which are even more terrible in the awful solitude of the Horeb mountains than in an inhabited land, are signs of the coming of the Lord to judgment (cf. Psalm 18:8.). It was in the midst of such terrible phenomena that the Lord had once come down upon Sinai, to inspire the people who were assembled at the foot of the mountain with a salutary dread of His terrible majesty, of the fiery zeal of His wrath and love, which consumes whatever opposes it (see at Exodus 19:16.). but now the lord was not in these terrible phenomena; to signify to the prophet that He did not work in His earthly kingdom with the destroying zeal of wrath, or with the pitiless severity of judgment. It was in a soft, gentle rustling that He revealed Himself to him.
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