1 Kings 17:2-6
And the word of the LORD came to him, saying,…
When the heavens are shut up by the word of the Lord, what will become of the prophet who declared that word? Will he not suffer from the drought in common with the sinners on whose account the dew and rain are restrained? Will he not be exposed to the rage of an idolatrous king and queen whose humbled gods cannot, in this crisis, vindicate themselves? Will not a demoralized populace resent their sufferings upon the man of God? God knows all, and is equal to all, emergencies.
I. HE HAS RESOURCES FOR THE PROTECTION OF HIS SERVANTS.
1. He could defend Elijah in the midst of his enemies.
(1) The power that had shut up the heavens could surely do this. The elemental fire which now scorched the earth, He could cause to fall upon the heads of any who would threaten his servant. (See 2 Kings 1:10-15.)
(2) Without recourse to violence, he could dispose the hearts of men to respect His messenger, as afterwards He did. (See chap. 18.) But this was not now His way.
2. He has also places of refuge for His servants.
(1) If there be a valley secluded from human intrusion God knows it. In the courses traversed by the brook Cherith Elijah may safely hide. These recesses lay "eastward" from Samaria, where probably the prophet had encountered the king; and eastward from the Jordan, for this is the import of the phrase "before Jordan." Probably this seclusion was in his own wild district of Gilead.
(2) Ahab will not suspect that Elijah is here; for how could he possibly subsist in such a desolate region. Water he might find in the streams of the mountains; but where can he get bread from bald rocks in time of drought? (Matthew 13:5, 6.)
3. Into such asylums He can guide His saints.
(1) "The word of the Lord" came to Elijah. Christ is that Word (John 1:1-14). He was the MEMRA of the Targums - that personal Word, who "appeared" to patriarchs and prophets. See Genesis 15:1; Genesis 28:20.) He will be ever with his people guiding them into safety.
(2) "The word of the Lord came unto him saying.," or expressing His wisdom in human vocables. To Elijah the direction was, "Get thee hence," etc. To all He comes in the promises and precepts of holy Scripture.
(3) Those who believe and obey God's Word, as Elijah did, are in safe keeping. They need never fear the combinations of wickedness against them.
II. HE HAS RESOURCES ALSO FOR THEIR SUPPORT.
1. Their water is sure. "Thou shalt drink of the brook."
(1) There was refreshment for the body. The stream of that brook continued to flow for a whole year. Such is supposed to be the import of (ימים) days, when there is nothing to limit it (as in ver. 7, marg.; see also ver. 15, marg.; Genesis 4:8).
(2) His soul meanwhile was refreshed, as, by faith, he realized the wells of salvation which flow from the Word of the Lord, (See Psalm 46:4; John 4:14; John 7:37-39; Revelation 22:17.)
2. Their bread shall be given. "I have commanded ravens to feed thee there.
(1) What an unlikely thing! Ravens were unclean creatures (Leviticus 11:15). They are insect-feeding, carrion-eating birds, themselves fed by special providence of God. (See Job 38:41; Psalm 147:9.)
(2) Yet God could do it; for the instincts of all creatures are in His hands. He restrained hungry lions from harming Daniel; instructed a fish how to behave to Jonah; and another to lift a piece of silver from the bottom of a lake and then fasten upon a hook. "Is anything too hard for the Lord?"
(3) But would He do it? Would He employ an unclean creature to feed His servant? He might have His own reasons even for this. Elijah sustained for three years and a half in the wilderness was a type of the Christian Church nourished by the word of God for three and a half prophetic years (Revelation 12:6, 14). Babylon the great, from whose face the Church had to fly, was the mystical Jezebel, as the true Church was the mystical Elijah. But in this Church the destruction of clean and unclean creatures had no place. (See Acts 10:15, 28; Acts 15:7-11.) Might not this gospel have been foreshadowed in the manner in which Elijah was fed?
3. But is it certain that ravens were employed?
(1) He might have been fed by Arabians! For the word (ערבים) translated "ravens" also denotes Arabians. (See it so used in the singular, Isaiah 13:30; Jeremiah 3:2; Nehemiah 2:19; and in the plural as here, 2 Chronicles 21:16: 22:1.) And Gilead bordered upon that tract of country more especially described in Scripture as Arabia.
(2) Or he might have been fed by merchants. For this word also designates merchants. (See Ezekiel 27:9, 27.) If Israelitish merchants supplied the prophet's needs, then probably would they be of the seven thousand who scorned to bow the knee to Baal (1 Kings 19:18), and so would not discover his hiding place to Ahab.
(3) Or he might have been sustained by certain inhabitants of Oreb, a rocky place beyond Jordan. (See Judges 7:22; Isaiah 10:26.) This opinion is favoured by Jerome, who says, "The Orbim, inhabitants of a town on the confines of the Arabs, gave nourishment to Elijah." (See more in A. Clarke.)
(4) Whether by ravens, Arabians, merchants, or people of Oreb or Orbo, matters little; God can spread a table in the wilderness. He can give us the bread of the day in the day - "bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening." Necessary things are sure; luxuries we may dispense with. The greatest luxury to the wise and good is the feast upon the spiritual food which accompanies faithful obedience to God (John 4:32-34) - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,