1 Kings 18:7-16
And as Obadiah was in the way, behold, Elijah met him: and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said, Are you that my lord Elijah?…
Such is the meaning of Obadiah's name; and so truly descriptive of his character is it that we may take him as a typical servant of God.
I. HE FEARED THE LORD FROM HIS YOUTH.
1. Piety is not natural.
(1) On the contrary, we inherit a depraved heart (Genesis 5:8; Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12; Ephesians 2:3).
(2) And this depravity is complete (Genesis 6:5; Isaiah 1:5, 6; Romans 3:9-19).
(3) Life is only tolerable through the meliorating influences of the "gospel of the grace of God." To these must be attributed whatever seems good in unconverted men (Romans 1:28-32).
2. Grace is free.
(1) All are directly the subjects of its illuminations, restraints, and encouragements (John 1:9; 1 Corinthians 12:7).
(2) Some are indirectly specially favoured. Being surrounded by Christian influences. Being children of godly parents.
(3) These opportunities, if duly improved, will infallibly lead to salvation (Titus 2:11-14).
3. Those who fear God from their youth have great advantages.
(1) They have not given evil habits time to consolidate into rigidity. Time is necessary to this, for habits are strengthened by repetition. The hard crystallization of bad habits renders the conversion of old sinners very difficult. Therefore, how few are such conversions, comparatively!
(2) They have a splendid opportunity of founding a strong character of goodness. When the habit of resisting temptation is formed, it becomes more and more natural and easy to resist. Hence, like Obadiah, who "feared the Lord from his youth," they will come to fear Him "greatly."
II. HE FEARED THE LORD GREATLY. See the manifestation of this in his - I. Respect for the ambassador of God.
(1) He "knew Elijah." Probably he had been present when the prophet warned the king that his fire god would be made to punish his votaries in the absence of dew and rain (1 Kings 17:1). The godly, having sympathy with the ministers of God, are quick to recognize them.
(2) He "fell on his face before him." This was the form of a most respectful salutation. He honoured in him that God whose ambassador he was. Obadiah feared the Lord too greatly to give to any creature the homage due to God alone.
(3) He addressed him reverently, "My lord Elijah." And he spoke of himself as" thy servant." This was proper on his part; but we note how Elijah transferred the style to Ahab - "Go tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here."
2. Kindness to the servants of God.
(1) Through the sin of Jeroboam the priests and Levites went into Judah (see 2 Chronicles 11:18, 14). To supply their lack in Ephraim, prophets' colleges were established. The students in these colleges were called "sons of the prophets" (see 2 Kings 2:3, 5, 7).
(2) These, together with their masters, or "fathers," were probably the objects of Jezebel's resentment when Elijah could not be found. They are called "prophets of the Lord" (ver. 13; compare 1 Kings 22:85, 38, 41).
(3) At the time of that persecution Obadiah sheltered and fed one hundred of these. This he did at the hazard of his life. Because he feared the Lord greatly, he feared not the wrath of the king (compare Hebrews 11:23, 27).
3. Faith in the power of God.
(1) He believed that Jehovah might raise a wind that could carry Elijah away from the power of Ahab. He doubtless knew that Enoch had been translated into the heavens, and may have known of examples of translations from one locality to another, not recorded in the earlier Scriptures (compare 2 Kings 2:11-16; Ezekiel 3:14; Acts 8:89).
(2) A being who could do such wonders, and whose power was now terribly manifest in the drought, was greatly to be feared (see Matthew 10:28; Luke 12:5).
(3) But while God is of all enemies the most formidable, He is an Almighty Friend.
III. HE FAITHFULLY SERVED HIS KING.
1. God-fearing men make good citizens.
(1) Wicked as Ahab was, he preferred Obadiah to the courtiers of Jezebel in the high office of chamberlain.
(2) This is not a solitary case. Joseph over the house of Pharaoh. Daniel in the house of the kings of Babylon. Christians were in the household even of Nero.
(3) The qualities of a servant of the Lord - truth, honour, diligence - are those sought after for places of trust. "Godliness is profitable unto all things" (1 Timothy 4:8; Isaiah 58:14).
2. God preserves them in their faithfulness.
(1) Service in a licentious court Obadiah would not have chosen. But he is in it and maintains his integrity. They that fear the Lord need not go out of the world.
(2) They have a testimony for God.
(3) They have opportunities of serving the servants of the Lord. Let us not murmur at our providential lot. God can change it if He see fit. If He does not change it, then He has a purpose in it which we should endeavor to fulfil. - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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?