The Sign of the Widow's Son
1 Kings 17:19-24
And he said to her, Give me your son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he stayed…

Here is a touching scene - a poor widow pressing to her bosom the corpse of her only child, while in the agony of her bereaved soul, addressing Elijah, she says, "What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come to call my sin to my remembrance, and to slay my son?" Now note the words of the text: "And he said unto her, Give me thy son," etc. In this history we have -


1. The spirit of faith.

(1) He had confidence in God before he prayed. This is evident from the manner in which he asked the widow for the corpse. He did not tell her what he intended; but, on the other hand, neither did he express any hesitation as in the comfort she might expect.

(2) This confidence must have been divinely authorized, else it would have been presumption which, instead of conciliating the favour, would have awakened the displeasure of God

(3) This was what Elisha and the sons of the prophets called "the Spirit of Elijah," i.e., the. Spirit of God abiding with him. (See 2 Kings 2:9, 15.)

2. The prayer of faith.

(1) He recognized the hand of God in the bereavement: "Hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn by slaying her son?" He calls it "evil," yet attributes it to God. Moral evil God cannot perpetrate, but evil which comes in the form of affliction or punishment is a very different thing. (See Job 2:10; Isaiah 45:7; Amos 3:6; John 9:1-8.)

(2) He entreated God to restore the child's life. "He cried unto the Lord." Here is the "fervency" which characterizes "effectual" prayer.

(3) He entreated Him confidingly: "O Lord my God." This appealing to God in the possessive expresses a loving trust in a Covenant Friend. (See Leviticus 26:12; Jeremiah 31:33; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Hebrews 11:16; Revelation 21:3.)

(4) Hence his success. "The Lord heard the voice of Elijah." He saw in Elijah those moral qualifications which make it fitting that He should answer prayer. So the prophet was able to restore the child alive to his mother.

3. But what example is this for us?

(1) Elijah's success in prayer was not because he was a prophet. James replies to this objection when he assures us that "Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are." For this is the ground on which he proceeds to lay down the broad principle, viz., that "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16; see also Acts 11:24).

(2) Therefore we also may be moved by the Holy Ghost; and we must be so moved if we would pray effectually. True faith is "of the operation of God" (Luther's prayer for the recovery of Myconius instanced in Krummacher).

(3) But how may we know that we are so influenced? God will make it plain as one of the secrets of holy communion with Him (Psalm 25:14; John 7:17; John 15:15). When we are free from selfish desire, and above all things seek God's glory, there is little danger of being led astray.

(4) The widow was no prophetess, but she also was an example of faith. (See Hebrews 11:35.) Witness her recognition of God, and the readiness with which she gave her son from her bosom at the prophet's request. Her faith was honoured as well as his.


1. So the widow interpreted it (ver. 24).

(1) It authenticated Elijah as a "man of God." Not only that he was a good man, but that he was a prophet of the Lord.

(2) Consequently "that the word of the Lord in his mouth" was no sham. (Comp. ch. 22.) Spurious prophets could not give miraculous signs.

2. Such signs were parables. The question, then, is, what did this parable teach?

(1) Could it be a sign that the drought would be removed which had now lasted two years, working fearful ravages, and must, if continued long, destroy the nations visited? For the "word of the Lord in the mouth of Elijah" did encourage the hope that rain should come upon the earth (ver. 14). The coming of rain would be a national resurrection.

(2) Could it be a pledge of the resurrection of the dead at the last day? The gospel has thrown floods of illustration upon this subject, but in old times it was obscure. This miracle taught the separate existence of the soul. Also that the disembodied spirit may and shall be reunited to its organic companion.

(3) Why did Elijah stretch himself upon the child? He was a type of Christ. So he made himself like the dead to foreshow that Christ by dying in our room should give us life. This He does morally. Also physically, viz., in the resurrection of the body. (Comp. 2 Kings 4:34; John 11:43-45; Acts 20:10.) Is there any correspondence between the "three times" mentioned in the text and the "three times" in which our Lord prayed for the removal of the cup of His suffering? (Matthew 26:44). - J.A.M.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed.

WEB: He said to her, "Give me your son." He took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into the room where he stayed, and laid him on his own bed.

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