Out of the Depths
1 Kings 17:17-24
And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore…

God's chastisements are always for our profit. It is only "out of the depths "that we can rise to the highest knowledge of God. So it was not in vain that both the prophet and the widow passed through the furnace at Zarephath.

1. The first is this, Trust and Obey. The departure from Cherith, the journey through Samaria, the encounter with a widow so poor that she was forced to gather sticks by the highway, were all a severe test of Elijah's faith. He had to look, not at outward appearances, but at the word of the Lord. So, too, with the widow. If she had asked for a full barrel and a new cruse to start with, it would have been only what our hearts are always craving. We say, "Give us this day our daily bread," but we like to see an assured income between us and want.

2. But the woman was to learn a deeper lesson still. It may be summed up in Remember and Repent. Before long God's hand was laid upon her son, and he fell sick and died. This awakened memories that had slumbered long. "Art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?" We do not know whether it was her general sinfulness that was brought home to her or some particular offence — some forgotten sin, buried and covered over in the rubbish-heap of the past. We notice, however, that this sense of sin was not awakened until death threatened her home, and her own son paid the first instalment of the dread penalty of sin. And yet surely she had not been resisting God's grace. The word of the Lord in Elijah's mouth had not been rejected by her. It needed death, however, to bring about in this widow a true sense of sin. "Grace and Truth" are both needed for the development of spiritual life. Grace was manifest in the daily supply of food. Truth shone forth with awful and searching power in the death of her son. Grace revealed the goodness of God — Truth made to pass before her the evil of her own heart. And God's people, as well as the careless and ungodly, need to remember and repent.

3. Our third motto is Ask and Receive. There are deep mysteries in life which yield to nothing but prayer. What a tangle there was in that home! How mysterious — how, from the human standpoint, inexplicable, the blow that had fallen! We are all prejudiced against God by nature, and unwilling to accept judgment without murmuring. But in this case God's dealings must have seemed terribly severe. There is one explanation, however, of all these mysterious and inexplicable dealings of God's providence. They are sent to teach us the value of prayer, to draw us out of ourselves, and to make us lay hold of that power of God, which reaches even beyond the grave. What a prayer was this of Elijah's! Prayer is still all-powerful along the line of God's will. We, too, may know the power of Christ's resurrection; indeed, a measure of resurrection power should be manifest in our lives, if we are indeed risen with Christ.

4. Love and know, is illustrated by this story. It is beyond our power to conceive the deep effect upon this widow of her son's resurrection. "Now by this I know that thou art a man of God," was the widow's comment. Clearly the bitterness had given place to love. She had learnt that God only wounds to heal.

(F. S. Webster, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him.

WEB: It happened after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so severe, that there was no breath left in him.

The Widow's Cruse
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