1 Kings 19 Commentary

God reassures Elijah (19:1-21)

When Jezebel heard that Elijah had killed her prophets, she threatened to do the same to him. She still had great power over the people, who, despite Elijah’s victory at Mt Carmel, soon returned to their idolatrous ways (19:1-2; cf. v. 10). Elijah fled south through the barren regions of Judah where, overcome with despair, he wanted only to die. But God sustained him, enabling him to keep moving south till he reached Mt Sinai, the place where God had made his covenant with Israel (3-8).

Elijah doubted whether the covenant had any more meaning for Israel. The people as a whole repeatedly rebelled against its commands, and they were spiritually unaffected by the drought and its spectacular removal (9-10). God then showed Elijah that although violent and spectacular events had some use, there would be lasting benefits only as people listened to God’s voice in their hearts and responded accordingly (11-14). Through the work of an enemy king Hazael, an Israelite king Jehu and the prophet Elisha, violent and spectacular events would occur as punishments on Israel; but always there would be some who heeded God’s voice and remained faithful to him (15-18).

With renewed confidence Elijah returned to Israel. Elisha showed his willingness to succeed Elijah by killing his oxen (his previous source of income) and using them to provide a farewell dinner for his family and friends (19-21).

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