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Elijah 4 – Elijah and the Widow’s Son!


Elijah 4 – Elijah and the Widow’s Son!

Text: 1st Kings 17:17-  Now, what have we learned about Elijah so far?

In our last study we left Elijah in the heat of the furnace, and God has him there, to make Elijah a purer gold, an image of God himself!  And God marvellously provides.  The cruise of oil never runs dry and the source of food never fails.  Let’s pick up the story again…

1. The Strange Providence of God.  v17

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.

In human terms, doesn’t it seem strange to you the way things are working out for Elijah?

  • God called him to deliver a message to Ahab, a message that would certainly endanger the life of the messenger!  God put Elijah into a life-threatening situation
  • God sent him to a place of supply! He was being fed and had water when others were dying of thirst, then God stopped the water!
  • God sent him to Zarephath, and called a widow woman to look after him.  Just as it seemed everything was going well again, God took away the life of the widow’s son!

What a strange providence – every time Elijah did what was right, God seemed to just sweep the feet from under him!  God gave with one hand and took away with another


2. The Sovereign Purposes of God!

Now, when we look at the remainder of the story, we see, with the help of the Holy Spirit’s work in setting out the Scripture, something of the working out of God’s purposes in this situation.  But we also see how Elijah ministered the message of the Gospel to this Sidonian widow.  Now, let’s just be clear on this fact.  It is God who determines when people’s lives come to an end.  Our times are in his hands.  Our appointment with death is already made, as we read in Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.  –  Here’s the ministry now, – watch as this heathen, ungodly woman comes to the Lord!)

  • The widow became aware of her sin! And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?  The widow suddenly becomes concerned about her son!  Just think, a few verses ago, she was resigned to the fact that both she and her son were to die!  Now she has had a little hope, a little hope of a future life, and that little hope has been swept from beneath her feet.  She thinks that it must be something to do with Elijah’s sojourn in her home!   It is too, for God is going to remind her of her status before God, She is a lost, guilty, hell-deserving sinner, who deserves nothing at all from the God she has offended!  Now this is the very first thing that must happen if a soul is to be saved.  God must awaken that soul to the fact that the soul is steeped in sin, and dead in sin, and helpless in sin…
  • The widow learned the importance of real prayer!Now, see what Elijah did. The easiest thing to do in these circumstances would be to sit down with the woman and begin a theological argument to try to explain why bad things happen – or worse, to try to explain them away!  Elijah said nothing, – he prayed!  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.  And he cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?  And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again.  To pray is to reach out to God from the depths of human despair, and call upon him for mercy.  To see the hopelessness of the human condition, and to call upon the Lord for divine help.
  • The widow saw the Grace of God at work!And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.  And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth.  I think that the widow woman could hardly believe what had happened!  Elijah had to reassure her… ‘See this is your own son!  This is not someone else!”  This is what God does.  God imparts life.  That’s what the grace of God is all about.  It’s about God breathing life into dead sinful souls who don’t deserve his mercy and don’t deserve his salvation.
  • The widow testified to the Lord! And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth.  Now there are two aspects to this great testimony to what the Lord has done:-
    • She acknowledged freely that Elijah was a man of God.
    • She admitted the truthfulness of God’s Word!

Do you see, a personal testimony is vitally important in Gospel work, but it cannot ever be divorced from the Truth of God’s Word!  I know many Christians whose testimony is based on little more than personal experience, little more than what they felt and what happened to them.  But our experiences must be subjected to the Word of God, tested and tried by the Word of God, subordinated to the Word of God!


The sovereign purposes of God are always outside our understanding!  When bad things happen to Christians – God is still on the throne!  God is still in charge!  God is still directing our affairs! Remember that ‘we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.’ Romans 8:28. And that verse says ‘all things.’ So, all that we can say, when strange providence seems to be at work – when God’s ways are not our ways – when a loved one dies, or illness strikes at the most unusual time – God is working his purpose out, to bring forth his Glory out of our situations.

From → 1st & 2nd Kings

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