Elijah Flees to Beer-sheba.
3. he arose, and went for his life—He
entered Jezreel full of hope. But a message from the incensed and
hard-hearted queen, vowing speedy vengeance for her slaughtered
priests, dispelled all his bright visions of the future. It is
probable, however, that in the present temper of the people, even she
would not have dared to lay violent hands on the Lord's servant, and
purposely threatened him because she could do no more. The threat
produced the intended effect, for his faith suddenly failed him. He
fled out of the kingdom into the southernmost part of the territories
in Judah; nor did he deem himself safe even there, but, dismissing his
servant, he resolved to seek refuge among the mountain recesses of
Sinai, and there longed for death (Jas 5:17). This sudden and extraordinary
depression of mind arose from too great confidence inspired by the
miracles wrought at Carmel, and by the disposition the people evinced
there. Had he remained steadfast and immovable, the impression on the
mind of Ahab and the people generally might have been followed by good
results. But he had been exalted above measure (2Co 12:7-9), and being left to himself, the
great prophet, instead of showing the indomitable spirit of a martyr,
fled from his post of duty.
1Ki 19:4-18. He Is Comforted
by an Angel.
4-18. went a day's journey into the
wilderness—on the way from Beer-sheba to Horeb—a wide
expanse of sand hills, covered with the retem (not juniper, but broom
shrubs), whose tall and spreading branches, with their white leaves,
afford a very cheering and refreshing shade. His gracious God did not
lose sight of His fugitive servant, but watched over him, and,
miraculously ministering to his wants, enabled him, in a better but not
wholly right frame of mind, by virtue of that supernatural supply, to
complete his contemplated journey. In the solitude of Sinai, God
appeared to instruct him. "What doest thou here, Elijah?" was a
searching question addressed to one who had been called to so arduous
and urgent a mission as his. By an awful exhibition of divine power, he
was made aware of the divine speaker who addressed him; his attention
was arrested, his petulance was silenced, his heart was touched, and he
was bid without delay return to the land of Israel, and prosecute the
Lord's work there. To convince him that an idolatrous nation will not
be unpunished, He commissions him to anoint three persons who were
destined in Providence to avenge God's controversy with the people of
Israel. Anointing is used synonymously with appointment (Jud 9:8), and is applied to all named, although
Jehu alone had the consecrated oil poured over his head. They were all
three destined to be eminent instruments in achieving the destruction
of idolaters, though in different ways. But of the three commissions,
Elijah personally executed only one; namely, the call of Elisha to be
his assistant and successor [1Ki 19:19], and by him the other two were
accomplished (2Ki 8:7-13; 9:1-10). Having thus satisfied the fiery zeal
of the erring but sincere and pious prophet, the Lord proceeded to
correct the erroneous impression under which Elijah had been laboring,
of his being the sole adherent of the true religion in the land; for
God, who seeth in secret, and knew all that were His, knew that there
were seven thousand persons who had not done homage (literally, "kissed
the hand") to Baal.
16. Abel-meholah—that is, "the meadow of
dancing," in the valley of the Jordan.
1Ki 19:19-21. Elisha Follows
19. Elisha the son of Shaphat—Most
probably he belonged to a family distinguished for piety, and for their
opposition to the prevailing calf-worship.
ploughing with twelve yoke of
oxen—indicating that he was a man of substance.
Elijah … cast his mantle upon
him—This was an investiture with the prophetic office. It is
in this way that the Brahmins, the Persian Sufis, and other priestly or
sacred characters in the East are appointed—a mantle being, by
some eminent priest, thrown across their shoulders. Elisha had probably
been educated in the schools of the prophets.
20. what have I done to thee?—that is,
Go, but keep in mind the solemn ceremony I have just performed on thee.
It is not I, but God, who calls thee. Do not allow any earthly
affection to detain you from obeying His call.
21. took a yoke of oxen—Having hastily
prepared (2Sa 24:22) a
farewell entertainment to his family and friends, he left his native
place and attached himself to Elijah as his minister.