Useful Bible Studies > 1 Kings Commentary > chapter 17

The widow in Zarephath has no food for Elijah

1 Kings 17:10-12

God had commanded a widow in Zarephath to provide food for Elijah. Zarephath was in the foreign country called Sidon; and Elijah did not know the woman. However, he still went there. He trusted God to guide him to the right person.

The town gate was the main entrance into the town. As soon as Elijah reached there, he saw a woman. This woman was gathering sticks for a fire to bake bread. It was usual for someone who was on a journey to request some water to drink (John 4:7). So, Elijah asked for a drink. Then, perhaps to test if this was the right woman, Elijah requested a small piece of bread.

Across Israel, the harvests had failed because of the lack of rain. People were hungry and desperate. Now Elijah discovered that these troubles affected the people in other nations too. Here in Sidon, this widow and her son only had enough food for their last meal. They could afford no more food; and no food was available for them to buy. When they had eaten that meal, nothing would remain. So, they expected then to die.

The woman promised that she was speaking the truth. God was the witness that her words were true. She did not mean Baal, the false god of her nation, Sidon. She meant the Lord, the true God, the God of Elijah’s nation, Israel. Therefore, she called him ‘the Lord your God’.

Elijah could see, therefore, that this woman believed in God. God acts powerfully when we believe and trust in him (Luke 4:25-26; Hebrews 11:6). So, God gave him a special message for her. She needed to obey God’s message and to act in faith (belief and trust in God). Then God would act in an extraordinary manner to provide for her, her son, and Elijah too.

Next part: How the widow could provide food for Elijah (1 Kings 17:13)


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