1Kings 19:1-18

Sunday Morning Bible Study

July 7, 2002

Elijah’s Discouragement

Elijah had begun his ministry by announcing to King Ahab that there would be a drought and that there would be no further rain until he said so.  Then he promptly disappeared from public life for 3 ½ years.  This drought had come as a result of the things that Ahab and his wife Jezebel had done to the nation, leading them away from the worship of Yahweh to the worship of Baal and Asherah.  Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, is the daughter of the Phoenician king, and is at the heart of the idolatry.

Last week we saw how Elijah had called for a “showdown” on Mount Carmel.  He challenged the prophets of Baal to a prayer meeting.  They were to set up their own altars to their own gods, and pray.  They agreed that, “the God that answereth by fire, let him be God” (1Ki. 18:24).  After Baal didn’t show up, Yahweh sent fire to consume Elijah’s sacrifice.  Elijah then told the people to gather the prophets of Baal, and they were all executed.  Elijah then prayed for rain, and a huge rainstorm broke out.

:1-3 Fleeing from Jezebel

:2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah …

 (1 Ki 19:2 NLT)  …"May the gods also kill me if by this time tomorrow I have failed to take your life like those whom you killed."

Jezebel isn’t too happy with Elijah.  He has put to death 450 of her favorite people.

:3 he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba

When Elijah hears of Jezebel’s threat, he is terrified.  We might think it kind of strange that the man who stood face to face against 450 prophets, and who called fire down from heaven, would be afraid of a single woman’s threat.  But he is afraid.

Elijah has been with Ahab in Jezreel, the place of Ahab’s “summer palace”.  From Jezreel to Beersheba is about 100 miles.  He will continue on to Mount Horeb (or, Mount Sinai), another 200 miles further south.  This is after having run with Ahab’s chariot from Mount Carmel to Jezreel, about 20 miles.


After the victories, watch out for the attack

Here has been Elijah's most triumphant moment.
He has been victorious over the prophets of Baal, and even has the ear of the king for a moment.
And then comes the attack.
We see it in Peter's life.
He first had a great revelation from God:

(Mat 16:16-17 KJV)  And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. {17} And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

And the next words that come out of his mouth:

(Mat 16:21-23 KJV)  From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. {22} Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. {23} But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

Peter wrote later,
(1 Pet 5:8 KJV)  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
The Scottish pastor Andrew Bonar (1810–1892) said, “Let us be as watchful after the victory as before the battle.”

:4-8 Running to Horeb

:4  It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life

It is kind of interesting to note that the great man of miracle, praying faith, Elijah is asking God to die.  It is also interesting to note that God does NOT grant Elijah his prayer.



We all get discouraged.  We all get depressed.  So did Elijah.
(James 5:17 NASB)  Elijah was a man with a nature like ours…
The great preacher C.H.Spurgeon was known to suffer at times from depression. From “Lectures to my students” - page 167.
“As it is recorded that David, in the heat of battle, waxed faint, so may it be written of all the servants of the Lord.  Fits of depression come over the most of us.  Usually cheerful as we may be, we must at intervals be cast down.  The strong are not always vigorous, the wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous, and the joyous not always happy.  There may be here and there men of iron, to whom wear and tear work no perceptible detriment, but surely the rust frets even these; and as for ordinary men, the Lord knows, and makes them to know, that the are but dust.  Knowing by most painful experience what deep depression of spirit means, being visited therewith at seasons by no means few or far between, I thought it might be consolatory to some of my brethren if I gave my thoughts thereon, that younger men might not fancy that some strange thing had happened to them when they became for a season possessed by melancholy; and that sadder men might know that one upon whom the sun has shone right joyously did not always walk in the light.  It is not necessary by quotations from the biographies of eminent ministers to prove that seasons of fearful prostration have fallen to the lot of most, if not all of them.  The life of Luther might suffice to give a thousand instances, and he was by no means of the weaker sort.  His great spirit was often in the seventh heaven of exultation, and as frequently on the borders of despair.  His death-bed was not free from tempests, and he sobbed himself into his last sleep like a great wearied child.”
Jeremiah became discouraged in his ministry.
(Je 15:10, 19-21 NLT) Then I said, “What sadness is mine, my mother. Oh, that I had died at birth! I am hated everywhere I go. I am neither a lender who has threatened to foreclose nor a borrower who refuses to pay—yet they all curse me.”

Jeremiah wished he was dead.  He felt that everyone hated him.

Jeremiah didn’t understand why he didn’t sense God’s help in his life.  He didn’t understand why his life was so miserable.

{19} The Lord replied, “If you return to me, I will restore you so you can continue to serve me. If you speak words that are worthy, you will be my spokesman. You are to influence them; do not let them influence you! {20} They will fight against you like an attacking army, but I will make you as secure as a fortified wall. They will not conquer you, for I will protect and deliver you. I, the Lord, have spoken! {21} Yes, I will certainly keep you safe from these wicked men. I will rescue you from their cruel hands.”

God told Jeremiah that he needed to “return to me”.  Jeremiah’s depression had led him to the place where he had stepped out of that place of trusting the Lord.

Warren Wiersbe writes: “Is it unusual for chosen servants of God to become discouraged and endanger their own ministries? No, because every servant of God is human and subject to the weaknesses of human nature. Moses became discouraged and wanted to die (Num. 11:10–15); Joshua was ready to quit and leave the Promised Land (Josh. 7:6–11); …and Jonah became so angry he refused to help the very people he came to save! (Jonah 4) God doesn’t want us to ignore our feelings, because that would make us less than human, but He does want us to trust Him to change our feelings and start walking by faith.”[1]

:5 And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.


Some simple answers to depression

Sometimes the answer to our depression isn’t a simple one.  But sometimes it is.
Oswald Chambers wrote,
The angel did not give Elijah a vision, or explain the Scriptures to him, or do anything remarkable; he told Elijah to do the most ordinary thing, to get up and eat. [2]
We are human.  Sometimes depression can come simply because we have pushed ourselves too far and too hard and we simply need to take a break.  Take a nap.  Eat a better balanced diet.
Perhaps sometimes we just need to be “touched by an angel”.
(Heb 1:14 KJV)  Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

:6 there was a cake baken on the coals

Scientific research has discovered the makeup of this cake.  It was angel food cake

:7 And the angel of the LORD came again the second time

We believe that this is a specific person of the Old Testament.   He appeared to Abraham (Gen. 22), to Moses (Ex. 3), and to Gideon (Judg. 6). We believe this is none other than an appearance of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. This is a “theophany”, Jesus before He took on human flesh in Bethlehem.

:8 went in the strength of that meat forty days …unto Horeb

This food will last Elijah for forty days.

Horeb is where Moses saw the burning bush while tending sheep (Ex. 3:1). It is the ancient name of the mountain also known as Sinai, where Moses went to receive the Ten Commandments (Ex. 19:18).

What's Elijah doing?

I wonder if he's going back to his roots.

He's going back to where God first called Moses. He's going back to where Israel heard the voice of God speaking to Moses He's going back to where Israel received their contract with God, the Ten Commandments.

I think he's coming here looking for God.

After all, isn’t he probably thinking, “God where were you when I needed you?”

:9-18 Elijah at Horeb

:9  What doest thou here, Elijah?

In other words, it wasn't God's idea for Elijah to come.

:10  I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.

Elijah is depressed and frankly, life looks horrible.

Sometimes our perspective is a little off.

If we’re not careful, we can tend to look at things through the colored glasses of our moods.

(Prov 15:15 KJV)  All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.
It’s not that all the days of the afflicted are really evil, but that there’s this mentality we can take on from time to time of being an “afflicted” person.
And it’s during those times that everything looks bad to us.


There was a farmer whose neighbor was absolutely negative, no matter what.  If it was raining, the farmer would say to his neighbor, “Boy, look at it rain, God’s sort of washing everything clean.”   “Yeah, but if it keeps up it’s gonna flood.”  Then the sun would come out and he’d say, “If it keeps that up, it’s gonna just scorch the crops.”  The farmer thought, “What am I gonna do to win this guy?”  So he trained his dog to walk on water.  He didn’t tell his neighbor, he just took him duck hunting.  Boom!  Boom!  They brought these ducks out of the sky, and said to his dog, “Go get ‘em.”  The dog went across, picked them up, and hopped back in the boat, nothing wet—just his paws.  The farmer said, “What do you think of that?”  The neighbor said, “He can’t swim, can he?”

When we get to hearing ourselves talk about how everything around us is getting horrible, perhaps we need to take a little reality check, like Elijah.

:11-12 …but the LORD was not in the fire

Sometimes God is in the fierce wind.  God spoke to Job out of the whirlwind (Job 38:1). Sometimes God is in the fire or the earthquake.  When God spoke to Moses and Israel, there was fire and an earthquake on Mount Sinai (Ex. 19:18).

But sometimes God isn’t in these things.  Sometimes if we’re expecting God to speak to us through some spectacular manner, we’re going to miss is.

:12 and after the fire a still small voice.

still -  [email protected] - whisper, calm

small - daq - thin, small, fine, gaunt

voice - qowl - voice, sound, noise ; sound (of instrument)

NAS:   a sound of a gentle blowing.

NIV:  a gentle whisper.

NRSV:  a sound of sheer silence

John Gill:  not rough, but gentle, more like whispering than roaring; something soft, easy, and musical; the Targum is, the voice of those that praise God in silence


The still, small voice

Sometimes, if we want God to speak to us, we need to slow down and let the storm pass.
Sometimes, if we want God to speak to us, we need to quiet down a bit.
(Psa 62:1 NASB)  (A Psalm of David.) My soul waits in silence for God only; From Him is my salvation.
Mary learned to do this.
(Luke 10:38-42 KJV)  Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. {39} And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. {40} But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. {41} And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: {42} But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
Before refrigerators, people used icehouses to preserve their food. Icehouses had thick walls, no windows, and a tightly fitted door. In winter, when streams and lakes were frozen, large blocks of ice were cut, hauled to the icehouses, and covered with sawdust. Often the ice would last well into the summer. One man lost a valuable watch while working in an icehouse. He searched diligently for it, carefully raking through the sawdust, but didn’t find it. His fellow workers also looked, but their efforts, too, proved futile. A small boy who heard about the fruitless search slipped into the icehouse during the noon hour and soon emerged with the watch. Amazed, the men asked him how he found it. “I closed the door,” the boy replied, “lay down in the sawdust, and kept very still. Soon I heard the watch ticking.”
Often the question is not whether God is speaking, but whether we are being still enough, and quiet enough, to hear.
Amy Carmichael wrote, “God always answers us in the deeps, never in the shallows of our soul.”

:14  the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant

Paul quotes from this passage and says that Elijah was pleading with God “against Israel” (Rom. 11:2). Elijah is asking God for judgment on Israel.

:15 anoint Hazael to be king over Syria

Benhadad is the current king of Syria.  Hazael is his general.  Elijah’s disciple, Elisha, will be the one who will eventually anoint Hazael to be king over the pagan kingdom of Syria.

:16 Jehu the son of Nimshi …anoint to be king over Israel

We’ll see this in 2Kings 9, where one of Elisha’s disciples will anoint Jehu to be the king over Israel. (2Kings 9)

:16 Elisha … anoint to be prophet in thy room.

Elijah is given three more tasks.  But Elijah will only be able to accomplish one of the three tasks, anointing Elisha.


Raising up leaders

The key to Elijah seeing these orders from the Lord accomplished will only happen as he raises up a prophet to take his place.
We too have been given orders from the Lord.
(Mat 28:18-20 KJV)  And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. {19} Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: {20} Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

The only way we will reach our world for Jesus is by raising up disciples who will learn to follow the Lord like we do.

Paul wrote,
(2 Tim 2:2 KJV)  And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

:17  him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay …

Elijah had put to death 450 prophets of Baal.  These three men would be instrumental in finishing the eradication of the worship of Baal in Israel.


You’ve got a job to do

Inactivity feeds depression.
We want to run away and stay away.  God wants to send us back and puts us to work.

:18 Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel


You are not alone

I think that one of the biggest things the enemy can convince us of to discourage us is that we’re alone.
Elijah has thought it for some time.  He was thinking it when he faced the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel:
(1 Ki 18:22 KJV)  Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
Reality check – Elijah was convinced that he is the only one left.   He’s wrong.
Even when we don’t know of any person that’s “on our side”, God is always on our side.  He will never leave us of forsake us. He is “for us”, not “against us”.
(Psa 27:10 KJV)  When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.
God demonstrated that kind of love for us on the cross.
(1 John 3:16 KJV)  Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

[1]Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1995). Be decisive. An Old testament study. (Je 15:1). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

[2]Chambers, O. (1993, c1935). My utmost for his highest : Selections for the year (February 17). Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers.