- Elijah flees from Jezebel, verse 1-3.
- Is fed by an angel, verse 4-8.
- God manifests himself and directs him, verse 9-18.
- He calls Elisha, verse 19-21.
All the prophets - Of Baal.
Jezebel sent - She gives him notice of it before hand: partly, out of the height of her spirit, as scorning to kill him secretly: partly, out of her impatience, till she had breathed out her rage: and principally, from God's all-disposing providence, that so he might have an opportunity of escaping. Do to me, &c. - So far was she from being changed by that evident miracle, that she persists in her former idolatry, and adds to it a monstrous confidence, that in spight of God she would destroy his prophet.
Left his servant - Because he would not expose him to those perils and hardships which he expected: and because he desired solitude, that he might more freely converse with God.
Into the wilderness - The vast wilderness of Arabia. He durst not stay in Judah, tho' good Jehosaphat reigned there, because he was allied to Ahab, and was a man of an easy temper, whom Ahab might circumvent, and either by force or art seize upon Elijah. It is enough - I have lived long enough for thy service, and am not like to do thee any more service; neither my words nor works are like to do any good upon these unstable and incorrigible people. I am not better - That I should continue in life, when other prophets who have gone before me, have lost their lives.
Angel of the Lord, &c. - He needed not to complain of the unkindness of men, when it was thus made up by the ministration of angels. Wherever God's children are, they are still under their father's eye.
And went - He wandered hither and thither for forty days, 'till at last he came to Horeb, which in the direct road was not above three or four days journey. Thither the spirit of the Lord led him, probably beyond his own intention, that he might have communion with God, in the same place that Moses had.
Unto a cave - Perhaps the same wherein Moses was hid when the Lord passed before him, and proclaimed his name.
I have been, &c. - I have executed my office with zeal for God's honour, and with the hazard of my own life, and am fled hither, not being able to endure to see the dishonour done to thy name by their obstinate idolatry and wickedness. I only - Of all thy prophets, who boldly and publickly plead thy cause: for the rest of thy prophets who are not slain, hide themselves, and dare not appear to do thee any service. They seek my life - I despair of doing them any good: for instead of receiving my testimony, they hunt for my life. It does by no means appear, that he was at all to blame, for fleeing from Jezebel. If they persecute you in one city flee into another. Besides, the angels feeding and preparing him for his journey, and the peculiar blessing of God upon that food, indicated the divine approbation.
And behold - This is a general description of the thing, after which the manner of it is particularly explained. Strong wind - Whereby he both prepares Elijah to receive this discovery of God with greatest humility, reverence, and godly fear; and signifies his irresistible power, to break the hardest hearts of the Israelites, and to bear down all opposition that was or should be made against him in the discharge of his office. The Lord was not - The Lord did not vouchsafe his special and gracious presence to Elijah in that wind, which possibly was to teach him not to wonder if God did not accompany his terrible administration at mount Carmel with the presence of his grace, to turn the hearts of the Israelites to himself.
A still voice - To intimate, that God would do his work in and for Israel in his own time, not by might or power, but by his own spirit, Zechariah 4:6, which moves with a powerful, but yet with a sweet and gentle gale.
He wrapped, &c. - Through dread of God's presence, being sensibly that he was neither worthy nor able to endure the sight of God with open face. And stood, &c. - Which God commanded him to do; and as he was going towards the mouth of the cave, he was affrighted and stopped in his course, by the dreadful wind, and earthquake, and fire; when these were past, he prosecutes his journey, and goeth on to the mouth of the cave.
The son, &c. - That is, his grand-son, for he was the son of Jehosaphat, 2 Kings 9:2. This was intended as a prediction that by these God would punish the degenerate Israelites, plead his own cause among them, and avenge the quarrel of his covenant.
Shall Elisha slay - One or other of these should infallibly execute God's judgments upon the apostate Israelites. Elisha is said to slay them, either, because he slew those forty two children, 2 Kings 2:24, besides others whom upon like occasions he might destroy; or, because he by God's appointment inflicted the famine, 2 Kings 8:1, or rather, by the sword which came out of his mouth: the prophets being said to pull down and to destroy what they declare and foretel shall be pulled down. Hazael began to slay them before Jehu was king, though his cruelty was much increased afterward. Jehu destroyed those whom Hazael did not, as king Joram himself, and Ahaziah, and all the near relations of Ahab.
I have left - Or, I have reserved to myself; I have kept from the common contagion: therefore thou art mistaken to think that thou art left alone. Seven thousand - Either, definitely so many: or rather, indefinitely, for many thousands; the number of seven being often used for a great number. Kissed him - That is, all those who have not worshipped Baal, nor professed reverence or subjection to him: which idolaters did to their idols, by bowing the knee, and by kissing them.
Was plowing - Who had twelve ploughs going, whereof eleven were managed by his servants, and the last by himself; according to the simplicity of those ancient times, in which men of good estate submitted to the meanest employments. Cast his mantle - By that ceremony conferring upon him the office of a prophet, which God was pleased to accompany with the gifts and graces of his spirit.
He ran - Being powerfully moved by God's spirit to follow Elijah, and wholly give up himself to his function. Let me kiss - That is, bid them farewell. Go - And take thy leave of them, and then return to me again. For what, &c. - Either first, to hinder thee from performing that office. That employment to which I have called thee, doth not require an alienation of thy heart from thy parents, nor the total neglect of them. Or, secondly, to make such a change in thee, that thou shouldst be willing to forsake thy parents, and lands, and all, that thou mayest follow me. Whence comes this marvellous change? It is not from me, who did only throw my mantle over thee; but from an higher power, even from God's spirit, which both changed thy heart, and consecrated thee to thy prophetical office: which therefore it concerns thee vigorously to execute, and wholly to devote thyself to it.
From him - From Elijah to his parents; whom when he had seen and kissed, he returned to Elijah. The instruments - That is, with the wood belonging to the plow, &c. to which more was added, as occasion required. But that he burned, to shew his total relinquishing of his former employment. And gave - That is, he made thereof a feast for his servants who had been ploughing with him, and for him, and his other friends and neighbours who came to take their leave of him. Hereby he shewed how willingly and joyfully he forsook all his friends, that he might serve God in that high and honourable employment. It is of great advantage to young ministers, to spend some time under the direction of those that are aged and experienced; and not to think much, if occasion be, to minister unto them. Those who would be fit to teach, must have time to learn; those should first serve, who may hereafter rule.