1 And it came to passe after many daies, that the word of the Lord came to Eliiah in the third yeere, saying, Goe shewe thy selfe vnto Ahab, and I will send raine vpon the earth.
2 And Eliiah went to shew himselfe vnto Ahab, and there was a sore famine in Samaria.
3 And Ahab called Obadiah which was the gouernour of his house: (now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly:
4 For it was so, when Iezebel cut off the Prophets of the Lord, that Obadiah tooke an hundred Prophets, and hid them by fiftie in a caue, and fed them with bread and water.)
5 And Ahab said vnto Obadiah, Goe into the land, vnto all fountaines of water, and vnto all brookes: peraduenture we may finde grasse to saue the horses and mules aliue, that we leese not all the beasts.
6 So they diuided the land betweene them to passe throughout it: Ahab went one way by himselfe, and Obadiah went another way by himselfe.
7 ¶ And as Obadiah was in the way, behold, Eliiah met him: and hee knew him, and fell on his face, and said; Art thou that my lord Eliiah?
8 And he answered him, I am: goe, tell thy lord, Behold, Eliiah is here.
9 And he said, What haue I sinned, that thou wouldest deliuer thy seruant into the hand of Ahab, to slay mee?
10 As the Lord thy God liueth, there is no nation or kingdome, whither my lord hath not sent to seeke thee: and when they said, He is not there, hee tooke an oath of the kingdome and nation, that they found thee not.
11 And now thou sayest, Goe, tell thy lord, Behold, Eliiah is here.
12 And it shall come to passe, as soone as I am gone from thee, that the spirit of the Lord shall cary thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot finde thee, he shall slay mee: but I thy seruant feare the Lord from my youth.
13 Was it not told my lord, what I did when Iezebel slew the Prophets of the Lord ? How I hid an hundred men of the Lords Prophets, by fiftie in a caue, and fedde them with bread and water?
14 And now thou sayest, Goe, tell thy lord, Behold, Eliiah is here: and hee shall slay me.
15 And Eliiah said, As the Lord of hostes liueth, before whom I stand, I will surely shew my selfe vnto him to day.
16 So Obadiah went to meete Ahab, and told him: and Ahab went to meete Eliiah.
17 ¶ And it came to passe when Ahab saw Eliiah, that Ahab saide vnto him, Art thou hee that troubleth Israel?
18 And hee answered, I haue not troubled Israel, but thou and thy fathers house, in that yee haue forsaken the Commandements of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim.
19 Now therefore send, and gather to mee all Israel vnto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal foure hundred and fiftie, and the prophets of the groues foure hundred, which eate at Iezebels table.
20 So Ahab sent vnto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together vnto mount Carmel.
21 And Eliiah came vnto all the people, and said, how long halt yee betweene two opinions? If the Lord bee God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him: and the people answered him not a word.
22 Then said Eliiah vnto the people, I, euen I onely remaine a Prophet of the Lord: but Baals prophets are foure hundred and fiftie men.
23 Let them therefore giue vs two bullocks, and let them chuse one bullocke for themselues, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire vnder: and I will dresse the other bullocke, and lay it on wood, and put no fire vnder.
24 And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the Name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered, and said, It is well spoken.
25 And Eliiah said vnto the prophets of Baal, Chuse you one bullocke for your selues, and dresse it first, for yee are many: and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire vnder.
26 And they took the bullocke which was giuen them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning, euen vntil noone, saying, O Baal, heare vs. But there was no voyce, nor any that answered: And they leapt vpon the altar which was made.
27 And it came to passe at noone, that Eliiah mocked them, and saide, Crie aloud: for he is a god, either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or hee is in a iourney, or peraduenture he sleepeth, and must be awaked.
28 And they cried loud, and cut themselues after their maner, with kniues, and lancers, till the blood gushed out vpon them.
29 And it came to passe when midday was past, and they prophesied vntil the time of the offering of the euening sacrifice; that there was neither voice, nor any to answere, nor any that regarded.
30 And Eliiah said vnto all the people, Come neere vnto me. And all the people came neere vnto him. And he repaired the Altar of the Lord that was broken downe.
31 And Eliiah tooke twelue stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sonnes of Iacob, vnto whome the word of the Lord came, saying, Israel shall bee thy name.
32 And with the stones hee built an altar in the Name of the Lord, and hee made a trench about the altar, as great as would containe two measures of seed.
33 And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullocke in pieces, and laide him on the wood, and said, Fill foure barrels with water, and powre it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.
34 And hee said, Doe it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Doe it the third time. And they did it the third time.
35 And the water ran round about the altar, and hee filled the trench also with water.
36 And it came to passe at the time of the offering of the euening sacrifice, that Eliiah the prophet came neere and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, Let it bee knowen this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy seruant, and that I haue done all these things at thy word.
37 Heare me, O Lord, heare me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart backe againe.
38 Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked vp the water that was in the trench.
39 And when all the people sawe it, they fell on their faces: and they saide, The Lord, he is the God, the Lord, he is the God.
40 And Eliiah saide vnto them, Take the prophets of Baal, let not one of them escape: And they tooke them, and Eliiah brought them downe to the brooke Kishon, and slewe them there.
41 ¶ And Eliiah said vnto Ahab, Get thee vp, eate and drinke, for there is a sound of abundance of raine.
42 So Ahab went vp to eate and to drinke, and Eliiah went vp to the top of Carmel, and he cast himselfe downe vpon the earth, and put his face betweene his knees,
43 And said to his seruant, Goe vp now, looke toward the Sea. And hee went vp, and looked, and saide, There is nothing. And he said, Goe againe seuen times.
44 And it came to passe at the seuenth time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the Sea, like a mans hand. And he said, Goe vp, say vnto Ahab, Prepare thy charet, and get thee downe, that the raine stop thee not.
45 And it came to passe in the meane while, that the heauen was blacke with cloudes and winde, and there was a great raine: and Ahab rode and went to Iezreel.
46 And the hand of the Lord was on Eliiah; and hee girded vp his loynes, and ranne before Ahab, to the entrance of Iezreel.
Elijah sends Ahab notice of his coming. (1-16) Elijah meets Ahab. (17-20) Elijah's trial of the false prophets. (21-40) Elijah, by prayer, obtains rain. (41-46)1-16 The severest judgments, of themselves, will not humble or change the hearts of sinners; nothing, except the blood of Jesus Christ, can atone for the guilt of sin; nothing, except the sanctifying Spirit of God, can purge away its pollution. The priests and the Levites were gone to Judah and Jerusalem, #2Ch 11:13,14|, but instead of them God raised up prophets, who read and expounded the word. They probably were from the schools of the prophets, first set up by Samuel. They had not the spirit of prophecy as Elijah, but taught the people to keep close to the God of Israel. These Jezebel sought to destroy. The few that escaped death were forced to hide themselves. God has his remnant among all sorts, high and low; and that faith, fear, and love of his name, which are the fruits of the Holy Spirit, will be accepted through the Redeemer. See how wonderfully God raises up friends for his ministers and people, for their shelter in difficult times. Bread and water were now scarce, yet Obadiah will find enough for God's prophets, to keep them alive. Ahab's care was not to lose all the beasts; but he took no care about his soul, not to lose that. He took pains to seek grass, but none to seek the favour of God; fencing against the effect, but not inquiring how to remove the cause. But it bodes well with a people, when God calls his ministers to stand forth, and show themselves. And we may the better endure the bread of affliction, while our eyes see our teachers.
17-20 One may guess how people stand affected to God, by observing how they stand affected to his people and ministers. It has been the lot of the best and most useful men, like Elijah, to be called and counted the troublers of the land. But those who cause God's judgments do the mischief, not he that foretells them, and warns the nation to repent.
21-40 Many of the people wavered in their judgment, and varied in their practice. Elijah called upon them to determine whether Jehovah or Baal was the self-existent, supreme God, the Creator, Governor, and Judge of the world, and to follow him alone. It is dangerous to halt between the service of God and the service of sin, the dominion of Christ and the dominion of our lusts. If Jesus be the only Saviour, let us cleave to him alone for every thing; if the Bible be the world of God, let us reverence and receive the whole of it, and submit our understanding to the Divine teaching it contains. Elijah proposed to bring the matter to a trial. Baal had all the outward advantages, but the event encourages all God's witnesses and advocates never to fear the face of man. The God that answers by fire, let him be God: the atonement was to be made by sacrifice, before the judgment could be removed in mercy. The God therefore that has power to pardon sin, and to signify it by consuming the sin-offering, must needs be the God that can relieve from the calamity. God never required his worshippers to honour him in the manner of the worshippers of Baal; but the service of the devil, though sometimes it pleases and pampers the body, yet, in other things, really is cruel to it, as in envy and drunkenness. God requires that we mortify our lusts and corruptions; but bodily penances and severities are no pleasure to him. Who has required these things at your hands? A few words uttered in assured faith, and with fervent affection for the glory of God, and love to the souls of men, or thirstings after the Lord's image and his favour, form the effectual, fervent prayer of the righteous man, which availeth much. Elijah sought not his own glory, but that of God, for the good of the people. The people are all agreed, convinced, and satisfied; Jehovah, he is the God. Some, we hope, had their hearts turned, but most of them were convinced only, not converted. Blessed are they that have not seen what these saw, yet have believed, and have been wrought upon by it, more than they that saw it.
41-46 Israel, being so far reformed as to acknowledge the Lord to be God, and to consent to the execution of Baal's prophets, was so far accepted, that God poured out blessing upon the land. Elijah long continued praying. Though the answer of our fervent and believing supplications does not come quickly, we must continue earnest in prayer, and not faint or give over. A little cloud at length appeared, which soon overspread the heavens, and watered the earth. Great blessings often arise from small beginnings, showers of plenty from a cloud of span long. Let us never despise the day of small things, but hope and wait for great things from it. From what small beginnings have great matters arisen! It is thus in all the gracious proceedings of God with the soul. Scarcely to be perceived are the first workings of his Spirit in the heart, which grow up at last to the wonder of men, and applause of angels. Elijah hastened Ahab home, and attended him. God will strengthen his people for every service to which his commandments and providence call them. The awful displays of Divine justice and holiness dismay the sinner, extort confessions, and dispose to outward obedience while the impression lasts; but the view of these, with mercy, love, and truth in Christ Jesus, is needful to draw the soul to self-abasement, trust, and love. The Holy Spirit employs both in the conversion of sinners; when sinners are impressed with Divine truths, they should be exhorted to set about the duties to which the Saviour calls his disciples.
Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.