I love Obadiah. Not going to lie, I love him. And I’m excited to go through this with y’all!
(NIV1984) 1 Kings 18:9-12a – “‘What have I done wrong,’ asked Obadiah, ‘that you are handing your servant over to Ahab to be put to death? As surely as the LORD your God lives, there is not a nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to look for you. And whenever a nation or kingdom claimed you were not there, he made them swear they could not find you. But now you tell me to go to my master and say, “Elijah is here.” I don’t know where the Spirit of the LORD may carry you when I leave you. If I go and tell Ahab and he doesn’t find you, he will kill me.'”
Just an interesting note that both Obadiah and the widow use the phrase “the LORD your God” (NIV1984, 1 Kings 18:10, 1 Kings 17:12). However, we know from reading that at least Obadiah also believes in the LORD at the time of his speaking. So why doesn’t he say “the LORD our God”? Also, this is in contrast with what Elijah says, which is more focused on God living and him serving God rather than the LORD being his – or anyone else’s – God. It’s just interesting phraseology.
It’s also worth noting that this is not the end of Obadiah’s reply. This beginning – the “What have I done wrong…?” (NIV1984 1 Kings 18:9) reminds me of the widow when her son died. It’s interesting that Obadiah, who has been saving other prophets, automatically jumps to worse case scenario and his death as a result.
Also, from this passage we learn just how hard Ahab has been searching for Elijah the past few years, not just in his own kingdom but in others besides. It would make sense to fear for Elijah’s life in this manner.
But Obadiah isn’t afraid of that – he’s afraid that if/when he obeys, Elijah will disappear and Aha’s wrath will fall on him.
This is when I seem to think that Ahab and Obadiah were searching alone, as I mentioned last time. Obadiah couldn’t leave someone to watch Elijah while he was gone, or so I’m guessing. At the same time, if he could, there still was no guarantee that would help. If the “Spirit of the LORD” wanted to “carry” Elijah away (NIV1984 1 Kings 18:12), he could. But what was stopping Obadiah from taking Elijah with him? Simple – Elijah says go. But Obadiah knows too well what will happen if “the Spirit of the LORD” (NIV1984 1 Kings 18:12) carries Elijah away – he’ll be killed. And there’s no assurance that won’t happen.
Obadiah doesn’t trust Elijah and he doesn’t trust God to save him. This lengthy response is in direct contrast to Elijah, who always goes when and where he is told to go. Obadiah’s still trying to earn God’s favor by doing the right thing, but when his faith is put to the test here, he falters. This will become even more prevalent in the rest of his speech – this constant focus on what he does as opposed to the Lord’s favor.
And yet, I really like Obadiah. I like the contrast he provides. He seems to me – this seems like my reaction might have been. I like how real he seems – how human all of the people in the Bible seem.
And I’m glad I get to share that with y’all!