The rest of Obadiah’s response is today!
(NIV1984) 1 Kings 18:12b-14 – “‘Yet I your servant have worshiped the LORD since my youth. Haven’t you heard, my lord, what I did while Jezebel was killing the prophets of the LORD? I hid a hundred of the LORD’s prophets in two caves, fifty in each, and supplied them with food and water. And now you tell me to go to my maser and say, “Elijah is here.” He will kill me!'”
Obadiah focuses so much on his own death. Three times just in this one response (the entire passage that I’ve split over two days) he brings up how he will die if he does what Elijah has told him to do.
Does Ahab know that Obadiah took and hid some of the prophets? It seems that if Obadiah told him about Elijah then he might find out. But why would that be the case? And why is someone who was courageous enough to work to save prophets when he knew, if he was caught, that he would be put to death – why is he suddenly so afraid when it comes to telling Ahab about Elijah? Is it because he knows deep inside that he really has no control over this situation?
And why would he think Elijah had heard about what he did? Would he really want it to be that widespread? Wouldn’t that just have alerted Ahab and Jezebel?
At least this answers the question of when he saved the prophets. It was either before or during the drought. This suggests that Jezebel has been in the act of killing prophets for a long time – which gives even more credence to Elijah’s later fear of her.
Perhaps Obadiah doesn’t want to die for another reason – not just for himself but also so that those other prophets don’t die. If he’s the only one providing them with food and water, then wouldn’t they die without him? And wouldn’t they have really been dead without him anyway (unless God used someone else to save them)?
Secondly, doesn’t it feel like Obadiah is bringing these things up for some sort of reward, some sort of recompense? He might not have initially done them for that, but maybe he thought that if he was doing the work of the Lord then that should give him some sort of immunity (even though prophets were being killed by Jezebel). He’s just…interesting to try and understand.