(NIV1984) 1 Kings 19:1-3a – “Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, ‘May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.’
“Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.”
I’m going to start this by being really honest – 1 Kings 19 is one of my favorite chapters in the entire Bible. I’ve spent a lot of time here, and it has illuminated my life and helped me understand and be redirected and – I love 1 Kings 19. So just know that’s what you’re getting into by studying it with me, ok? 🙂
The first thing I want to focus on is this: “Ahab told Jezebel everything” (NIV1984, 1 Kings 19:1). I know it goes on to say – to specify and clarify – that he’s telling her what Elijah did, but that first part of that sentence just strikes me. I wonder if Ahab and Jezebel even had a good relationship. I wonder if Ahab waited until now to tell her what happened, why she wasn’t there, if he was even remotely excited about the things of the Lord and she could only focus on the prophets’ – her prophets’ – death.
And here’s the other thing about Jezebel – she’s a finder. I mean, Ahab spent three years looking for Elijah with no success, but Jezebel is just automatically able to send him a threatening message.
And after everything that just happened, Elijah – with no apparent word from God – ran for his life out of fear. Out of fear! What could Jezebel do with him? Didn’t he just go before Ahab? Hadn’t God just spent the last three years hiding and protecting him? But this word from Jezebel and he runs away.
This says something about Jezebel, I think.
It also says something about Elijah’s desperate fear here. In the previous chapters, we have seen multiple occurrences where God tells Elijah to go, and Elijah just goes without question or complaint. He obeys God – although he has had a couple of moments that stand out. One is his prayer over the widow’s son – God, why are you doing this? Another is his indication that he’s the only prophet left. Elijah feels very much alone and, as his prayer suggests, he doesn’t always know why God does what He does. And he feels, perhaps, like he’s in a place of tragedy.
Perhaps Elijah has felt afraid this whole time and has simply obeyed the Lord anyway. Maybe that’s what he meant by being the only prophet – he’s the only one fighting his fear and being out there, fighting. And there might be a little bit of pride in that.
Whatever the case – his fear causes him to run.