WHEN YOU ARE DISCOURAGED
Week of August 12, 2007
Bible Verses: 1 Kings 19:1-13,15-18.
Biblical Truth: A fresh vision of God’s glory and purpose helps believers deal with discouragement.
Recognize: 1 Kings 19:1-3.
 Now Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had
done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword.  Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah,
saying, “So may the gods do to me and even more, if I do not make
your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.”  And he was afraid and arose and ran for
his life and came to
When the torrential rain began to fall, Jezebel was in Jezreel
and may have thought that Baal the storm god had triumphed on
Why did Jezebel send a letter to Elijah when she could have
sent soldiers and had him killed? He was in Jezreel and the deed could have
been easily accomplished on such a wild and stormy night. Jezebel wasn't only
an evil woman; she was also a shrewd strategist who knew how to make the most
of Baal's defeat on
Her letter achieved its purpose and Elijah fled from
Jezreel. In a moment of fear, when
he forgot all that God had done for him the previous three years, Elijah took
his servant, left
When God's servants get out of God's will, they're liable to
do all sorts of foolish things and fail in their strongest points. When Abraham
Refresh: 1 Kings 19:4-8.
 But he himself
went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper
tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, “It is enough;
now, O LORD, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.”  He lay
down and slept under a juniper tree; and behold, there was an angel touching
him, and he said to him, “Arise, eat.”  Then
he looked and behold, there was at his head a bread cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of
water. So he ate and drank and lay down again.  The
angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise,
eat, because the journey is too great for you.”  So he
arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and
forty nights to Horeb, the
The "juniper tree" is actually a flowering shrub ("the flowering broom tree") that flourishes in the wilderness and provides shade for flocks and herds and travelers. The branches are thin and supple like those of the willow and are used to bind bundles. (The Hebrew word for this shrub means "to bind.") The roots of the plant are used for fuel and make excellent charcoal [Psalm 120:4]. As Elijah sat under its shade, he did a wise thing, he prayed, but he didn't pray a very wise prayer. It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life. Then he gave his reason: for I am not better than my fathers. But God never asked him to be better than anybody else, but only to hear His Word and obey it.
The combination of emotional burnout, weariness, hunger, and
a deep sense of failure, plus lack of faith in the Lord, had brought Elijah
into deep depression. But there was also an element of pride involved, and some
self-pity, for Elijah was sure that his courageous ministry on
When the heart is heavy and the mind and body are weary, sometimes the best remedy is sleep. Nothing seems right when you're exhausted. But while the prophet was asleep, the Lord sent an angel to care for his needs. In verse 7, the visitor is called "the angel of the Lord," an Old Testament title for the second person of the Godhead, Jesus Christ. In passages like Gen. 16:10; Ex. 3:1-4 and Judges 2:1-4, the angel of the Lord speaks and acts as God would speak and act. In fact the angel of the Lord in Ex. 3:2 is called "God" and "the Lord" in the rest of the chapter. We assume that this helpful visitor was our Lord Jesus Christ.
The angel of the Lord had prepared a simple but adequate meal of fresh bread and refreshing water, and the prophet partook of both and lay down again to sleep. We aren't told how long the Lord permitted Elijah to sleep before He awakened him the second time and told him to eat. The Lord knew that Elijah planned to visit Mount Sinai, one of the most sacred places in all Jewish history, and Sinai was located about 250 miles from Beersheba, and he needed strength for the journey. But no matter what our destination may be, the journey is too great for us and we need God's strength to reach the goal. How gracious God was to spread a "table in the wilderness" for His discouraged servant [Psalm 78:19]. Elijah obeyed the messenger of God and was able to travel for forty days and nights on the nourishment from those two meals.
Reevaluate: 1 Kings 19:9-13.
 Then he came there to a cave and lodged
there; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here,
Elijah?”  He said, “I have been very
zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of
 So He said, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing.  When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” [NASU]
[9-10] Besides feeding the prophet, the Lord
reassures Elijah with the book’s most certain comfort – God’s word, which never
fails. The first word of the Lord asks him why he is at Horeb. He
[11-13] A second word of the Lord invites the prophet to go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for God will pass by there. This theophany, or appearance of the Lord, reminds readers of Exodus 33:18-22, where Moses desires to see God’s glory and is rewarded by being allowed to view “the back” of the Lord’s splendor. God places Moses in the rock and covers him with a divine “hand” to protect him. Here, Elijah waits for God’s word through tearing wind, ground shaking earthquake, and roaring flame. The Lord does not speak, however, through these natural phenomena. Certainly Elijah has experienced God’s sovereignty over nature, and has benefited from miraculous fire, but what he needs now is a definitive word from the Lord. He receives this word in a gentle whisper. Perhaps the Lord attempts to teach Elijah not to expect always the miraculous and wondrous deliverance from problems. Maybe God wants to signify to the prophet that He did not work in His earthly kingdom with the destroying zeal of wrath, or with the pitiless severity of judgment. Or the Lord may simply try to explain to Elijah that He works in small ways at this time.
God speaks in a
quiet voice here to a prophet drained of strength. The next passage will reveal
still further the Lord’s willingness to labor with relatively limited human
resources. Regardless of the meaning of the natural wonders, however, it is
God’s word alone that will heal the prophet in this moment of crisis. The voice
asks Elijah why he has come to the mountain. This repetition of the question
asked in 19:9 forces Elijah to consider carefully his current position and his
future destiny. God has fed him as before, and God has spoken to him as in the
past. Why has he fled? Elijah answers as in 19:10:
Reengage: I Kings 19:15-18.
 The LORD said to him, “Go, return
on your way to the wilderness of
The Lord’s word to
him reaffirms God’s uniqueness, the sovereignty over all nations, and the
importance of the prophetic word. God tells him, Go, return on your way to
the wilderness of
As you review the chapter, you can see the mistakes that Elijah made and how the Lord overruled them and accomplished His will. Elijah walked by sight and not by faith, yet the Lord sustained him. He looked at himself and his failures instead of at God's greatness and power. He was more concerned about doing more than his ancestors had done in the past instead of calling and preparing new servants for the future. He isolated himself from God's people and thereby lost the strength and encouragement of their fellowship and prayers. But let's not be too hard on Elijah, for he did have a sensitive ear to the still, small voice of the Lord, and he did obey what God told him to do. The Lord rebuked him gently and brought him out of his cave and back into active service. Let's keep these things in mind and recall them the next time we're under our juniper tree or in our cave!
Questions for Discussion:
1. What caused
Elijah to go from the experience on
2. Notice the connection between pride and self-pity in Elijah. He expected God to accomplish great things through him, but when this was not God’s plan, Elijah became depressed and felt sorry for himself. What is the solution to prevent this from happening in our own lives?
3. What is God teaching Elijah through the theophany in verses 11-13? What can we learn from God’s dealings with Elijah here about where our focus needs to be when confronted with fear and doubt?
4. What lessons can we learn from the mistakes that Elijah made in this chapter?
1, 2 Kings, Paul House, NAC, Broadman.
The Bible Exposition Commentary: Old Testament , Warren W. Wiersbe.