the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
Charles Spurgeon's "Morning & Evening"
“I will speak of thy testimonies before kings.”
1 Kings 18:1-15 , 1 Kings 18:17-20
1 Kings 18:1
To unbelief this would have appeared like a command to plunge into the raging waves of the sea, or to walk into a lions den, but soldier of the Heavenly King do not reason, but obey.
1 Kings 18:2-4
Here was a dove living in the eagles nest. Obadiah was not a half-and-half man, but feared the Lord fully, hence his character won him confidence even from ungodly Ahab, and in his great trouble the king did not trust any of his idolatrous nobles as he trusted holy Obadiah. He lived in a wicked court, and yet was zealous for his God, and showed his zeal by feeding the prophets when food was dear, and kindness to them might have cost him his life. If in so difficult a position Obadiah was so earnest, what manner of persons ought we to be who are so much more happily situated?
1 Kings 18:5
Judgment alone cannot soften the heart, for all that Ahab cared for when under the chastising hand of God was to preserve his stud. He thought more of his horses than of his soul, or his starving subjects.
1 Kings 18:13 , 1 Kings 18:14
The good man was timid, for he had not been living the separated life, and therefore was far inferior in faith to the lonely Elijah, but the prophet bore with his weakness, for he knew him to be right at heart. We that are strong must bear the infirmities of the weak, and not expect all men to be equally bold.
1 Kings 18:20
Mark the holy boldness of Elijah, and how it awed the king. Elijah was far more royal than Ahab, for faith made him a king before the Lord. Be it ours to act in the same heroic spirit, never fearing the face of man, but facing the Lord’s foes with unflinching valour. So shall we win the “well done, good and faithful servant,” which should be the highest object of our ambition.
“How long halt ye between two opinions.”
1 Kings 18:20-29
1 Kings 18:20
The whole band of eight hundred and fifty priests, in all their gaudy attire, gathered upon the mountains brow to confront the one lone prophet of the living God.
1 Kings 18:21
In silent awe the crowd listened to the one undaunted man of God, as he offered them the great choice of God or Baal, and proposed by one grand test to prove which was truly God.
1 Kings 18:22
Numbers are no test of right; but brave is he who dares to hold the truth, where thousands love the lie.
1 Kings 18:23-24
“As when a wave
That rears itself, a wall of polished glass
For leagues along the shore, and hangs in air
Falls with one deafening crash, so rose the shout
Of answering acclamation from the crowd.
White-faced, with restless lips and anxious eyes
Baal’s prophets heard, their hundreds cowed and mute
Before one man. They dared not, in mere shame
Decline the challenge.”
1 Kings 18:25
He knew their cunning, and that by sleight of hand they would cheat if they could; hence he said, suggestively, “but put no fire under.”
1 Kings 18:26
They multiplied their litanies and genuflections; they exhausted their whole round of performances, but the sun-god lent them not a spark of his fires.
1 Kings 18:27
Idolatry deserves contempt. The irony of Elijah was holy, though bitter as gall. How would Elijah laugh now at the Papists with their god of bread; and the Ritualists with their magical sacraments. His scorn would be unbounded as ours may well be; only as followers of Jesus we mix pity with our indignation.
1 Kings 18:28
How much torture is there in false religion: our God takes no pleasure in the miseries of his children. Hair-shirts, lacerated backs, and skeletons macerated with fasting, are fit worship for a demon god; but the blessed God loves them not.
1 Kings 18:29
“They writhed and tore
In ecstasies of grief and rage. At last
They hung their heads in mute despair, and looked
Upon the ground.”
Baal could do nothing: our next reading will show us what Jehovah did.
The God we serve maintains his throne
Above the clouds, beyond the skies;
Through all the earth his will is done;
He knows our groans, he hears our cries.
But the vain idols men adore
Are senseless shapes of stone or wood;
At best a mass of glittering ore,
A silver saint, or golden god.
Shine forth in all thy dreadful name!
Why should a Papist’s haughty tongue
Insult us, and to bring us shame,
Set up the gods dethroned so long?