1 Kings 19:11-13
And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" So he said, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life."
a. He went into a cave: Literally, the Hebrew is definite describing the cave. "The cave may well have been the specific 'clift of the rock' where God appeared to Moses (AV, Exodus 33:22) rather than the 'cave-region' generally." (Wiseman)
i. "Perhaps no spot on earth is more associated with the manifested presence of God than that sacred mount." (Meyer)
b. What are you doing here, Elijah? God knew the answer to this question, but it was good for Elijah to speak to the LORD freely and to unburden his heart.
i. "God has ways of teaching all of us in our bones and in our flesh, but he specially knows how to do this with those upon whom he puts any honor in his service. You must not marvel, if God should be pleased to bless you to the conversion of souls, that he should also make you sometimes smart." (Spurgeon)
c. I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts: Elijah protested to God, "I have faithfully served You and now look at the danger I am in." To Elijah - and many servants of God since - it seemed unfair that a faithful servant of God should be made to suffer.
d. I alone am left: This was not accurate, but if reflected how Elijah felt. Even back at the confrontation at Mount Carmel Elijah said I alone am left a prophet of theLORD (1 Kings 18:22). Discouraging times make God's servants feel more isolated and alone than they are.
e. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life: Strangely, the reasons Elijah provided were actually important reasons for him to remain alive. If he really was the last prophet or believer alive, should not he seek to live as long as possible? If the enemies of God like Jezebel wanted him dead, should he not seek to defeat her wicked will? Elijah here powerfully showed the unreasonable nature of unbelief and fear.
3. (11-12) God reveals Himself to Elijah.
Then He said, "Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD." And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces 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; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
a. Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD: God knew what the depressed and discouraged Elijah needed. He needed a personal encounter with God. There was nothing fundamentally wrong with Elijah's theology, but at the time there was something lacking in his experience.
b. Behold, the LORD passed by: God brought His presence before Elijah, but first to show where He was not. The LORD was not in the wind, He was not in the earthquake, He was not in the fire. Like many others, Elijah probably only looked for God in dramatic manifestations. Certainly, God sometimes appears in such ways but He often appears in less dramatic surroundings.
i. "This same lesson has to be learned over and over by us all: let us repeat it, 'Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord.' It is to be lamented that the most of professors obstinately cling to the fatal error of looking for displays of power of one kind or another. I hear that a certain church is seeking for a very clever man: she thinks that God is in the wind . . . That still small voice will be hushed and silent, while the boastings of your wisdom resound like a howling wind or a thunder unaccompanied by rain." (Spurgeon)
c. After the fire a still small voice: This final phenomenon was a marked contrast to the previous manifestations. God actually met Elijah in the quiet whisper of a voice instead of the earth-shaking phenomenon that had gone before.
i. Wiseman calls the still small voice a gentle whisper.
ii. "And now the thunder ceased, and the lightning was gone, and the earth was still, and the wind was hushed, and there was a dead calm, and out of the midst of the still air there came what the Hebrew calls 'a voice of gentle silence,' as if silence had become audible. There is nothing more terrible than an awful stillness after a dread uproar." (Spurgeon)
iii. Elijah perhaps thought that the dramatic display of power at Mount Carmel would turn the nation around. Or perhaps he thought that the radical display of God's judgment against the priests of Baal following the vindication at Mount Carmel would change the hearts of the nation. Neither of these worked. This example is important for Christian ministers, especially preachers, today. It shows that displays of power and preaching God's anger don't necessarily change hearts. Instead, the still small voice of God speaking to the human heart is actually more powerful than outward displays of power or displays of God's judgment.
iii. "Because the success of Carmel melted like the morning mist, he thought that his career had been a failure all along, and that he had brought no one to reverence Jehovah; but he was reading with the eyes of unbelief, and his imagination was leading him rather than the facts of the case. Here are seven thousand people scattered up and down the country to whom God has blessed Elijah’s testimony. If he had not blessed his big things as he had desired, yet his little things had prospered greatly. It was Elijah’s daily conduct rather than his miracles which had impressed these seven thousand and led them to hold fast their integrity." (Spurgeon)
Commenteries By David Guzik