The edited version of 1 Kings 19 that appears in our Lectionary for Sunday next tells of a meetng between Elijah and the Lord. But it does not tell us the why and wherefore of the meeting, which led to Elijah’s learning to recognise the presence of the Lord in stillness and quiet.
What is the context? Elijah has recently been in cultic battle with the prophets of Baal; he is challenging the King of Israel – and he has recently fled for his life and only just been saved from virtual suicide…
The meeting with the Lord changes things. How the promise of the Lord In quiet and peace gives Elijah confidence and hope, and how it restores him to the possibility of his faithful service of the faithful remnant of Israel.
In the midst of a storm of events and fears Elijah finds again the one who is rock for his life.
The particulars of our lives will be different to those of Elijah! But we too grapple with the need to relate to God in our various and varied circumstances. As we face these it is encouraging to be reminded of the struggles of the saints and prophets and not only their triumphs
First Reading for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time:
1 Kings 19:9,11-13
(NB the text set for Sunday is given below in bold and in ‘quote sections’ below; the rest is the immediate biblical text from which the Lectionary text is extracted)
The Lord Speaks to Elijah
19.9 There he came to a cave and lodged in it.
And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10 He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”
11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke 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. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 15 And the LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. 16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 17 And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. 18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
~ Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
~ Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photo: Elijah (Sculpture by Marc Arcis) Toulouse, Musee des Augustins, Toulouse (c) 2018, Allen Morris.