Devotion: 1 Kings 18:7-16

The severe drought led King Ahab and his chief adviser, Obadiah, to seek out water in the land. We learned last week that Obadiah was a righteous man that had secreted away 100 prophets of the Lord during Queen Jezebel’s massacre. Obadiah had continued to serve in Ahab’s household, but on the side he was supplying the needs of the prophets, even giving them water. Obadiah could simply have betrayed the prophets of the Lord by cutting off their water and supplying it to Ahab instead, but this would have betrayed his faith and conscience. We pick up the story this week after Obadiah and Ahab part company to seek out water.
“And as Obadiah was on the way, behold, Elijah met him. And Obadiah recognized him and fell on his face and said, ‘Is it you, my lord Elijah?’ And he answered him, ‘It is I. Go, tell your lord, “Behold, Elijah is here.” ‘ ” –1 Kings 18:7-8 ESV
Obadiah knows full well that King Ahab had turned the country upside down seeking Elijah. Ahab rightly knew that Elijah was the man responsible for the drought (though Elijah was standing on the authority of God) and he wanted to get hold of him to end the drought on the land. Encountering Elijah is initially shocking to Obadiah. The adviser to the king simply could not believe his eyes. So he falls to the earth in a sign of respect and asks the man to confirm his identity.
Elijah obliges Obadiah’s request, and gives him a request of his own. Obadiah is to go and fetch Ahab and bring him to meet Elijah. This is the germ of the problem from Obadiah’s perspective.
“And he said, ‘How have I sinned, that you would give your servant into the hand of Ahab, to kill me? As the LORD your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my lord has not sent to seek you. And when they would say, “He is not here,” he would take an oath of the kingdom or nation, that they had not found you. And now you say, “Go, tell your lord, ‘Behold, Elijah is here.’ ” And as soon as I have gone from you, the Spirit of the LORD will carry you I know not where. And so, when I come and tell Ahab and he cannot find you, he will kill me, although I your servant have feared the LORD from my youth.” –1 Kings 18:9-12 ESV
Obadiah’s seemingly chance (really providence) encounter with Elijah who seems to have previously disappeared into thin air, creates a dilemma for Obadiah. He knows that Ahab desires to get his hands on Elijah and spared almost no expense, even entreating surrounding nations to take an oath that Elijah was not there. To go and fetch King Ahab would present two dilemmas. First, as Obadiah states, fetching Ahab may mean that Elijah will once more be spirited away before he returns with the king. This would lead to King Ahab’s great displeasure and frustration and likely result in Obadiah’s premature death. The second, related dilemma comes into light as Obadiah reveals to Elijah his clandestine activities.
“Has it not been told my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the LORD, how I hid a hundred men of the LORD’s prophets by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water? And now you say, “Go, tell your lord, ‘Behold, Elijah is here’ “; and he will kill me.’ And Elijah said, ‘As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself to him today.’ ” –1 Kings 18:13-15 ESV
If Obadiah is killed by Ahab, the dilemma is that there will be no one to care for the 100 prophets of the Lord. While I believe that Obadiah wanted to preserve his own life, it is the second that really bothers him. Obadiah likely feels that he is living on borrowed time already and so his life may be forfeit at any time. Working for a loose cannon has that effect on people. The 100 prophets of the Lord, however, will have no one to care for their physical needs if he is dead. This is why he tells Elijah the news. The news is an attempt to build trust between the two men and to reveal once more Obadiah’s excellent character.
Elijah, the man of God, reaches out to Obadiah in a trust-building oath. Elijah will meet with Ahab that day. So, the question is whether Obadiah will trust the Word of God spoken by the prophet.
“So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him. And Ahab went to meet Elijah. ” –1 Kings 18:16 ESV
In short order we learn that Obadiah indeed puts his trust in the Word of the Lord spoken through the prophet and goes to fetch Ahab, who, in turn, hurries to encounter Elijah himself.
Obadiah demonstrated his character in trusting Elijah. He had been faithful to the Lord when it would have been far easier to look out for his own needs and to please the tyrant for whom he worked. Obadiah chooses the much more difficult path of trusting the Lord first and demonstrating that trust by doing the right thing, even and especially when it was difficult. That is the kind of trust we are called to place in Jesus.

The song is “Anchor of My Soul” by Josh Garrels.

News for You:

  • The Annual Meeting of the Congregation and the Corporation will take place following worship this Sunday, January 20. At the meeting two deacon candidates will be up for election, the 2019 Nominating Committee will be chosen and various other matters will be presented.
  • On Tuesday, January 22, at noon the annual Omak March for Life will set out from the Omak Civic League Park behind CPC Omak. Please consider lending your voice and prayers to stand for the unborn.