The Lord Sends Elijah to a Widow Who Gives Him Food and Water

1 Kings 17:7–16

7 And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.
8 And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying,
9 Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.
10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.
11 And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.
12 And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.
13 And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.
14 For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.
15 And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.
16 And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said:

“As the prophet [Elijah] prepared for a final confrontation with Ahab, God commanded Elijah to go to the village of Zarephath where, He said, He had commanded a widow woman to sustain him.

“As he entered the city in his weary condition he met his benefactress, who was undoubtedly as weak and wasted as he. Perhaps almost apologetically the thirsty traveler importuned, ‘Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.’ As she turned to meet his request, Elijah added even more strain to the supplication. ‘Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand [also].’

“Elijah’s pitiful circumstances were obvious. Furthermore, the widow had been prepared by the Lord for this request. But in her own weakened and dispirited condition, the prophet’s last entreaty was more than this faithful little woman could bear. In her hunger and fatigue and motherly anguish she cried out to the stranger, ‘As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks [which tells us how small her fire needed to be], that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.’

“But Elijah was on the Lord’s errand. Israel’s future—including the future of this very widow and her son—was at stake. His prophetic duty made him more bold than he might normally have wanted to be.

“‘Fear not,’ he said to her, ‘but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.

“‘For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.’

“Then this understated expression of faith—as great, under these circumstances, as any I know in the scriptures. The record says simply, ‘And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah.’ Perhaps uncertain what the cost of her faith would be not only to herself but to her son as well, she first took her small loaf to Elijah, obviously trusting that if there were not enough bread left over, at least she and her son would have died in an act of pure charity. The story goes on, of course, to a very happy ending for her and for her son (see 1 Kings 17:1–24).

“This woman is like another widow whom Christ admired so much—she who cast her farthing, her two mites, into the synagogue treasury and thereby gave more, Jesus said, than all others who had given that day (see Mark 12:41–44).

“Unfortunately, the names of these two women are not recorded in the scriptures, but if I am ever so privileged in the eternities to meet them, I would like to fall at their feet and say ‘Thank you.’ Thank you for the beauty of your lives, for the wonder of your example, for the godly spirit within you prompting such ‘charity out of a pure heart’ (1 Timothy 1:5).”

(“A Handful of Meal and a Little Oil,” Ensign, May 1996, 29.)

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