And now you say, 'Go tell your lord that Elijah is here!' He will kill me!"
Such is the meaning of Obadiah's name; and so truly descriptive of his character is it that we may take him as a typical servant of God.
I. HE FEARED THE LORD FROM HIS YOUTH.
1. Piety is not natural.
(1) On the contrary, we inherit a depraved heart (Genesis 5:8; Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12; Ephesians 2:3).
(2) And this depravity is complete (Genesis 6:5; Isaiah 1:5, 6; Romans 3:9-19).
(3) Life is only tolerable through the meliorating influences of the "gospel of the grace of God." To these must be attributed whatever seems good in unconverted men (Romans 1:28-32).
2. Grace is free.
(1) All are directly the subjects of its illuminations, restraints, and encouragements (John 1:9; 1 Corinthians 12:7).
(2) Some are indirectly specially favoured. Being surrounded by Christian influences. Being children of godly parents.
(3) These opportunities, if duly improved, will infallibly lead to salvation (Titus 2:11-14).
3. Those who fear God from their youth have great advantages.
(1) They have not given evil habits time to consolidate into rigidity. Time is necessary to this, for habits are strengthened by repetition. The hard crystallization of bad habits renders the conversion of old sinners very difficult. Therefore, how few are such conversions, comparatively!
(2) They have a splendid opportunity of founding a strong character of goodness. When the habit of resisting temptation is formed, it becomes more and more natural and easy to resist. Hence, like Obadiah, who "feared the Lord from his youth," they will come to fear Him "greatly."
II. HE FEARED THE LORD GREATLY. See the manifestation of this in his - I. Respect for the ambassador of God.
(1) He "knew Elijah." Probably he had been present when the prophet warned the king that his fire god would be made to punish his votaries in the absence of dew and rain (1 Kings 17:1). The godly, having sympathy with the ministers of God, are quick to recognize them.
(2) He "fell on his face before him." This was the form of a most respectful salutation. He honoured in him that God whose ambassador he was. Obadiah feared the Lord too greatly to give to any creature the homage due to God alone.
(3) He addressed him reverently, "My lord Elijah." And he spoke of himself as" thy servant." This was proper on his part; but we note how Elijah transferred the style to Ahab - "Go tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here."
2. Kindness to the servants of God.
(1) Through the sin of Jeroboam the priests and Levites went into Judah (see 2 Chronicles 11:18, 14). To supply their lack in Ephraim, prophets' colleges were established. The students in these colleges were called "sons of the prophets" (see 2 Kings 2:3, 5, 7).
(2) These, together with their masters, or "fathers," were probably the objects of Jezebel's resentment when Elijah could not be found. They are called "prophets of the Lord" (ver. 13; compare 1 Kings 22:85, 38, 41).
(3) At the time of that persecution Obadiah sheltered and fed one hundred of these. This he did at the hazard of his life. Because he feared the Lord greatly, he feared not the wrath of the king (compare Hebrews 11:23, 27).
3. Faith in the power of God.
(1) He believed that Jehovah might raise a wind that could carry Elijah away from the power of Ahab. He doubtless knew that Enoch had been translated into the heavens, and may have known of examples of translations from one locality to another, not recorded in the earlier Scriptures (compare 2 Kings 2:11-16; Ezekiel 3:14; Acts 8:89).
(2) A being who could do such wonders, and whose power was now terribly manifest in the drought, was greatly to be feared (see Matthew 10:28; Luke 12:5).
(3) But while God is of all enemies the most formidable, He is an Almighty Friend.
III. HE FAITHFULLY SERVED HIS KING.
1. God-fearing men make good citizens.
(1) Wicked as Ahab was, he preferred Obadiah to the courtiers of Jezebel in the high office of chamberlain.
(2) This is not a solitary case. Joseph over the house of Pharaoh. Daniel in the house of the kings of Babylon. Christians were in the household even of Nero.
(3) The qualities of a servant of the Lord - truth, honour, diligence - are those sought after for places of trust. "Godliness is profitable unto all things" (1 Timothy 4:8; Isaiah 58:14).
2. God preserves them in their faithfulness.
(1) Service in a licentious court Obadiah would not have chosen. But he is in it and maintains his integrity. They that fear the Lord need not go out of the world.
(2) They have a testimony for God.
(3) They have opportunities of serving the servants of the Lord. Let us not murmur at our providential lot. God can change it if He see fit. If He does not change it, then He has a purpose in it which we should endeavor to fulfil. - J.A.M.
thy servant real the Lord from my youth.
There are two valuable lessons we are to carry away from these words of Obadiah.
I. THE IMPORTANCE OF EARLY DECISION FOR GOD. It was a favourite idea, a hobby in short, of that singular and austere sage Thomas Carlyle, that a select few of our race are to be set up for the admiration and imitation of the rest: and though, no doubt, the Chelsea philosopher pushed it too far (as he was in the habit of doing with most ideas that possessed him), the notion is a sound and scriptural one. The Bible teaches as much by example as by precept, and it seems to me that the grand lesson of Obadiah's life — and it is hub a very brief biography we have — is the unspeakable value to a man, all through his career, of starting with fixed religious principles, and sticking to them at all hazards. I quite believe, if you will allow me to say so, that some of you, who would hardly venture to call yourselves real Christians, are most favourably inclined towards religion, only you will not come up to the point of a full and absolute decision. But this is just where your danger lies: for these half-religious feelings are apt to satisfy you, whilst, until you have actually given your hand to Christ, you are as absolutely unsaved as if you were a railing infidel.
II. THE IMPORTANCE OF COURAGE IN OPENLY AVOWING OUR RELIGIOUS DECISION. The first thing is to have sound principles; and the second thing is not to be ashamed of them. It was a remarkable saying of the Duke of Wellington, that "in war the moral is to the physical as ten to one." That is to say, that, if the soldiers know and feel in their conscience that right is on their side, they are ten times as brave as when they are not very sure about it. Well, when you know you are standing on sure ground, you can afford to despise the shots that are fired at you by godless men. Nay, more, the fact is, it is a great help to you, if your faith is genuine, to meet with a little opposition at times. A man is none the worse a Christian for having occasionally to stand up for his principles. It makes your religion more real, and gives you greater confidence in its power. You want a new principle within you, and that is faith in Christ as your Saviour.
THE GREAT PRINCIPLE OF ACTION IN THE LIFE OF OBADIAH, viz., "the fear of the Lord."
II. THE NECESSITY FOR AN EARLY INCULCATION OF THIS FEAR IN THE MIND — "I thy servant fear the Lord from my youth."
PeopleAhab, Elijah, Isaac, Jacob, Jezebel, Jezreel, Obadiah
PlacesJezreel, Kishon River, Mount Carmel, Samaria, Zarephath
TopicsBehold, Death, Elijah, Eli'jah, Kill, Master, Sayest, Saying, Slain, Slay
Outline1. In the extremity of famine Elijah, sent to Ahab, meets good Obadiah
9. Obadiah brings Ahab to Elijah
17. Elijah, reproving Ahab, by fire from heaven convinces Baal's prophets
41. Elijah, by prayer obtaining rain, follows Ahab to Jezreel
Dictionary of Bible Themes1 Kings 18:13
7775 prophets, lives
7778 school of prophets
To the Young '... I thy servant fear the Lord from my youth.--1 KINGS xviii.12. This Obadiah is one of the obscurer figures in the Old Testament. We never hear of him again, for there is no reason to accept the Jewish tradition which alleges that he was Obadiah the prophet. And yet how distinctly he stands out from the canvas, though he is only sketched with a few bold outlines! He is the 'governor over Ahab's house,' a kind of mayor of the palace, and probably the second man in the kingdom. But …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
The Trial by Fire
'And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose yon one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under. 26. And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. 27. And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
Elijah's Appeal to the Undecided
Now, we have these three classes here this morning. We have, I hope, a very large number who are on Jehovah's side, who fear God and serve him; we have a number who are on the side of the evil one, who make no profession of religion, and do not observe even the outward symptoms of it; because they are both inwardly and outwardly the servants of the evil one. But the great mass of my hearers belong to the third class--the waverers. Like empty clouds they are driven hither and thither by the wind; …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 3: 1857
Obadiah; Or, Early Piety Eminent Piety
The Lord does not love that his servants, however great they are, should think lightly of their lesser comrades, and it occurs to me that he so arranged matters that Obadiah became important to Elijah when he had to face the wrathful king of Israel. The prophet is bidden to go and show himself to Ahab, and he does so; but he judges it better to begin by showing himself to the governor of his palace, that he may break the news to his master, and prepare him for the interview. Ahab was exasperated …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 30: 1884
The Prophet Hosea.
GENERAL PRELIMINARY REMARKS. That the kingdom of Israel was the object of the prophet's ministry is so evident, that upon this point all are, and cannot but be, agreed. But there is a difference of opinion as to whether the prophet was a fellow-countryman of those to whom he preached, or was called by God out of the kingdom of Judah. The latter has been asserted with great confidence by Maurer, among others, in his Observ. in Hos., in the Commentat. Theol. ii. i. p. 293. But the arguments …
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament
But Some one Will Say, Does He not Know Without a Monitor Both what Our...
But some one will say, Does he not know without a monitor both what our difficulties are, and what is meet for our interest, so that it seems in some measure superfluous to solicit him by our prayers, as if he were winking, or even sleeping, until aroused by the sound of our voice?  Those who argue thus attend not to the end for which the Lord taught us to pray. It was not so much for his sake as for ours. He wills indeed, as is just, that due honour be paid him by acknowledging that all which …
John Calvin—Of Prayer--A Perpetual Exercise of Faith
Selfishness and Prayer. A Contrast.
"So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel, and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees."--1 KINGS xviii. 42. WHAT A CONTRAST! And yet, both men were perfectly consistent. It is in each case what you would expect, and yet how differently it might have been. What a different story it would have been if only Ahab had listened to the teaching of God! How often we see men having chances of turning round and beginning a new …
Thomas Champness—Broken Bread
The West Coast of Galilee-Carmel.
The people of Issachar had "Carmel and the river for their bounds in length": the people of Zabulon, "Carmel and the sea." Carmel was not so much one mountain as a mountainous country, containing almost the whole breadth of the land of Issachar, and a great part of that of Zabulon. It was, as it seems, a certain famous peak among many other mountain tops, known by the same name, lifted up and advanced above the rest. The promontory Carmel, in Pliny, and in the mountain a town of the same name, heretofore …
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica
Ninth Sunday after Trinity. How Long Halt Ye Between Two Opinions? if the Lord be God, Follow Him; but if Baal, Then Follow Him.
How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him. Was kinket ihr betrognen Seelen Lehr. 1733. trans. by Catherine Winkworth, 1855 Why halt thus, O deluded heart, Why waver longer in thy choice? Is it so hard to choose the part Offered by Heaven's entreating voice? Oh look with clearer eyes again, Nor strive to enter in, in vain. Press on! Remember, 'tis not Caesar's throne, Nor earthly honour, wealth or might Whereby God's favour shall be …
Catherine Winkworth—Lyra Germanica: The Christian Year
Fall of the Western Empire (Ad 451-476)
The empire of the West was now fast sinking. One weak prince was at the head of it after another, and the spirit of the old Romans, who had conquered the world, had quite died out. Immense hosts of barbarous nations poured in from the North. The Goths, under Alaric, who took Rome by siege, in the reign of Honorius, have been already mentioned (p 93). Forty years later, Attila, king of the Huns, who was called "The scourge of God," kept both the East and the West in terror. In the year 451, he advanced …
J. C. Roberston—Sketches of Church History, from AD 33 to the Reformation
Will the Knowledge that Some of Our Own are Lost, Mar Our Happiness in Heaven?
This is a difficult question to answer satisfactorily, on account of our instinctive feelings of natural affection, which arise, and, like a mist, obscure our judgment. Nevertheless, the difficulty is much lessened, and even entirely removed from some minds, at hast, by the following considerations. 1. Our happiness, even in this world, does not depend on the happiness of those who are bound to us by the ties of kindred or of friendship. This is especially the case when their unhappiness proceeds …
F. J. Boudreaux—The Happiness of Heaven
Of Prayer --A Perpetual Exercise of Faith. The Daily Benefits Derived from It.
1. A general summary of what is contained in the previous part of the work. A transition to the doctrine of prayer. Its connection with the subject of faith. 2. Prayer defined. Its necessity and use. 3. Objection, that prayer seems useless, because God already knows our wants. Answer, from the institution and end of prayer. Confirmation by example. Its necessity and propriety. Perpetually reminds us of our duty, and leads to meditation on divine providence. Conclusion. Prayer a most useful exercise. …
John Calvin—The Institutes of the Christian Religion
This was Antony's First Struggle against the Devil...
7. This was Antony's first struggle against the devil, or rather this victory was the Saviour's work in Antony  , Who condemned sin in the flesh that the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.' But neither did Antony, although the evil one had fallen, henceforth relax his care and despise him; nor did the enemy as though conquered cease to lay snares for him. For again he went round as a lion seeking some occasion against him. But Antony …
Athanasius—Select Works and Letters or Athanasius
Upon Our Lord's SermonOn the Mount
Discourse 7 "Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: And thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly." Matthew 6:16-18. 1. It has been the endeavour of Satan, from the beginning of the world, …
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions
Subterraneous Places. Mines. Caves.
Thus having taken some notice of the superficies of the land, let us a little search into its bowels. You may divide the subterraneous country into three parts: the metal mines, the caves, and the places of burial. This land was eminently noted for metal mines, so that "its stones," in very many places, "were iron, and out of its hills was digged brass," Deuteronomy 8:9. From these gain accrued to the Jews: but to the Christians, not seldom slavery and misery; being frequently condemned hither by …
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica
The First Commandment
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.' Exod 20: 3. Why is the commandment in the second person singular, Thou? Why does not God say, You shall have no other gods? Because the commandment concerns every one, and God would have each one take it as spoken to him by name. Though we are forward to take privileges to ourselves, yet we are apt to shift off duties from ourselves to others; therefore the commandment is in the second person, Thou and Thou, that every one may know that it is spoken to him, …
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments
But I give myself unto prayer.' Psa 109: 4. I shall not here expatiate upon prayer, as it will be considered more fully in the Lord's prayer. It is one thing to pray, and another thing to be given to prayer: he who prays frequently, is said to be given to prayer; as he who often distributes alms, is said to be given to charity. Prayer is a glorious ordinance, it is the soul's trading with heaven. God comes down to us by his Spirit, and we go up to him by prayer. What is prayer? It is an offering …
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments
Of Passages from the Holy Scriptures, and from the Apocrypha, which are Quoted, or Incidentally Illustrated, in the Institutes.
TO THE AUTHORS QUOTED IN THE INSTITUTES PREFATORY ADDRESS TO HIS MOST CHRISTIAN MAJESTY, THE MOST MIGHTY AND ILLUSTRIOUS MONARCH, FRANCIS, KING OF THE FRENCH, HIS SOVEREIGN;  JOHN CALVIN PRAYS PEACE AND SALVATION IN CHRIST.  Sire,--When I first engaged in this work, nothing was farther from my thoughts than to write what should afterwards be presented to your Majesty. My intention was only to furnish a kind of rudiments, by which those who feel some interest in religion might be trained to …
John Calvin—The Institutes of the Christian Religion
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