1 Kings 18:43-44
And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing…
I. THAT TO AIM UPWARDS IN OUR THOUGHTS AND ACTIONS IS THE BEST WAY TO OBTAIN RELIEF IN TIMES OF DANGER OR DIFFICULTY. Elijah went up to the topmost position of Mount Carmel, and he bade his servant go up still higher, to the very peak of the mountain, so as the better to observe the appearances of the sky far and wide. Are we in search of some good? Then let us raise our affections above the unsatisfying, the perishing, the earthly, to the beatific, the eternal, the heavenly; let us scale the heights of our celestial Carmel, and seek for the rain-cloud of promise, by the waters of which a well of water shall be made to spring up in our hearts unto eternal life.
II. THAT WE SHOULD NOT PROCRASTINATE IN SPIRITUAL MATTERS. "Go up now," Elijah says to his servant, "Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation." "What thou doest, do quickly." Indolence cannot win heavenly riches any more than worldly. "Procrastination is the thief of time." The sluggard loses all his to-days in thinking of his to-morrows. To-morrow, in fact, is the watchword of the lazy and the idle.
III. THAT THE TRUE SPIRITUAL LIFE CONSISTS OF TWO PARTS, THE ACTIVE AND THE CONTEMPLATIVE. Elijah went up, after his strenuous exertion in his contests with the priests of Baal, to the top of the mountain, and there rested upon the ground with his face between his knees, that is, in prayer or Divine meditation. The servant, too, was to "go up." That necessitated active exertion, and then to "look" over the face of the heaven. That showed the desirability of contemplation.
IV. THAT WE MUST NEVER DESPAIR. The servant of Elijah had to go up seven times ere he saw any sign of the coming of the wished-for rain. Let us not then be "weary in well-doing," let us not give way to disappointment if we succeed not at once in our efforts after higher things. To few persons in this life does success come immediately or at one trial. The spider — that, by its frequent efforts to cast its web between two distant points, taught perseverance to the royal Bruce — might also speak to us the lesson to persevere unto the end, to continue in well-doing, to show forth in heavenly things patience and perseverance.
V. THAT IN SMALL THINGS, AS WELL AS IN GREAT WE SHOULD LEARN TO TRACE GOD'S HAND. This little cloud, even at last, was no bigger than a man's hand; yet it was a messenger sent to fulfil God's decree. Many persons are willing enough to recognise God's agency in great events, in national revolutions, popular outbreaks, natural disturbances; but are not inclined to see the power of God in lesser matters, in individual trials, in the every-day phenomena of life.
VI. THAT WE SHOULD REGARD TEMPORAL MATTERS IN THE LIGHT OF ETERNITY. This servant of Elijah was to look towards the sea. The sea has ever been taken as an emblem of eternity. It was a fitter emblem of eternity in the ancient world than it is in the modern, because the ancients knew little of its depth or its extent, whereas we have mapped out in a great degree both the one and the other.
(R. Young, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times.