5.61 1 Kings -- The Widow's Son

Why is it that even the friends of the prophets themselves draw hostile fire?  The widow's son became ill and died.  (This also happened later on to the son of the Shunemite woman who befriended Elisha (2 Kings 4)).  The widow immediately turned on Elijah:

        "What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?" (1 Kings 17:18).

This was not a wild accusation.  In the presence of the holy, we know ourselves unclean and unworthy.  And when something bad happens, we attribute it to our having offended God.  Indeed, Elijah echoed her complaint:

        "O Lord my God, have you brought tragedy also upon this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?" (1 Kings 17:20).

The poignant word here is "also."  There was a heaviness upon Elijah, as there was on Moses -- the burden of the purpose of God, which he had to bear.  He wondered -- Is not life and death in the hands of God?   Has the Lord therefore brought sorrow to this woman whom He had previously blessed with provision? There was an element of unbelief and of accusation in his cry.

         

But it wasn't so.  In response to his prayer, God restored the child to life.  This was the first resurrection recorded in the Bible -- and it occurred to a Canaanite boy!  There was tremendous passion in his intercession:  stretching himself upon the child three times was an attempt to transfer not just physical life, but the anointing of God that rested on him.  Just as God's holiness was transferrable to the furnishings of the tent of meeting (Num 4:15Num 16:36-38), so Elijah was imparting the Holy Spirit into the body of this child.  True intimacy with God conveys life.

         The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived (1 Kings 17:22).

        

This miracle had a greater impact on the woman than the provision of food.  It affected her attitude toward Elijah, and also her beliefs about God:

        "Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth" (1 Kings 17:24).

         As the NIV says, "The widow had addressed Elijah as a man of God previously (v.18), but now she knew in a much more experiential way that he truly was a prophet of the Lord" (p. 510).  God revealed Himself to her (and to Elijah) as the God of life, in the place of her urgent need.