“So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”
“As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”
Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”
She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.” 1 Kings 17:10-16
This is one story in 1 Kings that I truly love. Not only because I have enjoyed reading about the purposeful life of Elijah (arguably one of the if not the greatest prophet of the Old Testament) and they powerful way in which this man of God touched so many different lives, but also because of the woman in the story.
We don’t know her name… she was just known in the story as a widow and mother who Elijah met in Zarephath. This anonymity had me instead focusing on not her identify but her character.
- A woman of desperation
She was preparing her last meal for her and her child to die. Having the status of a widow in bible times with no caretaker would have been pretty harsh. She was poor, desperate and on her last meal. Coupled with the famine in the land and her inability to provide crops from farming she must have felt lost.
- A woman of sacrifice
There is no other word for it. To give your last meal to a man you may not know a lot about (but obviously heard of) instead of you and your child is a sacrifice.
- A woman of wisdom
She recognized this Israelite to whom she was speaking and his God. “As surely as the Lord your God lives”… her background and place she was from would denote the worship of false gods, Baal was one of the main ones at that time. It is interesting the words that she spoke not only addressing Elijah’s God, but stating that he ‘lives’ as a surety.
- A woman of kindness
This widow demonstrated acts of kindness and hospitality in a setting, position and time in her life where many would have understood if she refused to be kind. But it is because of her kindness that not only was she blessed with provisions from God, but she developed a close friendship with one of the greatest prophets that ever lived.
- A woman of faith
There had to have been faith in her character to just believe Elijah. There had to have been some faith to believe his words and the word of his God. And it was because of this same faith, that she received in the end the promise of blessing made by Elijah and God.
The widow of Zarephath leaves us with 3 great lessons of kindness, faith and sacrifice.
Food for thought: How many of us today are doing all that we can to give and serve in the kingdom? I love to give but there is so much more that I and even you (YES you!) can do for the glory of the kingdom.
Prayer: Holy God, creator of all things. You are Jehovah Jireh (God our Provider). To all that we need, we only have to ask and it will be given according to your glorious riches. Forgive us for hoarding “our money and material things”. There is no wealth in this world that you do not own. You just loaned it to us for a time to see how we will manage it. May we continue to seek you first Lord in all things and continually ask for your guidance on how we can serve and give in your Kingdom. All for your glory. Amen
May God’s mercy, grace and peace be with you.