FEAR, COURAGE AND CONTROL
Lord, give me courage when I need it.
Read 1 KINGS 18:1–15
18 After a long time, in the third year, the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.” 2 So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab.
Now the famine was severe in Samaria, 3 and Ahab had summoned Obadiah, his palace administrator. (Obadiah was a devout believer in the Lord. 4 While Jezebel was killing off the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.) 5 Ahab had said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs and valleys. Maybe we can find some grass to keep the horses and mules alive so we will not have to kill any of our animals.” 6 So they divided the land they were to cover, Ahab going in one direction and Obadiah in another.
7 As Obadiah was walking along, Elijah met him. Obadiah recognized him, bowed down to the ground, and said, “Is it really you, my lord Elijah?”
8 “Yes,” he replied. “Go tell your master, ‘Elijah is here.’”
9 “What have I done wrong,” asked Obadiah, “that you are handing your servant over to Ahab to be put to death? 10 As surely as the Lord your God lives, there is not a nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to look for you. And whenever a nation or kingdom claimed you were not there, he made them swear they could not find you. 11 But now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ 12 I don’t know where the Spirit of the Lord may carry you when I leave you. If I go and tell Ahab and he doesn’t find you, he will kill me. Yet I your servant have worshiped the Lord since my youth. 13 Haven’t you heard, my lord, what I did while Jezebel was killing the prophets of the Lord? I hid a hundred of the Lord’s prophets in two caves, fifty in each, and supplied them with food and water. 14 And now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ He will kill me!”
15 Elijah said, “As the Lord Almighty lives, whom I serve, I will surely present myself to Ahab today.”
New International Version (NIV)
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“Fear not, little flock… be dressed ready for service” (Luke 12:32–35, paraphrased).
Three years have elapsed, and Elijah is now ready. All that time, Ahab has been hunting for him (10), unaware that he is quietly living only a few miles from his father-in-law’s palace under the Lord’s protection. So “Go and present yourself to Ahab” (1) is no small order, even if Elijah carries good news of rains to come. If the prophet suddenly and unexpectedly appears before the enraged Ahab, he may not survive the encounter. Therefore, once more the Lord takes steps to protect him. He chooses one of his servants, Obadiah, to act as intermediary.
Although Obadiah is not the focus of this chapter, it’s worth taking a few moments to learn from him. In many ways, he is a simple, ordinary Israelite trying to survive in difficult and uncertain times, but he is also a man of genuine faith and not afraid to act on his faith (4). To remain a “devout believer” (3) while occupying a position of authority in Ahab’s court means that Obadiah walks a tightrope every day. Things only worsen as the drought begins to hit Ahab personally and he tries in vain to fend off the disastrous results using his own ingenuity (5). So Obadiah’s concerns are quite reasonable. Nonetheless, he trusts Elijah’s promise (15) and carries out his instructions (16). Courage is courage only when facing damaging consequences. Consider what may cause you to fear damaging consequences and pray accordingly.
In due time Obadiah discovers that his fears are in fact unfounded. Elijah comes through. He is there waiting for Ahab to arrive, and Ahab is too obsessed with him to bother with blaming Obadiah. This incident is an opportunity for Obadiah to grow spiritually and for Elijah to fulﬁll his latest mission. As always, the Lord has been in full control each step of the way.
How will you choose to think and act in the light of your fears? How often do you ﬁnd that your fears are unfounded? Meditate on Hebrews 13:6.
Lord, Your people recognize that You are in full control of situations that give rise to momentary doubts on our part.