After the great contest – that was really no contest at all – after that event, the queen threatens Elijah with death (19:1-2). Considering the great victory just a while ago, it appears disappointing the Elijah would flee to save his life; nevertheless, that is what he does (19:3-4). Having fled he is “intercepted” by the Lord’s servant (19:5-7), and having come to Mount Horeb the Lord speaks to him about his fleeing (19:8-10). Elijah replies to the Lord that he is no better than those who came before and that he is the only faithful one remaining. The Lord answered Elijah in a number of ways for Elijah’s benefit (19:11-14), but the ultimate answer to alleviate Elijah’s apprehension was to go and do the Lord’s bidding (16:11, 15). Moreover, Elijah was simply wrong when he thought he was the only remaining one. Having received this charge from the Lord Elijah sets out to call the Lord’s next prophet when Elijah is no longer around (19:19-21).
Application: Zeal for the Lord has eaten me up! Some of the rabbis of long ago stated and reaffirm this remark of the Lord to Elijah concerning his zealotry: “Elijah wanted God to punish Israel, but God said to him, ‘They abandoned My covenant, not yours; they dismantled My altars, not yours; they killed My prophet, not yours. Why are you more zealous than I?’” (ArtScroll, 1 Kings, p. 190). In our zeal to serve the Lord, do we have more zeal than the Lord that we want to “execute” the Lord’s will before He does? Whether the rabbis properly understood the passage or not it sure does speak truth just the same. Our anxiety, when it occurs, is to do the Lord’s will and leave all “executions” of His plan to Him.