#51 Women of the Bible: Widow of Zarephath
There was a severe drought in Israel and God commanded Elijah to go to Zarephath and stay with a widow there. This is odd. It’s a drought for one and food is scarce. Secondly she has no husband and it wasn’t socially acceptable for 2 single unrelated people to be living in the same house. Thirdly she wasn’t from Israel.
The first thing we have recorded about their meeting was Elijah asking her for a drink of water. Water would have been scarce but there was no hesitation on the widow’s part to rush off to get him some water. Talk about generosity!
Before she can get the water Elijah asked for a flat cake. She apologises that she only had a handful of flour and a bit of oil and that she was just going out to get some sticks to make a fire to bake the cake so that she and her son could have their last meal together. Elijah told her not to fear and that God would supernaturally keep the flour and oil in her pantry until the drought was over. Her generosity appeared again. On that reassurance the widow made Elijah a cake and she was divinely provided for for the duration of the drought.
The widow is already familiar with death. Her husband had died and then we were told that later her son died. The widow made a strange comment: “Have you come to bring my sin to remembrance , and to kill my son?” (I Kings 17:18). This is an interesting insight into this woman. She is aware that sin in the land and prayer from Elijah brought on the drought so she assumes that her son’s death must be the result of her sin and Elijah’s prayer. What her sin was is not disclosed but whatever it was, she feels incredible guilt.
Here’s where God’s mercy is revealed to her. Elijah showed his real heart and prayed for him to be resurrected and he was. It took this supernatural encounter to incontrovertibly convince the widow that Elijah really was a man of God and that he truly spoke the word of God. (I Kings 17) and, more particularly, the God of Israel was a kind and generous God.
Don’t wait until something bad happens in your life before you realise that God is for you and not against you!