Living Water Community Church - Sunday Worship
1 Kings 17 - “Yahweh is Looking for a Faithful People”
Yahweh loves with a loyal love. Yahweh provides for our needs. Yahweh alone provides for our needs. Yahweh is true and reliable. Yahweh alone is reliable, dependable, worthy of our trust. When Yahweh says something will happen, it happens. Yahweh loves with a loyal and faithful love.
Israel and its king did not believe these things. One hundred years after David, Israel denied every one of these claims. They did not believe that Yahweh was loyal, faithful, true, reliable, dependable, loving. Israel did not believe Yahweh was sufficient. Ahab, Israel’s king, did not believe Yahweh was sufficient.
When I was growing up, I had a story book about Elijah. Elijah being fed by ravens, Elijah and the jar of oil, Elijah on Mount Carmel, Elijah and the fiery chariot. My mom would sit on the bed with me and let me turn the pages while she read. I had other Bible story books--they were in a series, thin and paperback: Samson and the Philistines, David and Goliath, Daniel and the Lions’ Den. These stories were simply told with matching simple, colorful illustrations. I would turn the pages and learn the moral or find an example to imitate in each story.
The moral of the stories we’ve heard this morning is that God is the one who is control and the one who provides for us. Elijah and also the Sidonian widow are wonderful examples to imitate, heroes of faith. This is what my childhood storybook said.
But we can hear more in these stories when we listen to them in context. The storybook moral of David and Goliath, for instance, was that when we trust in God, no one (however big) can stand against us. When we read the story in the unfolding history of 1 Samuel, however, we find that the contest is less about David versus Goliath and more about the question of who will be God’s chosen shepherd-king-protector of the people--David who completely depends on Yahweh or Saul who is a tall and strong warrior. No one can stand against us when we trust in Yahweh, but the real threat is Saul, not some Philistine giant.
In the same way, we need to hear these Elijah stories as part of a larger story about how God’s people move from theocratic rule under Samuel to exile in the Assyrian and Babylonian empires. The moral of that bigger story is a theme that shows up over and over again in each of the intervening narratives: Yahweh’s people must depend on Yahweh alone.