The Resurrection At Zarephath

Title: The Resurrection At Zarephath

Bible Book: 1 Kings 17 : 17-24

Author: David E. Owen

Subject: Resurrections, Bible; God, Power of; Love of God; Revival



1 Kings 17:17-24

This morning, we’re beginning a series on Resurrection Scenes from the Word of God. As far as I can tell, there are nine situations in the scripture, including the resurrection of Jesus Himself, when someone who had died is resurrected from a state of death. We also read in Matthew 27:52-53 that after Jesus’ resurrection, “many bodies of the saints which slept arose and came out of the graves.” As well, the Bible speaks of the resurrection of the dead believers in passages like 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4.

In a couple of these resurrection scenes, the dead one is said to have been “revived.” So the benefit and purpose of this series is two-fold. It will prepare us for Easter Sunday as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, and it will help us prepare for our revival as we learn some of the factors involved in these Biblical scenes of someone being “revived.”

The first resurrection scene takes place during the ministry of the prophet Elijah. As Chuck Swindoll said…

Up to this point in Scripture there has been no account of anyone ever being raised from the dead. There was no precedence for this particular miracle. (Elijah: A Man Of Heroism And Humility, page 64-65)

This scene of revival and resurrection in the ministry of Elijah took place at Zarephath, where God had sent him to be sustained by the widow who lived there. And in His executive authority, God would sustain the widow so she might sustain the prophet. God would see to it that her barrel of meal wasted not and her cruse of oil would not run out. The Bible tells us that after this miracle of an ongoing supply, the widow’s son died. And this is where our account begins.

By the way, Zarephath was in enemy territory. In 1 Kings 16:31, we are told that Jezebel was the daughter of the king of the Zidonians. Then 1 Kings 17:9 says that Zarephath “belongeth to Zidon.”

The name “Zarephath” means the “smelting place” or the place of refining metal in the refiner’s fire. And in several respects, that’s what this place became for Elijah and for the widow and her son. It was a place of refinement; a place where the “fiery trial” took place.

But once the smelting takes place and the dross and impurities are skimmed from the top, we are better able to see the brightness and brilliance of the metal. In practical terms, there is less of us and more of God. And as Stephen Olford said, “Revival is an invasion from heaven that brings a conscious awareness of God.”

As we think about the Revival / Resurrection at Zarephath…

I. The Trial Involved In This Resurrection Scene

(1 Kings 17:17–18)

A. The Season Of The Trial

(1 Kings 17:17) And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him.

1. The Trial Came After The Days Of Difficult Famine

(1 Kings 17:12) And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.

(1 Kings 18:2) And Elijah went to show himself unto Ahab. And there was a sore famine in Samaria.

sore – Hebrew 2389. chazaq, khaw-zawk'; from H2388; strong (usu. in a bad sense, hard, bold, violent):--harder, hottest, + impudent, loud, mighty, sore, stiff [-hearted], strong (-er).

Cf. (1 Kings 17:20) And he cried unto the Lord, and said, O LORD my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?

The Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament says…

These words, in which the word also refers to the other calamities occasioned by the drought, contain no reproach of God, but are expressive of the heartiest compassion for the suffering of his benefactress and the deepest lamentation, which, springing from living faith, pours out the whole heart before God in the hour of distress, that I may appeal to Him the more powerfully for His aid.

2. The Trial Came After The Days Of Divine Faithfulness

(1 Kings 17:14-16) For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth. {15} And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days. {16} And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah.

Even in the days of famine, God had proven Himself faithful.

waste – Hebrew 3615. kalah, kaw-law'; a prim. root; to end, whether intrans. (to cease, be finished, perish) or trans. (to complete, prepare, consume):--accomplish, cease, consume (away), determine, destroy (utterly), be (when . . . were) done, (be an) end (of), expire, (cause to) fail, faint, finish, fulfil, X fully, X have, leave (off), long, bring to pass, wholly reap, make clean riddance, spend, quite take away, waste.

fail – Hebrew 2638. chacer, khaw-sare'; from H2637; lacking; hence without:--destitute, lack, have need, void, want.

B. The Suddenness Of The Trial

(1 Kings 17:17) And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him.

(It came so suddenly that there was no time to intercede for him.) Charles Simeon said…

Two years before, when she thought her child near to death, she spoke of it with the most perfect composure (vs. 12): but now her distress and sorrow were exceeding great: on the former occasion she saw her little provision gradually consuming, and death advancing with rapid strides; and therefore her mind was prepared for the event: but here the event was so sudden that she had not time even to go the prophet, and desire his intercessions in her behalf: hence the stroke was almost insupportable; and made her even reflect upon the prophet, as though he had occasioned her calamity.

(Expository Outlines, Volume 3: page 394-395)

There are some other references that shed light on the description of the disease in this verse…

1. This Sickness Was As Swift As A Wound

(1 Kings 22:34) And a certain man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness: wherefore he said unto the driver of his chariot, Turn thine hand, and carry me out of the host; for I am wounded.

(“Wounded” is the same Hebrew word as “fell sick” in 1 Kings 17:17)

2. This Sickness Was As Strong As A Warrior

(Judges 7:11) And thou shalt hear what they say; and afterward shall thine hands be strengthened (this is the Hebrew root for the word “sore” used in 1 Kings 17:17) to go down unto the host. Then went he down with Phurah his servant unto the outside of the armed men that were in the host.

C. The Strain Of The Trial

We must not think it strange if we meet with very sharp afflictions, even when we are in the way of duty, and of eminent service to God. (Matthew Henry)

1. The Result Of Grief

This Is Exhibited In The Woman Blaming Elijah – A Result Of Grief

(1 Kings 17:18) And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?

The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary states that…

The phrase is elliptic (obscure), and the meaning is, ‘What is there in common to us two-to me, a sinful woman, and thee, a man of God-that we should thus have come together to my harm?’

Matthew Henry said…

She expresses herself passionately: What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? How calmly had she spoken of her own and her child's death when she expected to die for want (v. 12) — that we may eat, and die! Yet now that her child dies, and not so miserably as by famine, she is extremely disturbed at it. We may speak lightly of an affliction at a distance, but when it toucheth us we are troubled, Job 4:5. Then she spoke deliberately, now in haste; the death of her child was now a surprise to her, and it is hard to keep our spirits composed when troubles come upon us suddenly and unexpectedly, and in the midst of our peace and prosperity. She calls him a man of God, and yet quarrels with him as if he had occasioned the death of her child.

2. The Result Of Guilt

This Is Exhibited In The Woman Blaming Herself – A Result Of Guilt

Art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son? The Bible Knowledge Commentary says…

The woman had a guilty conscience and immediately concluded that God was punishing her for her sin by killing her son. This is a common reaction among many people who do not know God’s ways well when personal tragedy enters their lives (cf. John 9:2-3). What sin she was referring to is not stated.

(John 9:2-3) And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? {3} Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

II. The Trust Involved In This Resurrection Scene

(1 Kings 17:19–21)

A. The Place Of Trust

(1 Kings 17:19) And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed.

1. This Was A Lofty Place

he... carried him up into a loft, where he abode

loft – Hebrew 5944. 'aliyah, al-ee-yaw'; fem. from H5927; something lofty, i.e. a stair-way; also a second-story room (or even one on the roof); fig. the sky:--ascent, (upper) chamber, going up, loft, parlour.

In order to deal with this crisis, Elijah felt it necessary to go up to a higher level.

2. This Was A Lowly Place

and laid him upon his own bed

bed – Hebrew 4296. mittah, mit-taw'; from H5186; a bed (as extended) for sleeping or eating; by anal. a sofa, litter (a bed of straw) or bier:--bed ([-chamber]), bier (a funeral bier for the corpse).

Once he got up to the higher level, he got down on a lower level. His resting place became a requesting place.

B. The Prayer Of Trust

(1 Kings 17:20) And he cried unto the LORD, and said, O Lord my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?

1. The Scripture Reveals The Feeling Of His Prayer

And he cried

cried – [Hebrew 7121. qara’] a primary root [rather identical with H7122 through the idea of accosting a person met]; to call out to; i.e. properly to address by name. [Which he did … Oh Lord (Jehovah) my God (Elohim)]

2. The Scripture Reveals The Fearlessness Of His Prayer

George Barlow said…

He pleaded for the restoration of life to the dead boy – a bold and hitherto unheard of request from the lips of mortal man! It was a mighty demand indeed, for a mortal to make a request that had no previous parallel in praying lips. (Homiletic Commentary: Volume 8 - Kings, page 278)

The Bible Knowledge Commentary says…

Some Bible critics say the boy was only unconscious, not dead, and that his restoration was therefore not a miracle. However, verses 18,20,22-23 make it clear that he had actually died.

Here Elijah, as James said, “prayed earnestly.” In other words, he was “praying in his prayers.”

(James 5:17) Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.

Cf. (Hebrews 4:16) Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

C. The Position Of Trust

(1 Kings 17:21) And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again.

1. We Can Look At His Desperation Here

(1 Kings 17:21) And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again.

stretched – Hebrew 4058. madad, maw-dad'; a prim. root; prop. to stretch; by implication it means to measure (as if by stretching a line); fig. to be extended:--measure, mete, stretch self.

Hamilton Smith wrote…

The faith of Elijah keeps God between himself and the sorrowful circumstances. But Elijah recognizes that in himself he has no power. This may be signified by the act of stretching himself on the child, or, as the margin reads, he “measured” himself. He thoroughly identifies himself with the dead child; he takes his measure and realizes that, like the dead child, he has no strength. Elijah is powerless in the presence of death. But if the child is dead, God is living. If Elijah has no power, Elijah can pray. By the act of stretching he identifies himself with the powerlessness of the child. (Elijah: A Prophet Of The Lord, page 26-27 / Serious Christian – Series 2: Volume 1)

2. We Can Listen To His Dependence Here and cried unto the Lord

(Hebrews 11:35) Women received their dead raised to life again (By Faith): and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:

III. The Testimony Involved In This Resurrection Scene

(1 Kings 17:24)

A. There Is A Powerful Testimony Revealed Here

(1 Kings 17:22) And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.

1. God Hears Prayers – He Responds

There is the testimony that God hears prayers – he responds The Lord heard the voice of Elijah.

heard – Hebrew 8085. shama', shaw-mah'; a prim. root; to hear intelligently (often with impl. of attention, obedience, etc.; caus. to tell, etc.):-- X attentively, call (gather) together, X carefully, X

certainly, consent, consider, be content, declare, X diligently, discern, give ear, (cause to, let, make to) hear (-ken, tell), X indeed, listen, make (a) noise, (be) obedient, obey, perceive, (make a) proclaim (-ation), publish, regard, report, shew (forth), (make a) sound, X surely, tell, understand, whosoever [heareth], witness.


2.God Helps People – He Revives

There Is The Testimony That God Helps People – He Revives and he revived

revived – Hebrew 2421. chayah, khaw-yaw'; a prim. root [comp. H2331, H2424]; to live whether lit. or fig.; causat, to revive:--keep (leave, make) alive, X certainly, give (promise) life, (let, suffer to) live, nourish up, preserve (alive), quicken, recover, repair, restore (to life), revive, (X God) save (alive, life, lives), X surely, be whole.

To Live, To Last, To Lift – all of these are suggested in the word “Revived.”

B. There Is A Persuasive Testimony Revealed Here

1. We Can See How This Affected The Lady

(1 Kings 17:24) And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth.

The daily provision had apparently not convinced her, but the great miracle did.

2. We Can Speculate About How This Affected The Lad

George Barlow said…

Many suppose that this youth afterwards became the servant of Elijah (18:43; 19:3): and an old Jewish tradition identifies him with the prophet Jonah. (Homiletic Commentary: Volume 8 - Kings, page 278)

C. There Is A Personal Testimony Revealed Here

(1 Kings 17:24) And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth.

1. She Spoke Of The Message In A Firsthand Way

She spoke of the message in a firsthand way – it was a word that had been experienced in her life!

know – Hebrew OT:3045. yada’; Essentially this word means: (1) to know by observing and reflecting (thinking), and (2) to know by experiencing. In contrast to this knowing through reflection is the knowing which comes through experience with the senses, by investigation and proving, by reflection and consideration (firsthand knowing). (From Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)


2.She Spoke Of The Message In A Faithful Way

2. She spoke of the message in a faithful way – it was a word that had been established in her life.

truth – Hebrew 571. 'emeth, eh'-meth; contr. from H539; stability; fig. certainty, truth, trustworthiness:-- assured (-ly), establishment, faithful, right, sure, true (-ly, -th), verity.

She realized now that his message of God was something that she pillowed her head on at night.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary says…

This incident showed the widow and others that the power of the Lord as the true God contrasted greatly with the impotency of Baal.

The Biblical Illustrator said…

It is a testimonial from one of another religion. She was a heathen, belonging to another nation. She had her own notions of things, and held them as tenaciously as Elijah held to his religion. To her, his belief and worship might be all unmeaning, possibly at first a matter of ridicule, even of scorn. Yet  she cannot withhold her hearty confession, full of admiration, almost of envy — “I know,” she said.

In the Welsh Revival that began under the leading of a 26-year-old Evan Roberts at Moriah Chapel in Loughor, Wales, over 100,000 people were reportedly saved. The Welsh Revival website states, “In asking one elderly Revival convert some years ago as to whether the Revival stopped in 1906, she answered – its still burning within my heart – it’s never been extinguished – it has burned for over 70 years.”

May God do a lasting work here!


An article from 1992 stated - J. Edwin Orr summarized … in one sentence his 60 years of study on prayer and spiritual awakening when he wrote: “Whenever God is ready to do something new with His people, He always sets them to praying.” This was certainly true during the First Great Awakening.

In 1746, Jonathan Edwards published a book on “concerts of prayer” — a term used in his day and repeated in subsequent prayer movements over the last 250 years. Well aware from biblical and historical accounts that united prayer was the only way to sustain the spiritual awakening that already had begun in the colonies, Edwards called for Christians on both sides of the Atlantic to pray for revival.

There usually are five phases in every historic revival:

  • Intercession — God’s people begin to unite in prayer for revival;
  • Revelation — God answers prayer by pouring out a fresh new manifestation of the person of Christ;
  • Consecration — as a result, God’s people consecrate themselves to Him, and each other, and to the work of Christ in the world;
  • Revitalization—ministries are purified and rejuvenated and become more fruitful, both locally, nationally, and beyond;
  • Expansion—out of revival the gospel is advanced further, the church makes a greater impact upon the surrounding culture, and a general spiritual awakening takes place on many levels. (From National & International Religion Report Special Report, 1992, pp. 2-3) (

Just as Elijah prayed and God revealed Himself and there was revitalization that took place, if we expect revival – then we too must pray for a renewed manifestation of God’s work!

I read that this gentleman once visited a great jewelry store, owned by a friend. His friend showed him magnificent diamonds, and other splendid stones. Amongst these stones his eye lighted on one that seemed quite dull and lusterless, and, pointing to it, he said: “That has no beauty at all.” But    his friend took the stone out and put it in the hollow of his hand, and shut his hand, and then in a few moments opened it again.

What a surprise! The entire stone seemed to experience a revival as it gleamed with all the splendors of the rainbow. “What have you done to it?” asked the astonished spectator. His friend answered: “This is an opal. And it is an unusual stone that only needs to be gripped with the humanhand to bring out a reviving of its wonderful beauty.”

Before the widow’s son could be revived, he had to be touched by Elijah. Similarly, before the opal is revived, it has to experience the human touch. But before you and I can experience revival, we have to experience the divine touch of God.

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