1 Kings 17:12-14
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.And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. 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.
How dire were the circumstances faced by the widow woman in our story? Just read above, and the situation seems abundantly clear. Elijah had trooped into town, encountered the widow woman, and asked her to prepare something for him to eat and drink.
Her initial reaction was very telling. We can see here that she did not have the resources to do what Elijah asked. In fact, she was gathering sticks for a fire to prepare what she suspected would be her last meal for her and her son. Their last meal. She had nothing left other than a little flour and oil to make one last cake for the two of them. Can you imagine if you only had a biscuit left to eat, with no hope of there ever being another? Starvation is not a good way to die, and that is what she and her son were facing, and she knew and understood that. Her situation was hopeless. Then, this man pops up and says basically, “Hey, fix me supper please!”
A question seems to arise here. Was this woman a believer in the on True God? We really don’t know, to tell the truth. It seems likely that in that moment we was not. She said to Elijah, the Lord thy God. Maybe He was her God at this point, maybe not. We will see later, however, that she trusted what the Prophet told her and did as he asked.
Back in verse 9 of our chapter, we had learned that God had communicated with the woman; Elijah’s showing up was not a surprise to her at all. God told Elijah that he had already commanded a woman to take care of Him after his brook dried up.
I find the woman’s response interesting. If she did believe in God, then she is a great example of obedience even in the face of simply awful circumstances. Who, after all, was this man telling her that things would be okay?
If she was NOT a believer, then her response is even more interesting. A God she perhaps did not even believe in communicated with her. We don’t know how that communication happened, just that it did. The important part is that she responded. She had no proof of the validity of God, just the fact that she apparently understood of His existence. On that meager knowledge, we see her stepping out in faith initially. More importantly, later we will see how that, in response to her initial faith, that God continued to prove Himself to her.
Final note. Why this particular widow woman? Surely there were others in the city. Did God just pick one because He wanted to? Did He pick her because He know her heart was responding to a drawing by Him? Who knows, really, but it is something to think about.