1 Kings 17:8-16

This week’s devotions were written by Kathy Patrick, a member of Faith Lutheran Church.

The Widow of Zarephath, Part 3

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” So he set out and went to Zarephath.

When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink.” As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” But she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”

Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied, and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth.”

She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days. The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah. 1 Kings 17:8-16

We’ve studied this story for four days, but we’ve not mentioned one important person:  the son of the Widow of Zarephath. You can learn more about him by reading the rest of 1 Kings 17, but as we have it in this part of the story, we know only that he is still at home with his mother and that he is just as desperately poor as is she. We don’t know how they’ve come to be so poor or why they have nothing left to eat but a bit of meal. Are they starving, perhaps, because of the drought—the one Elijah warned Ahab would be the consequence of his idolatry—the same Elijah who has now asked the boy’s mother to share her last meal on earth with him?

What does the boy see? What does he know about Elijah?

We can speculate, but we know this much:  The boy sees his mother share their last morsel of food with a stranger. He sees her generosity. He sees her share food that was meant to sustain him with a refugee neither of them knows. And he sees, too, that the consequence of her generosity is not death—it is life. There is enough. Her generous act is met with abundance. The text reports that the widow, as well as Elijah and her household (including her son) ate for many days, because the jar of meal was not emptied, and the jug of oil did not run dry. (1 Kings 17:15-16).

Prayer:  Holy Spirit, when we bring the children of our church to be baptized, we promise to place the Scriptures in their hands and teach them the stories of our faith. Children learn from what they see us do. May the children of our church, like the son of the Widow of Zarephath, see us respond generously when you call us to give. Help them—and us—to understand that generosity is the very essence of life, so that as you have given generously to us, we may give generously, too. Amen.

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