The Power of Words or the Power of the Word
1 Kings 19:3
‘Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there’.
Words are incredibly powerful things. Words can be used to express the whole range of human emotion, from love to hate to everything in between. The use of words in speeches have led to some of the most memorable moments in human history. Every day we use words in one form or other. We use words to express our inmost feelings, and words have a great power to bring healing, restoration and reconciliation. But words also have the power to destroy.
Jezebel’s words to Elijah via a messenger in 1 Kings 19:2 “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.”were laced with venomous poison. This was a threat that the evil Queen was capable of carrying out. Her threat was one which any sane person who knew her would have taken seriously, and what was Elijah’s reaction ? Fear ‘Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life..’. It is easy to miss the extent to which blind fear had taken a hold of Elijah’s heart. He ran from Jezreel (1 Kings 18:46) to Beersheba in Judah. Beersheba in the very far south of the territory of Judah was over one hundred miles away. It was also at this time deep in enemy territory in the kingdom of Judah. The contrast between the end of chapter 18 and the beginning of chapter nineteen is immense. One moment Elijah in his moment of victory is propelled by the hand of the Lord to Jezreel , leaving Ahab’s fine chariot horses trailing in his wake (1 kings 18:45-46). The next moment we see a very different Elijah, in headlong flight from Jezebel, but no mention made of the hand of the Lord.
Very quickly after the triumph of Mount Carmel, Elijah finds himself in the grip of despair, and in reality in the clutches of depression ( see verse 4) . All because of a witch’s words. Jezebel had brought a cold curse to bear on him, a threat which caused even a mighty man of God to run. Her witchcraft had the same effect as a snake’s venom, in the first instance it paralyses, then it goes on to kill its victim.
These verses show Elijah’s human frailty more than any other passage in his story. He shows fear a very real human emotion, and maybe explains what the letter of James in the New Testament meant in saying that Elijah was “ a man just like us..” ( Jas 5: 17) . Nor did Elijah stop there , we read that after leaving his servant at Beersheba, he was to journey a further forty days , sustained miraculously by an angel ( verse 5) and kept going south to Horeb the mount of God far south in the Sinai peninsula.
It can be the case that to the outside world we look as if we are on top of things, in command, in control. On Top of the Mountain when in reality we are in the depths of despair. That was how Elijah is in our reading literally on top of the mountain, but it seems as if very quickly afterwards he is down in a very deep valley of despair. It is very easy for anyone of us to be like this today. on the surface everything looks fine, but deep down things are different, and although to others our lives may look sunny and sweet, the reality is different.
What is the answer ? There was only one solution for Elijah , and for you and I there is also only one solution. The Word of God. The Word of God is the antidote to every poison, and the great remedy for all our ills. The word of God has more power than we can imagine ‘ For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two- edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.’ (Hebrews 4:12 NKJV) Tomorrow God willing we will see how God in His mercy brings the balm of His love and healing to Elijah through His word, through ‘ a Still Small Voice ‘.