Israel and the surrounding countries were suffering from drought and there was widespread famine. Yahweh’s prophet, Elijah, had been camped out by the brook Cherith and, incredibly, had been supplied with bread and meat by ravens. Eventually, however, the brook dried up and Yahweh told him it was time to move on. “Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon” He said. “I have instructed a widow there to feed you” [1 Kings 17:9]. How had He done that?
When Elijah arrived at the village, he saw a widow gathering sticks, and asked, “Would you please bring me a little water?” As she went to do this, he called after her, asking for a piece of bread, too. Her response was heart-breaking, “I don’t have a single piece of bread in the house” she said [v12], going on to explain that she had only a handful of flour and a little cooking oil left, and after using this, she and her son expected to die from starvation. Who could fail to be touched by such a story? Elijah’s response was extraordinary! He asked her to make something for him first, promising that if she did so her oil and flour would last until the rains came again. This mother had to choose whether or not to believe and give the prophet what could be her son’s last mouthful of food ever! She chose well, and the miracle was astonishing [vv13-16]. Her trustful obedience to Yahweh’s word secured life for her family.
Israel was used to the covenant-principle of giving to Yahweh first, but this woman was not Jewish, yet still was asked to give her all first. However, because Yahweh had commanded her to feed Elijah, she was giving to Him, not the prophet. Understanding this, Elijah could tell her not to be afraid because he knew that the demand of the covenant is not given without the promise of the covenant. Our widow lady proved that Yahweh does not ask more than He promises to give. When we hear our personal, “Me, first!” [as we will] it will be a difficult, demanding choice, but let us not be afraid!