And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a [a]broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” (1 Kings 19:1-4)
Many would consider Elijah to be one of the greatest prophets who ever lived. He was strong, fearless, and powerful. Yesterday we saw how he called down fire from heaven and then slew all the false prophets in the land. Yet, Elijah was also human. We read from the book of James, “Elijah was a human being, even as we are.” (James 5:17 NIV) Though he was a great man of God, he was only a man. His humanity is easily seen by what he did after Queen Jezebel threatened his life. Scripture says that he, “arose and ran for his life” and then he prayed, “Lord, take my life.”
As we continue on in our study of his life, we can see three things that he did that caused him to become more susceptible to discouragement and depression.
HE FAILED TO TAKE CARE OF HIS PERSONAL NEEDS
“Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, ‘Arise and eat.’ Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.” So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.” (1 Kings 19:5-8) It appears that through all his efforts to serve the Lord, he had forgotten to take care of himself. We must never forget that there is a reason why the Lord created the earth in six days and rested on the seventh. He was trying to establish a pattern that each of us should follow.
HE ISOLATED HIMSELF FROM OTHERS
In his moment of despair, Elijah cried out to God, “I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.” (1 Kings 19:14) Elijah had isolated himself from others and therefore he felt as though he was all alone. Yet the Lord said to him, “I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:18) Often, when we are discouraged, we try to isolate ourselves from others. Yet, it is in those times that we need the companionship and support of others.
HE ALLOWED HIMSELF TO GET CAUGHT UP IN SELF-PITY
“And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” (1 Kings 19:9)
Perhaps God meant, “What are you doing here in this cave?” or maybe what the Lord meant was, “What are you doing here in this deep despair?” The psalmist said, “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!” (Psalm 42:11 NLT) Since the first day God called Elijah to be His servant, the Lord had taken care of him. Therefore, why was he now allowing himself to believe that he had been abandoned?
Elijah need refreshment, both physically and spiritually. He needed to take time along the way to rest his body as well as renew himself in the Lord. Thank you for studying God’s Word with me each day. I pray that it is a blessing to you.
* Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is taken from the New King James Version.