The Widow of Zarephath is a Story of Undeserved Grace and Faith

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The widow of Zarephath encountered God’s undeserved grace when He sent Prophet Elijah to her in her time of need.

The story of the widow of Zarephath is recorded in 1 Kings 17. She received an abundant supply of flour and oil that lasted her and her family through the drought and famine through Prophet Elijah.

And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying,

Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.

10So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. 11 And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. 12 

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.

13 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. 14 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.

15 And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days. 16 And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah.

1 Kings 17:8-16

When I read this account in 1 Kings, I thought this widow was so kind. She made bread and gave water to the Prophet Elijah even though she has so little for herself and her family. And that God rewarded her for her kindness.

25 But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land;

26 But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.

27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.

28 And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,

29 And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.

Luke 4:25-29

Jesus interpreted this account in a different way in Luke 4:25-30. He pointed out that God sent the Prophet Elijah to no other widow except her. God supplied her out of all the people who were suffering from the drought.

Why?

Just by looking at the story of the widow, it is not clear why but if I also look at the other person whom Jesus mentioned in Luke 4:25-30, then the reason may be clearer.

Both the widow of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian were both non-Jews. According to God’s law at that time, they were not entitled to receive any blessing or healing. They are not qualified because they are not God’s people. Yet, they did receive God’s blessing.

It seemed that those who did not deserve it received the miracle of abundance and healing.

The reaction of the people in the synagogue who heard Jesus mentioned this was one of wrath. They were angry with Jesus and wanted to harm Him.

Why are the Jews angry? Should not they rejoice that God has the power to bless and heal? Whoever that may be?

Could it because Jesus was implying that they are relying on their birthright to receive blessings from God instead of faith?

Why faith? How did the widow of Zarephath exercise faith?

She treated the Prophet Elijah with respect and obeyed his instructions even though it meant offering Elijah her only supply of flour and oil.

Could it be that she trusted him to work out something for her?

I believe her esteem for God through the Prophet Elijah attracted God to her. To save her and provide for her.

My natural flesh wants to fight for myself but sometimes it is better to rest and let God take care of me.

16 Rejoice evermore. 17 Pray without ceasing. 18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

This personal study on the widow of Zarephath in 1 Kings 17 and Luke 4:25 is inspired by a sermon entitled “Faith is Superior to Law” by Joseph Prince of New Creation Church, Singapore.

See an excerpt:

Full sermon is available at https://www.josephprince.com/sermons/faith-is-superior-to-the-law/video?sku=20110710VJ