Literary Analysis of 1st Kings 19:1 - 21

Literary Narrative Presentation Insights: I gained several insights about the features and techniques in literature from Dr. Gary Yates in his video lectures. He discussed the fact that the Old Testament narratives are literature and stories and that the authors of these narratives are writing the history from their perspective. People remember stories over speech and instruction. Yates stated that the biblical author is not writing as “dry, boring, and academic” they are writing “as artists”1; this is probably the best insight I acquired from the Old Testament literary analysis presentations. The study of the different devices also practically laid out what a device is and how this plays a major role in interpreting what the author was trying to convey. I now better understand what I should be looking for in narratives. The interesting thing about this study is I must first understand the author’s perspective and intent before I can extract the timeless theological principle. As Cohn explains, “By focusing on the text as an artistic composition, we can begin to understand the purposes of the final author, himself a creative artist, and the ways in which the work has functioned for countless generations of hearers.”2 The writer wrote as if it were fiction nevertheless, they are actual and factual events, which took place in real history. The author of 1st Kings 19 is an excellent example of this.
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Gary Yates, “OT Literary Analysis – Part 1,” Week 7. Cohn , Robert L. "The Literary Logic of 1 Kings 17-19." Journal of Biblical Literature Vol. 101, No. 3 (1982), Article Stable URL: (accessed December 4, 2012).

touches him and says “Arise and eat” (vs. an angel appears to Elijah with a prepared meal. the last verse of chapter 18 states. Overall. now. resigns his prophetic office and begs God to take his life. The first device I recognized was irony and contrast and it is found at the very start of the chapter. In the first panel. 7). After this. for the journey is great for you” (vs. . the third and fourth panels repeat and in the last panel. After embarking on an 80-mile journey into the wilderness (to Beersheba). the discouraged prophet rests under a tree. “It is enough. In panel 2. 4). O LORD. Jezebel hears of this news and vows to take Elijah’s life within 24 hours. The bold fearless prophet who stood up to Ahab and the 450 prophets a chapter earlier abandons his ministry and flees into the wilderness deeply discouraged at a single threat from a woman.Interpretive Issue of 1st Kings 19:1 – 21: There are several interpretive devices in the twenty-one verses of 1st Kings chapter 19 and even more in the larger context of the surrounding chapters. The first and second panels repeat. “Arise and eat. fears for his life. Elijah returns to his previous fetal position. Carmel in chapter 18. There appear to be five panels. 4). take away my life. the angel returns touching him with another prepared meal saying again. the best literary device I see used is the Parallel Episodes. Elijah then continues his fearful voyage by embarking on a 250-mile journey further into the wilderness to a cave at Mt. Horeb. Especially given that. “And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah…”. God commands the faithfully restored Elijah. After a mighty and victorious battle over Baal and the 450 prophets on Mt. Elijah becomes terrified. and flees “a day’s journey into the wilderness” (vs. 5). for I am no better than my fathers” (vs.

His lack of trust in the Lord. It was Elijah’s idolatry of fear and pride that caused him to resign his position and flee for his life abandoning his ministry. 1st Augsburg books ed. 13) and Elijah delivers the exact same previous response. Elijah?” (vs. even I only. and killed your prophets with the sword. The final and fifth panel God commands Elijah to resume his ministry. the God of hosts. The Bible Guide. who was with him (18:46). took a position in his life it should have never taken. 156. with gentleness.. Timeless Theological Principles: There are several theological principles involved here in this passage. and they seek my life. Knowles explains Elijah’s 3 Andrew Knowles. And then there is a gentle whisper. Elijah’s fear of Jezebel’s threat consumed his thoughts. which overwhelmed his emotions and caused him to respond out of fear for his life. (Minneapolis. “He demonstrates the titanic forces of nature in whirlwind. personally encouraged him and restored his faith and sent him back to work. . But God himself is not in any of these. “Go. 9). am left.” (vs. even I only. to take it away. His response is. MN: Augsburg. return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant thrown down your altars. which are merely his creations. and I. 14). God was patient through Elijah’s discouragement and eventually. God speaks to Elijah. God then show Elijah series of powerful demonstrations as explains. 2001).The third panel. The first is “be ever on the watch for idolatry”. Fear of Jezebel was elevated above trust in God. earthquake and fire. am left.” (vs. to take it away. 10). “I have been very jealous for the LORD. Perhaps even silence. the God of hosts. Elijah?” (vs.. and I. and killed your prophets with the sword. 15-18).” (vs. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant thrown down your altars. and they seek my life. “What are you doing here.”3 In the fourth panel God repeats the same question. “I have been very jealous for the LORD. “What are you doing here.

where he leaves his servant. James E. 1 Ki 19:11–12. yet God was faithful and did not abandon Elijah but instead provided for his needs. While Yahweh is a God of judgment. Smith emphasizes. 11-12) and when Elijah was restored. . sword and slaughter had passed. “The divine program is carried forward through the still small voice which speaks to the hearts of people. but with the intimidating threat of Jezebel.”5 The Lord was gracious to provide his sustenance when he was tired and hungry (vs. not with the sovereignty of God. and the world begins to shrink down to our latest and greatest problem. This is often how an individual responds to calamity. He flees for his life — south to Beersheba. 5. All his energy drains from him. When catastrophe strikes our life and rocks our thinking it is possible to forget God’s sovereign control. Elijah needed to be reminded of that fact. “Suddenly. God lovingly restored Elijah’s faith and ministry. after the triumph of Carmel. and all seemed lost. Another timeless theological principle is “God is faithful and patient”. he is also the God of mercy and grace. this is what occurred with Elijah.calamity. helps keep us from responding irrational and irresponsible. 1995). The Books of History. Old Testament Survey Series (Joplin. our purposes and rolls. Being aware of our fears and putting them in their rightful place. God probably seemed very distant. 4 5 Ibid. He needed to see that the time of fire. and terror strikes his heart. Smith. In the midst of a spiritual collapse Elijah likely felt that doom was imminent.7). MO: College Press. which means replacing them with trust and delight in the Lord. and on into the desert”4 Terror struck his thoughts and emotions and Elijah’s mind was overwhelmed.. 156. Elijah realizes he has Jezebel to reckon with. He appeared to Elijah to rebuild and reestablish his faith (vs. Now the time had come to proclaim the word of Yahweh in gentle silence.

. God knew that Jezebel has issued a threat however. When a Christian is discouraged and feels the hasty desire to resign as Elijah did. 15-18).God provided counsel and instruction and hope (vs. This is a timeless principle to remember even today. What we know and believe is more important than what we feel. God is the faithful and patient God of restoration. Training our minds to respond to calamity is vital for the Christian life to “fight the good fight of faith” (1st Timothy 6:12). Knowing that God is faithful and present even when we feel like He may be far off is glorifying to Him. that fear and discouragement overwhelmed Elijah. Christians can rejoice and delight in the fact that God is not distant but very involved as He has always been. remembering and delighting in God’s sovereign power and control is “peace that surpasses all understanding”.

1995). The Bible Guide. MO: College Press. James E." Journal of Biblical Literature Vol. “OT Literary Analysis – Part 1. 156. 1st Augsburg books ed. Article Stable URL: Gary Yates. . Old Testament Survey Series (Joplin. Smith. 1 Ki 19:11–12. No. 3 (1982). 2001). Cohn . 101. Robert L. "The Literary Logic of 1 Kings 17-19.jstor.” Week 7. The Books of History. MN: Augsburg.Bibliography Andrew Knowles. (Minneapolis.

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