1 Kings 19:4
But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.
19:1-8 Jezebel sent Elijah a threatening message. Carnal hearts are hardened and enraged against God, by that which should convince and conquer them. Great faith is not always alike strong. He might be serviceable to Israel at this time, and had all reason to depend upon God's protection, while doing God's work; yet he flees. His was not the deliberate desire of grace, as Paul's, to depart and be with Christ. God thus left Elijah to himself, to show that when he was bold and strong, it was in the Lord, and the power of his might; but of himself he was no better than his fathers. God knows what he designs us for, though we do not, what services, what trials, and he will take care that we are furnished with grace sufficient.Elijah did not feel himself safe until he was beyond the territory of Judah, for Ahab might demand him of Jehoshaphat 1 Kings 18:10, with whom he was on terms of close alliance 1 Kings 22:4. He, therefore, proceeds southward into the desert, simply to be out of the reach of his enemies.

A juniper-tree - The tree here mentioned רתם rethem is not the juniper but a species of broom (Genista monosperma), called "rethem" by the Arabs, which abounds in the Sinaitic peninsula. It grows to such a size as to afford shade and protection, both in heat and storm, to travelers.

Requested for himself that he might die - Like Moses and Jonah (marginal references). The prophet's depression here reached its lowest point. He was still suffering from the reaction of overstrained feeling; he was weary with nights and days of travel; he was faint with the sun's heat; he was exhausted for want of food; he was for the first time alone - alone in the awful solitude and silence of the great white desert. Such solitude might brace the soul in certain moods; but in others it must utterly overwhelm and crush. Thus the prophet at length gave way completely - made his prayer that he might die - and, exhausted sank, to sleep.

I am not better than my fathers - i. e., "I am a mere weak man, no better nor stronger than they who have gone before me, no more able to revolutionize the world than they."

for himself: Heb. for his life
But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness,.... Of Paran, which began near Beersheba, and was the wilderness of Arabia, in which the Israelites were near forty years; this day's journey carried him about twenty miles from Beersheba southward, as the above writer reckons:

and came and sat down under a juniper tree; Abarbinel supposes that Elijah chose to sit under this tree, to preserve him from venomous creatures, which naturalists say will not come near it; and Pliny (o) indeed observes, that it being burnt will drive away serpents, and that some persons anoint themselves with the oil of it, for fear of them; and yet Virgil (p) represents the shade of a juniper tree as noxious; hence some interpreters take this to be a piece of carelessness and indifference of the prophet's, where he sat:

and he requested for himself that he might die; for though he fled from Jezebel to preserve his life, not choosing to die by her hands, which would cause her prophets to exult and triumph, yet was now desirous of dying by the hand of the Lord, and in a place where his death would not be known:

it is enough, now, O Lord, take away my life; intimating that he had lived long enough, even as long as he desired; and he had done as much work for God as he thought he had to do; he supposed his service and usefulness were at an end, and therefore desired his dismission:

for I am not better than my fathers that he should not die, or live longer than they; but this desire was not like that of the Apostle Paul's, but like that of Job and of Jonah; not so much to be with God and Christ, as to be rid of the troubles of life.

(o) Nat. Hist. l. 24. c. 8. (p) "Juniperi gravis umbra----" Bucol. Eclog. 10. ver. 76.

But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, {c} take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.

(c) It is so hard to control our impatience in affliction, that the saints could not overcome the same.

As soon as the small cloud ascended from the sea, Elijah sent his servant to tell the king to set off home, that he might not be stopped by the rain. רד, go down, sc. from Carmel to his chariot, which was standing at the foot of the mountain.

(Note: "After three years' drought all herbage must have disappeared from the plain of Jezreel, and the loose clay composing its soil must have been changed into a deep layer of dust. Had time been allowed for the rain to convert that dust into a bed of mud, the chariot-wheels might have stuck fast in it." V. de Velde, i. pp. 326-7.)

1Ki 19:4-18. He Is Comforted by an Angel.

4-18. went a day's journey into the wilderness—on the way from Beer-sheba to Horeb—a wide expanse of sand hills, covered with the retem (not juniper, but broom shrubs), whose tall and spreading branches, with their white leaves, afford a very cheering and refreshing shade. His gracious God did not lose sight of His fugitive servant, but watched over him, and, miraculously ministering to his wants, enabled him, in a better but not wholly right frame of mind, by virtue of that supernatural supply, to complete his contemplated journey. In the solitude of Sinai, God appeared to instruct him. "What doest thou here, Elijah?" was a searching question addressed to one who had been called to so arduous and urgent a mission as his. By an awful exhibition of divine power, he was made aware of the divine speaker who addressed him; his attention was arrested, his petulance was silenced, his heart was touched, and he was bid without delay return to the land of Israel, and prosecute the Lord's work there. To convince him that an idolatrous nation will not be unpunished, He commissions him to anoint three persons who were destined in Providence to avenge God's controversy with the people of Israel. Anointing is used synonymously with appointment (Jud 9:8), and is applied to all named, although Jehu alone had the consecrated oil poured over his head. They were all three destined to be eminent instruments in achieving the destruction of idolaters, though in different ways. But of the three commissions, Elijah personally executed only one; namely, the call of Elisha to be his assistant and successor [1Ki 19:19], and by him the other two were accomplished (2Ki 8:7-13; 9:1-10). Having thus satisfied the fiery zeal of the erring but sincere and pious prophet, the Lord proceeded to correct the erroneous impression under which Elijah had been laboring, of his being the sole adherent of the true religion in the land; for God, who seeth in secret, and knew all that were His, knew that there were seven thousand persons who had not done homage (literally, "kissed the hand") to Baal.

A day's journey into the wilderness - Probably in his way to Mount Horeb. See 1 Kings 19:8.

Juniper tree - A tree that afforded him a shade from the scorching sun.

It is enough - I have lived long enough! I can do no more good among this people; let me now end my days.

19:4 Into the wilderness - The vast wilderness of Arabia. He durst not stay in Judah, tho' good Jehosaphat reigned there, because he was allied to Ahab, and was a man of an easy temper, whom Ahab might circumvent, and either by force or art seize upon Elijah. It is enough - I have lived long enough for thy service, and am not like to do thee any more service; neither my words nor works are like to do any good upon these unstable and incorrigible people. I am not better - That I should continue in life, when other prophets who have gone before me, have lost their lives.
1 Kings 19:3
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