Faith, Religion & Scripture, Notes & Essays by David Rodeback

Short Take: Elijah’s Post-Miracle Depression

Author's Note
My neighbor and I are writing short columns for our monthly ward (congregation) newsletter, focusing on the Old Testament and related scripture in 2014. Here’s one of my “short takes,” as previously published there.

After calling down fire from heaven, Elijah commanded 450 false priests to be slain. King Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, was enraged and swore to kill Elijah. Elijah fled to the wilderness “and sat down under a juniper tree: and requested for himself that he might die” (1 Kings 19:4).

Rather than rebuking the prophet for a bad attitude – wanting to give up and die after a glorious miracle – the Lord sent help. An angel brought Elijah food and water for 40 days, until he had hiked to Mount Horeb and settled in a cave.

Eventually, the Lord asked, “What doest thou here, Elijah?” Still discouraged and depressed, Elijah explained how hard he had worked and how badly things had gone, then complained that he was the last righteous person in Israel (1 Kings 19:10).

The Lord invited him outside to observe a wind, an earthquake, a fire, and finally a still small voice (1 Kings 19:11-12). He repeated his question, and Elijah repeated his complaint.

Still the Lord did not rebuke him. Instead, he said there were 7000 faithful people in Israel. He put Elijah back to work, sending him to anoint two kings and to call and train Elisha to replace him several years hence (1 Kings 19:15-18).

I conclude that the Lord is more interested in helping us through our bad days and weeks than rebuking us, even when our attitude decays. He is patient, helpful, and kind.