The Widow of Zarephath

The Widow of Zarephath has become a favorite story among our SIU network and it is shared and dialogued often by our partners. Here is a little context before jumping into the story. There was an extreme famine where the widow and her son lived. (We can substitute “pandemic” here. Or, we can say both a famine and pandemic were taking place at the same time, which is happening in some locations around the world right now). As we read the story, we discover that the widow had no place to go and no way to resolve her and her son’s plight. She had faced the reality of their coming demise. She would take her little pot of flour and the little bit of oil she had left, gather some sticks, make a little cake, eat this final meal with her son and lay down to die. And then Elijah, sent by God, shows up:

“Sometime later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. Then the word of the Lord came to him [Elijah]: “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” So, he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”

“As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”

Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”

She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So, there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah. (1 Kings 17:7-16 NIV)

Discovery through Dialogue

I invite you to reflect on this story, using these questions as you sit alone with God and in dialogue with family and friends, and see what God has for you to discover:

  • What did God tell Elijah to do?
  • Who did Elijah see at the gate of Zarephath?
  • What Did Elijah ask the widow to do?
  • How did the widow respond? What was her situation?
  • How did Elijah respond to the widow’s predicament? What promise did he deliver from the Lord God?
  • What did the widow do and what was the result?
  • What is God saying to you through this story?

As we read, listen to, memorize and dialogue Scripture stories the Holy Spirit speaks to our souls. Have fun as you engage God through his Word alone and with family and friends. Would you share with us what God is saying to you through this story?

Staying Connected

Thank you for staying connected with Scriptures In Use, our partners and the Lord’s work in oral cultures around the world. We look forward to hearing from you.
What is God saying to you through the story of the Widow of Zarephath?

2 replies
  1. Carla Bowman
    Carla Bowman says:

    God is reminding me that the famine connected to the pandemic is real in too many places. The tragedy of this suffering breaks my heart. At the same time, this ancient story reminds me that God who provided at Zarapheth is working today and providing through his people and through miracles. The Elijahs of today are the incredible men and women of the Word who live and minister in those hard places and whose faith in these times has made real the prophet’s words “Do not be afraid.”
    Thank you, Kent for gifting us with this story at this moment in time. For the beautiful photograph and the great dialogue. For allowing your readers, and SIU’s supporters to supplement God’s hand of provision through the Relief Fund. Thank you for putting words into action and for your love for the poor and the suffering.


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