Many things might have made it distasteful to the prophet.
It belonged to the land from which Jezebel had brought her impious tribe.
It was as much cursed by the terrible drought as Canaan.
It was impossible to reach it save by a weary journey of one hundred miles through the heart of the land, where his name was execrated, and his person proscribed.
And then to be sustained by a widow woman belonging to a heathen people!
He would not have so much minded to have sustained her; but it was not pleasant to feel that he must be dependent on her slender earnings or meager store.
Surely it was a smelting-furnace for cleansing out any alloy
of pride, or self-reliance, or independence which might be lurking in the recesses of his heart.
And there was much of the refining fire in the character of his reception.
When he reached the straggling town it was probably toward nightfall;
And at the city gate a widow woman was gathering a few sticks to prepare the evening meal.
To some it might have seemed a coincidence; but there is
no such word in faith's vocabulary...that which to human judgment is a coincidence, to faith is a Providence.
This was evidently the widow of whom God had spoken.
Faint with thirst, and weary with long travel, but never doubting that his needs would be amply met, he asked her to fetch a little water in a vessel, that he might drink.
The widow may have had some premonition of his coming.
There would seem to be some suggestion of this having been so, in the words, "I have commanded a widow woman to sustain thee."
Her character will come out in due course; but there must have
been something in her which could not be found in the many widows of the land of Israel (Luke 4: 25, 26).
It was for no arbitrary reason that God passed them over, and went so far afield.
She must have possessed qualities of character, gems of better
things, sparks of heroism and of faith, which distinguished
her from all her sorrowing sisterhood, and made her the befitting hostess of the prophet, and the glad sharer with him in his Father's bounty.
To her the impression was probably given of the coming of the prophet...just as the visions to Saul and to Ananias, to Cornelius and to Peter, flashed upon them in duplicates.
She was not, therefore, surprised at the prophet's request, and silently went to fetch a cup of cold water (Matt. 10:42).
Encouraged by her willingness, Elijah asked her to bring with her a morsel of bread.
It was a modest request; but it unlocked the silent agony of her soul.
She had not a cake, but a handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse and she was about to make one last repast for herself and her son, who was probably too weak through long privation to be with her;
And, having eaten it, they had no alternative but to lie down together and die.
It was very depressing for the man of God, after his long and weary march.
It is thus that God leads His people still. "All that abideth not the fire, ye shall make go through the water; "
He will not suffer us to be tempted beyond that which we are able to bear;
He will not thresh vetches with a sharp threshing instrument,
nor turn a cart-wheel about on cummin.
But it is written, "Everything that may abide the fire, ye shall make it go through the fire, and it shall be clean"
If, then, there is aught in you that can bear the ordeal, be sure you will be put into the furnace.
But the fire shall not destroy; it shall only cleanse you.
You will be put into it by the hand of Love; and kept in it only
till patience has done her perfect work.
The flames shall only consume the bonds that bind you; and, as you walk loose in the fire, bystanders shall see at your side the form of one like unto the Son of God.
~F. B. Meyer~