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"What doest thou here, Elijah?" — 1 Kings 19:13

The principle of this question was not ignorance. God well knew how, and why, he came there. But he would know from Elijah himself and therefore asks him; that, being called upon to account for his conduct, he might be convinced of his folly, and be either speechless, or condemned out of his own mouth. We may view the inquiry three ways.

First, as an instance of God's moral observation of his creatures. "His eyes are upon the ways of man, and he pondereth all his doings." Nothing can screen us from this inspection. Elijah was in a wilderness, and alone; he had even left his servant behind him; but the eye of God followed him. And "the eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." And let us not imagine that he only looks after an extraordinary character, like Elijah. No one is too small and inconsiderable to be disregarded by him. Every human being is not only his creature, but his subject, and responsible to him. The meanest slave is great in the sight of God, as possessed of a soul, and destined for eternity. God has a right to know where we are, and what we are doing; and a much greater right than a father or a master has to know this, with regard to a child or a servant, for we are absolutely his. And he is interested in observing our conduct: interested as a judge, who is to pass sentence upon our actions; interested as a friend and benefactor, who would check us when we are going astray, or recall us when we have wandered. For,

Secondly, we may consider it as a reproof given to a good man. He ought not to have been here, hiding himself from his enemy, and begging that he might die; but should have been engaged in carrying on the cause of God in the reformation he had so nobly begun. He was therefore blameable. God does not cast him off, but he reprehends him. And as many as he loves he rebukes and chastens. And faithful are the wounds of this Friend.

And how does he administer this reproof? He had all the elements under his control, and he showed Elijah what he could do: "And he said. Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind, an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake, a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire, a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave." "And, behold, there came a voice unto him and said" — You cowardly deserter? You ungrateful, rebellious wretch? — No; but. "What doest thou here, Elijah?" And this, "in a small still voice;" a kind of under tone, or whisper, as if no one should hear it besides. Here was no upbraiding, nothing to inflame passion, but a kind and calm appeal to reason. How forcible and yet tender! It is thus his gentleness makes us great. It is thus he does not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax. It is thus he calls upon us to be followers of him, as dear children. If a brother be overtaken in a fault, let us not employ the earthquake, the wind, and the fire, but the small still voice. Let us take him aside. Let us tell him his fault between him and us alone. Let us restore such an one in the spirit of meekness. Reproof should never be given in a passion. It is too much, says an old writer, to expect that a sick patient will take physic, not only when it is nauseous, but boiling hot. And we know who has said, "In meekness, instructing those that oppose themselves." "The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God."

Thirdly, as a rule by which we may judge ourselves. Let us suppose that we heard God addressing us, as he did Elijah. How should we answer him? Could we say, I hope I am where Thou wouldst have me to be, and doing what thou wouldst have me to do? He does thus inquire. And therefore it behoves us so to act as to be able to give a satisfactory account of our conduct.

Let us apply the question to our troubles. How came we in these difficulties? Have they befallen us in following after God, or have we drawn them upon ourselves by our folly and sin?

Let us apply it to our connexions. We are choosing associates; are we walking with wise men, or are we the companions of fools? We are engaging ourselves for life; are we marrying in the Lord, or unequally yoking ourselves with unbelievers? "What doest thou here, Elijah?"

Let us apply it to our recreations. Are they such as conduce to the health of the body, and accord with purity of mind; or are they amusements and dissipations which, if God should call us to account, would strike our consciences dumb?

Let us apply it to our stations. Are we abiding with God in our own callings, or are we acting out of our proper sphere of duty? How many have injured, if not ruined, their usefulness and comfort, by improper removals, or striking their tent without the cloud!

Let us apply it to our religious services. We ought to have an aim in coming to his house. Happy they who, when they hear the inquiry, What doest thou here, Elijah? can say. Here I am, not from custom or curiosity, but to know what the Lord will speak; and to see his power and his glory as I have seen him in the sanctuary.

And let us remember, that a false answer will be more than useless. We often assign a reason very different from the true one, to an inquiring fellow-creature, and him we may deceive. But God is not mocked.

Morning Exercises For Everyday In The Year
By Rev. William Jay

 
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