5. The Widow of ZarephathRelated Media
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A Word from Kay Daigle on how to use the resources for this study…I want to encourage you to complete the personal lesson below before you click on any of the accompanying elements that may be found with this lesson (audio lecture, manuscript, PowerPoint, or handout). This study was written to help you maximize your personal spiritual growth. That means that you first spend time with God through His word, and then hopefully, discuss what you learned with a small group of women. After that, if you want to hear the audio (or read the manuscript) and follow the PowerPoint, filling in the handout, then that is a great time to do it! I cannot cover all the verses in depth, but you can read and study them for yourself. It is best for you to think through the passages before hearing what anyone else thinks, even me! You will find some lessons without lectures. At our church we use some of those weeks to spend extra time in our small groups sharing life stories, having a longer prayer time, or expressing how God is working in our lives.
Few of us in the United States today know what real need is. Even when our personal resources run dry, there are agencies, churches, and governmental programs that at least provide some food. Imagine a situation where you are about to eat the very last of your food, and there is no hope of any more.
A Precious Word from God
“She went and did as Elijah told her; there was always enough food for Elijah and for her and her family.”
1 Kings 17:15 NET
Historical background: The events of this story occur in the northern kingdom of Israel during the reign of King Ahab. As you read, be sure and look on your Bible map for locations of the places mentioned.
Day One Study
Read 1 Kings 16:29-33, which will give you important information about this time period. Today we simply consider the historical background during the widow’s life.
1. What do you learn about King Ahab and his reign over Israel?
2. How did Ahab’s actions affect God?
3. Why does idolatry upset God so much? Read these verses and consider how they help us answer that question.
a. Exodus 20:2-6
b. Jeremiah 2:20-25; 3:1-3
c. Mark 12:28-30
- Diamonds in the Word: Read in your Bible resources about Ahab and his reign.
4. There is not as much outward idolatry in the U.S. as there was in Ahab’s day; however, it is among us in a more unseen way. What insights about idolatry do you get from Eph. 5:5? What behavior suggests that something has become an idol?
5. Sharing question: What tends to take God’s place in your life? Possessions, husband, children, position, power? Often good things become idols because we take our love for them to an extreme. Share what God reveals to you about loving someone or something more than Him.
6. Responding to God: Confess your idolatry before God and enjoy His promised forgiveness. Write out your prayer.
Day Two Study
Read 1 Kings 17:1.
7. Read James 5:16-18, which was James’ commentary on this verse and the surrounding events. What did James think we should learn from Elijah?
- Diamonds in the Word: The topic of prayer is huge and you can’t possibly cover it in the time you have, but study verses that deal with prayer and God’s will by using a topical Bible or concordance. How do these verses apply to Elijah?
8. Imagine that kind of drought. What would be the results to the land and its people? How would you feel toward God if you were in that situation?
Read 1 Kings 17:2-6
9. How did God provide for Elijah in the early part of the drought?
10. Sharing question: Share about a time when God provided for you when things looked hopeless. It may have been emotional or spiritual provision rather than physical provision.
11. What do you learn about God’s provision from these verses?
a. 2 Cor. 8:13-15
b. Phil. 4:15-20
12. Responding to God: Praise God that He is your Provider. Write your prayer or poem below.
Day Three Study
Read 1 Kings 17:7-16.
13. Why and how did God change the way He provided for Elijah in the midst of the famine? (17:7-9)
14. Read our Precious Word from God for this week. Knowing that Elijah was a prophet who spoke from God, what can you learn from the widow’s actions for your own life?
15. How do you see God at work throughout this story? Be specific.
- Diamonds in the Word: Find verses about God’s provision.
16. What insights do you have about this widow from the story so far?
17. Read Psalm 146:5-10. How does it apply to our story?
18. Sharing question: What is generally your first response when things look hopeless? Faith, fear, resignation, optimism? Share an example with your group.
19. Responding to God: Write a prayer for the faith to trust God today for the specific provision that you need.
Day Four Study
Read 1 Kings 17:17-24.
20. What happened while Elijah was staying with the widow?
21. What was the widow’s first reaction? (17:18) How would you have reacted?
22. Sharing question: Have you ever been angry at God when something bad happened? If so, how did you get over it?
23. How did the answer to Elijah’s prayer affect the widow?
- Diamonds in the Word: Read your commentaries on 1 Kings 17:17-24.
24. Hebrews 11:35 may be a reference to this widow. If so, what does it tell you about her? (Read the context of this verse, the paragraph from v. 32-40.)
25. Responding to God: Pray for the faith to trust God when it hurts and even when your prayers are not answered as you desire.
Day Five Study
Review the story in 1 Kings 17:7-24.
26. God would surely have provided for Elijah another way if the widow had not given him the last of her food, but what are the possibilities for the widow?
27. How did the widow exemplify Matthew 6:31-33?
28. How did God use the widow of Zarephath for such a time for His purposes?
29. Read Luke 21:1-4, and compare the stories of two widows. Write down any insights that you have.
- Diamonds in the Word: What principles do you learn from 2 Corinthians 9 on the topic of giving?
30. Sharing question: How does your giving reflect your faith or lack of it? Give an example.
31. Responding to God: Ask God for the courage to give away whatever He asks and the faith to believe that He will provide for whatever you really need.
About twenty years ago, when our son David was fourteen, a lady in our church came to me needing to borrow $1500. That was a large sum of money at that time. After talking with my husband and discovering that our saving balance was $350, it seemed as if we would not be able to help her. Then I thought about our son's college account. I asked my husband if I could loan her that account and he agreed. Although he said never expect to see that money again....she will never pay it back, I loaned her the money, interest-free and told her she would have four years to repay the loan. I suggested she pay me $25 monthly. The first month I received $25; then she stopped talking with me and they moved to another church. My husband said "See, when you loan money, you never get it back" I promised him, I was sure we would get it back to meet our son's need. Well, we certainly did, but not in any way I could ever have dreamed.
When our son applied to SMU four years later, he received a letter telling him that he had been selected as a University Scholar and would receive $1500 a year as long as he maintained a B average. Wow......the exact amount, but this was each year for four years (total $6,000.00). Then when he was junior, he was selected the outstanding student in economics and received an addition $3000 (total now $9,000).
When we loaned the money, it was necessary the loan be repaid because otherwise we didn't think we would have enough money for college. Four years later, by the time he went to college, the Lord had blessed so much financially, we didn't really need the money (although it was a help). We could afford to send him any place he wanted to go.
As I think back, I cannot imagine that I loaned money without knowing what she needed it for. I am so thankful I did because I wouldn't have wanted to miss out on seeing God's hands at work in our lives. Isn't it just too wonderful that He made it the exact amount each time just so I wouldn't miss it! Wow, what a mighty God we serve!