Elijah and Ahab – a prophet and a king. 1 Kings spends relatively many chapters discussing them, their actions, and their intriguing relationship. In the middle of all the drama and excitement that fills those chapters, there is an obscure name that I consider worth mentioning – a man by the name of Obadiah.
1 Kings 18 introduces us to him:
1 After a long time, the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year: “Go and present yourself to Ahab. I will send rain on the surface of the land.” 2 So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab.
The famine was severe in Samaria. 3 Ahab called for Obadiah, who was in charge of the palace. Obadiah was a man who greatly feared the Lord…
Like Daniel, Obadiah was a God-fearing man who served in a high-profile position in an essentially pagan atmosphere. The pressure on Obadiah to compomise on his way of life must have been enormous. As a God-fearing man, he didn’t participate in any of the idolatry that Ahab introduced, nor did he go down to Bethel or up to Dan every year to sacrifice to the gods Jeroboam made. Obadiah was a man with backbone.
This guy was up against some impressive forces. Ahab was the most evil king Israel had ever had, and his wife Jezebel was even worse. Being the daughter of the king of Sidon, she worshiped foreign gods, enticed Ahab to introduce them in Israel, and ultimately sought to kill all the prophets of Israel. I imagine that if I were in his position and were up against a royal couple like that, my courage would melt instantly. And Obadiah may very well have been extremely afraid – after all, he was in charge of the whole palace and not in a low-profile position at all! In spite of any fear he may have faced and any temptation he may have had to save his own skin and run, this God-fearing man did something incredibly courageous:
3b Obadiah was a man who greatly feared the Lord 4 and took 100 prophets and hid them, 50 men to a cave, and provided them with food and water when Jezebel slaughtered the Lord’s prophets.
Obadiah risked his life and his prestigious and influencial position to save 100 prophets. I don’t know how he pulled off keeping them alive without getting caught, but apparently he was a very resourceful man and made it work. Jezebel sought to have the prophets of God destroyed, but God had bigger plans. God had Obadiah in place.
I love how God places people like Obadiah in the darkest places, in the most unlikely positions, to fulfill the most unlikely purposes. People like Esther, Daniel, and this Obadiah get me so excited about God and how He orchestrates and fulfills His purposes. How could Obadiah survive in such a position without getting killed by Jezebel? I’m not sure. But I do know that he feared God greatly and shone His light in a dark place in a very dark time in Israel’s history. Obadiah reminds me that if a person fears God, no place is so dark that God cannot shine His light there, no threat is so great that God cannot overcome it, and no situation is so lost that God cannot provide a solution. God rocks – and so does Obadiah.