The name Obadiah means “servant of Jehovah.” Truly the man Obadiah characterized his name. And he was also a high official for the apostates King Ahab and Queen Jezebel (1 Kings 18). It is significant that the king would keep a man in such an important position whom he knew to be a servant of the Lord. But Ahab knew that Obadiah could be trusted over his affairs (v.3).
At that time, the evil king and queen had been searching everywhere for Elijah, but could not find him. But now the Lord commanded Elijah to go and reveal himself to the king. The famine had been placed upon the land by Elijah’s direct announcement to Ahab. And Now the Lord was ready to reveal His mighty hand to the nation so he sent Elijah to fulfill that mission (v. 1).
Obadiah saves the prophets
Queen Jezebel, who was greatly devoted to Baal and worshiped it, severely persecuted God’s people. Because of Elijah’s message of shutting up the heavens that it might not rain due to the people’s apostasy, the evil queen was determined that the prophet and all who associated with him in the ministry for Jehovah should be killed.
But Obadiah being a man who greatly feared the Lord, hid God’s prophets secretly in 2 caves (1 Kings 18:4). These prophets were evidently members of the schools of the prophets who dedicated their lives to the proclamation of the message of righteous and holy living. Caves were common in Palestine. In the Mt. Carmel area alone over 2,000 caves have been counted. In times of warfare and persecution, they served as excellent hiding places (Joshua 10:16–27; Judges 6:2; 1 Samuel 13:6; 22:1; 24:3–10; 2 Samuel 23:13).
God revealed at Mount Carmel
“20 So Ahab sent for all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together on Mount Carmel. 21 And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word. 22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I alone am left a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. 23 Therefore let them give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves… but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other bull, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it. 24 Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD; and the God who answers by fire, He is God.” So all the people answered and said, “It is well spoken.”
25 Now Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one bull for yourselves and prepare it first… and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it.”
26 So they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying, “O Baal, hear us!” But there was no voice…
30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me… 36 And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that … the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench.
39 Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!” And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal! … So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the Brook Kishon and executed them there.”
And thus, the people so shortly before dedicated to Baal were now turned back to God as the great Creator of heaven and earth. And with one spirit, they raised a shout of joy and acknowledged Jehovah as Lord.
In His service,