Witnesses for God Converted in Youth (Synopsis of Come Ye’ Children – Chapter 17)
Although this chapter touches on those who come to faith early in life, Spurgeon’s principle point in this chapter is that God is forever sovereign and always has a plan. This chapter is based on the story of Elijah and Obadiah recorded in the book of 1 Kings and lays the foundation for the following chapter’s discussion of Obadiah’s early piety.
In 1 Kings 18, we read the story of Elijah and Obadiah. Obadiah was in charge of the household of Ahab, the King of Israel. When Ahab’s wife Jezebel ordered that all the prophets of the Lord be killed in order to expedite that worship of Baal, Obadiah hid a hundred of the prophets of the Lord in caves around the country He watched over them and sustained them with bread and water. As Obadiah was walking through the land, he came across the great prophet Elijah who summoned him to go tell King Ahab the Elijah was there to meet him. Obadiah was understandably nervous about this request of Elijah was an enemy of the King.
Spurgeon notes that Obadiah was a quiet man of God who feared the Lord and still worked in the court of the King which was hostile to the God of Israel. On the other hand, Elijah was a very outspoken and public prophet of the Lord. In Spurgeon’s opinion, Elijah did not think very highly of Obadiah. Spurgeon postulates:
“I suppose it was because this man of iron, this prophet of fire and thunder, this mighty servant of the Most High, set small store by anybody who did not come to the front and fight like himself. I know it is the tendency of brave and zealous minds somewhat to undervalue quiet, retired piety.”
Obadiah’s quiet nature likely didn’t sit well with Elijah who publicly proclaimed the Word of God. Nonetheless, when Elijah needed to talk to Ahab, he found himself calling upon the much more timid Obadiah for assistance. Spurgeon points out that it is often “the tendency of brave and zealous minds somewhat to undervalue quiet, retired piety.” Spurgeon draws two lessons from this story:
- God will never leave himself without a witness in this world. Even in the most unlikely of places he left himself with a witness in the form of Obadiah in the court of a hostile King.
- Never be surprised to meet a believer anywhere you might find yourself. In Spurgeon’s words, “Grace can live where you would never expect to see it survive for an hour.”
Spurgeon points to other biblical examples of God’s grace showing up in the most unlikely of places:
- Joseph feared God in the court of Pharaoh.
- Daniel was a trusted counselor of Nebuchadnezzer.
- Mordecai waited at the gate of Ahasuerus.
- Pilate’s wife pleaded for the life of Jesus.
- The saints in Caesar’s house found Jesus through the preaching of Paul.
Spurgeon notes that “these witnesses for God are very often persons converted in their youth” and that God seems to take a certain amount of delight in making those who came to faith early his standard-bearers. The list of examples from the Bible is not inconsequential:
This chapter is not primarily about children. However, it teaches us important lessons about the grace and sovereignty of God. In the following chapter, Spurgeon moves forward in the story of Elijah and Obadiah to review the early piety of Obadiah.
Links to Complete Text
If you’re interested in reading the complete text of “Come Ye Children,” it can be found on at: http://www.spurgeon.org/misc/cyc.htm
The complete text of Chapter Seventeen can be found at: http://www.spurgeon.org/misc/cyc17.htm
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