Bottom of the Barrel

1 Kings 17:12 – And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse…


The widow woman of Zarephath knew what it was like to reach bottom. The famine had taken its toil on her and her son. She didn’t have any food left. The barrel of meal was almost empty, then up popped Elijah asking for food and water.

The command was clear (vs. 9); she was supposed to take care of Elijah. But the conditions were bad at this time. Surely the Lord wouldn’t expect her to follow through with this order. She tried to use this as an excuse by saying, “I have not” (vs. 12). But the Lord didn’t ask her to give what she didn’t have, but what she had – “an handful of meal in a barrel.” Don’t disobey God when you are at the bottom of the barrel!

After she said, “I have not” Elijah said, “Fear not” (vs. 13). There is no need to be afraid to obey and serve God. We should serve him primarily, completely, and sacrificially. It proved beneficially helpful to her and her son, because they also were sustained by the meal. “Fear not” because “the barrel of meal wasted not.” They were living from hand to mouth – God’s hand to their mouths. Don’t doubt God when you are at the bottom of the barrel!

Things went well for a while, but then tragedy struck, as the woman’s son died (vs. 17). At first Elijah is blamed, then the lady is blamed, and finally it is the Lord who is blamed (vs. 20). The barrel is emptier now than ever before. Why would God take her son? We may not always know the reasons, but we can trust God who does! Her son is raised from the dead, and it is then that she gains assurance (vs. 24). Don’t despise God when you reach the bottom of the barrel. His plans might include us living off the bottom of the barrel so He can get glory out of our lives!

About the Author: Pastor David Walker