And Ahab had called Obadiah, who was in charge of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly.) 1 Kings 18:3
Obadiah means “servant of Yahweh.” There are eleven different Obadiahs mentioned in the Old Testament, including the author of a short book of prophecy. The one we want to focus on served in the court of King Ahab. In fact, he was in charge of the royal palace, a position of unique access and deep trust.
Obadiah served after the upheaval that split the nation of Israel into two separate countries– Judah in the south, and in the north, Samaria (also called Ephraim and Israel to keep it extra confusing.). Ahab was the king of Israel and ruled with his wife, Jezebel. They promoted idol worship in Israel and Jezebel went so far as to pronounce a death sentence on any prophets of Yahweh, carrying out that sentence with impunity on an untold number.
Obadiah, however, at great personal risk and cost — this was during a prolonged famine — protected and provided for God’s messengers.
For so it was, while Jezebel massacred the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah had taken one hundred prophets and hidden them, fifty to a cave, and had fed them with bread and water. 1 Kings 18:4
He was also the one Elijah approached and requested a meeting with Ahab to end the famine.
So why should we stop and consider this bureaucrat?
He lived up to his name. His actions proved that he served the Living God. We are called Christians, which means Christ-like. Do we exemplify that in our daily routine?
He didn’t let culture influence him. Let’s be honest … It would have been much easier, much less stress and fewer headaches for Obadiah if he had taken his cues from the regime. Go along to get along. But he didn’t. He feared the LORD greatly. He was a devoted follower and a devout worshiper, and he ordered his life around that.
He didn’t get discouraged and give up when culture didn’t change because of his influence. Obadiah didn’t have any more impact on Ahab than the king had on his chief of staff. He may have had moments or even seasons of frustration and discouragement but he wasn’t marked by them. And he didn’t soften his faith to try to make it more palatable.
He stayed in a difficult situation because that’s where God was using him. It would be reasonable to argue that a good, godly man like Obadiah should not be part of such an evil, corrupt court as the one run by Ahab and Jezebel. No doubt we face situations where an exit is our best option. But then Jesus prayed, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.” (John 17:15). So clearly there are times when we should stay. James tells us “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27). Obadiah was able to keep himself unspotted and in a position where he was available. Difficulties are not always a sign that God wants us to move on.
Are you living up to His name?
Are there situations where you need to stick to your faith in spite of the culture?
Are you in a place– maybe even a difficult one– where God is using you?
Last week: Ebed-Melech, Next week: Abijah