Summary: The 5th in a series of messages on the life of the Prophet Elijah

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Sermon by: Dr. Todd Morris

Text: I Kings 18_1-16

Title: The Hireling and the Servant

Date: March 14, 2004

Introduction: After a three-year period of being hidden away from public view, first by the brook called Cherith and then at Zarephath, Elijah is brought back into the spotlight. When he first appeared before the throne of King Ahab and announced the drought, he was a man of faith. However, as he passed through the trials of a dry brook, the empty meal barrel and a dead son, Elijah was transformed into a man of God.

He is a man wholly dedicated to the Lord God! As he reenters public life, Elijah’s first encounter is with a fellow believer named Obadiah. While both are believers, the contrast between the two men is striking! Elijah is seen to be the faithful servant of God, while Obadiah is pictured as a pure hireling, that is one who gives lip service to God, but by his life he denies the God he claims to serve.

Sadly, our modern churches, and pulpits, are filled with people like Obadiah, people that talk about being saved and who claim to love the Lord, but who by the lives they live deny Him, His power, and His presence in their lives. Of course this is how Paul said it would be in the last days, “Having a form of Godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” However, it doesn’t have to remain that way.

I would like for us to listen to the encounter between Elijah and Obadiah. In this passage, we will meet a hireling and a servant. In fact, we may meet ourselves this evening. If we find that we are more like Obadiah than we are like Elijah, may God give us grace to change this very day. Let’s look this evening at The Servant and the Hireling.


A. The Commander – After all this time Elijah is still serving the Lord! He is more ready for the task that lies ahead than ever. Here is a man committed to serving God with his whole being.

B. The Command – God tells Elijah to come out of hiding and present himself before his enemy Ahab. Think about how difficult this is. Thousands have died as a result of a draught that Elijah pronounced and prayed into being. God’s command to “hide thyself” came at a time when Elijah wanted to show himself. Now the command to “show thyself” comes at a time when he would like to hide himself.

C. The Comfort – Elijah may not know all the details, but he knows that God is in control. God promises him that if he will show himself to Ahab, the rain will come again.

D. The Compliance – Elijah’s response reveals his heart for God. He didn’t need all the details; he just needed for God to give him the command.


A. His Sovereign (3) – While Elijah is sold out to God Obadiah is sold out to Ahab. While Elijah is a servant of God, Obadiah is clearly identified as a servant of Ahab. He is a believer, but he is living out a life of compromise. He sold out for personal gain.

B. His Secret (4) – Obadiah has a position of power in the court of Ahab that requires trust and faithfulness, but Obadiah has two secrets that would cost him his life if Ahab knew.

1. His Devotion – The Bible tells us that Obadiah is a closet believer. He fears Jehovah, but he isn’t about to tell anyone. While he didn’t let his faith be known neither did he bow to Baal.

2. His Deeds – When Jezebel began killing prophets, Obadiah took 100 of them and hid them in caves.

C. His Service (5-6) – These verse make it clear that Obadiah is serving Ahab. Elijah was serving God while Obadiah was serving the enemy of God. You can only serve one!


These verses tell of the meeting between the hireling and the servant. Here Ahab’s boy meets God’s man and great is the contrast.

A. Obadiah’s Identification of Elijah (7) – Obadiah is quick to recognize Elijah and show proper respect for God’s man, but then no one is a round to see it. That is always the way of a compromiser.

B. Obadiah’s Indictment of Elijah (8-9) – Elijah send Obadiah to tell Ahab that he has returned. He points his finger at Elijah and accuses him of trying to get him killed. See, his reverence for the prophet in verse 7 meant nothing. Verse 9 shows his real character. He has no real respect for the man of God, his mission, or the Word of God. Our churches today are filled with Obadiah’s paying lip service to God, but not obeying God.

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Jim Buchanan

commented on Jul 7, 2011

I think you missed the point entirely about Obadiah. Go back and read verse 3. It says... Obadiah feared the Lord greatly... my take on this scripture is that Obadiah was a godly person serving the Lord in an ungodly place.

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