If Ahab is remembered as Israel’s worst king, then Obadiah could have had the very worst boss:
And Ahab called Obadiah, which was the governor of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly: (1 Kings 18:3 KJV)
Other than being Ahab’s governor, we don’t know Obadiah’s background. While there are several men by that name in the Bible, some believe:
According to the rabbinic tradition, the tradition of the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches, this is the same individual as the prophet.Matthew Henry sees it a bit differently:
Who this Obadiah was does not appear from any other scripture. Some of the ancients imagined him to be the same with that Obadiah that was steward to Ahab's household … But that is a conjecture which has no ground. This Obadiah, it is probable, was of a later date, some think contemporary with Hosea, Joel, and Amos; others think he lived about the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, when the children of Edom so barbarously triumphed in that destruction.1 Kings tells us a bit more about this Obadiah:
For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.) (1 Kings 18:4 KJV)
For all the differences in their trust in God, Ahab trusted Obadiah:
And Ahab said unto Obadiah, Go into the land, unto all fountains of water, and unto all brooks: peradventure we may find grass to save the horses and mules alive, that we lose not all the beasts. So they divided the land between them to pass throughout it: Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself. (1 Kings 18:5-6 KJV)
Obadiah knew that Ahab blamed Elijah for the drought – even though Elijah simply gave God’s words. Obadiah trusted that Ahab would kill if crossed. When Elijah told him to go and tell Ahab that Elijah was found, Obadiah was rightly concerned:
And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the LORD shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I thy servant fear the LORD from my youth. (1 Kings 18:12 KJV)
Eventually, Obadiah believed Elijah’s promises:
And Elijah said, As the LORD of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely shew myself unto him to day. So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him: and Ahab went to meet Elijah. (1 Kings 18:15-16 KJV)
There are several lessons here. First, Obadiah did not leave Ahab. His witness made no changes in Ahab’s life, but Obadiah was able to serve his Lord even while in the service of the worst boss. He was able to save lives, too.
Obadiah was afraid of dying – aren’t we all? As much as he loved the Lord, and as trusted as he was by Ahab, he was certain that a misstep would cost him his life. He voiced his concern to Elijah, not afraid of him. Believing Elijah, he returned to Ahab, as instructed – and did not die.
What fear keeps us from responding to God’s commands? Are we so afraid of what He’s asking that we make excuses? Obadiah was only a messenger. Can we be God’s messenger, too?