Ahab was a strong
political king, very powerful but also very weak when it came to personal
morality. He formed alliances with Phoenicia, Judah, and Syria and built
Israel up as a nation. Yet, he allowed his wife and queen, Jezebel, a woman
foreign to Israel both in nationality and religious practice, to promote
idolatry in Israel. This incurred the wrath of God and led to Ahab's
downfall. He joined his queen in practicing idolatry, yet humbled himself
before God on occasion. He died in battle in 853 B.C.
Syrian Invasions Of
We can read of how war between Israel and Syria (also called “Aram”)
came about. (1 Kings 20:1-21). Ben-hadad, the king of Syria, made an offer
he hoped Ahab would have to refuse. Essentially, Syria required that Ahab
pay a tribute to Syria consisting of “everything valuable in Israel."
Ahab would have to refuse that, and that would be Syria's pretext for war.
- It might be that Ben-hadad
was afraid Israel was growing too strong, thus forcing to Ahab to fight.
Ahab issued his famous reply; “So he said to the messengers of Ben-hadad,
"Tell my lord the king, "All that you sent for to your servant at the first
I will do, but this thing I cannot do.'" And the messengers departed and
brought him word again. Ben-hadad sent to him and said, 'May the gods do so
to me and more also, if the dust of Samaria will suffice for handfuls for
all the people who follow me." Then the king of Israel replied, "Tell him,'
'Let not him who girds on his armor boast like him who takes it off.'"
(1 Kings 20:9-11). This was a brave, but arrogant reply. Ahab warned Ben-hadad
not to act as if he had already won. But Ahab's arrogance is seen in that he
did not seek God's help.
With the battle set to begin, God intervened so Israel would "know that I
am the Lord." (1 Kings 20:13). Ahab did as the prophet instructed him,
and Syria was defeated.
But the Syrians had an idea. There would be a second battle (1 Kings
20:22-43). The Syrians correctly attributed Israel's victory to their God.
Deeming Him a God of the mountains only, they decided to attack Israel on
the plains (1 Kings 20:23,28). Ahab again prepared for battle without
seeking God's help. God again intervened, not for Ahab's sake, but because
the Syrians thought Him "a god of the mountains only." The Syrians
were defeated with great losses. Ahab, relying on his own political
judgment, spared Ben-hadad and made a covenant with him (1 Kings 20:32-34).
The Lord was angry with Ahab for sparing Ben-hadad. God foretold that in the
next battle, Ben-hadad would triumph and Ahab would die. Ahab was "sullen
and vexed" at God's reproach (1 Kings 20:42,43).
There is much for us to learn today from this account. A couple of things
for you to think about:
First, God must be given the glory He deserves. He is not a God of only the
mountains, but of the universe which He Himself has made. The Syrians did
not have nearly enough respect for God's power, and neither do many today! I
fear for those who do not acknowledge God and give Him the proper glory in
their lives (1 Corinthians 1:24-25; Matthew 19:26; 22:29; Romans 4:20-22).
Second, things devoted to destruction must be destroyed. There are things
which the Christian must “put to death” as far as his or her sins,
ungodly attitudes and characteristics (Romans 6:6; Galatians 2:20; 5:24).
Ahab desired Naboth's vineyard in Jezreel for a vegetable garden and made an
offer to trade. Naboth refused Ahab's offer. Ahab became "sullen and
vexed." (1 Kings 21:1-4). Jezebel plotted to kill Naboth and his sons (1
Kings 21:7; 2 Kings. 9:26) by framing him with false accusations made by
“worthless men” whom she had paid off. Naboth was killed for the crimes he
was falsely accused of, and upon his death, Ahab took possession of his
God sent Elijah to prophesy against Ahab for his wickedness. Ahab had run
out of opportunities to become a better person (1 Kings 21:17-24). The
prophecy consisted of three main parts:
1. Ahab's blood would be shed at the same place.
2. Ahab's house would be destroyed.
3. Dogs would eat Jezebel.
Ahab repented and God put off the destruction of his house until after his
death (1 Kings 21:27-29). Again, we can see some important lessons in this
episode of Ahab's life:
First, we must not be so morally weak (as Ahab was) that it becomes easy for
the ungodly to manipulate us (as Jezebel did) (1 Kings 21:25,26). We get the
idea that Ahab was never comfortable with his compromises, but was unwilling
to take a morally courageous stand. (Matthew 6:24).
Second, God will repay evil for evil. Ultimately, no evil is left unpaid.
For men and women of faith, the price was paid by Jesus and accepted by us
through our faithful obedience. The price was the blood of Christ. For the
faithless, they will pay the price at the final judgment. (Romans 12:17,19;
Israel And Judah
Invaded Syrian Territory
Ahab requested King Jehoshaphat of Judah to assist him in recapturing
Ramoth-gilead. Jehoshaphat agreed to help Ahab but requested prophetic
guidance from God. 400 false prophets predicted success. Micaiah, a true
prophet of God, foretold defeat and was imprisoned. (1 Kings 22:5-8; 27,28).
In the ensuing battle, the Syrians were victorious. Although disguised, Ahab
was killed by a stray arrow. (1 Kings 22:34-37). Ahab died bravely in the
battle. The dogs licked up the blood from his chariot at he pool of Samaria,
thus fulfilling a part of Elijah's prophecy (vs. 38). The whole prophecy
would be fulfilled before much longer.
Again, we are reminded of some things important to us as well. God's word is
true and should be obeyed. Just as Ahab chose not to believe Micaiah the
prophet, we can pretend the Bible does not say what it says, preferring to
believe something else, but that does not change what is true (John 8:31,32;
44,45; 14:6; 17:17; 18:37).
In some ways Ahab was very successful. He won some battles. His nation
prospered during his reign; he is known for building cities in Samaria. But
his life ended tragically, and he entered into eternity estranged from God.
He had listened to Jezebel too much and to God not enough. He was a proud
rebel in life, but now the pride is gone. It is a rather hollow success in
this life that is followed by eternal defeat! God was patient with Ahab. It
didn't have to end that way. It doesn't have to with us either!
From The Bradley Banner 2/29/2004
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway
Bradley, IL 60915