Thursday, March 22, 2012

1 Kings 20-22 - Ahab's Disobedience and Demise

LINK: 1 Kings 20-22

I had a GREAT time of listening to His voice applying 1 Kings 19. I hope you did too. Sometimes we just do not realize we have not stopped long enough to hear Him speak. 

BACKGROUND 

1 Kings 20  - Ahab's Battles

The king of Aram, Ben Hadad II (son of Ben Hadad I in 15:18, 20; 20:34), attacked Ahab two times, and God gave Aram into Ahab's hands so that Ahab would "know that He is the LORD" (20:13, 28). Sadly, Ahab disobeyed the word of the Lord by setting free Ben Hadad II when the Lord had commanded him to die.

1 Kings 21 - Poor Naboth!

A period of peace followed these two battles, but the incident in this chapter punctuates the evil characters of Ahab and Jezebel.

Naboth owned the property adjoining Ahab, and Ahab wanted it for a garden and was willing to compensate Naboth for it, but Mosaic Law stated that one could not sell a paternal inheritance (Num. 36:7) and Naboth rightly refused. Like a baby who cannot get his way, Ahab sulked until Jezebel plotted against Naboth. This eventually led to the stoning of Naboth and his two sons (1 Kings 21:13; 2 Kings 9:26). Wicked Jezebel!!!!

While Ahab enjoyed his new garden, Elijah delivered his prophecy of certain disaster on Ahab and his descendants because he "behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites." In addition, he prophesied that Jezebel would be devoured by dogs.

Surprisingly, Ahab humbled himself before the Lord, and the Lord had mercy by not having disaster come on his house in Ahab's day but in the days of his sons (2 Kings 9:14-37 - stay tuned).

1 Kings 22 - Ahab's End

In this chapter, good King Jehoshaphat of Judah enters the scene. We will hear more about him when we study his parallel story in 2 Chronicles 17-20 next, but he joined forces with Ahab in 853 B.C. in order to retake Ramoth in Gilead from the Arameans. Ramoth was one of the chief cities on the tribe of God, 28 miles east of the Jordan.

Before they embarked into battle, Jehoshaphat wanted counsel from the LORD through Ahab's prophets, but the 400 prophets Ahab provided were obviously not "prophets of the Lord" in Jehoshaphat's eyes because they just said what Ahab wanted to hear. So, the prophet Michaiah was summoned. The first time, Michaiah said exactly what the other prophets had said. Commentaries say that he was being sarcastic. Eventually, he prophesied that Ahab would die and the battle would be lost, and that is exactly what happened. He was buried, and the dogs licked up his blood just as predicted (20:42, 21:16, 21).

Archeological Note: More than 200 ivory figures, panels, and plaques have been discovered in one storeroom from excavations in Samaria. It is interesting to note that Ahab used ivory to beautify his palace and surrounding areas.

Toward the end of 1 Kings 22, there is a brief passage about Asa's son, Jehoshaphat (22:41-50), who began his reign in 873 B.C. as co-regent because of his father's poor health (15:23). He was one of Judah's eight good kings, but he did not remove the high places. We will hear more about him in the next post from 1 Chronicles. Stay tuned!

The chapter concludes with a mention of Ahab's evil son, Ahaziah. We will hear more about him when we start our study of 2 Kings.

REFLECTION

I am always amazed when I read about Ahab's repentance, and God's merciful response. This is the first time in the Bible where it is noted that a man "humbled himself." I think this is very significant.

We serve a God who longs to be gracious to us if we will only humble ourselves before Him.
Humble yourselves beneath the mighty hand of God. (James 4:10)
The other thing we can learn from Ahab's life is how the choice of your mate will have a significant effect on all aspects of your life. Jezebel was a very bad influence on Ahab. I want to encourage young people contemplating marriage to choose well! 

Sadly, I counsel women in marriages where there was not much discernment about the life partner, and the outcomes have been very sad.

APPLICATION

Do a word study on the word "humbled." Pray that God would reveal areas of pride in your life.

Consider doing a "Marriage without Regrets" Study. It is excellent for seeing ways to improve your marriage or seeing what to look for if you are contemplating marriage in the future. If the Precept study seems too overwhelming, there is a book with a less intense study guide too. There is also a 40 Minute Study.

PRAYER

Lord, humble us that we might give You all the glory. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.
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