Scripture reading – 1 Kings 20

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Now, the LORD commanded Elijah to anoint three successors. Two were to become kings of Israel and Judah and then his replacement as the LORD’s prophet (1 Kings 19:15-21). Hazael was anointed to succeed Benhadad as king of Syria (1 Kings 19:15). Jehu was anointed to be king of Israel following Ahab (1 Kings 19:16). Finally, Elisha was chosen by the LORD to serve as Elijah’s disciple and his successor as prophet in Israel (1 Kings 19:16b, 19-21).


1 Kings 20 – The Failures of King Ahab and His Death Foretold


The Oppression Imposed by the King of Syria On Israel (1 Kings 20:1-11)


1 Kings 20 recorded how Benhadad, king of Syria, oppressed and impoverished Israel. With arrogance and impunity, he humiliated King Ahab (1 Kings 20:1-12) and demanded his royal treasury of silver and gold. He then abducted Ahab’s wives and took his children hostage, along with the best of Israel’s population, to serve as his slaves (1 Kings 20:2-3). When the king of Syria increased his demands, Ahab realized Benhadad’s demands were intolerable and he would never be appeased (1 Kings 20:5-6).

The Oppression Imposed by the King of Syria On Israel

Ahab’s Victory over Benhadad (1 Kings 20:11-30)

In His grace, the LORD sent a prophet to encourage Ahab to be courageous and assured him the LORD was on his side (1 Kings 20:13). Promised victory despite the odds against him, Ahab withstood Benhadad in a series of three battles, and God gave Israel a great victory (1 Kings 20:14-30). Tragically, Ahab’s heart was lifted with pride, and when Benhadad begged for his life to be spared, the king of Israel failed to consult the LORD.

Ahab made a foolish, fateful decision; he spared Benhadad’s life and honored him by setting him in his chariot before the people (1 Kings 20:32-33). Sparing the enemy of Israel provoked the wrath of the LORD (1 Kings 20:31-34). He sent a man to Ahab, one described as “of the sons of the prophets” (1 Kings 20:35). The young prophet confronted Ahab and said:

1 Kings 20:42-43 – “Thus saith the Lord, Because thou hast let go out of thy hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore thy life shall go for his life, and thy people for his people. 43And the king of Israel went to his house heavy and displeased, and came to Samaria.”


Closing thoughts –  

1 Kings 20 was a spiritual crossroads for King Ahab, and true to his character, he made decisions independent of the LORD and promoted his interests before the LORD and Israel. Consider with me three spiritual lessons we can derive from 1 Kings 20.

God is just, and He requires obedience.

First, God is jealous of His glory and name (1 Kings 20:13). When Ahab surrendered to Benhadad’s demands and failed to seek the LORD, he sacrificed God’s best for His people. God, therefore, declared to Ahab, “thou shalt know that I am the LORD” (1 Kings 20:13). We are also reminded that the LORD is sovereign over all creation (1 Kings 20:23-28). Our God is the creator of the hills and the valleys. He is not the “god of many,” but the sovereign God of all, and turns the hearts of kings and rulers according to His will (Proverbs 21:1).

Lastly, God is just, and He requires obedience (1 Kings 20:32-42). Ahab’s failure to kill his enemy invited the LORD’s judgment on himself and Israel. Thus, the king invited his death, and Israel will suffer a humiliating defeat (1 Kings 21-22).

What can you take from 1 Kings 20? Do you seek the LORD and His will when making decisions? Do you trust man’s wisdom or put your faith in the LORD, knowing He is sovereign? After all, the LORD desires the best for His people.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith 

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