After Israel’s defeat over the Syrians during the last battle, the servants of the king say to Ben-Hadad – “Their gods are gods of the hills. Therefore they were stronger than we; but if we fight against them in the plain, surely we will be stronger than they.” However they are wrong. The Lord says, “Because the Syrians have said, ‘The Lord is God of the hills, but He is not God of the valleys,’ therefore I will deliver all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” The Lord once again provides victory for Israel proving that He is the God of the hills and the valleys!
Ben-Hadad, the king of Syria, surrenders to Ahab and Ahab makes a treaty with him. The Lord rebukes Ahab for not destroying Ben-Hadad – “Thus says the Lord: ‘Because you have let slip out of your hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore your life shall go for his life, and your people for his people.’ ” And this is exactly what will happen. Ahab will be killed in a battle against Syria (1 Kings 22:29-35) and the people will suffer at the hand of King Hazael who will reign in Syria after he murders Ben-Hadad (2 Kings 8:7-15). “So the king of Israel went to his house sullen and displeased, and came to Samaria.”
“And it came to pass after these things that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard which was in Jezreel, next to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria.” Ahab, sees the vineyard and he craves what his eyes behold. However, Naboth refuses to hand over his inheritance to Ahab in accordance with the word of God – “You shall not remove your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess” (Deuteronomy 19:14). So once again, “Ahab went to his house sullen and displeased.”
When Jezebel sees her husband pouting, she says to him – “You now exercise authority over Israel! Arise, eat food, and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.” Then Jezebel takes matters into her own hands. She wickedly schemes and falsely accuses Naboth of speaking against the Lord and the king which results in him being stoned to death. But the news of Naboth’s death cheers Ahab right up; so he leaves to go and enjoy his newly acquired vineyard.
Well, now the Lord is displeased. So God sends Elijah to pronounce judgement against the house of Ahab and Jezebel for their murder of Naboth and their idolatry. Elijah says the Lord is going to cut off the house of Ahab and dogs will eat Jezebel – “But there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel his wife stirred him up. And he behaved very abominably in following idols.” Soon in the Story, the Lord will use the future king of Israel, Jehu, to accomplish all that he said regarding the destruction of the house of Ahab and Jezebel (2 Kings 9:14-37).
The reading ends with an alliance between Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, and Ahab, king of Israel, through marriage. Jehoshaphat’s son, Jehoram, marries Ahab and Jezebel’s daughter, Athaliah.
When Ahab asks Jehoshaphat to unite with him in battle against Syria, Jehoshaphat says they will go to battle with Israel. However, Jehoshaphat requests that Ahab inquire of a prophet of the Lord instead of his four hundred false prophets who just tell him what he wants to hear. Ahab responds, “There is still one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the Lord; but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.”
Ahab hates Micaiah because he speaks truth from the word of God. Therefore, Ahab’s real problem isn’t with Micaiah, it is with the Lord. As Christ followers, we are called to speak truth in love no matter the cost to ourselves, as we will see Micaiah do tomorrow…so keep reading.
(1 Kings 20:23-22:9, 2 Chronicles 18:1-8)