Ahab and Ben Hadad

Today’s reading comes from 1 Kings 16:29-34 and 1 Kings 20:1-21; 29

The first twelve verses of 1 Kings 20 describe the problems facing the northern nation of Israel, summarized briefly in bullet points:

  • Ben-hadad is the king of Syria and leads an attack against Samaria, the capital city of Israel.
  • Ben-hadad sends messengers to Ahab, the king of Israel, with a choice. Either be destroyed or hand over your silver, gold, wives, and children
  • Basically everything and everyone is now under Syrian rule
  • Ahab agrees but it his quick acceptance seems to have caused the king of Syria to up the ante
  • Ben-hadad sends messengers back to Ahab to say that he is going to send his servants into Ahab’s palace and homes to take whatever they want – tomorrow
  • This is too outrageous and Ahab rejects the terms of the treaty
  • Verse 10 records Ben-hadad’s response that he is going to turn Samaria into dust. “There will be so little left of the city that there would not be enough for a handful of dust for each of my soldiers.”
  • Ahab’s response in verse 11 is pretty humorous. “You act like the battle is already over and we have not begun to fight.”  With this response the preparations are made for battle.

THEN an amazing grace from the Lord happens. A prophet comes to Ahab and tells him that the Lord is delivering the multitude of armies from Syria into his hand. The young officers are going to win this battle and Ahab must lead them into the battle. Ben-hadad is so confident in the victory that he is drinking himself drunk in his tent along with the 32 other kings who are fighting against Israel. So the army of Israel comes against the Syrians and just wipes them out. The Syrians go into full retreat and Ben-hadad must escape for his life. Rather than seeing the power of God, the Syrians come up with a foolish plan. They figure that Israel’s gods are gods of the hills and that is why they were stronger than us. They had a false understanding of God. They thought that the God of Israel had limitations.

We can make the same mistake as Ben-hadad. We may think that we know that God is over all places and people, but our actions may not reflect this truth.

What limits have you placed on God? One limit sometimes placed on God by his people is “limitations in sight” – we will believe that he only sees us at worship. People act like God is limited in sight and that he does not see what we are doing Monday through Saturday. He only sees us on Sunday and he sees me as a good, moral Christian. But God sees all that we do.

Sometimes we act like God is limited in knowledge. We think that God does not understand what we are going through. We feel like we are alone. We feel like God does not comprehend the challenges we are facing. Jesus said that God the Father knows what we need even before we ask him (Matthew 6:8, 32).

Think about God’s full power and presence in your life. Are you “limiting” or minimizing what He is capable of in your life?