1 KINGS‬ ‭20‬:‭31‬-‭43‬ ‭‬‬

“Ben-hadad’s officers said to him, “Sir, we have heard that the kings of Israel are merciful. So let’s humble ourselves by wearing burlap around our waists and putting ropes on our heads, and surrender to the king of Israel. Then perhaps he will let you live.” So they put on burlap and ropes, and they went to the king of Israel and begged, “Your servant Ben-hadad says, ‘Please let me live!’” The king of Israel responded, “Is he still alive? He is my brother!” The men took this as a good sign and quickly picked up on his words. “Yes,” they said, “your brother Ben-hadad!” “Go and get him,” the king of Israel told them. And when Ben-hadad arrived, Ahab invited him up into his chariot. Ben-hadad told him, “I will give back the towns my father took from your father, and you may establish places of trade in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria.” Then Ahab said, “I will release you under these conditions.” So they made a new treaty, and Ben-hadad was set free. Meanwhile, the Lord instructed one of the group of prophets to say to another man, “Hit me!” But the man refused to hit the prophet. Then the prophet told him, “Because you have not obeyed the voice of the Lord, a lion will kill you as soon as you leave me.” And when he had gone, a lion did attack and kill him. Then the prophet turned to another man and said, “Hit me!” So he struck the prophet and wounded him. The prophet placed a bandage over his eyes to disguise himself and then waited beside the road for the king. As the king passed by, the prophet called out to him, “Sir, I was in the thick of battle, and suddenly a man brought me a prisoner. He said, ‘Guard this man; if for any reason he gets away, you will either die or pay a fine of seventy-five pounds of silver!’ But while I was busy doing something else, the prisoner disappeared!” “Well, it’s your own fault,” the king replied. “You have brought the judgment on yourself.” Then the prophet quickly pulled the bandage from his eyes, and the king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets. The prophet said to him, “This is what the Lord says: Because you have spared the man I said must be destroyed, now you must die in his place, and your people will die instead of his people.” So the king of Israel went home to Samaria angry and sullen.”

1 Kings‬ ‭20‬:‭31‬-‭43‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Ahab must have had his spirits lifted after the slaughter at Mt. Carmel. There, his prophets had been declared the loser in a battle of gods and they were stamped out in one fell swoop. After this, his wife declares death upon Elijah, who flees and God helps him win against Ben Hadad. As one often does, Ahab must have believed that he had somehow returned to God’s favor: he couldn’t have been more mistaken. He chose, once again, to live outside of God’s decrees. He showed mercy to someone he shouldn’t have. He believed that he could escape judgment, or that it must not apply to him. But he ended up bringing judgment instead. We often confuse our own standards with God’s and end up heaping judgment upon ourselves and others. We should never confuse God acting within his character as an excuse to act outside his will. We should never sin so that grace may abound. There is always a price to be paid when we try to steal God’s decrees and replace them with our own. Pride comes before the fall.

Published by Josh McGary

MY NAME IS JOSH MCGARY. First, I am a Pastor of a small church in Portland, Oregon named Aletheia Bible Fellowship. We call it ABF. I have been a pastor there for the better part of 20 years. I am very eclectic. What I love, I love loudly and immersively. I have notable collections of toys, funko pops, and vinyl. I also infamously love pop culture, comic books, technology, the arts, psychology and philosophy. https://sleek.bio/joshmcgary

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