SCRIPTURE REFERENCES FOR THIS SERMON:
1 Kings 20:1-21:29
20:1 Now King Ben Hadad of Syria assembled all his army, along with 32 other kings with their horses and chariots. He marched against Samaria and besieged and attacked it. 2 He sent messengers to King Ahab of Israel, who was in the city. He said to him, “This is what Ben Hadad says: 3 ‘Your silver and your gold are mine, as well as the best of your wives and sons.’” 4 The king of Israel replied, “It is just as you say, my master, O king. I and all I own belong to you.”
5 The messengers came again and said, “This is what Ben Hadad says: ‘I sent this message to you, “You must give me your silver, gold, wives, and sons.” 6 But now at this time tomorrow I will send my servants to you and they will search through your palace and your servants’ houses. They will carry away all your valuables.’” 7 The king of Israel summoned all the leaders of the land and said, “Notice how this man is looking for trouble. Indeed, he demanded my wives, sons, silver, and gold, and I did not resist him.” 8 All the leaders and people said to him, “Do not give in or agree to his demands.” 9 So he said to the messengers of Ben Hadad, “Say this to my master, the king: ‘I will give you everything you demanded at first from your servant, but I am unable to agree to this latest demand.’” So the messengers went back and gave their report.
10 Ben Hadad sent another message to him, “May the gods judge me severely if there is enough dirt left in Samaria for all my soldiers to scoop up in their hands.” 11 The king of Israel replied, “Tell him the one who puts on his battle gear should not boast like one who is taking it off.” 12 When Ben Hadad received this reply, he and the other kings were drinking in their quarters. He ordered his servants, “Get ready to attack!” So they got ready to attack the city.
13 Now a prophet visited King Ahab of Israel and said, “This is what the Lord has said: ‘Do you see this huge army? Look, I am going to hand it over to you this very day. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” 14 Ahab asked, “By whom will this be accomplished?” He answered, “This is what the Lord has said, ‘By the servants of the district governors.’” Ahab asked, “Who will launch the attack?” He answered, “You will.”
15 So Ahab assembled the 232 servants of the district governors. After that he assembled all the Israelite army, numbering 7,000. 16 They marched out at noon, while Ben Hadad and the 32 kings allied with him were drinking heavily in their quarters. 17 The servants of the district governors led the march. When Ben Hadad sent messengers, they reported back to him, “Men are marching out of Samaria.” 18 He ordered, “Whether they come in peace or to do battle, take them alive.” 19 They marched out of the city with the servants of the district governors in the lead and the army behind them. 20 Each one struck down an enemy soldier; the Syrians fled and Israel chased them. King Ben Hadad of Syria escaped on horseback with some horsemen. 21 Then the king of Israel marched out and struck down the horses and chariots; he thoroughly defeated Syria.
22 The prophet visited the king of Israel and instructed him, “Go, fortify your defenses. Determine what you must do, for in the spring the king of Syria will attack you.” 23 Now the advisers of the king of Syria said to him: “Their God is a god of the mountains. That’s why they overpowered us. But if we fight them in the plains, we will certainly overpower them. 24 So do this: Dismiss the kings from their command, and replace them with military commanders. 25 Muster an army like the one you lost, with the same number of horses and chariots. Then we will fight them in the plains; we will certainly overpower them.” He approved their plan and did as they advised.
26 In the spring Ben Hadad mustered the Syrian army and marched to Aphek to fight Israel. 27 When the Israelites had mustered and received their supplies, they marched out to face them in battle. When the Israelites deployed opposite them, they were like two small flocks of goats, but the Syrians filled the land. 28 The prophet visited the king of Israel and said, “This is what the Lord has said: ‘Because the Syrians said, “The Lord is a god of the mountains and not a god of the valleys,” I will deliver this entire huge army into your control. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
29 The armies were deployed opposite each other for seven days. On the seventh day the battle began, and the Israelites killed 100,000 Syrian foot soldiers in one day. 30 The remaining 27,000 ran to Aphek and went into the city, but the wall fell on them. Now Ben Hadad ran into the city and hid in an inner room. 31 His advisers said to him, “Look, we have heard that the kings of the Israelite dynasty are kind. Allow us to put sackcloth around our waists and ropes on our heads and surrender to the king of Israel. Maybe he will spare our lives.” 32 So they put sackcloth around their waists and ropes on their heads and went to the king of Israel. They said, “Your servant Ben Hadad says, ‘Please let me live!’” Ahab replied, “Is he still alive? He is my brother.” 33 The men took this as a good omen and quickly accepted his offer, saying, “Ben Hadad is your brother.” Ahab then said, “Go, get him.” So Ben Hadad came out to him, and Ahab pulled him up into his chariot. 34 Ben Hadad said, “I will return the cities my father took from your father. You may set up markets in Damascus, just as my father did in Samaria.” Ahab then said, “I want to make a treaty with you before I dismiss you.” So he made a treaty with him and then dismissed him.
35 One of the members of the prophetic guild told his companion a message from the Lord, “Please wound me!” But the man refused to wound him. 36 So the prophet said to him, “Because you have disobeyed the Lord, as soon as you leave me a lion will kill you.” When he left him, a lion attacked and killed him. 37 He found another man and said, “Wound me!” So the man wounded him severely. 38 The prophet then went and stood by the road, waiting for the king. He also disguised himself by putting a bandage down over his eyes. 39 When the king passed by, he called out to the king, “Your servant went out into the heat of the battle, and then a man turned aside and brought me a prisoner. He told me, ‘Guard this prisoner. If he ends up missing for any reason, you will pay with your life or with a talent of silver.’ 40 Well, it just so happened that while your servant was doing this and that, he disappeared.” The king of Israel said to him, “Your punishment is already determined by your own testimony.” 41 The prophet quickly removed the bandage from his eyes, and the king of Israel recognized he was one of the prophets. 42 The prophet then said to him, “This is what the Lord has said: ‘Because you released a man I had determined should die, you will pay with your life, and your people will suffer instead of his people.’” 43 The king of Israel went home to Samaria bitter and angry.
21:1 After this the following episode took place. Naboth the Jezreelite owned a vineyard in Jezreel adjacent to the palace of King Ahab of Samaria. 2 Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard so I can make a vegetable garden out of it, for it is adjacent to my palace. I will give you an even better vineyard in its place, or if you prefer, I will pay you silver for it.” 3 But Naboth replied to Ahab, “The Lord forbid that I should sell you my ancestral inheritance.”
4 So Ahab went into his palace, bitter and angry that Naboth the Jezreelite had said, “I will not sell to you my ancestral inheritance.” He lay down on his bed, pouted, and would not eat. 5 Then his wife Jezebel came in and said to him, “Why do you have a bitter attitude and refuse to eat?” 6 He answered her, “While I was talking to Naboth the Jezreelite, I said to him, ‘Sell me your vineyard for silver, or if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard in its place.’ But he said, ‘I will not sell you my vineyard.’” 7 His wife Jezebel said to him, “You are the king of Israel! Get up, eat some food, and have a good time. I will get the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite for you.”
8 She wrote out orders, signed Ahab’s name to them, and sealed them with his seal. She then sent the orders to the leaders and to the nobles who lived in Naboth’s city. 9 This is what she wrote: “Observe a time of fasting and seat Naboth in front of the people. 10 Also seat two villains opposite him and have them testify, ‘You cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.”
11 The men of the city, the leaders, and the nobles who lived there followed the written orders Jezebel had sent them. 12 They observed a time of fasting and put Naboth in front of the people. 13 The two villains arrived and sat opposite him. Then the villains testified against Naboth right before the people, saying, “Naboth cursed God and the king.” So they dragged him outside the city and stoned him to death. 14 Then they reported to Jezebel, “Naboth has been stoned to death.”
15 When Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, “Get up, take possession of the vineyard Naboth the Jezreelite refused to sell you for silver, for Naboth is no longer alive; he’s dead.” 16 When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up and went down to take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.
17 The Lord’s message came to Elijah the Tishbite: 18 “Get up, go down and meet King Ahab of Israel who lives in Samaria. He is at the vineyard of Naboth; he has gone down there to take possession of it. 19 Say to him, ‘This is what the Lord has said: “Haven’t you committed murder and taken possession of the property of the deceased?”’ Then say to him, ‘This is what the Lord has said: “In the spot where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood they will also lick up your blood—yes, yours!”’”
20 When Elijah arrived, Ahab said to him, “So, you have found me, my enemy!” Elijah replied, “I have found you, because you are committed to doing evil in the sight of the Lord. 21 The Lord says, ‘Look, I am ready to bring disaster on you. I will destroy you and cut off every last male belonging to Ahab in Israel, including even the weak and incapacitated. 22 I will make your dynasty like those of Jeroboam son of Nebat and Baasha son of Ahijah because you angered me and made Israel sin.’ 23 The Lord says this about Jezebel, ‘Dogs will devour Jezebel by the outer wall of Jezreel.’ 24 As for Ahab’s family, dogs will eat the ones who die in the city, and the birds of the sky will eat the ones who die in the country.” 25 (There had never been anyone like Ahab, who was firmly committed to doing evil in the sight of the Lord, urged on by his wife Jezebel. 26 He was so wicked he worshiped the disgusting idols, just as the Amorites whom the Lord had driven out from before the Israelites.)
27 When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, and fasted. He slept in sackcloth and walked around dejected. 28 The Lord’s message came to Elijah the Tishbite, 29 “Have you noticed how Ahab shows remorse before me? Because he shows remorse before me, I will not bring disaster on his dynasty during his lifetime, but during the reign of his son.”