1Kings 19-21

Sunday Evening Bible Study

July 7, 2002


Elijah had begun his ministry by announcing to King Ahab that there would be a drought and that there would be no further rain until he said so.  Then he promptly disappeared from public life for 3 ½ years.  This drought had come as a result of the things that Ahab and his wife Jezebel had done to the nation, leading them away from the worship of Yahweh to the worship of Baal and Asherah.  Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, is the daughter of the Phoenician king, and is at the heart of the idolatry.

Last week we saw how Elijah had called for a “showdown” on Mount Carmel.  He challenged the prophets of Baal to a prayer meeting.  They were to set up their own altars to their own gods, and pray.  They agreed that, “the God that answereth by fire, let him be God” (1Ki. 18:24).  After Baal didn’t show up, Yahweh sent fire to consume Elijah’s sacrifice.  Elijah then told the people to gather the prophets of Baal, and they were all executed.  Elijah then prayed for rain, and a huge rainstorm broke out.

1Kings 19

:1-3 Fleeing from Jezebel

:2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah …

 (1 Ki 19:2 NLT)  …"May the gods also kill me if by this time tomorrow I have failed to take your life like those whom you killed."

Jezebel isn’t too happy with Elijah.  He has put to death 450 of her favorite people.

:3 he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba

When Elijah hears of Jezebel’s threat, he is terrified.  We might think it kind of strange that the man who stood face to face against 450 prophets, and who called fire down from heaven, would be afraid of a single woman’s threat.  But he is afraid.

Elijah has been with Ahab in Jezreel, the place of Ahab’s “summer palace”.  From Jezreel to Beersheba is about 100 miles.  He will continue on to Mount Horeb (or, Mount Sinai), another 200 miles further south.  This is after having run with Ahab’s chariot from Mount Carmel to Jezreel, about 20 miles.  see map


After the victories, watch out for the attack

Here has been Elijah's most triumphant moment.
He has been victorious over the prophets of Baal, and even has the ear of the king for a moment.
And then comes the attack.
We see it in Peter's life.
He first had a great revelation from God:

(Mat 16:16-17 KJV)  And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. {17} And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

And the next words that come out of his mouth:

(Mat 16:21-23 KJV)  From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. {22} Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. {23} But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

Peter wrote later,
(1 Pet 5:8 KJV)  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
The Scottish pastor Andrew Bonar (1810–1892) said, “Let us be as watchful after the victory as before the battle.”

:4-8 Running to Horeb

:4  It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life

It is kind of interesting to note that the great man of miracle, praying faith, Elijah is asking God to die.  It is also interesting to note that God does NOT grant Elijah his prayer.



We all get discouraged.  We all get depressed.  So did Elijah.
(James 5:17 NASB)  Elijah was a man with a nature like ours…
The great preacher C.H.Spurgeon was known to suffer at times from depression. From “Lectures to my students” - page 167.
“As it is recorded that David, in the heat of battle, waxed faint, so may it be written of all the servants of the Lord.  Fits of depression come over the most of us.  Usually cheerful as we may be, we must at intervals be cast down.  The strong are not always vigorous, the wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous, and the joyous not always happy.  There may be here and there men of iron, to whom wear and tear work no perceptible detriment, but surely the rust frets even these; and as for ordinary men, the Lord knows, and makes them to know, that the are but dust.  Knowing by most painful experience what deep depression of spirit means, being visited therewith at seasons by no means few or far between, I thought it might be consolatory to some of my brethren if I gave my thoughts thereon, that younger men might not fancy that some strange thing had happened to them when they became for a season possessed by melancholy; and that sadder men might know that one upon whom the sun has shone right joyously did not always walk in the light.  It is not necessary by quotations from the biographies of eminent ministers to prove that seasons of fearful prostration have fallen to the lot of most, if not all of them.  The life of Luther might suffice to give a thousand instances, and he was by no means of the weaker sort.  His great spirit was often in the seventh heaven of exultation, and as frequently on the borders of despair.  His death-bed was not free from tempests, and he sobbed himself into his last sleep like a great wearied child.”
Jeremiah became discouraged in his ministry.
(Je 15:10, 19-21 NLT) Then I said, “What sadness is mine, my mother. Oh, that I had died at birth! I am hated everywhere I go. I am neither a lender who has threatened to foreclose nor a borrower who refuses to pay—yet they all curse me.”

Jeremiah wished he was dead.  He felt that everyone hated him.

Jeremiah didn’t understand why he didn’t sense God’s help in his life.  He didn’t understand why his life was so miserable.

{19} The Lord replied, “If you return to me, I will restore you so you can continue to serve me. If you speak words that are worthy, you will be my spokesman. You are to influence them; do not let them influence you! {20} They will fight against you like an attacking army, but I will make you as secure as a fortified wall. They will not conquer you, for I will protect and deliver you. I, the Lord, have spoken! {21} Yes, I will certainly keep you safe from these wicked men. I will rescue you from their cruel hands.”

God told Jeremiah that he needed to “return to me”.  Jeremiah’s depression had led him to the place where he had stepped out of that place of trusting the Lord.

Warren Wiersbe writes: “Is it unusual for chosen servants of God to become discouraged and endanger their own ministries? No, because every servant of God is human and subject to the weaknesses of human nature. Moses became discouraged and wanted to die (Num. 11:10–15); Joshua was ready to quit and leave the Promised Land (Josh. 7:6–11); …and Jonah became so angry he refused to help the very people he came to save! (Jonah 4) God doesn’t want us to ignore our feelings, because that would make us less than human, but He does want us to trust Him to change our feelings and start walking by faith.”[1]

:5 And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.


Some simple answers to depression

Sometimes the answer to our depression isn’t a simple one.  But sometimes it is.
Oswald Chambers wrote,
The angel did not give Elijah a vision, or explain the Scriptures to him, or do anything remarkable; he told Elijah to do the most ordinary thing, to get up and eat. [2]
We are human.  Sometimes depression can come simply because we have pushed ourselves too far and too hard and we simply need to take a break.  Take a nap.  Eat a better balanced diet.
Perhaps sometimes we just need to be “touched by an angel”.
(Heb 1:14 KJV)  Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

:6 there was a cake baken on the coals

Scientific research has discovered the makeup of this cake.  It was angel food cake

:7 And the angel of the LORD came again the second time

We believe that this is a specific person of the Old Testament.   He appeared to Abraham (Gen. 22), to Moses (Ex. 3), and to Gideon (Judg. 6). We believe this is none other than an appearance of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. This is a “theophany”, Jesus before He took on human flesh in Bethlehem.

:8 went in the strength of that meat forty days …unto Horeb

This food will last Elijah for forty days.

Horeb is where Moses saw the burning bush while tending sheep (Ex. 3:1). It is the ancient name of the mountain also known as Sinai, where Moses went to receive the Ten Commandments (Ex. 19:18).

What's Elijah doing?

I wonder if he's going back to his roots.

He's going back to where God first called Moses. He's going back to where Israel heard the voice of God speaking to Moses He's going back to where Israel received their contract with God, the Ten Commandments.

I think he's coming here looking for God.

After all, isn’t he probably thinking, “God where were you when I needed you?”

:9-18 Elijah at Horeb

:9  What doest thou here, Elijah?

In other words, it wasn't God's idea for Elijah to come.

:10  I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.

Elijah is depressed and frankly, life looks horrible.

Sometimes our perspective is a little off.

If we’re not careful, we can tend to look at things through the colored glasses of our moods.

(Prov 15:15 KJV)  All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.
It’s not that all the days of the afflicted are really evil, but that there’s this mentality we can take on from time to time of being an “afflicted” person.
And it’s during those times that everything looks bad to us.


There was a farmer whose neighbor was absolutely negative, no matter what.  If it was raining, the farmer would say to his neighbor, “Boy, look at it rain, God’s sort of washing everything clean.”   “Yeah, but if it keeps up it’s gonna flood.”  Then the sun would come out and he’d say, “If it keeps that up, it’s gonna just scorch the crops.”  The farmer thought, “What am I gonna do to win this guy?”  So he trained his dog to walk on water.  He didn’t tell his neighbor, he just took him duck hunting.  Boom!  Boom!  They brought these ducks out of the sky, and said to his dog, “Go get ‘em.”  The dog went across, picked them up, and hopped back in the boat, nothing wet—just his paws.  The farmer said, “What do you think of that?”  The neighbor said, “He can’t swim, can he?”

When we get to hearing ourselves talk about how everything around us is getting horrible, perhaps we need to take a little reality check, like Elijah.

:11-12 …but the LORD was not in the fire

Sometimes God is in the fierce wind.  God spoke to Job out of the whirlwind (Job 38:1). Sometimes God is in the fire or the earthquake.  When God spoke to Moses and Israel, there was fire and an earthquake on Mount Sinai (Ex. 19:18).

But sometimes God isn’t in these things.  Sometimes if we’re expecting God to speak to us through some spectacular manner, we’re going to miss is.

:12 and after the fire a still small voice.

still -  [email protected] - whisper, calm

small - daq - thin, small, fine, gaunt

voice - qowl - voice, sound, noise ; sound (of instrument)

NAS:   a sound of a gentle blowing.

NIV:  a gentle whisper.

NRSV:  a sound of sheer silence

John Gill:  not rough, but gentle, more like whispering than roaring; something soft, easy, and musical; the Targum is, the voice of those that praise God in silence


The still, small voice

Sometimes, if we want God to speak to us, we need to slow down and let the storm pass.
Sometimes, if we want God to speak to us, we need to quiet down a bit.
(Psa 62:1 NASB)  (A Psalm of David.) My soul waits in silence for God only; From Him is my salvation.
Mary learned to do this.
(Luke 10:38-42 KJV)  Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. {39} And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. {40} But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. {41} And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: {42} But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
Before refrigerators, people used icehouses to preserve their food. Icehouses had thick walls, no windows, and a tightly fitted door. In winter, when streams and lakes were frozen, large blocks of ice were cut, hauled to the icehouses, and covered with sawdust. Often the ice would last well into the summer. One man lost a valuable watch while working in an icehouse. He searched diligently for it, carefully raking through the sawdust, but didn’t find it. His fellow workers also looked, but their efforts, too, proved futile. A small boy who heard about the fruitless search slipped into the icehouse during the noon hour and soon emerged with the watch. Amazed, the men asked him how he found it. “I closed the door,” the boy replied, “lay down in the sawdust, and kept very still. Soon I heard the watch ticking.”
Often the question is not whether God is speaking, but whether we are being still enough, and quiet enough, to hear.
Amy Carmichael wrote, “God always answers us in the deeps, never in the shallows of our soul.”

:14  the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant

Paul quotes from this passage and says that Elijah was pleading with God “against Israel” (Rom. 11:2). Elijah is asking God for judgment on Israel.

:15 anoint Hazael to be king over Syria

Benhadad is the current king of Syria.  Hazael is his general.  Elijah’s disciple, Elisha, will be the one who will eventually anoint Hazael to be king over the pagan kingdom of Syria.

:16 Jehu the son of Nimshi …anoint to be king over Israel

We’ll see this in 2Kings 9, where one of Elisha’s disciples will anoint Jehu to be the king over Israel. (2Kings 9)

:16 Elisha … anoint to be prophet in thy room.

Elijah is given three more tasks.  But Elijah will only be able to accomplish one of the three tasks, anointing Elisha.


Raising up leaders

The key to Elijah seeing these orders from the Lord accomplished will only happen as he raises up a prophet to take his place.
We too have been given orders from the Lord.
(Mat 28:18-20 KJV)  And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. {19} Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: {20} Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

The only way we will reach our world for Jesus is by raising up disciples who will learn to follow the Lord like we do.

Paul wrote,
(2 Tim 2:2 KJV)  And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

:17  him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay …

Elijah had put to death 450 prophets of Baal.  These three men would be instrumental in finishing the eradication of the worship of Baal in Israel.


You’ve got a job to do

Inactivity feeds depression.
We want to run away and stay away.  God wants to send us back and puts us to work.

:18 Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel


You are not alone

I think that one of the biggest things the enemy can convince us of to discourage us is that we’re alone.
Elijah has thought it for some time.  He was thinking it when he faced the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel:
(1 Ki 18:22 KJV)  Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
Reality check – Elijah was convinced that he is the only one left.   He’s wrong.
Even when we don’t know of any person that’s “on our side”, God is always on our side.  He will never leave us of forsake us. He is “for us”, not “against us”.
(Psa 27:10 KJV)  When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.
God demonstrated that kind of love for us on the cross.
(1 John 3:16 KJV)  Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

:19-21 Elisha is called

:19  found Elisha

Elisha was from the town of Abelmeholah (19:16). Abelmeholah is along the Jordan river, halfway between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea.  see map

Elijah went from Mount Horeb (Mount Sinai) to Abelmeholah. That's another trip to the north, about 300 miles!

:19  Elisha ... plowing with twelve yoke of oxen ... he with the twelfth

Elijah – “my God is Jehovah”

Elisha – “God is salvation”

twelve yoke of oxen - This is an indication that Elisha came from a well-to-do family.

They apparently owned twelve sets of oxen, with twelve plows, all being used to plow up their fields. Elisha is working the last set of oxen.

Special Note:

From Mathew Henry:

Elijah found Elisha by Divine direction, not in the schools of the prophets, but in the field; not reading, or praying, or sacrificing, but ploughing. Idleness is no man’s honour, nor is husbandry any man’s disgrace. An honest calling in the world, does not put us out of the way of our heavenly calling, any more than it did Elisha.

:19  cast his mantle upon him

Apparently symbolizing the passing of the power and authority of his office to Elisha.

:20 Go back again: for what have I done to thee?

This is an idiom in the Hebrew language meaning “What have I done to stop you?”, or, “Do as you please”, or, “Hey, I’m not stopping you”.

:21  took a yoke of oxen, and slew them

What’s he doing?

The oxen are his means of making a living. He’s cutting off the past and moving on to the new.

:21 Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.

ministered - sharath - to minister, serve, minister to; it’s translated “minister”, “serve”, “servant”, “service”, “waited”.

Elisha will be spending the next 3-4 years “training” for the ministry.  He will “train” by being a servant.


Ministry starts and ends with serving

Elisha will “start” his ministry by being a servant.  But it never really changes.  It’s always about being a servant.
(Mark 9:33-35 KJV)  And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? {34} But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. {35} And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.

1Kings 20

:1-12 Benhadad threatens Samaria

:1  thirty and two kings with him

Not necessarily 32 countries as we would think of it. Kings were often heads of cities as well in this day.

:3  Thy silver ... gold ... wives ... children ... are mine

Ben-hadad is playing the bully, and demanding the finest of Ahab's stuff.

:4  I am thine, and all that I have

Ahab feels he's outnumbered, and agrees to give Benhadad his request.

:6  I will send my servants ... whatsoever is pleasant ...

Benhadad thinks that Ahab has given in too easily, and he wants more.

He doesn't just want what Ahab will give him, he wants to send in his servants to take any or all of Ahab's and Israel's treasures.

:8 And all the elders and all the people said unto him, Hearken not unto him, nor consent.

They don’t want Ahab to give in to Benhadad.

:9  at the first I will do

I would do the first request, but forget the second one.

:10  the dust of Samaria ... handfuls for all the people

Or, “There are so many people in my army, that if each one just picked up a handful of dust in Samaria, there wouldn’t be enough dust”. In other words, he's got a lot of people with him.

:11  Let not him that girdeth ...

Or, the guy who is just putting on his battle armor shouldn't be boasting like the guy who has just won the victory and is now taking off his armor.

:12  they set themselves in array against the city.

Benhadad gears up to attack Samaria.

:13-21 God helps Israel

:13  Thus saith the LORD

Keep in mind, this is a prophet of Yahweh, not a prophet of Baal who is speaking.

God is pursuing Ahab.  God hasn’t given up on Ahab. God still has a message for Ahab, even if Elijah isn't around.


God can speak without you.

Sometimes when we get into the suffering-Elijah complex, where we cry out to the Lord, “And I alone am left”, we get to thinking that we’re the only ones that God has been using, and we’re the only ones that really know how to minister to this specific person.
WRONG! God has lots of people He can use.

:13 I will deliver it into thine hand ... and thou shalt know ...

Keep in mind, this is wicked king Ahab. He's the guy married to Jezebel. They're the famous couple that is currently trying to kill Elijah.


Sometimes God uses kindness to convince us.

(Rom 2:4 KJV)  Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
To some, God needs to hit them over the head with a 2 x 4.
To some, God needs to warn them about the torment in hell.
But to many of us, God has drawn us to Himself with His kindness.
Keep in mind, Ahab hasn't exactly done a lot to deserve this.
A beautiful demonstration of God's grace, getting something we don't deserve.

:14 And Ahab said, By whom?

Ahab wants to know how this victory is going to be accomplished.  The young men will win the battle and Ahab will be the one to lead the battle.

:15  after them he numbered all the people…being seven thousand.

seven thousand – an interesting number.  God had told Elijah that He had 7,000 left in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal.  Could these be the same seven thousand? It is possible.  It’s also possible that the number is just a connection to show that God would bring deliverance through a group that represented those who had not bowed to Baal.

:16  they went out at noon

That's not a typical time to start a battle.

The middle of the day is usually hot, and not good time to fight.

So, there's some surprise here.

:20 And they slew every one his man: and the Syrians fled; and Israel pursued them: and Benhadad the king of Syria escaped on an horse with the horsemen.

It seems that the men paired off with the enemy, and each of the Israelites beat their opponents.  After all, the Syrians were probably all drunk.

:21  with a great slaughter

There was a great victory from the LORD!  Hooray!

:22-27 the Gods of the hills

:22  Go, strengthen thyself ...

There is a warning that there will be another attack next year.


Get ready for the future battles.

When you have one victory, don't start thinking that there aren't going to be any more battles.
In some cases, the enemy might come back to hit you even stronger.
It will happen this way for Israel.
Use the periods of relief to prepare for battle.
(Eph 6:10-11 KJV)  Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. {11} Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

:23  gods of the hills

Samaria is up on top of a hill.

The pagans are thinking that their defeat has to do with location.

:24 Take the kings away, every man out of his place, and put captains in their rooms:

Put real military fighting men in the place of the old, out-of-shape politicians.

:27  two little flocks of kids

The Israelites looked like two little groups of baby goats compared to the vast multitude of the Syrians.

They were way out of their league.

:28-30 He is God of the plain too

:29  pitched one over against the other seven days

This was a common thing in battle in those days.

The opposing armies would choose their camps with a large area between them, and would sit opposite each other for a while, getting ready to go into battle.

:30  a wall fell

God kind of got involved even more by pushing a city wall over on top of more Syrians.

:30 the rest fled to Aphek,

In the last battle, there was no way that the Israelites could have won, it had to be supernatural.

And the Syrians understood this.

This time, the Israelites seemed as two little flocks of goats before the vast army of the Syrians.

If there is going to be a victory, it's going to have to be God again, not the Israelites.


It's got to be God.

We need to come to the point where we realize that it has to be God working in our lives, because nothing else will work.
And we don't deserve it, but God does it anyway, just because He loves us.
Suppose the NFL granted an expansion franchise to little old Fullerton, to play games over at the CSUF stadium.
Suppose the new owner is Bill Gates and he wants to spend some of his extra cash.  He decides he's going to spend lots on this new team.

He hires the two best quarterbacks in the NFL, then goes on to get the very best receivers, running backs, and defensive teams.

And he makes YOU the coach.

After the first couple of wins, nobody is going to be much surprised, after all, you have the best players.

In fact, nobody is going to pay much attention to you as the coach, because the team is so great.

But suppose that the owner is broke, and fills the team with Jr. High boys from Ladera Vista.

And he still makes you the coach.  Sounds like a movie, huh?

If you win a couple of games, with a team of nobody's, then everybody is going to want an interview with you.

You'll be on ESPN, and the front page of Sports Illustrated.

You were able to take a team of nobodies and make them winners.

And that's what God's grace is all about.

God often prefers to pick people who are weak, not necessarily bright, who might not seem to have a lot to offer, and God can do great things through them.


So people will know that it's God who is working, NOT YOU!

Think of Gideon -
He had an army of 30,000 against an army of 150,000 Midianites.
God said he had too many men.
God whittled the army down to 300 men, so everyone would know that it was God who was at work.


Don't be concerned when you feel like you don't have much to offer God.

God doesn't need much to work with.
In fact, when we think we really have a lot to offer the Lord, the Lord sometimes has to take us through a "wilderness" time to humble us and get us to the point where we will learn to depend totally upon Him.

Look at Moses:

He was ready to deliver the people at age 40, being raised in Pharaoh’s house, as a prince.
But God had to run Him through His own training school, tending sheep for forty years in the wilderness, before Moses was in a useable state.

:31-34 Syria surrenders

:31  sackcloth ... loins

A sign of mourning and repentance

Not a very comfortable kind of clothing.

:31 rope upon our heads

Apparently ready for hanging, if that's what Ahab decrees.

:33  the men did diligently observe ...

(NIV) The men took this as a good sign and were quick to pick up his word. "Yes, your brother Ben-Hadad!" they said. "Go and get him," the king said. When Ben-Hadad came out, Ahab had him come up into his chariot.

:34  thou shalt make streets for thee in Damascus

Setting up trade between Syria and Samaria.

The idea is setting up places in Damascus where Israelite things would be bought and sold.

:35-43 The prophet’s rebuke

:35 Smite me, I pray thee. And the man refused to smite him.

This prophet has a plan from the Lord, and it involves being hurt.  So he asks a friend to hurt him, and the friend doesn’t want to do it.


Be careful not to get in God's way

Sometimes our good intentions can simply hinder the work of God.
After all, who wants to hurt their friend?
Are we open to the Lord? Are we listening to His voice? Could He tell us something out of the ordinary, and we'd pay attention to it?

:39 Keep this man: if by any means he be missing, then shall thy life be for his life, or else thou shalt pay a talent of silver.

talent of silver – seventy five pounds of silver

The prophet makes up a story about him being asked to guard a prisoner.  If he were to let the prisoner escape, there would be a large financial penalty.

:40  So shall thy judgment be ...

The king has taken this as one of the times he's supposed to do his kingly thing, judging the people.

This was a common way that the prophets used to talk to David, by telling him a story, and then using David's own words to convict him.

:41 the king of Israel discerned him

The king recognized the man.

:42  thou hast let go out of thy hand a man ...

The lesson was that Ahab should not have been merciful to Benhadad.  God had wanted Ahab to destroy the Syrians, not let them go.  As a result, Ahab would lose his life.


Finish the work God has for you.

God wants us to finish the race.
2Ti 4:7  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;
Col 4:17  And say to Archippus, "Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it."

:43 And the king of Israel went to his house heavy and displeased, and came to Samaria.

heavycar – stubborn, implacable, rebellious, resentful, sullen

displeasedza‘eph – angry, raging, out of humour, vexed

Ahab wasn’t too happy about what the prophet had said.  He’s not sad about what he’s done, he’s angry at what the prophet has said.

1Kings 21

:1-4 Ahab makes an offer

:1 Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyardhard by the palace of Ahab

hard by – next to

:2 I will give thee the worth of it in money.

Ahab offers to buy the vineyard from Naboth.

:3 The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee.

Naboth isn’t interested in selling.  He considers it part of his family’s inheritance.

:4  heavy and displeased

Does this phrase sound familiar? (1Ki. 20:43)

I guess Ahab is just having a bad week. Nothing is going right.

First he is condemned for being merciful to the Syrian king. Now he can't even get Naboth to swap property with him.

:4  laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face ...

Ahab has a pity party.  He goes home and sulks.

:5-14 Jezebel takes care of Naboth

:7 I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.

Jezebel promises to take care of everything.

:8  she wrote letters in Ahab's name

She's a sneaky cookie. She doesn't do it in her own name, but puts her husband on the line. Perhaps she knows that nobody would pay attention if it were in her name?

:9  Proclaim a fast

Not a feast.  It’s as if the city of Jezreel were facing some horrible thing, something so horrible it required the city to go into fasting.

:9  set Naboth on high

The idea is that they're going to put Naboth on trial.

:10 And set two men, sons of Belial, before him

Belial[email protected]`a - worthlessness; worthless, good for nothing, unprofitable, base fellow

She sets up two guys to lie about Naboth.

Two men are to be hired to do this, since the Law requires that there be at least two witnesses.

(Deu 19:15 KJV)  One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

:15-16 Ahab takes the vineyard

:16 Ahab rose up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.

He gets what he wants.  Who knows if he really paid much attention to just how Jezebel acquired it for him?

:17-29 Elijah confronts Ahab

:19  in the place where the dogs licked ... thy blood

So comes a terrible judgment pronounced on Ahab, that he too will die in such a way that his blood will be spilled, and dogs will be licking it up in the same place that they licked up Naboth’s.

And it would happen in Naboth's vineyard.

This is going to shake up Ahab so much that he's going to repent, and the complete curse won't come on him.

Instead, there will be a partial fulfillment of this prophecy when Ahab dies.

He will be killed in his chariot by a stray arrow in combat.  When his chariot is taken back to Samaria to be washed, this prophecy will be fulfilled (1Ki. 22:34-38)

:21  cut off from Ahab

Ahab's entire lineage would be wiped out. This would be accomplished by a man named Jehu. We'll see it when we get to 2Kings 9-10.

:23  the dogs shall eat Jezebel

If indeed Jezebel were to die, this is certainly no way to treat a queen at her death!

This is talking about someone dying and no one caring or paying attention to the death.

This will happen in 2Kings 9:33-36.

:24  city ... dogs ... field ... fowls

The idea is that Ahab's descendants will fall out of favor, and not be buried like king's sons.

:25  none like unto Ahab ...

He was the worst of all the kings of the north.

:27-29 Ahab humbles himself

:27  went softly

or, “walked gently”

NIV:  When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly.

Gill:   the Targum renders it “barefoot”

:29  because he humbleth himself before me

Was this genuine repentance?

Gill:  Some Jewish writers think his repentance was true and perfect, and his conversion thorough and real: they tell us, that he was in fasting and prayer morning and evening before the Lord, and was studying in the law all his days, and returned not to his evil works any more, and his repentance was accepted.

Luther felt that Ahab was saved.

But it only seems outward, or at least, only temporary.

He never deals with Jezebel and her plot.

He never restores the land to Naboth's family.

He never left off his idolatry.

He will soon be consulting more false prophets (1Ki.22:6) about Ramoth Gilead.

:29 Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son's days will I bring the evil upon his house.

Something has finally gotten through to Ahab.  But the effect of Ahab’s sin will affect his sons and grandsons.  There will be trouble as a result.


[1]Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1995). Be decisive. An Old testament study. (Je 15:1). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

[2]Chambers, O. (1993, c1935). My utmost for his highest : Selections for the year (February 17). Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers.