Today’s Reading: 1 Kings 20–21
The king of Aram, Ben-hadad, sent messengers to King Ahab of Israel to threaten to help himself to Ahab’s possessions. Although Ahab was at first cowardly his advisors counseled him to resist Ben-hadad. So Ben-hadad assembled a massive army and ordered them to take up battle positions against Israel.
Although Ahab has turned away from God and worshipped Baal, God keeps his promise to Elijah (see 1 Kings 19:18) that He would spare those in Israel who had not bowed down to Baal. He gives Ahab victory in two separate battles against the Arameans, so that Ahab would “know that I am the Lord” (1 Kings 20:13, 28). But Ahab not only allows Ben-hadad to live after his defeat, he makes a treaty with him. God sends a prophet to rebuke Ahab for letting Ben-hadad live: “Because you have let the man go whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall be for his life, and your people for his people” (1 Kings 20:42).
Instead of repenting when he hears God’s judgment, Ahab goes home and sulks. Then he makes matters worse by coveting Naboth’s vineyard. When Naboth rightly tells him that the Lord has forbidden him to give away his inheritance, Ahab took to his bed and would not eat. Jezebel, his wife, arranges for Naboth to be murdered. When Ahab hears of Naboth’s death, he goes to take possession of the vineyard. But God sends Elijah to meet him in Nabob’s vineyard and tell him that because he has killed to gain possession of the vineyard, he will be destroyed, along with his wife Jezebel and their household. Then Ahab went home and put on sackcloth and fasted. So God said to Elijah, “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days, but in his son’s days I will bring the disaster on his house” (1 Kings 21: 29).
Today’s Nourishment: I have two thoughts to share on today’s scripture reading. The first is about the destruction that covetousness brings into our lives. That’s a good old-fashioned Bible word isn’t it? But God takes it as seriously in our time as He did in Ahab’s day. As I reflected on covetousness, King David came to mind. He also coveted what was not his, when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband Uriah killed to cover up his act (see 2 Samuel 11). The actions of both Ahab and David brought much pain on themselves and their families, for generations after.
Perhaps you’re thinking, “I would never kill anyone to get something I wanted!” Are you so sure? There are stories in the news every day of those who have done just that. Friends, we’re just as prone to sin as Ahab and David were. That is why God commands us not to covet what belongs to others, lest we become so caught in the snare of sin that we commit a horrible crime and bring destruction on those we love.
My second thought for today is, how merciful God is! And how quick to reconcile us to Himself when we repent! Notice how quick God was to show mercy to Ahab, despite his past arrogance and idolatry. Even though God held him responsible for Nahob’s murder, when Ahab repented, God spared his life. God does the same for us today. When we believe that His son Jesus died to take away our sins and we acknowledge our sinfulness, He is quick to extend forgiveness and give us eternal life. That’s the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!