However, Ahab son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him.
I. THAT A FOOLISH CHOICE MAY RESULT IN LASTING DISHONOUR. Ahab's marriage was the cause of his ruin. Jezebel, his wife, was the daughter of Ethbaal, who had Been the high priest of Astarte, but was led by his ambition and unscrupulousness to usurp his brother's throne. Her parentage and her surroundings would have been a sufficient warning to a prudent king. But besides these Ahab had the Divine law before him (Exodus 34:16), which distinctly forbade union with the Canaanites. Such a marriage was unprecedented in the kingdom of Israel, and was the more fatal because of the character of the queen, the Lady Macbeth of Scripture. She was reckless and licentious, fanatical and cruel, with a temper as vindictive as her will was resolute. Her husband became a mere tool in her hands. He could not foresee all the issues of his choice, but he knew the choice was sinful. Show from this - illustrating by example -
1. How one wrong step leads to another. This marriage to the establishment of idolatry. Indicate the nature of the false religion set up.
2. How companionship influences character. The stronger moulding the weaker. "A companion of fools shall be destroyed."
3. How personal fascination may cause men to swerve from rectitude. Jezebel's fascinating power was regarded as witchery and became proverbial (Revelation 2:20).
4. How young people should be warned against unholy alliances. Marriage makes or mars character, hope, and blessedness (2 Corinthians 6:14). "Be ye net unequally yoked together with unbelievers."
II. THAT EASY GOOD NATURE MAY PROVE THE SOURCE OF DEEP DEGRADATION. Ahab was not destitute of good feelings and right impulses. Had he been firm instead o! pliable, and resolutely refused to gratify the queen by the establishment of idolatry, he might, with God's help, have neutralized the effect of the false step he had taken. But he was of a yielding nature, while she was resolute; and so, like Samson, he lost his kingliness. Point out the special dangers of those who are kindly and genial. Their unwillingness to disoblige, their wish to be popular, their dread of derision, their love of ease and pleasure, etc., may have fatal issues.
III. THAT BRILLIANT TALENTS WILL NOT COMPENSATE FOR MORAL WEAKNESS. This king was gifted with military skill, with artistic taste, etc., but these could net help him in the hour of spiritual conflict. Give examples from history of the careers of clever but unprincipled men, their meteoric success, their future punishment, here or hereafter; e.g., Napoleon I. Many men of genius have been ruined by drunkenness, and often high education has served only to alter the form and increase the influence of the sin. The clever forger is worse than the common thief; the viciousness of a leader of society does more injury than the licentiousness of an ignorant peasant.
IV. THAT ARCHITECTURAL SPLENDOURS AND MILITARY VICTORIES ARE NOT PROOFS OF NATIONAL PROSPERITY. Describe Ahab's magnificent buildings, his ivory house, his daring restoration and fortification of Jericho, his palace and park in Jezreel, which became to Samaria what Versailles once was to Paris. Show how often in history such costly expenditure has been a sign of decay. Extravagance and luxuriousness are omens of ruin to a people. "The Decline and Fall" of the Roman Empire is an abiding illustration of this. Nor will successful wars give stability to a kingdom. Ahab's victories were great military achievements, but of what avail to him and to his house? "The throne must be established in righteousness."
V. THAT AMPLE POSSESSIONS DO NOT CONTENT AN UNQUIET HEART. In Jezreel, the perfection of taste, Ahab was wretched, because he wanted Naboth's vineyard. (Read that story.) It is not in the power of earthly things to satisfy a hungering soul. The richest man is not content if he has only his riches, nor will any addition to them give him satisfaction. "Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth" (Luke 12:15). "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." God "satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness."
VI. THAT PARTIAL REPENTANCE DOES NOT AVERT GOD'S PUNISHMENT OF SIN. Ahab "put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly," when he heard Elijah's final threat; but, though this first sign of penitence was graciously encouraged by a promise, the change went no further He dreaded punishment, but his heart did not turn from sin, and therefore, though he disguised himself in the battle, the arrow "shot at a venture" was winged by Divine retribution to his heart. God is our Judge, as well as our King. For the impenitent there will be no escape. In vain will they "call on mountains and rocks to fall on them, and hide them from the wrath of God." Now in this day of mercy, God calls on all to repent, and find pardon and hope in Him, who has come "to seek and to save that which was lost." - A.R.
Omri slept with his fathers... Ahab his son reigned in his stead.
1. We need not trouble ourselves with the settling of the periods making up the dozen years of Omri's reign, which had its opening portion in Tirzah, the royal seat (ver. 17). Omri had ability of a certain sort, and hence, probably, was able to secure the adhesion of so many of the people and the conquest of his two rivals. He showed it in the selection of a new capital. Shemer owned a tract of land with a hill of great strategic value. With an opening out into the wider distant plain through the level grounds which divided it elsewhere, all around, from the mountains, it had on one side a gentle slope, and on all the others it was easily made strong against an enemy, when bows and arrows and spears constituted the common weapons of assault. The town got its name from him who owned the hill, and most fitly, for it was the synonym of "watch-tower," the very thing at which Omri aimed, having in mind through the slaughter of how many enemies he had to wade to the throne, and how necessary it was to be strong against any future assaults. They who part with Jehovah as Guide and Protector, and trust to human resources, need to multiply these to the utmost. Jeroboam had not flung off God formally. He had only modified the way of serving Him. He had set up the calves. This was politic, expedient, necessary. It was in harmony too with the ways of the nations. This was "the Way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat" (ver. 26). It was not the way of loyalty to Jehovah; it was not the way of truth. It was the way of disobedience under the inspiration of policy. Between this sin and the others that followed it was only a question of degree, not of kind. Set up taste, usage, popular craving, fashion, artistic completeness, or anything else as changing, modifying the method of Divine appointment, and you enter on the inclined plane. How far down and how fast you will go is determined by circumstances. So Omri's working "evil in the eyes of the Lord," and doing "worse than all that were before him" (ver. 25), is only walking in all "the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat," and in his corrupting and contaminating sin. So it is ever. Given the supremacy of Peter, then his control of all things, secular and sacred; then his infallibility! What was the effect of all these modifications? Toward man, to keep Israel together and from union with Judah. But in the other and higher direction — toward God — the effect was "to provoke (ver. 26) the Lord God of Israel to anger with their vanities." (See, for the "statutes of Omri," Micah 6:16.) When Omri died, the chronicles of the kings of Israel (ver. 27) containing the record of his deeds, they buried him in his capital, Samaria, and the throne fell to his son Ahab in the thirty-eighth year of Asa of Judah (ver. 29), and about nine hundred and eighteen years before the coming of our Lord. His career is as full of darkness and weakness as a king's life could well be. His reign of twenty-two years was a continued curse to the people. He held on the way of his father, but, according to the common rule in such cases, descending lower and lower. Moral rottenness, like material putrefaction, must increase. "Evil men and seducers wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived." He married Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal, King of the Zidonians. We are not surprised at the character of the daughter when we know the career of her father as it is learned from outside history. Among the innovations of Ahab our version mentions a "grove," a misleading word into which the translators were led from its being really an idolatrous image or group of images, including the "sacred symbolic tree" so frequently seen in Assyrian monuments. That it could not be a grove, a wood, is clear from 2 Kings 22:4, where Josiah brought out "the grove" — asherah in Hebrew — from the house of the Lord. It was doubtless a new and imposing idol, in keeping with the luxurious life now being lived by the Israelites as wealth grew through commerce.(1) There is a real connection between the moral and religious condition of a nation and its temporal affairs. If we as a people defy God or disregard His, laws, He in His government of the world may be expected to show that He is "contrary to us."(2) The temptation is always great to God's people to be like their neighbours; and if these neighbours be cultivated, be deemed standards of excellence in arts, in manners, or in arms; if they be wealthy; if their trade is of importance to us; if they be powerful and it is our interest to stand well with them — the inducements to conformity are all the greater. The distinctive elements of our religion are set aside. Why thrust our Bibles, our family worship, our Sabbaths, on them? True, God says of us that we are to be "holding forth the Word of life." Ah, yes, but that was in other circumstances.(3) The next step is to take up the ways of our friends. Much in their methods can be described as nice, impressive, beautiful — especially if we have taken their standard of "loveliness"; and, having done this, there is a stage of attempted combination. But it is awkward, difficult — in the end possible. One or other must go. And when man is choosing between his own products and God's orders, he prefers his own. So the light is superseded by the darkness; spiritual religion gives place to "impressive" forms, which put no check on tastes or lusts or passions, and make no conscience uncomfortable, while sin is swallowed as a sweet morsel.
(J. Hall, D. D.).
PeopleAbiram, Ahab, Arza, Asa, Baasha, Elah, Ethbaal, Ginath, Hanani, Hiel, Israelites, Jehu, Jeroboam, Jezebel, Joram, Joshua, Nebat, Nun, Omri, Segub, Shemer, Sidonians, Tibni, Tirzah, Zidon, Zidonians, Zimri
PlacesBethel, Gibbethon, Jericho, Samaria, Tirzah
TopicsAhab, Evil, Omri, Sight, Worse, Wrought
Outline1. Jehu's prophecy against Baasha
5. Elah succeeds him
8. Zimri, conspiring against Elah, succeeds him
11. Zimri executes Jehu's prophecy
15. Omri, made king by the soldiers, forces Zimri desperately to burn himself
21. The kingdom being divided, Omri prevails against Tibni
23. Omri builds Samaria
25. His wicked reign
27. Ahab succeeds him
29. Ahab's most wicked reign
34. Joshua's curse upon Hiel the builder of Jericho
Dictionary of Bible Themes1 Kings 16:30
LibraryWhether the Mode of virtue Falls under the Precept of the Law?
Objection 1: It would seem that the mode of virtue falls under the precept of the law. For the mode of virtue is that deeds of justice should be done justly, that deeds of fortitude should be done bravely, and in like manner as to the other virtues. But it is commanded (Dt. 26:20) that "thou shalt follow justly after that which is just." Therefore the mode of virtue falls under the precept. Objection 2: Further, that which belongs to the intention of the lawgiver comes chiefly under the precept. …
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica
Whether a Man Can be Saved Without Baptism?
Whether There Can be any Suitable Cause for the Sacraments of the Old Law?
Whether a Vow Consists in a Mere Purpose of the Will?
Whether Whoever is Perfect is in the State of Perfection?
Whether after the Resurrection Every one Will Know what Sins He Has Committed?
Sennacherib (705-681 B. C. )
The Assyrian Revival and the Struggle for Syria
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