And the king of Israel replied, "Just as you say, my lord the king: I am yours, along with all that I have."
I. THE SPIRIT OF WAR, We see this -
1. In Ben-hadad's message (ver. 3).
(1) We do not understand this to be a demand from Ahab for the actual surrender to Ben-hadad of his "silver" and "gold," "wives" and "children." Else it would be difficult to see any material difference between this first message and that which followed (ver. 6).
(2) The meaning seems to be that Ben-hadad would hold Ahab as his vassal, so that Ahab should retain his wealth, wives, and children only by the sufferance and generosity of his superior. He would have the king of Israel reduced to the condition of the "thirty and two kings" who, with their subjects and fortunes, appear to have been at his service (compare ver. 12 with ver. 24).
2. In his confident boasting.
(1) He boasts of the vastness of his army. "All the people that follow me." The Hebrew is given in the margin, "at my feet," suggesting subjection and submission.
(2) Of the certainty and ease with which such an army may carry victory. "The gods do so to me and more also if the dust of Samaria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people that follow me." They need not be content with handfuls of dust when they can fill their hands with the most valuable things in Samaria.
(3) This was the boasting which Ahab rebuked by the use of what had probably been a proverbial expression: "Let not him that girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off." This caution might be profitably considered by those who are engaged in spiritual conflicts: "Be not high minded, but fear."
II. THE SPIRIT OF INJUSTICE. This we see -
1. In Ben-hadad's requisitions.
(1) In those of his first message right is outraged. "Thy silver and gold are mine." Taking this demand in the sense of Ahab's coming under villenage to Ben-hadad, the claim was iniquitous. Man has rights of property and freedom, which, unless they are forfeited to law by crime, should ever be held most sacred. The injustice of slavery is horrible.
(2) The second message went even farther. It threatened open robbery. Robbery not only of the monarch, but of his subjects also. A starving wretch who steals a loaf of bread may be convicted as a felon; but warrior who plunders kingdoms - a Napoleon - is glorified as a hero! Rut how will these weigh together in the balances of the sanctuary?
2. In his principles of appeal.
(1) Justice is not named. How often is justice named in warfare where it has no place! The Syrian king was more outspoken than many modern war makers.
(2) Mercy is quite out of the question. Yet in modern times wars against savages have been trumpeted as benignities, because of the civilization which, it is presumed, will follow in their wake!
(3) Ben-hadad did not live in these favoured times, so the one principle to which he appeals is might. "He has the men," and he will have "the money tool" In this he has had too many successors in the kingdoms of civilization.
(4) Not only must the covetousness of the king be gratified; so also must the host "at his feet;" and since the "dust of Samaria" will not satisfy them, Samaria must be sacked and pillaged. One injustice begets another.
III. THE SPIRIT OF CRUELTY. This appears -
1. In the provocations.
(1) Observe the "putting" of Ben-hadad's requisitions. No attempt is made to spare the feelings of Ahab, but, on the contrary, the language is studiously framed to lacerate. "Whatsoever is pleasant in thine eyes" - note, not what is pleasant in the eyes of the spoilers - "they shall put it in their hand and take it away."
(2) Witness also the peremptoriness. "Tomorrow about this time."
2. In the struggles.
(1) Men are in conflict. This is not a strife of elements without feeling, which is terrible enough, but of flesh and blood and nerves with exquisite sensibilities, with susceptibilities of acute pain and suffering.
(2) The combatants are armed. That they may put each other to torture they are provided with swords, spears, arrows; and in these clays of civilization, with fire-arms of various kinds. Elephants, camels, horses, and other animals are pressed into the dreadful service.
(3) Survey the battlefield after the strife. Men and animals dead and dying, mingled; gaping wounds; mangled limbs, sickening horrors I What pictures of cruelty are here!
(4) Reflect upon the homes plunged into grief and poverty entailed through the loss of breadwinners; and add the sequel of pestilences and famines. Surely we should pray for the advent of that peaceful reign of righteousness which is promised in the Scriptures of prophecy. - J.A.M.
Now the men did diligently observe whether anything would come from him, and did hastily catch it.I. IT IS A PITY THAT AWAKENED SINNERS DO NOT COPY THE EXAMPLE OF THESE MEN.
1. There is far too little of diligent observance of what God says in His word.
2. The same thing ought to be done when you are heating the Gospel preached; for God has been pleased, in order that His truth may be brought home to your hearts, to choose certain of His servants to speak His word; and, so far as they speak in accordance with His mind and will, they speak for God to you.
3. Then, again, while there is too little of diligent observation of what God has said, there is also far too little of hastily catching at the word.
II. IT IS VERY STRANGE THAT SINNERS ACT THUS, FOR IT IS NOT CONSISTENT WITH THE USUAL WAYS OF MANKIND.
1. We have a proverb which says that "drowning men catch at straws." So they do; and when a man is in peril, he will usually grasp at anything that seems to offer him a hope of escape. How is it, then, that, with a Bible full of promises, and a Gospel full of encouragements, the mass of people with troubled consciences do not at once catch at what God says? There is another proverb of ours which says that "the wish is father to the thought." Sometimes, a man wishes for a thing so long that, at last, he believes it is really his; but how strange it is that, in spiritual things, men wish, and wish, and wish, — or say that they do, — and yet they do not believe that it is as they wish! The more they wish, the further they seem to be from the blessing they desire to possess.
2. This is the more strange, too, because you can continually see how sinners catch at everything else. See how they cling to their own righteousness. A thousand tons of it are not worth a farthing; it is neither fit for the land nor yet for the dunghill, yet they prize it as if it was a heap of diamonds. See what confidence many put in utterly worthless forms and ceremonies.
III. WHEN WE ARE DEALING WITH GOD, THERE IS VERY MUCH TO CATCH AT. Many years ago, when I was in great distress of soul, and could not find Christ for a long while, I would have been glad if I had heard anybody speak about how much there is for a troubled soul to catch at. Perhaps I did hear something about it; but, if so, I did not catch at it, though I think I should have done so if it had really been made plain and clear to me. Until God the Holy Ghost enlightens the soul, the truth may be put very plainly, but we do not see it. I will try, now, to set it before any one here who is willing to catch at it.
1. Now, poor troubled soul, if it had been God's purpose to destroy you, — if He never intended to hear your prayers — if He never meant to save you — let me ask you, very earnestly — Why did He give you the Bible? I want you to catch at this thought.
2. Again, why has God raised up a ministry, and given you the opportunity of listening to it? Why are you continually being warned to flee from the wrath to come? Why are you constantly being instructed in the truths of the Gospel?
3. I remind you also that you are still on praying ground.
4. See, next, if you cannot catch at this great truth — God has given Jesus Christ to die for sinners. You are a sinner, so catch at this glorious fact: "He gave Himself for our sins."
5. There is another truth that I think some' of you might catch at; it is this one: "God now commandeth all men everywhere to repent." This was the message that our Lord Jesus Christ Himself preached, "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
6. Then, again, what can be the meaning of that other command, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved," except that if, as a guilty sinner, I come and trust in Christ, I shall be saved? It is even so; indeed, I am saved as soon as ever I do believe in Jesus.
IV. THERE IS MUCH GREATER ENCOURAGEMENT FOR YOU AND FOR ME, THAN THERE WAS FOR THOSE MESSENGERS FROM BEN-HADAD.
1. For, first, suppose Ahab did utter a hopeful word, he was very deceitful.
2. Then, again, when those men listened to Ahab, he might have uttered a friendly word without meaning it.
3. These messengers from Ben-hadad said that the Kings of Israel were merciful kings; and we know that God is much more merciful than they were, for "His mercy endureth for ever."
4. Those messengers from Ben-hadad might have believed be: tar of Ahab than would have been true, but you cannot believe better of God than will be true.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
( J. Bunyan..)
PeopleAhab, Aram, Ben, Benhadad, Ben-hadad, Hadad, Israelites, Syrians
PlacesAphek, Damascus, Samaria, Syria
TopicsAnswereth, O, Replied, Saying, Yours
Outline1. Ben-Hadad, not content with Ahab's homage, besieges Samaria
13. By the direction of a prophet, the Syrians are slain
22. As the prophet forewarned Ahab, the Syrians come against him in Aphek
28. By the word of the prophet, and God's judgment, the Syrians are smitten again
31. The Syrians submit; Ahab sends Ben-Hadad away with a covenant
35. The prophet, under the parable of a prisoner,
39. making Ahab judge himself, denounces God's judgment against him
Dictionary of Bible Themes1 Kings 20:1-6
LibraryThe Lost Opportunity
TEXT: "And as thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone. And the king of Israel said unto him, So shall thy judgment be; thyself hast decided it."--1 Kings 20:40. There is a very striking incident connected with this text. The great battle is raging, a certain important prisoner has been taken, and if you read between the lines you seem to know that upon him depend many of the issues of war. His skill in leading the enemy had been marvelous, his courage in the thick of the fight striking; …
J. Wilbur Chapman—And Judas Iscariot
Putting on the Armour
The Section Chap. I. -iii.
The Letter of the Synod to the Emperor and Empress.
Nature of the Renderings
The Practice of Piety in Glorifying God in the Time of Sickness, and when Thou Art Called to Die in the Lord.
The Twelve Minor Prophets.
Tiglath-Pileser iii. And the Organisation of the Assyrian Empire from 745 to 722 B. C.
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