However, a certain man drew his bow without taking special aim, and he struck the king of Israel between the joints of his armor. So the king said to his charioteer, "Turn around and take me out of the battle, for I am badly wounded!"
I. A MAN ARMED AGAINST GOD. True he was fighting against the Syrians, but as he girded on his armour he remembered and defied the words of the prophet. His ominous prophecy should not be fulfilled, he would yet come back safe and victorious to put Macaiah to death, and with this determination he put Jehoshaphat in command, and clad himself with proof armour. In spirit, therefore, he was fighting not only against the hosts of Syria, but against the word of God. Hence let us depict one who is armed against God. Reverse the description St. Paul gives (Ephesians 6.) of one armed by God. The impenitent sinner represented by Ahab defends himself.
1. By false hopes (Deuteronomy 29:19, 20). These constitute his "helmet," which wards off true thoughts of self and sin. He blindly trusts in Divine mercy, while sin is unrepented, forgetting that "a God all mercy is a God unjust" (Young). "There is none other name given under heaven whereby we may be saved," etc. "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?"
2. By a hardened heart. This is his "breastplate." A man impenitent is a man lost. Some are;' past feeling," their consciences are "seared as with a hot iron," and God gives them over to their "hardness of heart," and to an "impenitent mind." "Who has hardened himself against God, and prospered?" We may become "hardened by the deceitfulness of sin."
3. By defiant words. There is a tongue which is set on fire of hell Adduce examples. Ahab defied Micaiah.
4. By an unbelieving mind. The king questioned the truth of the prophet's message. He had more confidence in his own past success and in his military skill than in the declaration of a man who knew something of God but nothing of war. Unbelief ever prevents the inflowing of Divine goodness. Jesus "could do no mighty works because of their unbelief."
5. By a dumb spirit. No asking for pardon, no cry for mercy rose from Ahab's heart, or it would not have proved too late; for the Lord is "not willing that any should perish."
II. A MAN STRICKEN BY GOD. The chance arrow of the Syrian archer fulfilled the Divine purpose.
1. By the arrow of conviction. God's word is sharp and powerful, and pierces even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
(1) It may be shot unwittingly, as the archer drew at a venture not knowing what he might hit. Let our words for God be pointed, and be winged by faith, and He will see that they hit the mark.
(2) It may touch the one vulnerable spot. That arrow pierced "between the joints of armour" otherwise proof. So David's stone would have fallen powerless on the greaves or the breastplate of the giant of Garb. God, who knows our hearts, tries every avenue. Through our reason, through our affections, through our conscience, His word seeks to find its way.
2. By the arrow of judgment.
(1) It was foretold (ver. 28). Ahab ran the risk. So do they who continue in sin after hearing of" a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devout-the adversaries."
(2) It was inevitable. All disguise and precaution were unavailing. The justice of God sooner or later reaches the right man.
(3) It was terrible. The weak, sensuous man, whose promise had sometimes been so fair, fell in a moment from kingship, from life, and from hope. "lie that being reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without often remedy." - A.R.
A certain man drew a bow at a venture.I. THE LORD'S HAND IS CONCERNED IN THOSE EVENTS WHICH HAVE THE APPEARANCE OF BEING WHOLLY ACCIDENTAL, AND OF HAPPENING BY CHANCE OR LUCK. The man who drew the bow by which the King of Israel received his death, drew it, as our text says, "at a venture." He took no aim whatever. Men talk of chance, and luck, and fate, and accident, as if there was not a God that ruled the world. And some even pretend to think that it is doing a kind of dishonour to the Lord to suppose that He interferes in the events of life, beyond, perhaps, a mere general oversight or superintendence. But what says the Scripture? What says the Lord Himself of His own doings and appointments? He tells us that His hand is everywhere. He tells us that not a sparrow falleth to the ground without Him — that when "the lot is cast into the lap," yet "the whole disposal thereof is of Him."
II. GOD IS TRUE TO HIS OWN THREATENINGS. Look back into the former verses of this chapter, and you will find King Ahab was expressly warned of God that he should fall at Ramoth-Gilead, and that he should not return at all in peace. Men may "encourage themselves in an evil matter"; they may go on still in evil courses, with a most assured persuasion that their sins shall be unpunished; but true, nevertheless, is that word of the Lord which He hath spoken — "The wages of sin is death." "God shall shoot at them with an arrow; suddenly shall they be wounded."
III. THAT THERE IS NO FENCING OURSELVES AGAINST THE STROKE OF GOD BY ANY EFFORTS OR DEVICES OF OUR OWN. Ahab, seeming, as he did, to hold God's threatenings cheap, yet had some apprehensions notwithstanding. "He who made you can make His weapon to approach unto you," and that all self-defences are in vain! There is a spiritual arrow, very strong and sharp, which may be called "the arrow of conviction," and which consists in the bringing home a sense of guilt and danger to the sinner's conscience. Let us consider such a case as this — a case where the arrow of conviction has come home to a man's heart through the power of the Holy Ghost. The spiritual wound which this poor sinner has received is grievous. Blessed be God! it is not like that of Ahab, hopeless and incurable. There is "balm in Gilead," and there is "a Physician there." That very Lord who made the preaching of His law so sharp and piercing — who made the arrow of conviction strike so deep, can heal as well as wound. He hath provided in His gospel a cure for the transgression of His law. "To bind up the broken-hearted," to provide a precious remedy for dying sinners, was the errand of the Son of God when He visited our world.
(A. Roberts, M. A.)
The Study.I. WHERE ALL IS VENTURE MEN ACT AS IF ALL WERE CERTAIN. Strong probability is not certainty.
1. No parent is certain that his child shall live to need the education he gives it.
2. No working man is certain that he shall require the provision he has made for "a rainy day."
3. No merchant is certain of reaching that "wealth with honour" for which he toils. Yet the parent, the working man, and the merchant act as reasonable and responsible agents. Still, we have no certainty as to the result of any act viewed apart from its moral element. Thus viewed, however, all is certainty.
II. WHERE ALL IS CERTAIN MEN ACT AS IF ALL WERE VENTURE.
1. As a man sows morally, so shall he also reap; not necessarily from his fellow-men, but from God, in the harvest field of his own soul, etc. Experience, etc.
2. The most wicked deed ever perpetrated was first a thought. The accumulative force of moral evil is a certainty. Yet men lust as if lust would never bring forth; and covet as if covetousness never issued in actual theft, etc.
3. The Gospel is a certainty alike in its promises and its threatenings.
III. DEDUCE SOME PRACTICAL LESSONS.
1. Be not afraid to "draw a bow at a venture" for the sake of Christ.
2. Be careful of all bows at a venture which are not for Christ's sake.
(T. H. Darlow.)
The joints of the harness.
I. WE MAY ARM OURSELVES AGAINST THE WORLD BY PLACING RESTRICTIONS UPON OUR INTERCOURSE WITH ITS SOCIAL LIFE. If specially susceptible to worldly influences, we may wisely make it a rule to keep absolutely clear from all its pleasant things in which any temptation can lurk; or we may allow ourselves some degree of liberty, which, however, we restrict by some rule or clearly drawn line beyond which we will not go. This is good defensive armour, but it will not make us invulnerable. No formal, outward separation from the world can absolutely shut out the spirit of the world. The armour of our restrictions may keep out the world bodily, so to speak; but the very trust we place in such armour may open the way for some arrow from the bow of the archer.
II. WE MAY ARM OURSELVES AGAINST THE WORLDLY INFLUENCES WHICH TOUCH US THROUGH OUR NECESSARY INTERCOURSE WITH THE WORLD — as, for instance, in our business relations with men — by joining regularly in religious services and Christian work. In business hours our life is on the open ground, where we are exposed to every temptation. But in the sanctuary of God what can harm us? It is surely from the standpoint of the sanctuary that we get our true ideals of life's duties and aims, and that all the weak things about us are seen. It is there that faith can see and realise Divine things most clearly, and heaven seems so near, and the things of earth so small and poor. But religious services and activities will not necessarily make us safe. The archer is subtle, and has many devices.
III. WE MAY FURTHER DEFEND OURSELVES BY AN ARMOUR OF RELIGIOUS HABITS. There is great strength and protection in habits as distinguished from fitful, varying acts. Let us keep our armour of defence as perfect as we can. Do not undervalue it because it is dangerous to overvalue it. Let the sense of weakness make us humble and watchful. Let us remember that there are places, books, company, and habits which should be labelled "dangerous." The wise man will not court danger, but will flea from it.
PeopleAhab, Ahaziah, Amon, Aram, Asa, Azubah, Chenaanah, David, Geber, Imlah, Jehoram, Jehoshaphat, Jeroboam, Joash, Micah, Micaiah, Nebat, Ophir, Shilhi, Sodomites, Syrians, Tarshish, Tharshish, Zedekiah
PlacesEdom, Ezion-geber, Jerusalem, Ophir, Ramoth-gilead, Samaria, Syria, Tarshish
TopicsArmor, Battle, Bow, Carry, Chariot, Drew, Driver, Fighting, Hit, I've, Joints, Random, Sections, Severely, Struck, Turn, Wheel, Wounded
Outline1. Ahab, seduced by false prophets, by Michaiah's word, is slain at Ramoth Gilead
37. The dogs lick up his blood, and Ahaziah succeeds him
41. Jehoshaphat's good reign
45. His acts
46. Jehoram succeeds him
51. Ahaziah's evil reign
Dictionary of Bible Themes1 Kings 22:34
'And the king of Israel said unto his servants, Know ye that Ramoth in Gilead is ours, and we be still, and take it not out of the hand of the king of Syria?'--1 KINGS xxii. 3. This city of Ramoth in Gilead was an important fortified place on the eastern side of the Jordan, and had, many years before the date of our text, been captured by its northern neighbours in the kingdom of Syria. A treaty had subsequently been concluded and broken a war followed thereafter, in which Ben-hadad, King of Syria, …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
Ahab and Micaiah
The Prophet Micah.
The Poetical Books (Including Also Ecclesiastes and Canticles).
The Assyrian Revival and the Struggle for Syria
Use to be Made of the Doctrine of Providence.
The Shepherd of Our Souls.
Of Councils and their Authority.
That the Employing Of, and Associating with the Malignant Party, According as is Contained in the Public Resolutions, is Sinful and Unlawful.
Of Passages from the Holy Scriptures, and from the Apocrypha, which are Quoted, or Incidentally Illustrated, in the Institutes.
He Does Battle for the Faith; He Restores Peace among those who were at Variance; He Takes in Hand to Build a Stone Church.
Sovereignty of God in Administration
Tit. 2:06 Thoughts for Young Men
General Principles of Interpretation. 1 Since the Bible Addresses Men in Human Language...
The Figurative Language of Scripture.
Instruction for the Ignorant:
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