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Category: 1 Kings

The OT version of the plank eye

Reading through 1 Kings 20 this morning reminded me of a common tactic employed by prophets that always causes a bit of a smirk to cross my face. Of course, if I was on the receiving end of the tactic, I doubt I would be smiling. In fact, not only would I not be smiling, I would probably be vexed and sullen just like ol’ king Ahab. First, the background of the story for context.

Ben-Hadad the king of Syria sent messengers to Ahab (king of Israel) that said that Ben-Hadad was expecting Ahab to hand over all of his silver, gold and even his best wives and children. Initially Ahab agreed to Ben-Hadad’s request and answered, “As you say, my lord, O king, I am yours, and all that I have.” (1 Kings 20:4) But then Ben-Hadad’s messengers returned once again and communicated a slightly amended request. Now, they would search Ahab’s house and the houses of his servants and take whatever they pleased. Ahab consults with his elders and returns a message saying that he will own up to the first commitment but he will not agree to this change in terms. This of course results in Ben-Hadad offering a threat and ordering his men to take up their positions.

To make a long story short, a prophet delivers a message to Ahab indicating that he is to initiate war with the Syrians and that he will be victorious so that the Lord would be known. After two successful campaigns – one in the hills and one in the valley – Ben-Hadad throws himself at the mercy of Ahab and begs for his life. After Ben-Hadad promises to restore the cities to Ahab that were previously taken by Ben-Hadad’s father, Ahab agrees and makes a covenant with Ben-Hadad and releases him.

After hearing of all this, a prophet has one of his companions strike him in the face and then he puts a bandage on his wound. After meeting Ahab on the road the prophet makes up a story about how he was in the battle and was charged with guarding a prisoner but due to him being distracted, the prisoner got away. The promised penalty if he did not faithfully guard the prisoner was death. Ahab replies and says, “So shall your judgement be; you yourself have decided it.” Bingo. Time for the prophet to remove the bandage, reveal his true self, and point out how Ahab himself had just done this very same thing. He had Ben-Hadad, whom God had given into Ahab’s hand and devoted to destruction, and yet he had let him go free. Therefore (says the Lord through the prophet) your life shall be for his life, and your people for his people.The result, is that Ahab goes way sullen and vexed.

The prophet doesn’t just come right out and confront Ahab with what he had done and then hand down the judgement. In a sense, he allowed Ahab to establish the judgment on himself by giving him an opportunity to reflect on a similar scenario that involved someone else. It’s called perspective and sometimes when it involves ourselves, we don’t have it. This is why it is so important to have relationships with Spirit-led people that are willing to speak the truth in love.

While reading this earlier today, it reminded me of how Nathan caused David to do the same thing regarding his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah the Hittite. Remember, Nathan told David the story of a rich man and poor man and their sheep. David was so enraged at the events of the story that he said that the rich man (who did the despicable things) deserved to die. With that, Nathan replied, “You are that man!”. You see, both Ahab and David were willing and able to see the speck in someone else’s eye while being clueless to the plank in their own.

It makes me wonder about the things in my life that perhaps God wants to use to reveal some truth about me and my own heart. How often am I willing to judge how other people are living their live, or raising their children, or loving their wife, or worshiping the Lord when I should really be asking the Lord to search my own heart and to reveal any offensive ways that might exist in my own life? Definitely something for me to consider today (and every day thereafter).

Into the wilderness

Superstition Wilderness

In 1 Kings 19, Elijah acts somewhat out of character. He who was once deliberate in his obedience to the word of the Lord, bold in his confrontation with Ahab, and confident in his mockery and taunting of the prophets of Baal is now shaking in his boots. You see, Ahab has informed Jezebel of how Elijah, the “troubler of Israel” had killed all the prophets by the sword. Jezebel in return sends a messenger along to deliver the news to Elijah saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” (1 Kings 19:2)

What does Elijah do in response to this message? “He was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life…” (1 Kings 19:3a) Eventually he gets to the point where he wanders a day into the wilderness and collapses under a broom tree, begging the Lord to just kill him now and be done with him. How does the Lord respond? Does He honor Elijah’s request and put him out of his misery? Does He get stern and turn into a drill sergeant and order Elijah to his feet and kick him in the rear to get him marching back on track? No. Why? Because He’s God. Here’s what He does.

  • God sends a message – Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah with news that caused him to fall apart and become weak in his faith, hope and trust in God. But God sends a messenger of His own – an angel – who delivers a message to Elijah focused on calling him back to the work that Lord had ordained for him.
  • God provides for his needs – The angel tells Elijah to “arise and eat” and provides a cake of bread and a jar of water. Very practical needs that were necessary for Elijah. This is evidence of God revealing Himself as Jehovah Jireh – the Lord provides. He is able to meet every need that Elijah has. Not just spiritual needs and protection but physical needs and protection as well.
  • God equips him to obey – “And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.” (1 Kings 19:8) The Lord strengthened Elijah and provided him with everything he needed in order to respond in obedience to God’s call on his life.

Here is my application for today. Did you notice that Elijah was humming along just fine until he received the message from Jezebel’s messenger (not even from Jezebel herself)? When he was listening to the Word of the Lord, he had no problem responding in confident obedience. But, he allowed the word of Jezebel’s messenger to pull the rug out from under him.

I need to be careful and discerning regarding the voices to which I listen. I need to drown out the noise around me so that I may hear God speak in a low whisper. I also need to realize that any time I cower in fear of man and fail to trust the Lord for protection, strength, and guidance, I head into the wilderness.

But, when I do find myself in the wilderness, how great is our God that He so often sends His messenger to call me back to His work, in His strength, for His glory.

When wise men make bad choices

I was reading in 1 Kings 11 this morning about how Solomon loved many foreign women. In fact, he loved them so much that he had 700 wives and 300 concubines. All this despite that fact that the Lord had warned him “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” (1 Kings 11:2 ESV) It even goes on to say that “Solomon clung to these in love.”

As is always the case, the Lord was right and we learn that, “For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.” (1 Kings 11:4 ESV) The rest of Solomon’s life is filled with adversaries and he is told that the Lord will tear away the kingdom from his hands. However, the Lord tells him that for David’s sake, he will leave one tribe in the hands of Solomon’s son, Reheboam.

Trust me, I’m not trying to argue with the infallible, holy, and authoritative Word of God when I say this but my take away this morning is that I don’t think it was Solomon’s wives that caused his heart to be turned away after other gods. It think that perhaps his heart was already not wholly stayed on the Lord even prior to that as evidenced by the fact that he did not heed the Lord’s warning and ended up taking these foreign wives in the first place. Yes, I understand that establishing high places to the false gods of the Moabites and Ammonites so that his wives could make sacrifices there was a bad idea. But this was all a result of his disobedience to take the foreign women as his wives in the first place.

In John 15:14, Jesus tells His disciples, “You are my friends if you do what I command”. In other words, our love for God is demonstrated by how we respond to His word. In this case, Solomon discounted God’s word in order that he could pursue his own passion and desires.

Even though God disciplined Solomon and there were serious consequences because of Solomon’s disobedience and divided heart, the Lord still had compassion and was still faithful. He did not rip the entire kingdom from his hand. He allowed one tribe to reside within the line of David.

My prayer is that I will always revere the word of my Lord and that I will trust that His plans, His desires, and His will for my life are so much better than my own. And because of that, I will follow His instruction. Not out of fear. But rather as a demonstration of my love for Him.

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