Ahab: The Man Who Provoked God

By In In Remembrance On May 10, 2015

Ahab, the son of Omri, the eighth king of Israel, took the throne over the northern nation in approximately 869 B.C.  Ahab had a “great legacy” to follow.  His father Omri “did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and did worse than all who were before him.”  “For he walked in all the ways of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in his sin by which he had made Israel sin, provoking the Lord God of Israel to anger with their idols.”  (1 Kings 16:25-26)  If Ahab was looking for his father’s approval, surely he found it.  According to the inspired record, “Now Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him . . . Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.” (1 Kings 16:30, 33) 

Through Ahab’s approximate twenty year reign, he did many things to provoke the Lord to anger. From idolatry to blatant disobedience, Ahab succeeded in securing his punishment. Early in his reign, Ahab took Jezebel to be his wife.  Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians.  Jezebel was a “trophy wife” of a different sort. She was highly instrumental in helping Ahab reach extreme heights of wickedness and disobedience. “But there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel his wife stirred him up. And he behaved very abominably in following idols, according to all that the Amorites had done, whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel.”  (1 Kings 21:25-26)

Aside from the idolatry, there were two incidents in Ahab’s life which help to define him and his attitude of disrespect towards God.  Allow me to draw your attention to Ahab’s battle against Ben-Hadad, king of Syria. Ben-Hadad had gathered his forces together and issued a threat to king Ahab. The Lord, through a prophet told Ahab, “Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will deliver it into your hand today, and you shall know that I am the LORD.” When Ahab questioned the Lord as to by whom this deliverance would come, the Lord said, “By the young leaders of the provinces.”  Ahab then asked the Lord, “Who will set the battle in order?”  And the Lord answered, “You.” (1 Kings 20:1-14)

Ahab did as the Lord commanded and pulled together 232 young leaders of the provinces. Ahab then gathered together 7000 of the children of Israel and defeated the Syrian army.  Ben-Hadad, king of the Syrians, escaped.  The prophet warned Ahab saying, “Go, strengthen yourself; take note, and see what you should do, for in the spring of the year the king of Syria will come up against you.”  (1 Kings 20:15-22) In the spring, Ben-Hadad led the Syrian army in another attack on the Israelites. Again the Lord promised to deliver the Syrian army into Ahab’s hands.  In one day, the “children of Israel killed one hundred thousand foot soldiers of the Syrians.” The rest of the Syrian army fled to Aphek where a wall fell on 27,000 of the soldiers. (1 Kings 20:15-30)

Instead of pursuing Ben-Hadad and killing him, Ahab spared Ben-Hadad’s life. At Ben-Hadad’s petition, Ahab formed a treaty with the Syrians.  Afterwards, a prophet of the Lord delivered the following message to Ahab:  “’Thus says the LORD: ‘Because you have let slip out of your hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore your life shall go for his life, and your people for his people.’”  Approximately three years Ahab went up against the Syrians in a failed attempt to take Ramoth Gilead. Although Ahab tried to hide himself in a disguise, he was mortally wounded by an arrow shot at random by a random person.  (1 Kings 20:31-43; 22:22-36)

Ahab was a very selfish man. His selfishness was clearly evident when he, the king of Israel, coveted Naboth’s vineyard. Naboth had a vineyard which he had received as an inheritance.  This vineyard was located next to the palace of king Ahab. Ahab had seen the beauty of Naboth’s vineyard and desired to possess it.  Ahab offered to either trade another vineyard for Naboth’s vineyard or purchase the vineyard from Naboth. Naboth refused to allow Ahab to have possession of the vineyard of his fathers. Ahab returned to his house “sullen and displeased.” He laid down on his bed and refused to eat. Ahab pouted. (1 Kings 21:1-4)

Jezebel, having a measure of pity on her husband, made arrangements for men to falsely accuse Naboth  of blaspheming God.  As a result of the false charges, the people stoned Naboth.  After hearing of Naboth’s death, Ahab went and took possession of Naboth’s vineyard.  (1 Kings 21:5-16)

Ahab was truly a wicked man and his influence spread far and wide.  While there are many valuable lessons to learn from his story, the greatest lesson is this:  The path of wickedness will always end face to face with the wrath of God.  Do not be like Ahab who walked against God in selfish determination. Humble yourself before the Lord and follow Him to your eternal reward in heaven.

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