6 June 2021


Know God by his word

Speaker:  Dn Lee Pang Wee
Sermon Title: Know God by His Word
Scripture Text: 1 Kings 20

Introduction

 

 

God saves by His Word – Listen

 

 

God reveals by His Word – Believe

 

 

God judges by His Word – Obey

 

 

Conclusion




Reflection Questions:

  1. What was Ahab’s overall failure?
  2. Which of the responses to God’s Word – listen, believe, obey – is most difficult for you? Why?
  3. In what ways does this chapter resemble chapter 13, and how does this help you to see what God says about His Word? How does this affect your attitudes and actions?
Scripture: 1 Kings 20 (ESV)

1 Ben-hadad the king of Syria gathered all his army together. Thirty-two kings were with him, and horses and chariots. And he went up and closed in on Samaria and fought against it. And he sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel and said to him, “Thus says Ben-hadad: ‘Your silver and your gold are mine; your best wives and children also are mine.’” And the king of Israel answered, “As you say, my lord, O king, I am yours, and all that I have.” The messengers came again and said, “Thus says Ben-hadad: ‘I sent to you, saying, “Deliver to me your silver and your gold, your wives and your children.” Nevertheless I will send my servants to you tomorrow about this time, and they shall search your house and the houses of your servants and lay hands on whatever pleases you and take it away.’”

Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land and said, “Mark, now, and see how this man is seeking trouble, for he sent to me for my wives and my children, and for my silver and my gold, and I did not refuse him.” And all the elders and all the people said to him, “Do not listen or consent.” So he said to the messengers of Ben-hadad, “Tell my lord the king, ‘All that you first demanded of your servant I will do, but this thing I cannot do.’” And the messengers departed and brought him word again. 10 Ben-hadad sent to him and said, “The gods do so to me and more also, if the dust of Samaria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people who follow me.” 11 And the king of Israel answered, “Tell him, ‘Let not him who straps on his armor boast himself as he who takes it off.’” 12 When Ben-hadad heard this message as he was drinking with the kings in the booths, he said to his men, “Take your positions.” And they took their positions against the city.

13 And behold, a prophet came near to Ahab king of Israel and said, “Thus says the Lord, Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will give it into your hand this day, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” 14 And Ahab said, “By whom?” He said, “Thus says the Lord, By the servants of the governors of the districts.” Then he said, “Who shall begin the battle?” He answered, “You.” 15 Then he mustered the servants of the governors of the districts, and they were 232. And after them he mustered all the people of Israel, seven thousand.

16 And they went out at noon, while Ben-hadad was drinking himself drunk in the booths, he and the thirty-two kings who helped him. 17 The servants of the governors of the districts went out first. And Ben-hadad sent out scouts, and they reported to him, “Men are coming out from Samaria.” 18 He said, “If they have come out for peace, take them alive. Or if they have come out for war, take them alive.”

19 So these went out of the city, the servants of the governors of the districts and the army that followed them. 20 And each struck down his man. The Syrians fled, and Israel pursued them, but Ben-hadad king of Syria escaped on a horse with horsemen. 21 And the king of Israel went out and struck the horses and chariots, and struck the Syrians with a great blow.

22 Then the prophet came near to the king of Israel and said to him, “Come, strengthen yourself, and consider well what you have to do, for in the spring the king of Syria will come up against you.”

23 And the servants of the king of Syria said to him, “Their gods are gods of the hills, and so they were stronger than we. But let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they. 24 And do this: remove the kings, each from his post, and put commanders in their places, 25 and muster an army like the army that you have lost, horse for horse, and chariot for chariot. Then we will fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.” And he listened to their voice and did so.

26 In the spring, Ben-hadad mustered the Syrians and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel. 27 And the people of Israel were mustered and were provisioned and went against them. The people of Israel encamped before them like two little flocks of goats, but the Syrians filled the country. 28 And a man of God came near and said to the king of Israel, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because the Syrians have said, “The Lord is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys,” therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.’” 29 And they encamped opposite one another seven days. Then on the seventh day the battle was joined. And the people of Israel struck down of the Syrians 100,000 foot soldiers in one day. 30 And the rest fled into the city of Aphek, and the wall fell upon 27,000 men who were left.

Ben-hadad also fled and entered an inner chamber in the city. 31 And his servants said to him, “Behold now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings. Let us put sackcloth around our waists and ropes on our heads and go out to the king of Israel. Perhaps he will spare your life.” 32 So they tied sackcloth around their waists and put ropes on their heads and went to the king of Israel and said, “Your servant Ben-hadad says, ‘Please, let me live.’” And he said, “Does he still live? He is my brother.” 33 Now the men were watching for a sign, and they quickly took it up from him and said, “Yes, your brother Ben-hadad.” Then he said, “Go and bring him.” Then Ben-hadad came out to him, and he caused him to come up into the chariot. 34 And Ben-hadad said to him, “The cities that my father took from your father I will restore, and you may establish bazaars for yourself in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria.” And Ahab said, “I will let you go on these terms.” So he made a covenant with him and let him go.

35 And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said to his fellow at the command of the Lord, “Strike me, please.” But the man refused to strike him. 36 Then he said to him, “Because you have not obeyed the voice of the Lord, behold, as soon as you have gone from me, a lion shall strike you down.” And as soon as he had departed from him, a lion met him and struck him down. 37 Then he found another man and said, “Strike me, please.” And the man struck him—struck him and wounded him. 38 So the prophet departed and waited for the king by the way, disguising himself with a bandage over his eyes. 39 And as the king passed, he cried to the king and said, “Your servant went out into the midst of the battle, and behold, a soldier turned and brought a man to me and said, ‘Guard this man; if by any means he is missing, your life shall be for his life, or else you shall pay a talent of silver.’ 40 And as your servant was busy here and there, he was gone.” The king of Israel said to him, “So shall your judgment be; you yourself have decided it.” 41 Then he hurried to take the bandage away from his eyes, and the king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets. 42 And he said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall be for his life, and your people for his people.’” 43 And the king of Israel went to his house vexed and sullen and came to Samaria.

Ben-hadad the king of Syria gathered all his army together. Thirty-two kings were with him, and horses and chariots. And he went up and closed in on Samaria and fought against it. And he sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel and said to him, “Thus says Ben-hadad: ‘Your silver and your gold are mine; your best wives and children also are mine.’” And the king of Israel answered, “As you say, my lord, O king, I am yours, and all that I have.” The messengers came again and said, “Thus says Ben-hadad: ‘I sent to you, saying, “Deliver to me your silver and your gold, your wives and your children.” Nevertheless I will send my servants to you tomorrow about this time, and they shall search your house and the houses of your servants and lay hands on whatever pleases you and take it away.’”

Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land and said, “Mark, now, and see how this man is seeking trouble, for he sent to me for my wives and my children, and for my silver and my gold, and I did not refuse him.” And all the elders and all the people said to him, “Do not listen or consent.” So he said to the messengers of Ben-hadad, “Tell my lord the king, ‘All that you first demanded of your servant I will do, but this thing I cannot do.’” And the messengers departed and brought him word again. 10 Ben-hadad sent to him and said, “The gods do so to me and more also, if the dust of Samaria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people who follow me.” 11 And the king of Israel answered, “Tell him, ‘Let not him who straps on his armor boast himself as he who takes it off.’” 12 When Ben-hadad heard this message as he was drinking with the kings in the booths, he said to his men, “Take your positions.” And they took their positions against the city.

13 And behold, a prophet came near to Ahab king of Israel and said, “Thus says the Lord, Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will give it into your hand this day, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” 14 And Ahab said, “By whom?” He said, “Thus says the Lord, By the servants of the governors of the districts.” Then he said, “Who shall begin the battle?” He answered, “You.” 15 Then he mustered the servants of the governors of the districts, and they were 232. And after them he mustered all the people of Israel, seven thousand.

16 And they went out at noon, while Ben-hadad was drinking himself drunk in the booths, he and the thirty-two kings who helped him. 17 The servants of the governors of the districts went out first. And Ben-hadad sent out scouts, and they reported to him, “Men are coming out from Samaria.” 18 He said, “If they have come out for peace, take them alive. Or if they have come out for war, take them alive.”

19 So these went out of the city, the servants of the governors of the districts and the army that followed them. 20 And each struck down his man. The Syrians fled, and Israel pursued them, but Ben-hadad king of Syria escaped on a horse with horsemen. 21 And the king of Israel went out and struck the horses and chariots, and struck the Syrians with a great blow.

22 Then the prophet came near to the king of Israel and said to him, “Come, strengthen yourself, and consider well what you have to do, for in the spring the king of Syria will come up against you.”

23 And the servants of the king of Syria said to him, “Their gods are gods of the hills, and so they were stronger than we. But let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they. 24 And do this: remove the kings, each from his post, and put commanders in their places, 25 and muster an army like the army that you have lost, horse for horse, and chariot for chariot. Then we will fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.” And he listened to their voice and did so.

26 In the spring, Ben-hadad mustered the Syrians and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel. 27 And the people of Israel were mustered and were provisioned and went against them. The people of Israel encamped before them like two little flocks of goats, but the Syrians filled the country. 28 And a man of God came near and said to the king of Israel, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because the Syrians have said, “The Lord is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys,” therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.’” 29 And they encamped opposite one another seven days. Then on the seventh day the battle was joined. And the people of Israel struck down of the Syrians 100,000 foot soldiers in one day. 30 And the rest fled into the city of Aphek, and the wall fell upon 27,000 men who were left.

Ben-hadad also fled and entered an inner chamber in the city. 31 And his servants said to him, “Behold now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings. Let us put sackcloth around our waists and ropes on our heads and go out to the king of Israel. Perhaps he will spare your life.” 32 So they tied sackcloth around their waists and put ropes on their heads and went to the king of Israel and said, “Your servant Ben-hadad says, ‘Please, let me live.’” And he said, “Does he still live? He is my brother.” 33 Now the men were watching for a sign, and they quickly took it up from him and said, “Yes, your brother Ben-hadad.” Then he said, “Go and bring him.” Then Ben-hadad came out to him, and he caused him to come up into the chariot. 34 And Ben-hadad said to him, “The cities that my father took from your father I will restore, and you may establish bazaars for yourself in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria.” And Ahab said, “I will let you go on these terms.” So he made a covenant with him and let him go.

35 And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said to his fellow at the command of the Lord, “Strike me, please.” But the man refused to strike him. 36 Then he said to him, “Because you have not obeyed the voice of the Lord, behold, as soon as you have gone from me, a lion shall strike you down.” And as soon as he had departed from him, a lion met him and struck him down. 37 Then he found another man and said, “Strike me, please.” And the man struck him—struck him and wounded him. 38 So the prophet departed and waited for the king by the way, disguising himself with a bandage over his eyes. 39 And as the king passed, he cried to the king and said, “Your servant went out into the midst of the battle, and behold, a soldier turned and brought a man to me and said, ‘Guard this man; if by any means he is missing, your life shall be for his life, or else you shall pay a talent of silver.’ 40 And as your servant was busy here and there, he was gone.” The king of Israel said to him, “So shall your judgment be; you yourself have decided it.” 41 Then he hurried to take the bandage away from his eyes, and the king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets. 42 And he said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall be for his life, and your people for his people.’” 43 And the king of Israel went to his house vexed and sullen and came to Samaria.

Ben-hadad the king of Syria gathered all his army together. Thirty-two kings were with him, and horses and chariots. And he went up and closed in on Samaria and fought against it. And he sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel and said to him, “Thus says Ben-hadad: ‘Your silver and your gold are mine; your best wives and children also are mine.’” And the king of Israel answered, “As you say, my lord, O king, I am yours, and all that I have.” The messengers came again and said, “Thus says Ben-hadad: ‘I sent to you, saying, “Deliver to me your silver and your gold, your wives and your children.” Nevertheless I will send my servants to you tomorrow about this time, and they shall search your house and the houses of your servants and lay hands on whatever pleases you and take it away.’”

Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land and said, “Mark, now, and see how this man is seeking trouble, for he sent to me for my wives and my children, and for my silver and my gold, and I did not refuse him.” And all the elders and all the people said to him, “Do not listen or consent.” So he said to the messengers of Ben-hadad, “Tell my lord the king, ‘All that you first demanded of your servant I will do, but this thing I cannot do.’” And the messengers departed and brought him word again. 10 Ben-hadad sent to him and said, “The gods do so to me and more also, if the dust of Samaria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people who follow me.” 11 And the king of Israel answered, “Tell him, ‘Let not him who straps on his armor boast himself as he who takes it off.’” 12 When Ben-hadad heard this message as he was drinking with the kings in the booths, he said to his men, “Take your positions.” And they took their positions against the city.

13 And behold, a prophet came near to Ahab king of Israel and said, “Thus says the Lord, Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will give it into your hand this day, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” 14 And Ahab said, “By whom?” He said, “Thus says the Lord, By the servants of the governors of the districts.” Then he said, “Who shall begin the battle?” He answered, “You.” 15 Then he mustered the servants of the governors of the districts, and they were 232. And after them he mustered all the people of Israel, seven thousand.

16 And they went out at noon, while Ben-hadad was drinking himself drunk in the booths, he and the thirty-two kings who helped him. 17 The servants of the governors of the districts went out first. And Ben-hadad sent out scouts, and they reported to him, “Men are coming out from Samaria.” 18 He said, “If they have come out for peace, take them alive. Or if they have come out for war, take them alive.”

19 So these went out of the city, the servants of the governors of the districts and the army that followed them. 20 And each struck down his man. The Syrians fled, and Israel pursued them, but Ben-hadad king of Syria escaped on a horse with horsemen. 21 And the king of Israel went out and struck the horses and chariots, and struck the Syrians with a great blow.

22 Then the prophet came near to the king of Israel and said to him, “Come, strengthen yourself, and consider well what you have to do, for in the spring the king of Syria will come up against you.”

23 And the servants of the king of Syria said to him, “Their gods are gods of the hills, and so they were stronger than we. But let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they. 24 And do this: remove the kings, each from his post, and put commanders in their places, 25 and muster an army like the army that you have lost, horse for horse, and chariot for chariot. Then we will fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.” And he listened to their voice and did so.

26 In the spring, Ben-hadad mustered the Syrians and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel. 27 And the people of Israel were mustered and were provisioned and went against them. The people of Israel encamped before them like two little flocks of goats, but the Syrians filled the country. 28 And a man of God came near and said to the king of Israel, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because the Syrians have said, “The Lord is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys,” therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.’” 29 And they encamped opposite one another seven days. Then on the seventh day the battle was joined. And the people of Israel struck down of the Syrians 100,000 foot soldiers in one day. 30 And the rest fled into the city of Aphek, and the wall fell upon 27,000 men who were left.

Ben-hadad also fled and entered an inner chamber in the city. 31 And his servants said to him, “Behold now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings. Let us put sackcloth around our waists and ropes on our heads and go out to the king of Israel. Perhaps he will spare your life.” 32 So they tied sackcloth around their waists and put ropes on their heads and went to the king of Israel and said, “Your servant Ben-hadad says, ‘Please, let me live.’” And he said, “Does he still live? He is my brother.” 33 Now the men were watching for a sign, and they quickly took it up from him and said, “Yes, your brother Ben-hadad.” Then he said, “Go and bring him.” Then Ben-hadad came out to him, and he caused him to come up into the chariot. 34 And Ben-hadad said to him, “The cities that my father took from your father I will restore, and you may establish bazaars for yourself in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria.” And Ahab said, “I will let you go on these terms.” So he made a covenant with him and let him go.

35 And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said to his fellow at the command of the Lord, “Strike me, please.” But the man refused to strike him. 36 Then he said to him, “Because you have not obeyed the voice of the Lord, behold, as soon as you have gone from me, a lion shall strike you down.” And as soon as he had departed from him, a lion met him and struck him down. 37 Then he found another man and said, “Strike me, please.” And the man struck him—struck him and wounded him. 38 So the prophet departed and waited for the king by the way, disguising himself with a bandage over his eyes. 39 And as the king passed, he cried to the king and said, “Your servant went out into the midst of the battle, and behold, a soldier turned and brought a man to me and said, ‘Guard this man; if by any means he is missing, your life shall be for his life, or else you shall pay a talent of silver.’ 40 And as your servant was busy here and there, he was gone.” The king of Israel said to him, “So shall your judgment be; you yourself have decided it.” 41 Then he hurried to take the bandage away from his eyes, and the king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets. 42 And he said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall be for his life, and your people for his people.’” 43 And the king of Israel went to his house vexed and sullen and came to Samaria.

Ben-hadad the king of Syria gathered all his army together. Thirty-two kings were with him, and horses and chariots. And he went up and closed in on Samaria and fought against it. And he sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel and said to him, “Thus says Ben-hadad: ‘Your silver and your gold are mine; your best wives and children also are mine.’” And the king of Israel answered, “As you say, my lord, O king, I am yours, and all that I have.” The messengers came again and said, “Thus says Ben-hadad: ‘I sent to you, saying, “Deliver to me your silver and your gold, your wives and your children.” Nevertheless I will send my servants to you tomorrow about this time, and they shall search your house and the houses of your servants and lay hands on whatever pleases you and take it away.’”

Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land and said, “Mark, now, and see how this man is seeking trouble, for he sent to me for my wives and my children, and for my silver and my gold, and I did not refuse him.” And all the elders and all the people said to him, “Do not listen or consent.” So he said to the messengers of Ben-hadad, “Tell my lord the king, ‘All that you first demanded of your servant I will do, but this thing I cannot do.’” And the messengers departed and brought him word again. 10 Ben-hadad sent to him and said, “The gods do so to me and more also, if the dust of Samaria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people who follow me.” 11 And the king of Israel answered, “Tell him, ‘Let not him who straps on his armor boast himself as he who takes it off.’” 12 When Ben-hadad heard this message as he was drinking with the kings in the booths, he said to his men, “Take your positions.” And they took their positions against the city.

13 And behold, a prophet came near to Ahab king of Israel and said, “Thus says the Lord, Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will give it into your hand this day, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” 14 And Ahab said, “By whom?” He said, “Thus says the Lord, By the servants of the governors of the districts.” Then he said, “Who shall begin the battle?” He answered, “You.” 15 Then he mustered the servants of the governors of the districts, and they were 232. And after them he mustered all the people of Israel, seven thousand.

16 And they went out at noon, while Ben-hadad was drinking himself drunk in the booths, he and the thirty-two kings who helped him. 17 The servants of the governors of the districts went out first. And Ben-hadad sent out scouts, and they reported to him, “Men are coming out from Samaria.” 18 He said, “If they have come out for peace, take them alive. Or if they have come out for war, take them alive.”

19 So these went out of the city, the servants of the governors of the districts and the army that followed them. 20 And each struck down his man. The Syrians fled, and Israel pursued them, but Ben-hadad king of Syria escaped on a horse with horsemen. 21 And the king of Israel went out and struck the horses and chariots, and struck the Syrians with a great blow.

22 Then the prophet came near to the king of Israel and said to him, “Come, strengthen yourself, and consider well what you have to do, for in the spring the king of Syria will come up against you.”

23 And the servants of the king of Syria said to him, “Their gods are gods of the hills, and so they were stronger than we. But let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they. 24 And do this: remove the kings, each from his post, and put commanders in their places, 25 and muster an army like the army that you have lost, horse for horse, and chariot for chariot. Then we will fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.” And he listened to their voice and did so.

26 In the spring, Ben-hadad mustered the Syrians and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel. 27 And the people of Israel were mustered and were provisioned and went against them. The people of Israel encamped before them like two little flocks of goats, but the Syrians filled the country. 28 And a man of God came near and said to the king of Israel, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because the Syrians have said, “The Lord is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys,” therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.’” 29 And they encamped opposite one another seven days. Then on the seventh day the battle was joined. And the people of Israel struck down of the Syrians 100,000 foot soldiers in one day. 30 And the rest fled into the city of Aphek, and the wall fell upon 27,000 men who were left.

Ben-hadad also fled and entered an inner chamber in the city. 31 And his servants said to him, “Behold now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings. Let us put sackcloth around our waists and ropes on our heads and go out to the king of Israel. Perhaps he will spare your life.” 32 So they tied sackcloth around their waists and put ropes on their heads and went to the king of Israel and said, “Your servant Ben-hadad says, ‘Please, let me live.’” And he said, “Does he still live? He is my brother.” 33 Now the men were watching for a sign, and they quickly took it up from him and said, “Yes, your brother Ben-hadad.” Then he said, “Go and bring him.” Then Ben-hadad came out to him, and he caused him to come up into the chariot. 34 And Ben-hadad said to him, “The cities that my father took from your father I will restore, and you may establish bazaars for yourself in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria.” And Ahab said, “I will let you go on these terms.” So he made a covenant with him and let him go.

35 And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said to his fellow at the command of the Lord, “Strike me, please.” But the man refused to strike him. 36 Then he said to him, “Because you have not obeyed the voice of the Lord, behold, as soon as you have gone from me, a lion shall strike you down.” And as soon as he had departed from him, a lion met him and struck him down. 37 Then he found another man and said, “Strike me, please.” And the man struck him—struck him and wounded him. 38 So the prophet departed and waited for the king by the way, disguising himself with a bandage over his eyes. 39 And as the king passed, he cried to the king and said, “Your servant went out into the midst of the battle, and behold, a soldier turned and brought a man to me and said, ‘Guard this man; if by any means he is missing, your life shall be for his life, or else you shall pay a talent of silver.’ 40 And as your servant was busy here and there, he was gone.” The king of Israel said to him, “So shall your judgment be; you yourself have decided it.” 41 Then he hurried to take the bandage away from his eyes, and the king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets. 42 And he said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall be for his life, and your people for his people.’” 43 And the king of Israel went to his house vexed and sullen and came to Samaria.

transcript

Let us begin from the end.

The last verse of chapter 20 describes king Ahab as ‘vexed and sullen’. What is to be
‘vexed’? What is to be ‘sullen’?

The English dictionary says when someone is

  • ‘vexed’, he is puzzled, frustrated, annoyed.
  •  ‘sullen’ is ‘bad-tempered and does not speak much’.

It is a picture of Ahab as a moody and unhappy king.

So, we ask, “Why is Ahab like this? “What happened to him ?”

Let’s step back and ask what 1 Kings is about so far. Now, you may also have these
one-word in mind about 1 Kings.

  • It’s about Kings (of course), Monarchy, Evil, Idolatry, Disobedience, Division,
    Decline, Darkness
  • By end of chapter 20, a vexed and sullen king

But, we also see, from king Solomon to Rehoboam, from Jeroboam to Ahab, God never ceases to speak to the kings, either directly, or through the prophets.

And since God also speaks to Ahab, then what must Ahab do to reverse the situation?

To put it another way, would Ahab be interested to know, “How to be a Happy King?”

Well, not all of us can be king, but everyone of us would like to be happy. So I hope we too would be interested to know the answer.

Let us recall who is king Ahab. Chapter 16 tells us he did more evil than all the kings
before him. He took Jezebel, daughter of a pagan king as his wife. He served and
worshipped Baal and Asherah. He provoked God to anger more than all the kings of
Israel before him… (1 Kings 16:29-33)

In Chapter 18, Elijah puts on record that Ahab abandoned the word of God.

But God has not abandoned Ahab.

So, if Ahab can still do something, what must he do? The answer from God to Ahab is plain and clear.

May I submit, it is summarised in v13, and again in v28, that is –
“…. know that I am the LORD” (v 13b, 28b).

All that God wants of Ahab is for him to know the LORD God.

And God shows him in 3 ways. These 3 ways shall be the outline of this sermon.

  1. The first is God shows He sovereignly saves by his word – Ahab just need to
    listen
  2.  The second is God reveals by his word – Ahab just need to believe
  3. The third – God judges by his word – Ahab just need to obey

Listen. Believe. Obey. Let us keep these 3 words in mind.

First, let us look at the story.

The Story

What happens in this story?

Let’s divide the chapter into 2 parts. Let’s call them Scene 1 and Scene 2.
Scene 1 is from v1 to v34, Scene 2 from v35 to v43, the last verse.

Let’s also give a tag to Scene 1. Reprieve. Think of temporary relief. God rescues
Ahab and Israel, and saves them from Ben-Hadab for another day. That’s a reprieve.

Let’s tag Scene 2 as Reprimand. In here, God strongly rebukes Ahab, judges him.

What do we see in Scene 1?
Ben-hadab and his army marched into Samaria. He makes demands. A battle of words between two kings. More demands. Ahab pushes back. Ben-hadab prepares to attack Israel.

Then two battles between the mighty Syrians and Israel, first in the hills and the second in the plains. But in each battle it is God who tells Ahab what to do. Both battles, Ahab defeated Ben-hadab and his army.

Ben-hadab, now a prisoner of war, convinces Ahab not to kill him, in exchange for
economic incentives. Ahab agrees. Ahab then makes a covenant with Ben-hadab and
lets him go. Scene 1 ends with Ben-hadab walking away, a free man.

What do we see in Scene 2?
We see parables. Two parables. A parable is a story with a spiritual meaning. Only God and Ahab in this scene (the prophet represents God). This time, God tells Ahab what he did not do. The prophet works very hard to bring this message to Ahab. One even got killed. Ahab is rebuked, judged. Scene 2 ends with Ahab vexed and sullen.

What do we think of the story? If it makes us feel we miss Sunday School, then let’s get on with the lesson!

First point we is God shows he sovereignly saves by his Word:

#1 God sovereignly saves by his Word

The word of God comes 3 times to Ahab, two times to save Ahab and Israel from the
Syrians and the third time to save Ahab from God’s judgement.

God’s word comes in a timely manner, in V13. The Syrians are already in positions. But Ahab has no battle plan. He also did not seek God for help. But God’s Word came to save, nonetheless.

“Behold, a prophet came near to Ahab…..”

God’s word again comes, in v22, this time to warn that the Syrians will come back in
spring. “Come, strengthen yourself, and consider well what you have to do, for in the
spring the king of Syria will come up against you.”

All the while, Ahab did not seek God for help. But God’s word came to save.

Think of our own conversion story, could you say that you went to seek God on our
own? Well, the truth is God sent somebody into your life, who passed you a bible, or
brought you to church, or did bible study with you.

God speaks to us by sending his Word to us, through ordinary means – through friends, family or even a stranger. For Ahab, he sent a prophet. An unnamed one. Ordinary people, used by God.

God’s Word comes to Ahab again the third time, in v39, to warn him, because he has let Ben-hadab go out of his hands.

Let us go back to Deuteronomy 7, and Joshua 6. Whenever God gives Israel victory
over their enemies, they are to devote all of the enemies and what belongs to them to
the Lord for destruction. Why? So that the pagan king with their idols would not be an influence and trouble for Israel. But Ahab let Ben-hadad go to benefit himself.

Ahab heard God, but was he listening?

To hear is to pick up a sound. We hear people talking, we hear our teachers, our
parents, our spouse. But we may not be listening. That’s what Chris sometimes tells me.
To listen is to give attention to the sound, to give thoughtful consideration, gather what we hear, what we see, and to form a response.

In the transfiguration account in Matthew 17, God the Father told the disciples Peter,
James and John, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased, listen to him.”

Jesus said in John 18, “Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

So, let’s pause here to listen. Today,

  1. If you are a yet-believer, and if your friend or relative has been inviting you to
    church, or are sharing the gospel with you – God is speaking to you through
    them. Listen.
  2. If you are a Christian, maybe it’s our busy life, or it’s our pride and
    self-confidence, or our experience of discouragements – that make us stop
    listening to God. May I encourage us, seek out a spiritual buddy to pray, to read
    the bible. Or join a CG. So that we can continue to listen to God.
  3. Another practical way, those of us who attended the recent church conference
    would have learned a method to study the Bible, and this is a way to help us to
    listen to God. Sign up for the next conference.

We have seen how God showed Ahab that God saves by his Word. May our response
be to Listen.

#2 – God Reveals by His Word.

The second point is God reveals by his Word.

God says to Ahab twice: “I will give the Syrians into your hands this day, and you shall know that I am the LORD”, in verses 13 and 28.

How does God reveal himself for Ahab to know him? What does God reveal ?

First, God shows He is the Sovereign LORD. Recently, in the news, someone claimed
he or she is sovereign, no one has the right to tell them what to do.

In v2, there is another person who claims he is also sovereign. “Thus says
Ben-hadad…..”

But in v13, what did God say? “Thus says the LORD …..”

So, it is “Thus says Ben-hadad” (v2) versus “Thus says the LORD” (v13). Who has the
final say? Who is the ultimate authority?

God reveals to Ahab he is Sovereign God. No king or lord or the heavenly hosts, or
even a prophet is above him. God’s sovereignty sets him apart from all others. No word, not even the word of kings, is above His Word.. What God decrees, it will come to pass.

Second, God reveals to Ahab he is Omnipresent. He is God in all space and dimension. God is present everywhere at the same time, yet acts differently in different places.

Let’s look at v23, the servants tell Ben-Hadab, “Their gods are gods of the hills, and so they were stronger than we. But let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.”

The Syrians think of God in the physical realm. They have a false notion of God. For
this, they were also routed in the plains.

When our knowledge of God is wrong, our actions, or no action, from that wrong
knowledge can be costly, even to the matter of life and death.

So it is, the Syrian god of the hills and plains versus the God of all creation (v28), who is in all, of all and through all.

So God is Sovereign LORD, and God is all-present.

The third thing God reveals is that he is all powerful, the Almighty. He is Omnipotent. It means “God is able to do all his holy will”.

But while God is all-powerful, and able to do all his holy will, he always uses the weak things as means to accomplish his ends. This is the way of God. God uses the “Weak things of the world to shame the strong”, the “foolish things of the world to shame the wise”.

See what God tells Ahab to put to the first battle, in v14? Not soldiers, who are strong, not even district governors, who are powerful, but servants of district governors. In other words, Civil servants. Ordinary, working class people, not trained for war, and probably will fail our IPPT tests. They are put against the Syrians army and chariots and horses (v14).

In the second battle, v27, the people of Israel are said to be like “two little flocks of
goats”. Compared to the Syrians, their soldiers ‘fill the country’.

Why did God choose to use so weak and so few people for the battles?

So that all may know, it is not they who fought, but the sovereign, omnipotent and
omnipresent God who fights for them.

Sovereign. Omnipresent. Omnipotent.

To know and to believe God is sovereign, all present and all powerful, should make one turn from idols to the living God. It should also encourage and comfort us that wherever we may be, there God is always here with us.

When we pause to think about what God has revealed in His Word, it makes us stand in awe of God, make us lift up in lofty wonder of who God is, and move our hearts to say, “How Great Thou Art!”

But we hear nothing of this from Ahab.

At the end of v30, when the dust of the battles are settled, and 127,000 Syrians
knocked out against all odds, we would think Ahab would say, like king David.

“The LORD saves! Salvation belongs to the LORD!”.

But nothing. Did Ahad believe ?

Remember the Gentile widow in chapter 17? After Elijah has raised her son from death, recall what she said? “Now, I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of God in your mouth is truth” (v24).

Unlike the Gentile widow, could Ahab not believe because he does not give thought to what God has done? Could it be that he hears but not listens?

But, you say, didn’t he do what God told him to do in battles?

Yes… but if Ahab had listened and believed God, why did he not follow the rules in
regards to Ben-hadab, nor ordered a decree to destroy all idols and temples of Baal, nor confessed and repented of his idolatry?

Now, Ahab’s condition is not uncommon. Let us call this ‘Ahabism’ for now. The
symptoms are these:

  1. Hearing but not listening to God’s Word.
  2. Looking but not seeing what God has revealed. Anyone can look at a painting.
    But the one pauses to understand how the painter does it, will see its meaning.
    So the result is:
  3. Head knowledge but not heart response to God’s Word.

As a king of Israel, Ahab has knowledge of God, but chooses to live in unbelief.

In Genesis chapter 3, in the Garden of Eden, were not Eve and Adam in the same
condition, when they fell to the words of the serpent?

So, Elijah in 18:18 puts on record of Ahab, “… you have abandoned the commandment of the LORD… ”

Now, at this point, I would like to talk about the knowability of God. God tells Ahab two times – ‘Know that I am the LORD God’, and as the title of this sermon is ‘Know God by His Word’, we can ask the question:

“Does fallen man have the ability to know the transcendent God?”

The classic Christian theology is based on the premise that truth as revealed by God is propositional. It means for example, A is A and B is B. Therefore A is not B, and B is not A. If A is not B, it is true. If A is B, it is false. We call this Reason. Or logic. Reason and faith are two competent and compatible sources of understanding to know God from his revelations.

Now, allow me to qualify. When I say ‘Reason’, I do not mean Reason is above
Scripture. No. Scripture is the supreme authority. Reason ministers to our
understanding. What God says is not subordinated under Reason, but in fact, able to
judge Reason.

Second, in regards to Faith, it means our posture should be that of ‘faith seeking
understanding’. This means, we want to know God because we believe.

So to continue, while God is transcendent, he is also logical. God is not confused about either what He thinks is true or what he thinks is false, or the relationship between the two. God knows the difference between Himself and the things He creates.

In recent times, there are postmodern theologians and philosophers who say we are not able to know cognitively the transcendent God, except through inner experience or perceptions. They say no revelation is propositional, only relative. They see Scriptures as only containing the word of God, or becoming the Word of God under certain conditions.

If this is so, then how would we know which part of Scripture is God’s Word and which is not? This creates a problem for us to know God from Scripture, is it not? It undermines the divine inspiration, authority, sufficiency and clarity of Scripture.

Now, I know some of us are struggling with your faith after being exposed to
postmodern philosophy. It affects your understanding of Scripture, God, yourself and the world. I encourage you to go back to the Word of God. Divine revelation is not illogical or irrational, because God is not illogical or irrational.

Also, God made us in his image. We are created in the “knowledge and original
righteousness” of God (Westminster Shorter Catechism). This means we have the
ability to think true thoughts about God, the self and the world, and to reconcile those things in a true understanding, so that we might see the face of God in Jesus Christ.

Paul, in Acts 17, told the men of Athens, that they worship an unknown God, whereas
for Paul, he worships a God whom he knows, who made the world and everything in it, who gives life and breadth to everything, who is actually near and not far from each of us.

God can be known, because he makes himself known. We may not know God fully, but we can know Him truly. For example, we may not know me and Chris fully, but you may know truly that we have 3 children. We may not know Ps Daniel fully or perfectly, but we know truly his wife is Dawn, for example.

God said through Jeremiah, “… let him who glories glory in this, that he understands
and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice and
righteousness…” (Jer. 9:24).

Jesus in John 17:3 prayed, “And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only
true God, and Jesus Chist whom you have sent.”

You see, the purpose of God revealing himself to us to bring us back to a personal,
loving and serving relationship with Him.

So, a valid question is, “Does Ahab have an excuse not to know and believe God?”. The answer is clear.

If this is so, then what is the consequence? This brings us to my last point.

Let’s recap what we have learned so far:

  • 1. God saves by his Word. Let us listen.
  • 2. God reveals by his Word. Let us believe.

The last point: God judges by his Word.

# 3 – God Judges by His Word

Because Ahab was not repentant of his idolatry and evil ways, God judged him by his
Word.

A story was told about a boy who was caught stealing apples from his boarding school kitchen. The chaplain counseled him, “You must confess, and ask God for forgiveness”. The boy prayed, “Dear God, please forgive me for taking seven apples from the kitchen”. The chaplain asked, “But I thought you told me you stole only five apples?” The boy replied, “Yes, but I am including the two I am going to take tomorrow”.

This story illustrates what repentance is not. Neither is being vexed and sullen, it is also not repentance.

In v42, the prophet gave judgement on Ahab : “Because you have let go of your hand
the man whom I have devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall be his life, your people his people”.

The judgement on Ahab is severe. The consequence of him as a leader for not obeying God would also be on the people. Adam sinned, and all men after him fell with him.

God judges by his Word. He still does today. One cannot escape from God’s Word. It will catch up with us.

But, God is also a patient God, slow to anger, abounding in love. See how much trouble the prophet went through to get Ahab attention to God’s Word.

God delayed his judgement, until chapter 22, to give time for Ahab to repent. Apostle
Peter in 2 Peter 3 says, “Count the patience of the Lord as salvation.”

If only Ahab obeys God from the start.

Conclusion

So, brothers and sisters in Christ, and friends, God’s Word today ask us to consider this:

  • If prophets after prophets risk their lives to warn kings and the people of their evil ways
  • If 232 civil servants can overcome an army of equipped soldiers
  •  If two little flocks of goats can strike down 100,000 soldiers
  •  If a prophet can given up to a lion for not obeying God’s Word
  • If a stubborn king who persistently disobeys God is dealt with patiently but severely

Then God is telling us something:

Chapter 20 is not about how strong Ben-Hadab or Ahab’s armies are. It is about how
powerful and effectual God’s living Word is.

It is not about how evil or bad Ahab is, although he is, but about how a gracious and
loving God wants Ahab to come to repentance.

It is not about what Ahab knows of God, but how God wants Ahab to respond to what he knows.

The book of Hebrews reminds us that in the past God sent his prophets to speak to us, in various times and in various ways.

But today, he speaks to us by his Son. Jesus the Word who became flesh. Therefore
how we respond to Jesus is important.

While king Abab disobeyed God, let his hand go of Ben-hadab to save his own skin,
Jesus the Son the God perfectly obeyed the Father, he gave his own life so that we may be saved.

While the consequence of Ahab’s disobedience affected his people, the obedience of
Christ brought salvation and blessing to us who believe.

Christ’s work on the cross is done, completed. Christ is the worthy Mediator between
God and man. Our duty is to know Christ. To know Him by his word, to listen, to believe and to obey.

Ahab could be a happy king, if only he had known the LORD God by His Word. If only he had listened, believed and obeyed God’s Word.

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