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Weekly Prompts for Thinking Through Scripture Covering 1 Kings 20:13 – 22:53

Day One

Read 1 Kings 20:13 – 22 (a repeated reading)

· The prophet bearing the word of God comes to the sinner-king with a word of hope. But not just hope. Ahab is going to be taught a personal lesson today: that the LORD is capable against any opposition and that He’s still working for Israel’s salvation. And it’s the LORD’s plan that Ahab will gain glory by initiating the attack! Why these overtures to the king who at every opportunity rejects Him? God’s grace constantly surprises.

· V. 18 – Beh-hadad’s instructions here makes about as much sense as you’d expect from someone who’d been drinking all morning.

· Again, the prophet draws near, this time with some realism and practical instruction. Ahab will meet the king of Syria again. He should get himself ready. It’s an interesting bit of instruction considering what happens next. I mean, what’s all this about preparation…isn’t God the One who will give the victory? What do you say?

Day Two

Read 1 Kings 20: 23-30a

· To the Syrian king, the explanation for his defeat is that the Israelite gods were playing to their strength while the battle was pitched in the hills. But there are settings/ conditions where those Israelite gods will prove to be ineffective.

I wonder if we don’t unconsciously look at the world this way: certain types of persons whom God can save, but others… Yes, He was effective in the 18th century but we can’t expect much from Him now… New England is too hardened to the Gospel…. Is Jesus Christ the Lord of every square inch, or isn’t He?

· V. 27 – “Like two little flocks of goats” – God almost always works through agents, most often people, but He never seems too concerned by how impressive those agents come across.

· V. 28 – again, don’t miss the strangeness: the word of God continues to come to the sinner-king.

The message: One big thing that’s galvanizing God to defeat Syria is that they’ve relegated Him to being effective in only a particular context (see above). We could say that another way: God delights in showing Himself strong where He is not taken seriously. Maybe this is a good day to ask yourself: in which situation have I started to assume – perhaps unconsciously – that God is incapable of getting the job done?

But another motivation of God’s: He wants Israel (the you is plural) to know Him as powerful.

Day Three

Read 1 Kings 20: 30b-43

· V. 31 – “we have heard” - an interesting reputation

· V. 31 – the ropes were to demonstrate submission, servitude.

· V. 32 – why does Ahab extend mercy to Ben-hadad (inappropriately, at that)? Did he enjoy playing the part of the magnanimous victor, enjoy knowing that he was responsible for the relief that washed over the faces of the Syrian rulers? Or did he like the idea of the king of Syria owing him a favor, ready to take up his side against the encroaching Assyrians?

· VV. 35-38 – An admittedly strange sequence of events. But the takeaway is simple: no matter how strange it is, when you hear the voice of the LORD, (v.36) OBEY.

· The prophets frequently employed some theater and/or visual aids in delivering their messages. Communicators going to find some way to communicate!

· V. 42 – Ahab should’ve killed Ben-hadad. A ruler/judge isn’t always supposed to be nice.

Day Four

Read 1 Kings 21: 1-14

· We’ve known for some time that our kids probably shouldn’t list King Ahab as one of their heroes. But in this episode, he reaches ultimate slimeball status. He’s a bully, a pouter, WEAK in all the wrong ways. Go ahead and despise him…but only after first dealing with the beam in your eye.

· V. 3 – Naboth’s adamant refusal to sell his family property has basis in the Torah (Leviticus 25:23-28).

· V. 6 – In recounting to his wife Naboth’s refusal, why doesn’t Ahab include Naboth’s phrase, “the LORD forbid”?

· Instead of standing up to the government (Jezebel), the elders of Jezreel comply with her. Interesting: in Scripture, Christians are urged to obey the government and yet the Scriptures are filled with episodes of the government carrying out injustice.

· V.14 – And the Scriptures (and secular history) are filled with examples of the people of God being at the receiving end of various injustice, including governments’. It isn’t the case that trusting God spares the faithful from real wrong against them.

Day Five

Read 1 Kings 21: 15-29

· V. 15 – “which he refused to give you for money” – in other words, Naboth was a stubborn, unreasonable, disloyal subject. If something ill befell him, well, that was probably his fault. Part of what makes the powerful, powerful, is the ability to frame things as they wish.

· V. 15 – “is not alive, but dead” – Jezebel doesn’t offer any explanation of how this came to be, and neither does Ahab ask. WEAK.

· VV. 20-24 – Ahab’s life is already doomed (20:42); the sentence here is that his household will go down in flames and their corpses dishonored.

· VV. 25,26 – Two interesting phrases to note: 1) in the summary of Ahab’s life is the observation that his wife Jezebel incited him. So, a good part of his wickedness is that he was influenced.

2) “as the Amorites had done, whom the LORD cast out” – what do you think, Reader: why the allusion to this tribe that lived in the land before Israel arrived?

· VV. 27-29 – Ahab’s regret and “humbling himself” was evidently sincere, but as the next chapter will demonstrate, it didn’t stay on him too long. And…this was Ahab! Why would God take him seriously at all? But He does. In fact, God makes sure that Elijah notices Ahab’s repentance, and wants Elijah to be as moved by it as He is. AMAZING. The bottomless good nature of the Creator! We could use some of that.

Day Six

Read 1 Kings 22: 1-23

· Now, how fascinating is this episode?!

· We don’t know this yet from reading Kings, but Judah and Israel have made an alliance through marriage. Something else we don’t know from Kings: Ahab has recently returned from a successful skirmish with Assyria. He’s feelings his oats, looking around for some projects, and his eyes alight on Ramoth-gilead.

· VV. 4-5 – Aren’t things a little out of sequence here? First Jehoshaphat agrees to join Ahab, THEN he asks him to get the LORD’s sign off too. Haven’t we often done the same: made the decision before the process of looking to God and waiting on Him?

· V. 8 – Big lesson #1: you’ll always find people around who for some reason or other are afraid of displeasing you, who are ready to agree with the wisdom of what you’re doing. They don’t necessarily know what they’re talking about. Big lesson #2 – Keep people nearby who are willing to disagree with you, who will tell…no confront you with… God’s truth.

· VV. 10-13 – The whole scene must have seemed intimidating to Micaiah. The enthroned kings waiting to hear that they’re good to go. The prophets gathered around are championing the kings’ agenda: yes, God is behind you. You even have Zedekiah with an visual aid on hand to show how thorough will be their victory. And as he approaches the theater in this throne room, Micaiah has a messenger in his ear coaching him: just play along, bud. Don’t complicate matters.

This’ll require some courage.

Too many times we cave when someone maintains eye contact a second longer than usual after we say something delicate. Courage, friends!

· V. 15 – I love Micaiah’s opener. Yeah, sure, do whatever you want and God’s got your back. His words are dripping with sarcasm…even contempt. Micaiah isn’t just barely courageous enough; he’s the happy warrior, enjoying himself in this dangerous moment. May his tribe increase.

· VV. 19-23 – A lying spirit in the mouths of the prophets, placed there by God Himself. And Micaiah discloses this whole heavenly arrangement to the earthly throne room. Man, this is deep. The ways of God - - - - - - - - past finding out!

Day Seven

Read 1 Kings 22: 29-53

· V. 24 - As a reward for his courageous truth-telling, Micaiah gets a whack on the side of the head. And so it goes…

· V. 29 – Notice that the narrator doesn’t call them by name, but by title. By this technique, he pans out to the bigger picture: things with God’s covenant people have come to this.

· V. 30 – At some level, Ahab must believe what Micaiah prophesied. But he thinks he can run away from his doom by disguising himself.

· V. 34 – “At random.” Cue Johnny Cash:

You can run on for a long time Run on for a long time Run on for a long time Sooner or later God'll cut you down Sooner or later God'll cut you down Go tell that long tongue liar Go and tell that midnight rider Tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter Tell 'em that God's gonna cut 'em down Tell 'em that God's gonna cut 'em down

· V. 39 – The narrator casually points to all the deeds of Ahab, and even in this little sentence they seem impressive. But the summary of his life given after the vineyard episode (21:25) is his real legacy. Think about that, brothers and sisters.

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