1 Kings 20:22-23
And the prophet came to the king of Israel, and said to him, Go, strengthen yourself, and mark, and see what you do…
Israel had Just been at war with Syria, and had come off victorious. Naturally they were feeling very happy and triumphant and were congratulating themselves on their success. Then it was that God sent His prophet to the King of Israel with this sobering message. It was a call to wisdom. The king was reminded that life before him was a struggle, and that because he had won this victory he was not to take it for granted that he could live carelessly as though he had no enemies. A still greater struggle was ahead of him, and unless he strengthened himself by careful preparation he was sure to meet with defeat. Our theme is very plain. This is a message which God sends to every man and woman to-day. It should come to Christians with great emphasis. Perhaps you have had spiritual victory. God has been giving you gracious blessings. Nevertheless, I would come to you as God's messenger and say to you in the midst of your congratulation, "Go, strengthen thyself, and mark, and see what thou doest: for on a day when you are not looking for it, at a time when you are least expecting it, Satan will come against you, and unless you have made yourself strong in the strength of God you will be overcome." God had given David many victories. But it was after all that, after David had congratulated himself a thousand times on the victories which God had given him, that Satan came against him with a new temptation, a temptation unexpected and insidious, which led him into a sin so terrible that he came near losing his soul. It was after Peter had had many victories and many marks of the signal favour and love of Jesus Christ; after he had been on the Mount of Transfiguration and had been permitted to look on the inner glory of the Son of God; after he had been chosen to go into the Garden of Gethsemane and witness the supreme agony of the atoning love; after he had sworn that though all men should forsake Jesus he would remain faithful; it was after all this that Peter, assaulted unexpectedly by Satan, was overcome and denied his Lord. Now these Syrians were idolaters and had no real conception of the true God in whom was the only strength of Israel. The officers of the King of Syria thought they had found a solution of the problem as to why Israel was able constantly to defeat them, although they had the superior numbers. They said to the King of Syria, "Their gods are gods of the hills; therefore they were stronger than we; but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they." Let us see how that turned out. You see that, after all, the only thing Israel could do to prepare for the fight against the overwhelming numbers of the Syrians was to strengthen themselves in God. So long as they obeyed God, and had Him for their friend, they were stronger than all that could come against them. But without God they were weak and helpless and easily overthrown and destroyed. There is but one way to intrench yourself in the strength of God, and that is by repentance and obedience. We cannot fight God; we cannot make compromises with God; there is just one way open — we can surrender unconditionally at the mercy-seat.
(L. A. Banks, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the prophet came to the king of Israel, and said unto him, Go, strengthen thyself, and mark, and see what thou doest: for at the return of the year the king of Syria will come up against thee.