1 Kings 22:39, 40, 51-53
Now the rest of the acts of Ahab, and all that he did, and the ivory house which he made, and all the cities that he built…
After the account of Ahab's death and burial, and of the manner in which the dogs of Samaria fulfilled the prophecy of Elijah, the earlier verses of our text follow. In the first of these the reader is referred to the archives of the nation for an account of the "rest of the acts" and works of this monarch, viz., those to which inspiration was not here specially directed. In the second, the succession of Ahaziah is mentioned. With these verses, because of the unity of the subject, we associate the three verses referring to the reign of Ahaziah, with which the chapter closes. Taking the latter first in order, we see -
I. THAT AHAB SURVIVED IN AHAZIAH.
1. This was legally true.
(1) "So Ahab slept with his fathers; and Ahaziah his son reigned in his stead." In law, a man is said to "live in his heirs." He is never legally dead while he has an heir. There is a good reason for this. Ahaziah would never have mounted the throne of Israel unless his father had been there before him. He reigned in the posthumous influence of Ahab. His representative.
(2) When a man is what is called "the architect of his own fortune," he is said to have had "no father." But in this language the fact is ignored that, under Providence, this "architect" is indebted to his ancestry for his existence, for his faculties, and for the circumstances which he may have seized and moulded into this "fortune."
2. It was also morally true.
(1) In Ahaziah the vices of Ahab were reproduced. "He did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of his father." The bad example of his father wrought its influence into his character, and thus Ahab survived in Ahaziah.
(2) The record descends to particulars. "He walked in the way of his father, and in the way of his mother." Here not only is Jezebel reproduced in Ahaziah, but Ahab's sin in marrying Jezebel also survives. "And in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin." Here is not only the posthumous influence of Jeroboam, but also of the sin of Ahab in perpetuating it. "For he served Baal, and worshipped him." The establishment of this Canaanitish abomination was due to Ahab and Jezebel, and they infamously survive in its perpetuation.
(a) A Church is not the more true for being established. Here were two State Churches which were, in the Biblical sense, atheistic.
(b) For concurrent endowment, whatever may be said for its expediency, there can be no moral defence.
3. But there was no necessity for this.
(1) Legal representation is an accident over which we have no control. It is a notable truth that men have influences in spite of themselves, and that these also are posthumous.
(2) But moral representation is in a different category. Ahaziah might have reigned in Ahab's stead without imitating his vices. "Jehoram the son of Ahab," e.g., "wrought evil in the sight of the Lord; but not like his father, and like his mother; for he put away the image of Baal that his father had made" (2 Kings 3:2).
(3) Ahaziah should have been admonished by the history of the judgments of God upon the house of Jeroboam. He should have taken the warning given in the judgments of God on the sins of his father. His guilt, therefore, was upon his own head, and he suffered accordingly. He reigned two years. God makes short work with some sinners. His death was provoked by his perversity (see 2 Kings 1:3, 4). We see further -
II. THAT AHAB SURVIVES IN HISTORY.
1. He survived in secular history. His acts and works were written in the chronicles of his nation.
(1) Amongst these were mentioned "all the cities that he built." Perhaps this building of cities simply meant the construction of fortifications for their defence. Whether they reflected credit or discredit upon his memory we cannot pronounce. A man may do a great deal of work to very little profit.
(2) The chronicles mentioned "the ivory house which he made." This palace had its description probably from the quantity of that valuable substance used in its ornamentation. But this does not seem to have been to his honour. A kingdom impoverished through famines, wars, and idolatries was in no position to bear the cost of such a piece of luxurious and selfish vanity. Amos accordingly denounces this work of pride (Amos 3:15).
(3) The survival of Ahab in secular history was a consequence of his social position. The masons and carpenters, whose skill brought the works of Ahab to perfection, had no mention there. Social status is a talent from God, for the right use of which men are accountable.
2. He survives in sacred history.
(1) The sacred history consists of selections from the secular under the guiding influence of Divine inspiration, with a view to illustrating the principles of the providence, truth, and grace of God. To illustrate such principles is the noblest end of writing. So of reading. What quantities of trash, in which the claims of God are ignored, is both written and read!
(2) In these selections the notices of the wicked are generally brief. Perhaps no wicked man has a larger share of the sacred writings occupied with his acts than Ahab. Such acts are not agreeable to the Spirit of God. But in the hands of inspiration they are made an influence for good. They are recorded, apparently, because of their relation to the actions of prophets and good men. They are made to serve as a dark background to show up to admiration virtuous qualities, and to be made themselves odious in the contrast. The principles of the wicked should only be studied to be shunned. So God brings good out of evil.
(3) The sacred records have survived the secular. "The book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel" has long since perished. The sacred records have come down to our times. In these, after a lapse of nearly thirty centuries, Ahab survives. But for these his name would not be known. Note
(a) the Providence which has preserved the Scriptures evinces their Divine authenticity.
(b) Things are permanent as they stand related to the everlasting God.
(c) The posthumous influence points to the immortality of man. - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now the rest of the acts of Ahab, and all that he did, and the ivory house which he made, and all the cities that he built, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
WEB: Now the rest of the acts of Ahab, and all that he did, and the ivory house which he built, and all the cities that he built, aren't they written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?