1 Kings 22:34
And a certain man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness…
This occurred during the third campaign of Ben-hadad against Israel. Micaiah had forewarned Ahab against the danger he incurred, and was cast into prison for his pains. The warning was, however, taken sufficiently to heart to induce the king to disguise himself. Describe the expedient adopted, and its remarkable failure. Ahab was in many respects a typical sinner. He was an idolater, a persecutor, impenitent, though sometimes touched; and in the plenitude of power he fell. We see here -
I. A MAN ARMED AGAINST GOD. True he was fighting against the Syrians, but as he girded on his armour he remembered and defied the words of the prophet. His ominous prophecy should not be fulfilled, he would yet come back safe and victorious to put Macaiah to death, and with this determination he put Jehoshaphat in command, and clad himself with proof armour. In spirit, therefore, he was fighting not only against the hosts of Syria, but against the word of God. Hence let us depict one who is armed against God. Reverse the description St. Paul gives (Ephesians 6.) of one armed by God. The impenitent sinner represented by Ahab defends himself.
1. By false hopes (Deuteronomy 29:19, 20). These constitute his "helmet," which wards off true thoughts of self and sin. He blindly trusts in Divine mercy, while sin is unrepented, forgetting that "a God all mercy is a God unjust" (Young). "There is none other name given under heaven whereby we may be saved," etc. "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?"
2. By a hardened heart. This is his "breastplate." A man impenitent is a man lost. Some are;' past feeling," their consciences are "seared as with a hot iron," and God gives them over to their "hardness of heart," and to an "impenitent mind." "Who has hardened himself against God, and prospered?" We may become "hardened by the deceitfulness of sin."
3. By defiant words. There is a tongue which is set on fire of hell Adduce examples. Ahab defied Micaiah.
4. By an unbelieving mind. The king questioned the truth of the prophet's message. He had more confidence in his own past success and in his military skill than in the declaration of a man who knew something of God but nothing of war. Unbelief ever prevents the inflowing of Divine goodness. Jesus "could do no mighty works because of their unbelief."
5. By a dumb spirit. No asking for pardon, no cry for mercy rose from Ahab's heart, or it would not have proved too late; for the Lord is "not willing that any should perish."
II. A MAN STRICKEN BY GOD. The chance arrow of the Syrian archer fulfilled the Divine purpose.
1. By the arrow of conviction. God's word is sharp and powerful, and pierces even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
(1) It may be shot unwittingly, as the archer drew at a venture not knowing what he might hit. Let our words for God be pointed, and be winged by faith, and He will see that they hit the mark.
(2) It may touch the one vulnerable spot. That arrow pierced "between the joints of armour" otherwise proof. So David's stone would have fallen powerless on the greaves or the breastplate of the giant of Garb. God, who knows our hearts, tries every avenue. Through our reason, through our affections, through our conscience, His word seeks to find its way.
2. By the arrow of judgment.
(1) It was foretold (ver. 28). Ahab ran the risk. So do they who continue in sin after hearing of" a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devout-the adversaries."
(2) It was inevitable. All disguise and precaution were unavailing. The justice of God sooner or later reaches the right man.
(3) It was terrible. The weak, sensuous man, whose promise had sometimes been so fair, fell in a moment from kingship, from life, and from hope. "lie that being reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without often remedy." - A.R.
Parallel VersesKJV: And a certain man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness: wherefore he said unto the driver of his chariot, Turn thine hand, and carry me out of the host; for I am wounded.
WEB: A certain man drew his bow at random, and struck the king of Israel between the joints of the armor. Therefore he said to the driver of his chariot, "Turn your hand, and carry me out of the battle; for I am severely wounded."