1 Kings 20:22-43
And the prophet came to the king of Israel, and said to him, Go, strengthen yourself, and mark, and see what you do…
I. GOD MULTIPLIES HIS BENEFITS TO THE SINFUL (vers. 22-30). Ahab makes no public acknowledgment of God's mercy, nor, so far as appears, has it been suffered to change in any way his attitude towards Jehovah; yet God crowns him with loving-kindnesses.
1. Delivered from one danger, he is warned of another. "Go, strengthen thyself, and see what thou doer," etc. The enemy, baffled for the time, will return again. The intimation was a call not only to prepare his hosts and strengthen his cities, but, beyond all else, to seek His face who had delivered him already, and was able to deliver him again. We are warned of dangers that we may strengthen ourselves in God. There is love in the warning, and vaster love in the offered strength.
2. When the danger comes he is assured of success (ver. 28). The most needful preparation had been neglected; Ahab had not sought God. But God again seeks him. Mark the unwearied, all-forgiving love of God.
3. The Lord fights for him. In vain did the Syrians change their ground and remodel their army. In vain did they surround with their myriads the two small bands of Israel. They are given as stubble to the swords of Israel, and the very walls of the city into which they flee for safety become their destruction. God's hand is so marked in His deliverances, that the sinful cannot fail to see the wondrous love that is behind them. They bring us face to face with "the depths of the riches" of His mercy.
4. The purpose of the mercy. "Ye shall know that I am the Lord." It is the revelation of God, and is meant to. be the birth hour of the soul. The goodness of God may be mentioned with seeming gratitude, but it. has been barren of result unless it has brought us into the presence of the King. The Divine Love has blessed us in vain unless it has become the light of the Lord's face.
II. HOW THE MERCY WAS MADE OF NO EFFECT. TO Ahab the mercy brought only deeper condemnation. It will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for Chorazin and Bethsaida, which saw the goodness of God in Christ, and yet repented not.
1. The mercy was frustrated by prayerlessness. Though warned of the danger, he does not with lowly confession of sin and unworthiness implore God's direction and help. There is no breaking up of the fallow ground that it may receive the blessing as the seed of joy and life in God.
2. By thanklessness. When the blessing came it might still have saved him. The benefits with which God had loaded him might have bowed him in lowly acknowledgment of his multiplied iniquities and long impious rebellion. The goodness of God leads us to repentance only as we pass in before the Lord through the gates of praise.
3. By blindness to the indications of God's will. The multitude slain in the battle, the falling of the wall upon those who escaped, the overthrowing of every defence till the king, the head and centre of the whole evil, was reached, might have shown that God purposed to make an end for the time of the Syrian power, and give a full deliverance to Israel. The fruit of the victory was blighted by Ahab's blindness and folly. To cooperate with God in working out our own salvation, we must read and faithfully fulfil His purpose.
4. By vanity and worldly policy. He enjoys for a brief moment the Bower which God has given, becomes the benefactor and brother of the man whom the Lord had doomed, and makes a covenant with him. The trust which God had desired should wholly rest upon Himself he reposes in his foe. The hour of prosperity, which should be our covenant time with God, is too often made the occasion for worldly alliances, which lead us to forget Him and all we owe to Him.
III. MERCY FRUSTRATED BEARS FRUIT IN JUDGMENT (vers. 35-43).
1. The message came through swift and stern judgment. Disobedience meant death (vers. 35, 36). The Divine threatenings come to us through terrible judgments.
2. Ahab was self condemned. The voice of conscience is on God's side. "If our heart condemn us," etc.
3. His own life should answer for the life he spared. Letting go God's enemy, and keeping back his hand from God's righteous though terrible work, he destroyed himself. No cross, no crown. The awful price which a soul must pay for present ease and pleasure: "He that loveth his life shall lose it."
4. The shadow of God's wrath swallows up the worldling's peace (ver. 43); and it falls ever deeper till the end come. - U.
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.