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9. King Ahab’s Exploits-Part 1

October 12, 2010

Text:    I Kings 20:1-43


Outline:           I.     Ben-Hadad Attacks Israel                      I Kings 20:1-12

                              II.    Israel Attacks Ben-Hadad                      I Kings 20:13-21

                             III.  Israel Defeats Ben-Hadad                       I Kings 20:22-34

                             IV.  Ahab’s Failure                                              I Kings 20:35-43


                 It is difficult to put these next three chapters in some chronological order with respect to Elijah’s ministry which we have just studied.  But we do know that Ahab and Elijah were living at the same time.  God still has other prophets available so not all were killed and not all were hidden or have been silenced.  The NIV Study Bible does give a concise statement with respect to the real date, 857 BC which would place it in the last 5-7 years of Ahab’s reign and midway through the life of Elijah.

                 Ben-Hadad, king of Aram [Syria] has united many kings and is readying to attack Samaria, the capital of Israel.  He demands Israel’s wealth, their best wives, and their best children.  He wants Israel’s “cream” and Ahab says OK.  Ben-Hadad comes back and says he wanted Ahab’s wealth, wives, and children.  Ahab meets with his officials and they decide to meet Ben-Hadad’s first demand but not his second demand.  Ben-Hadad says he will then turn Samaria to dust.  Ahab responds with “Don’t be too sure”.

                 A prophet tells Ahab that the Lord will give them victory over Ben-Hadad and show Israel who is Lord.  The young inexperienced officers of Ahab’s army will accomplish this but Israel must attack first.  Ben-Hadad and his officers are drunk and confident when they see Israel approaching them.  They expect to simply capture them without a fight.  Israel’s army attacks, killing many, and causing the Arameans to flee.

                 The prophet comes again and tells Ahab to strengthen his defensive position because Ben-Hadad will return in the spring.  Ben-Hadad decides he must fight Israel on the plains instead of in the hills so he replaces all the kings with new officers and rebuilds his army.  The two armies meet again in the spring in the plains.  The prophet of God assures Ahab that the Lord will deliver Ben-Hadad’s army into their hands and they will know that the Lord is God.  They rest six days and fight on the seventh day. Israel again defeats the Arameans and they are forced to flee.  Ben-Hadad goes into hiding.  Ben-Hadad’s officials decide  to surrender to Israel and ask for mercy.  Ahab summons Ben-Hadad and they make a treaty.  Ben-Hadad will go free and Israel will take control of eastern Aram and be able to trade in Damascus.

                 Another prophet, the son of a prophet, asks to be struck with a sword so he can make a point with Ahab.  His companion refuses so he dies.  A second companion obeys and the prophet goes to meet Ahab returning from Aram.  He makes up a story which is really a parable of Ahab letting Ban-Hadad live.  The prophet reveals himself, condemning Ahab’s action and proclaiming Ahab’s death and the death of Israel.  Ahab returns to Samaria defeated instead of victorious.


  1. A bullying attitude often ends in defeat.
  2. Obeying God’s Word reveals the truth of God’s Word and the power of the Lord.  Victory in war is the result of God’s power and sovereignty and seldom has anything to do with man.
  3.  The weak who trust in God can defeat the strong who trust in themselves.
  4. Chose who you trust with wisdom.  Trust the Lord in the present and with your future.
  5. Acknowledge the Lord and His blessings.  Acknowledge the One who is enabling you to beat the odds.  Turn from your wicked ways and acknowledge God.
  6. Note the symbolism in waiting 6 days and attacking on the 7th day.  Preparation is 6 times more important than the battle itself.  Victory is the Lord’s, not man’s.
  7. God’s Will is not always being merciful.  Sometimes His Will is destruction of a life or nation.  Failure to discern and obey His Will can lead to our own destruction.
  8. Fear the Lord.  Turn to Him.  Listen to His voice and obey.  Know that the Lord is God and sovereign over life, over the lives of nations, and over the lives of individuals.

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