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the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 20

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-43

Chapter 20

Now Benhadad who was presently the king of Syria gathered all of his host together: and there were thirty-two kings that went with him, with their horses, and chariots: and they came up and besieged Samaria, and they warred against it. And he sent messengers to Ahab the king of Israel the city, and he said unto him, Thus saith Benhadad, Thy silver and thy gold is mine; your wives and your children, the best of everything you have, is mine. And so the king of Israel answered and said, My lord, O king, according to your saying, I am thine, and all that I have ( 1 Kings 20:1-4 ).

So he asked for complete capitulation. I want all your gold and silver. I want all your wives, all your, you know, all of your possessions. So Ahab was surrendering. He said, "Everything I have is yours."

So Benhadad wasn't satisfied.

He sent back his messengers again, and said, Thus speaketh Benhadad, saying, Although I have sent unto you, saying that you shall deliver to me your silver, gold, wives, and children; Yet I will send my servants unto you to morrow about this time, and they will search through your house, and the house of your servants; and it shall be, whatever is pleasant in their eyes, they shall put it in their hand, and take it away. And the king of Israel called his elders together, and he said, Mark, I pray you, look how this guy is just really seeking a fight: he doesn't want just our gold and silver and wives; he wants a fight. And so all the elders that were with him said, Don't hearken to him, don't consent. Therefore he sent messengers to Benhadad, he said, Tell my lord the king, All that you did send for your servant at the first will do: but this other request that you have made we're not going to do it. And so the messengers departed, brought him word again. And Benhadad sent unto him, and said, The gods do so to me, and more also, if the dust of Samaria shall suffice for the handfuls for all the people that follow me ( 1 Kings 20:5-10 ).

And he said, "If everyone took the dust of Samaria, there wouldn't be enough for the number of people I have to even have a fistful of dirt. I got so many people that I'm coming against you with."

And so the king of Israel answered and said, Tell him, Let not him that girds on his harness boast himself as though he was putting it off ( 1 Kings 20:11 ).

In other words, don't count your chickens before they hatch.

And so it came to pass, when Benhadad heard this message, as he was drinking, and his kings in the pavilions, he said to his servants, Set yourselves in array. And so they set themselves in battle array against the city. And, behold, there came a prophet to Ahab the king of Israel, and said, Thus saith the LORD, Have you seen this great multitude? behold, I'm going to deliver it into your hand today; and you will know that I am the LORD. So Ahab said, By whom? And he said, Thus saith the LORD, Even by the young men the princes of the provinces. Then he said, Who shall order the battle? And he said, You. And so Ahab numbered the young men, the princes from the provinces, there were two hundred and thirty two: after them he numbered the people, all of the children of Israel, seven thousand. They went out at noon. And old Benhadad was drinking himself drunk in his pavilions, he with his kings. And the young men of the princes of the provinces went out first; Benhadad sent out, and told them, saying, [There are. They sent. They came to Benhadad and said] There are men coming out of Samaria. And so he said, Have they come out if they've come out for peace, take them alive; if they've come out for war, take them alive. So the young men of the princes of the provinces came out of the city, and the army followed them. And they slew every one his man: the Syrians fled; Israel pursued them: Benhadad the king of Syria escaped on a horse with his horsemen. And so the king of Israel went out, and he smote the horses, the chariots, he slew the Syrians with a great slaughter. And the prophet came to the king of Israel, and said unto him, Go and strengthen yourself, and mark, and see what you are doing: for at the return of the year the king of Syria will come up against you again ( 1 Kings 20:12-22 ).

In other words, now strengthen yourself, fortify things, because at the end of the year the guy is going to be back.

And so the servants of the king of Syria said unto them, The problem is their gods are the gods of the hills; that's why they were able to defeat you; now if you could fight them in the valley, then you could defeat them ( 1 Kings 20:23 ).

Because their gods are the gods of the hills and not the gods of the valleys. Now of course, they thought of gods in localized sense. We should never think of God in a localized sense. God is what we say omnipresent. That means he's everywhere at once. Therefore, it is wrong to think of God in a locality. Sometimes we think of God in a localized sense in heaven. And he seems very far off and remote because I don't know where heaven is. It's out there in space somewhere. But I'm pointing out in the space this way but you know if you realize the earth is actually round, and so you'll be pointing down that way through the earth and not in space in the other direction. So I may head out, you know, in space looking for God but I may be going the wrong direction in space, if I think of God in a locality, you know, heaven, wherever that may be.

Or if I think of God here in the church, in a locality. And so often even in our prayers we sort of express the idea of God dwelling here. "Lord, we are so thankful that we can come into Your presence this evening. We can gather here together in Your presence." Hey, you were in His presence when you left home tonight. You were in His presence when you were driving out here. You can't escape the presence of God. And thus it's wrong to think of God in a locality. And yet that was the pagan concept of God. He's the god of the hills. And that was your problem. You let them fight you in the hills and their god is the god of the hills. That's why you were defeated. Next time fight them in the valleys because their god is the god of the hills, not the god of the valleys and you'll be able to defeat them, so they said.

Now gather your army again, all of the kings, all of the chariots. And go up again the second time. And so Benhadad gathered the forces of Syria together and he came up to Aphek to fight against Israel.

And the children of Israel were numbered, all that were present, went out against them: and the children of Israel pitched before them like two little flocks of kids ( 1 Kings 20:27 );

They were totally, hopelessly outnumbered.

but the Syrians filled the country ( 1 Kings 20:27 ).

They were just like two little flocks. And here the whole vast number of Syrians.

And there came a man of God, and spake to the king of Israel, and said, Thus saith the LORD, Because the Syrians have said, The LORD is the God of the hills, but not the God of the valleys, therefore I'm going to deliver this great multitude into your hand, and ye shall know that I am the LORD ( 1 Kings 20:28 ).

Now the interesting thing to me at this point is that though Ahab had turned against God and was a very wicked king, still God was continuing to speak to him. You know, though you may turn your back on God, and though you may go your own way, God continues to speak to you. God doesn't just forsake you and let you go, though you may have forsaken Him. God is continuing to speak after this guy has turned his back. So long his back has been turned against God and yet God is still speaking to him. As God continues to speak to you because He loves you and He's seeking to draw you unto Himself, and thus God doesn't cease His work speaking to man.

And so the children of Israel came against them and they're in the valleys and wiped out the Syrians really worse this time than before. The Syrians were fleeing. Benhadad was captured and he was brought back.

And he said unto him, The cities, that my father took from your father, I'm going to restore them; and you shall make streets we'll make streets for you in Damascus, as my father made in Samaria. And then Ahab said to him, I will send you away with this covenant. So he made a treaty with him, and sent him away. And a certain man, one of the sons of the prophets came and said to his neighbour, Smite me, I pray you. And the man refused to smite him. Then he said, [All right, because you've refused to smite me,] you've not obeyed the voice of the LORD, so as soon as you depart from here, a lion is going to slay you. So as soon as the man departed from the prophet, a lion slew him. So he found another man, he said, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man smote him, in that he was wounded. And so he came and he waited for Ahab to come along, he disguised himself, he put ashes upon his face. And the king passed by, and he cried to Ahab: and he said, Thy servant went out into the midst of battle; and, behold, a man turned aside, and brought a man unto me, and said, Keep this man: and if by any means he is missing, then we'll require your life for him. And this man got away from me and now they want to kill me. And Ahab said, You pronounced your own judgment; you said that it was your life for his life and you let him get away. [Man, you've set your own judgment.] And so the guy took off the disguise; and the king of Israel discerned that he was one of the prophets. And he said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Because you have let go out of your hand the man who I appointed to utter destruction, therefore thy life shall go for his life, and thy people for his people. And the king of Israel went home [and he began to live more carefully from that point on,] but he was heavily displeased when he came to Samaria ( 1 Kings 20:34-43 ). "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 1 Kings 20". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/1-kings-20.html. 2014.
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