Dave Burnette's Commentary

1 Kings Chapter 20

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Jeremiah
Date Penned: (586 BC)
Overview: A History of the Kings of Israel and Judah (c 1-22)
Theme: The Divided Kingdom (c 12-22)
Message: God Gives Israel Victory Over Syria (v 1-43)

1 Kings 20 Commentary 

(20:1) Kings lead Israel into Judgement - With two evil and two good kings up to this point, the southern kingdom, Judah, wavered between godly and ungodly living. But the northern kingdom, Israel, had eight evil kings in succession. To punish both kingdoms for living their own way instead of following him, God allowed other nations to gain strength and become their enemies. Three main enemies threatened Israel and Judah during the next two centuries: Syria, Assyria, and Babylonia. Syria, the first to rise to power, presented an immediate threat to Ahab and Israel.

(20:3-22) God Shows Ahab that He is Lord - God defeated the Syrian army for Ahab so that Ahab would know that God alone is the Lord. Despite this great victory and the one to follow on the plains (20:28-29), Ahab continued to rule without serving God. Evidence of God's greatness surrounds us, but, like Ahab, we can choose to ignore it and go our own way. But when we do, as with this evil king of Israel, disaster will strike. Open your eyes to the evidence- the victories that God is winning for you. Then rededicate yourself to him.

(20:23) God Delivers Victories - Since the days of Joshua, Israel's soldiers had a reputation for being superior fighters in the hills but ineffective in the open plains and valleys because they did not use chariots in battle. Horse-drawn chariots, useless in hilly terrain and dense forests, could easily run down great numbers of foot soldiers on the plains. What Ben-hadad's officers did not understand was that God, not chariots, made the difference in battle.

(20:31) The Sackcloth - Sackcloth was a coarse cloth usually made of goats' hair and was worn as a symbol of mourning for the dead or for natural disasters. Wearing ropes around the head may have been a symbol of putting oneself at another's disposal-Ahab could have hung them if he wished. Doing this, therefore, showed submission.

(20:35-36) The Prophet's Wound - The prophet needed a wound so he would look like an injured soldier and could effectively deliver his prophecy to Ahab. The first man was killed by a lion because he refused to obey the Lord's instructions through the prophet.

(20:41-42) God Tells Ahab that He will Die - It is difficult to explain why Ahab let Ben-hadad go, especially after all the trouble the Syrians had caused him. God helped Ahab destroy the Syrian army to prove to Ahab and to Syria that he alone was God. But Ahab failed to destroy the king, his greatest enemy. Ben-hadad was under God's judgment to die, and Ahab had no authority to let him live. For this, God told Ahab that he must now die instead. This prophet's message soon proved true when Ahab was killed on the battlefield (22:35).


Dave Burnette's Life Application

Denying the Evidence of God

Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter, making application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Today we continue in the book of 1 Kings with Chapter 20.  In our text, we see God giving Israel victory over Syria, and a prophet condemns King Ahab. What catches my eye today is how God gave Ahab victory to reveal that "He is God" to have Ahab ignore the presence of God - Go his way to have disaster strike. In making an application, we see that many today still deny the evidence, presence, and power of God that proves "He is God." Our nation has been founded, built, protected, and blessed by the hand of God. The evidence is all around us, but now our nation is taking the path of Ahab - ignoring the evidence - and going its way, leading to a path of destruction. How about you? Do you see the direction this nation is going as it denies the evidence of God? Let us learn from Ahab, Israel, and the path of destruction that comes from denying the evidence of God.


1 Kings 20

1 Kings 20

 1And Benhadad the king of Syria gathered all his host together: and there were thirty and two kings with him, and horses, and chariots; and he went up and besieged Samaria, and warred against it.

 2And he sent messengers to Ahab king of Israel into the city, and said unto him, Thus saith Benhadad,

 3Thy silver and thy gold is mine; thy wives also and thy children, even the goodliest, are mine.

 4And the king of Israel answered and said, My lord, O king, according to thy saying, I am thine, and all that I have.

 5And the messengers came again, and said, Thus speaketh Benhadad, saying, Although I have sent unto thee, saying, Thou shalt deliver me thy silver, and thy gold, and thy wives, and thy children;

 6Yet I will send my servants unto thee to morrow about this time, and they shall search thine house, and the houses of thy servants; and it shall be, that whatsoever is pleasant in thine eyes, they shall put it in their hand, and take it away.

 7Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land, and said, Mark, I pray you, and see how this man seeketh mischief: for he sent unto me for my wives, and for my children, and for my silver, and for my gold; and I denied him not.

 8And all the elders and all the people said unto him, Hearken not unto him, nor consent.

 9Wherefore he said unto the messengers of Benhadad, Tell my lord the king, All that thou didst send for to thy servant at the first I will do: but this thing I may not do. And the messengers departed, and brought him word again.

 10And Benhadad sent unto him, and said, The gods do so unto me, and more also, if the dust of Samaria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people that follow me.

 11And the king of Israel answered and said, Tell him, Let not him that girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off.

 12And it came to pass, when Ben-hadad heard this message, as he was drinking, he and the kings in the pavilions, that he said unto his servants, Set yourselves in array. And they set themselves in array against the city.

 13And, behold, there came a prophet unto Ahab king of Israel, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Hast thou seen all this great multitude? behold, I will deliver it into thine hand this day; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD.

 14And Ahab said, By whom? And he said, Thus saith the LORD, Even by the young men of the princes of the provinces. Then he said, Who shall order the battle? And he answered, Thou.

 15Then he numbered the young men of the princes of the provinces, and they were two hundred and thirty two: and after them he numbered all the people, even all the children of Israel, being seven thousand.

 16And they went out at noon. But Benhadad was drinking himself drunk in the pavilions, he and the kings, the thirty and two kings that helped him.

 17And the young men of the princes of the provinces went out first; and Benhadad sent out, and they told him, saying, There are men come out of Samaria.

 18And he said, Whether they be come out for peace, take them alive; or whether they be come out for war, take them alive.

 19So these young men of the princes of the provinces came out of the city, and the army which followed them.

 20And they slew every one his man: and the Syrians fled; and Israel pursued them: and Benhadad the king of Syria escaped on an horse with the horsemen.

 21And the king of Israel went out, and smote the horses and chariots, and slew the Syrians with a great slaughter.

 22And 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.

 23And the servants of the king of Syria said unto him, Their gods are gods of the hills; therefore they were stronger than we; but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.

 24And do this thing, Take the kings away, every man out of his place, and put captains in their rooms:

 25And number thee an army, like the army that thou hast lost, horse for horse, and chariot for chariot: and we will fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they. And he hearkened unto their voice, and did so.

 26And it came to pass at the return of the year, that Benhadad numbered the Syrians, and went up to Aphek, to fight against Israel.

 27And the children of Israel were numbered, and were all present, and went against them: and the children of Israel pitched before them like two little flocks of kids; but the Syrians filled the country.

 28And there came a man of God, and spake unto the king of Israel, and said, Thus saith the LORD, Because the Syrians have said, The LORD is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys, therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into thine hand, and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

 29And they pitched one over against the other seven days. And so it was, that in the seventh day the battle was joined: and the children of Israel slew of the Syrians an hundred thousand footmen in one day.

 30But the rest fled to Aphek, into the city; and there a wall fell upon twenty and seven thousand of the men that were left. And Benhadad fled, and came into the city, into an inner chamber.

 31And his servants said unto him, Behold now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings: let us, I pray thee, put sackcloth on our loins, and ropes upon our heads, and go out to the king of Israel: peradventure he will save thy life.

 32So they girded sackcloth on their loins, and put ropes on their heads, and came to the king of Israel, and said, Thy servant Benhadad saith, I pray thee, let me live. And he said, Is he yet alive? he is my brother.

 33Now the men did diligently observe whether any thing would come from him, and did hastily catch it: and they said, Thy brother Benhadad. Then he said, Go ye, bring him. Then Benhadad came forth to him; and he caused him to come up into the chariot.

 34And Ben-hadad said unto him, The cities, which my father took from thy father, I will restore; and thou shalt make streets for thee in Damascus, as my father made in Samaria. Then said Ahab, I will send thee away with this covenant. So he made a covenant with him, and sent him away.

 35And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said unto his neighbour in the word of the LORD, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man refused to smite him.

 36Then said he unto him, Because thou hast not obeyed the voice of the LORD, behold, as soon as thou art departed from me, a lion shall slay thee. And as soon as he was departed from him, a lion found him, and slew him.

 37Then he found another man, and said, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man smote him, so that in smiting he wounded him.

 38So the prophet departed, and waited for the king by the way, and disguised himself with ashes upon his face.

 39And as the king passed by, he cried unto the king: and he said, Thy servant went out into the midst of the battle; and, behold, a man turned aside, and brought a man unto me, and said, Keep this man: if by any means he be missing, then shall thy life be for his life, or else thou shalt pay a talent of silver.

 40And as thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone. And the king of Israel said unto him, So shall thy judgment be; thyself hast decided it.

 41And he hasted, and took the ashes away from his face; and the king of Israel discerned him that he was of the prophets.

 42And he said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Because thou hast let go out of thy hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore thy life shall go for his life, and thy people for his people.

 43And the king of Israel went to his house heavy and displeased, and came to Samaria.