Bible Readings for October 17th

1 Kings 20 | 1 Thessalonians 3 | Daniel 2 | Psalm 106

Although Ahab is a wicked king, Yahweh nevertheless reveals himself to him multiple times. Still, Ahab follows in the footsteps of King Saul, receiving with joy any word of Yahweh that signifies good to him but systematically ignoring any warnings or instructions from Yahweh. The story of Ahab’s battle with Syria and Syria’s king, Ben-hadad, in 1 Kings 20 carries forward the story of Israel’s rebellion against Syria, but it also reveals more of Ahab’s rebellion against Yahweh.

At first, Ahab is willing to serve Ben-hadad, pledging to give to Syria’s king anything that he wants (1 Kgs. 20:4), but when Ben-hadad demands actually to carry away to Syria everything his servants desire, Ahab refuses (1 Kgs. 20:9). In response, Ben-hadad immediately gathers his forces to march into war against Israel.

A prophet, then, delivers the word of Yahweh to Ahab: “Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will give it into your hand this day, and you shall know that I am the LORD” (1 Kgs. 20:13). Significantly, Yahweh insists it is for a specific purpose that he will save Ahab from Ben-hadad and the Syrians: so that Ahab shall know that he is Yahweh. This is sheer grace toward Ahab, designed to lead him to repent from worshiping Baal and Asherah (and encouraging the rest of Israel to do the same) and instead to worship Yahweh alone.

But after such a great military victory, Ahab listens to the plea of Ben-hadad and spares the life of the king of Syria (1 Kgs. 20:32–34). In response, Yahweh sends another prophet to Ahab, telling him, “Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall be for his life, and your people for his people” (1 Kgs. 20:42). Yahweh has extended grace and mercy toward Ahab, but Ahab chooses to deal with Ben-hadad in the way that seems good to him, despite the fact that his actions contradict what Yahweh has told him to do.

Once again, we see someone spurn the grace of God. God extends grace upon grace to many people in this life—from the common grace of sunshine and rain (Matt. 5:45) to the special revelation God extends through the preaching of the gospel (Rom. 10:15)—and yet some still disobey. Do you receive the grace of God only to continue in unbelief and hardness of heart? Rather than sulking like Ahab (1 Kgs. 20:43), today repent from your self-reliance and believe the gospel that Jesus has died and risen again for you. If you are still able to hear God’s voice, do not harden your heart any longer by the deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:13).

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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