Sermon: An Arrangement That Should Have Ben-handn’t Been Made. The Tale of Ahab and Ben-Hadad. 1 Kings 20
Now Ben-Hadad king of Aram mustered his entire army. Accompanied by thirty-two kings with their horses and chariots, he went up and besieged Samaria and attacked it. He sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel, saying, “This is what Ben-Hadad says: ‘Your silver and gold are mine, and the best of your wives and children are mine.’” The king of Israel answered, “Just as you say, my lord the king. I and all I have are yours.” The messengers came again and said, “This is what Ben-Hadad says: ‘I sent to demand your silver and gold, your wives and your children. But about this time tomorrow I am going to send my officials to search your palace and the houses of your officials. They will seize everything you value and carry it away.’”
(1 Kings 20:1-6)
Every time I read about ole Benny, I think of a story sometime ago of an individual who got mixed up with the wrong person and stayed in his house for some time. Then when the individual wanted to leave, the guy said “Your belongings are under my roof, your laptops mine, your cats are mine.”
Well fortunately everything was retrieved with assistance of the authorities but every time I read about Ben Hadad I chuckle because he says this to Ahab.
God sends the prophet to tell Ahab that the Lord will deliver Ben Hadad’s army over the Israel. Thus it goes, and Hadad escapes.
Then the prophet warns Ahab that Ben Hadad will rear his ugly head the followinf spring.
Afterward, the prophet came to the king of Israel and said, “Strengthen your position and see what must be done, because next spring the king of Aram will attack you again.” (1 Kings 20:22)
Guess who’s back, Ben is back, guess who’s back, Ben Shaddy is back.
Here is where Ahab sins and seriously blows it. God defeats the Aramean army but Ben Hadad grovels for mercy and Ahab makes a treaty with him, contrary to the prophets instructions.
The next spring Ben-Hadad mustered the Arameans and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel. When the Israelites were also mustered and given provisions, they marched out to meet them. The Israelites camped opposite them like two small flocks of goats, while the Arameans covered the countryside. The man of God came up and told the king of Israel, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Because the Arameans think the Lord is a god of the hills and not a god of the valleys, I will deliver this vast army into your hands, and you will know that I am the Lord.’” For seven days they camped opposite each other, and on the seventh day the battle was joined. The Israelites inflicted a hundred thousand casualties on the Aramean foot soldiers in one day. The rest of them escaped to the city of Aphek, where the wall collapsed on twenty-seven thousand of them. And Ben-Hadad fled to the city and hid in an inner room. His officials said to him, “Look, we have heard that the kings of Israel are merciful. Let us go to the king of Israel with sackcloth around our waists and ropes around our heads. Perhaps he will spare your life.” Wearing sackcloth around their waists and ropes around their heads, they went to the king of Israel and said, “Your servant Ben-Hadad says: ‘Please let me live.’” The king answered, “Is he still alive? He is my brother.” The men took this as a good sign and were quick to pick up his word. “Yes, your brother Ben-Hadad!” they said. “Go and get him,” the king said. When Ben-Hadad came out, Ahab had him come up into his chariot. “I will return the cities my father took from your father,” Ben-Hadad offered. “You may set up your own market areas in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria.” Ahab said, “On the basis of a treaty I will set you free.” So he made a treaty with him, and let him go.
1 Kings 20:26-34 –
As a result, the prophet rebukes Ahab.
By the word of the Lord one of the company of the prophets said to his companion, “Strike me with your weapon,” but he refused. So the prophet said, “Because you have not obeyed the Lord, as soon as you leave me a lion will kill you.” And after the man went away, a lion found him and killed him. The prophet found another man and said, “Strike me, please.” So the man struck him and wounded him. Then the prophet went and stood by the road waiting for the king. He disguised himself with his headband down over his eyes. As the king passed by, the prophet called out to him, “Your servant went into the thick of the battle, and someone came to me with a captive and said, ‘Guard this man. If he is missing, it will be your life for his life, or you must pay a talent of silver.’ While your servant was busy here and there, the man disappeared.” “That is your sentence,” the king of Israel said. “You have pronounced it yourself.” Then the prophet quickly removed the headband from his eyes, and the king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets. He said to the king, “This is what the Lord says: ‘You have set free a man I had determined should die. Therefore it is your life for his life, your people for his people.’” Sullen and angry, the king of Israel went to his palace in Samaria. (1 Kings 20:35-43)
What can we learn here? First of all, some people have no business being in your life. As Christians, we are not called to literally cut people down out of our life with a literal sword, but too easily if we are not cautious we make treaties with people in friendship who will cause us problems or lead us away from God. Ben Hadad also is representative of some sinful habits we should show no mercy in severing out of our life. Temptation seems to spring up in the spring when we may be at ease and enjoying fair weather of life and comfort. David was tempted to “in the spring when kings go off to war” and as a result of such temptation he committed grievous adultery.
Make no friendly terms with sin friends or people who tempt you into it. For it says “Walk with the wise and grow wise but a companion of fools suffers harm” (Proverbs 13:20)
Though we are called to be kind, merciful and share the good news with people who do not know Christ, we must be careful not to put ourselves in a situation that would lead to sin. That would both discredit the message and our profession of faith as well as damage our own souls in the process. Then we are neither good to be much light to those who need Christ and we are harming also ourselves.