Promise of Victory by the False Prophets
Verses 4, 5 – Jehoshaphat’s words in these verses reflect the two different roles he was playing. In verse 4, his words show that he was a faithful vassal of Ahab, but in verse 5 Jehoshaphat, the pious king of Judah, wanted to consult a legitimate prophet of Yahweh.
Verse 6 – These 400 prophets may have been the 400 Asherah priests left alive by Elijah at Carmel, although 450 prophets of Baal were killed.
Verses 11, 12 – These false prophets gave Ahab the message he wanted to hear.
Verses 15, 16 – Why did Micaiah tell Ahab to attack when he had previously vowed to speak only what God had told him? He might have been speaking sarcastically, making fun of the messages from the pagan prophets by showing that they were telling the king only what he wanted to hear. When confronted, he predicted that the king would die and the battle would be lost. Although Ahab repented temporarily (21:27), he still listened to the false prophets.
Verse 22 – The lying spirit symbolized the way of life for these prophets, who told the king only what he wanted to hear.
Verses 20-22 – God uses everything—both good and evil—for His good purpose (Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28). God does not entice anyone to become evil. Those committed to evil however, may be used by God to hurry their deserved judgment (Exodus 11:10).
Verse 29 – Ahab told Jehoshaphat that he would disguise himself, but Jehoshaphat was to wear his royal attire. In a battle, a king would never wear his royal attire. This would certainly draw a huge target on his life.
Verse 34 – It was foolish for Ahab to think he could escape God’s judgment wearing a disguise. God sees and evaluates the motives of each person.
Verse 35 – Just as the prophet had predicted (20:42), Ahab was killed. God accomplished what human cunning could neither bring about nor prevent by ordaining the flight of a randomly shot arrow.
Verse 43 – Just like his ancestors Solomon and Asa, Jehoshaphat followed God, but he didn’t remove the high places—the pagan shrines in the hills. He did rid the land of the male shrine prostitutes, which had remained after the reign of his father Asa though.
Verses 52, 53 – The book of 1 Kings began with a nation united under David, the most devout king in Israel’s history. The book ends with a divided kingdom and the death of the most evil, wicked king of all. What happened? The people forgot to acknowledge God as their ultimate leader; they appointed human leaders who ignored God; and then they conformed to the life-styles of these evil leaders. Occasional wrongdoing gradually turned into a way of life. Failing to recognize God as our ultimate leader is the first step toward ruin!
Summary of Jezebel
Jezebel ranks as the most evil woman in the Bible. The Bible even uses her name as an example of people who completely reject God (Revelation 2:20, 21). Jezebel was determined to make Israel worship her gods. Jezebel not only managed her husband, Ahab, but she also had 850 assorted pagan priests under her control. She believed that the king had the right to possess anything he wanted. Jezebel ruthlessly had Naboth killed and took ownership of the land. Jezebel’s plan to wipe out worship of God in Israel led to painful consequences. Before she died, Jezebel suffered the loss of her husband in combat and her son at the hand of Jehu, who took the throne by force. She died in the defiant and scornful way she had lived.
Verse 4 – After hearing God’s judgment (20:42), Ahab went home to pout. Rage turned to hatred and led to the murder of Naboth. However, Naboth wanted to uphold God’s laws: it was considered a duty to keep ancestral land in the family.
Verses 8-10 – Jezebel knew enough of God’s law to arrange for 2 witnesses to accuse Naboth of blasphemy. What is not revealed here is that Jezebel also had Naboth’s heirs killed (2 Kings 9:25, 26). This was necessary since as long as Naboth had surviving heirs, the land would stay in the family.
Verses 17, 18 – Elijah had faded into the background for a while. Now he reenters the story.
Verses 19-24 – The first cursed pronounced on Ahab described the way dogs would lick Ahab’s blood in the same place that they licked Naboth’s blood and the blood of his sons. The second disaster would come on all males; both slave and free of Ahab’s house. The bible implies that this prophecy of Elijah was fulfilled when Joram, Ahab’s son was left for the dogs on Naboth’s land in Jezreel (2 Kings 9:24-26).
Verses 27-29 – We see that this repentance by Ahab was shallow because he continued his rebellion in the next chapter. God pronounced that the prophesied destruction on Ahab’s house would only happen only after Ahab’s death. We must accept God’s sovereignty on those occasions when He seems harsh by our standards and also when He seems too merciful by our judgment.
Verses 4-9 – Ahab tried to end the siege by a total surrender to Ben-Hadad’s initial demands, but Ben-Hadad then increased his demands so that even a desperate, weakened Ahab resorted to resistance.
Verse 11 – The point of this saying is to not count your victories before a battle. I guess Ahab didn’t remember what King David said before he took the head off of Goliath. David claimed the victory before he slung the rock out of his sling. He stood before Goliath and told him what he was about to do and gave the entire honor to God.
Verses 13-16 – Divine revelation gave encouragement and guidance to Ahab. Since there is no mention of Israelite chariots, Ahab’s chariot army may have been disabled by the drought. God’s intervention helped Ahab to lead a surprise attack while the Aramean army was drunk. The purpose of this divine intervention was that Ahab would recognize God’s character. The lesson failed.
Verse 21 – It is reasonable to conclude that much of the Israelite success came from God’s blessing on the surprise infantry attack on the unprepared unharnessed chariots of the Aramean army.
Verse 23 – Since the days of Joshua, Israel 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. What Ben-Hadad’s officers did not understand was that it was God, not chariots that made the difference in battle.
Verse 31 – Sackcloth was the symbol of mourning for the dead or for natural disaster. The rope around the head was a sign of submission.
Verses 35, 36 – The prophet needed a wound so he would look like an injured soldier and could effectively deliver his prophecy to Ahab. A lion killed the first man because he refused to obey the Lord’s instructions through the prophet.
Verses 41, 42 – God helped Ahab destroy the Aramean army to prove to Ahab and to Aram that He alone is 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 die instead. This prophet’s message soon came true when Ahab was killed on the battlefield (22:35)
Verse 2 – Jezebel was furious about what Elijah had done. These prophets always told her what she wanted to hear. On the other side, Elijah always prophesied doom and gloom to Ahab and Jezebel. Elijah who had caused the death of these prophets had become a thorn in Jezebel’s side. As long as God’s prophet was around, she couldn’t carry out all the evil she wanted.
Verse 3 – Elijah had two great victories; the defeat of the prophets of Baal and the answered prayer for rain, yet felt discouraged and feared for his life. However, God led Elijah out of his depression by letting him eat and rest first. Then God confronted him with the need to return to his mission—to speak God’s words in Israel. I don’t believe we are ever finished with the mission God has given His people until God says it is finished.
Verses 5-8 – After Elijah ate and rested, he returned to the place where the covenant had been given, Mount Horeb, or Sinai. There, Elijah would have his personal faith renewed by God’s presence. Obviously, God gave Elijah special strength to travel over 200 miles—without additional food.
Verses 9, 10 – Sometimes it may look like, “Lord am I the only one trying to do what’s right?” Be assured that even if you don’t know another person who is being faithful and obedient to God, there are. Self-pity will start to dilute the good we are doing.
Verses 11-13 – To look for God only in something big (rallies, churches, conferences, and highly visible leaders) may be to miss Him because He is often found gently whispering quietly in a humbled heart.
Verses 15, 16 – God’s command first pointed to judgment. Elijah was to anoint Hazael as king over Aram. God was going to use an enemy king to punish Israel for its sin. Jehu was to be anointed king over Israel. Jehu would destroy those who worshiped the false god Baal (2 Kings 9; 10). The third person Elijah was to anoint was Elisha. Elisha’s job was to point the people of Israel (the northern kingdom) back towards God. During this time Jehoshaphat, a king devoted to God, ruled the southern kingdom.
Verses 19-21 – The cloak or mantle was the most important article of clothing a person could own. A cloak was used for, protection against weather, as bedding, as a place to sit, or as luggage. It could also be given for a debt or torn into pieces to show grief. Elijah put his cloak on Elisha’s shoulders to show that he would become Elijah’s successor. Elisha’s capability to celebrate his new calling with sacrifices and feasting for the whole community indicated his family was very prosperous. This meal was more than a feast among farmers; it was an offering of thanks to the Lord who chose Elisha to be His prophet.
Verses 3, 4 – Although Elijah was alone in his confrontation with Ahab and Jezebel, he was not the only one in Israel who believed God. Obadiah had been faithful in hiding 100 prophets that were still true to the Lord.
Verse 6 – Both Ahab and Obadiah were accompanied by soldiers and officials who purchased or confiscated the resources as needed.
Verse 17 – Despite Ahab’s bravery and abilities in many areas, his accusation against Elijah showed that willful sin could blind a person to reality.
Verse 18 – Instead of worshiping the true God, Ahab and his wife Jezebel worshiped Baal the popular Canaanite god.
Verse 19 – Ahab brought 850 pagan-prophets to Mount Carmel to match wits and power with Elijah. Evil kings hated God’s prophets because they spoke against sin. However, Elijah showed the people those who speak prophecy wasn’t enough. One needed the power of the living God to fulfill it.
Verse 21 – Elijah challenged the people to take a stand! Why did so many people waver between the two choices? Many knew that the Lord was God, but they enjoyed the sinful pleasures and others benefits that came with following Ahab in his idolatrous worship.
Verse 29 – The prophets raved all afternoon but no one answered them. Their god was silent because it was not real. Power, status, appearance, or material possessions can become our gods if we devote our lives to them. These things can never offer comfort, wisdom, or guidance in true answers.
Verses 36-38 – God will make resources available to us in creative ways to accomplish His purposes.
Verse 46 – Elijah ran the six miles back to the city in order to give Ahab a last chance to turn from his sin before joining Jezebel in Jezreel. His run also ensured that the correct story of what happened would reach Jezreel first.
Elijah Steps on the Scene
Verse 1 – Israel, the northern kingdom, had no faithful kings throughout its history. Each king was wicked, actually leading the people in worshiping pagan gods. Few priests were left from the tribe of Levi because they had gone to Judah. The priests appointed by Israel’s kings were corrupt and ineffective. Elijah was the first in a long line of important prophets God sent to Israel and Judah.
Those who worshiped Baal believed he was the god who brought the rains and a bountiful harvest. Therefore, when Elijah walked into the presence of this Baal-worshiping king and told him there would be no rain for several years, Ahab was shocked. Elijah confronted the man who led his people into evil, and told of a power far greater than any pagan god-the Lord God of Israel.
Verses 4-6 – God’s miraculous provision of food for Elijah, at a time when God had cut off food for the nation, reminds any hearer/reader that God is the true provider of human needs.
Verse 7 – The brook dried up after a while. If you have read this before, you will realize this is but a small process that only last for a time before God moves Elijah to a bigger purpose. Through our hardships, God provides provisions along the way until you reach the main purpose He is calling you into.
Verses 8, 9 – Luke 4:26, 27 says that God sent His messenger with beneficial signs and wonders to a Gentile.
Verse 10 – In a nation that was required by law to care for its prophets, it is ironic that God turned to ravens (unclean birds) and a widow (a foreigner from Jezebel’s home territory) to care for Elijah. God provides for us in ways that go beyond our narrow definitions or expectations. Sometimes, we may find provisions in some strange places.
Verses 13-16 – We may not see the solution until we take the first step of faith. When the widow of Zarephath met Elijah, she thought she was preparing her last meal. But a simple act of faith produced a miracle. Faith is the step between promise and assurance.
Verse 17 – Even when God has done a miracle in our lives, our troubles might not be over. God’s provision is never given for us to rest upon that one miracle-get stuck. We depend on Him as each new trial faces us.
Verses 1-7 – God destroyed Jeroboam’s descendants for their flagrant sins and yet Baasha repeated the same mistakes. Jehu was a prophet sent by God to condemn and send judgment upon Baasha.
Verses 21, 22 – When you read these verses up to this point, you can plainly see the nation of Israel running amuck. Killing each other to gain the throne was the norm. Omri began his reign as political dissension brewed in Israel after Zimri killed himself, the Israelite army chose Omri, their commander, as the next ruler. Tibni, Omri’s chief rival to the throne, died, and Omri then began his evil reign. (Asa is still king over Judah).
Verse 24 – Omri made Samaria his new capital. This city was his personal property, so he had total control over it. Omri died before completing the city, so his son Ahab, completed it. He also built a temple to the god Baal. Samaria served as the capital city for the rest of Israel’s dynasties until it fell to the Assyrians in 722B.C. (2 Kings 17:5).
Verses 29-34 – Omri is dead and Ahab becomes king and reigns over Israel 22 years. The Bible records that Ahab did more evil than all the kings before him. Ahab marries Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal of the Sidonians. Ahab built her a temple to worship the pagan god Baal, which he ended up worshiping also. Ahab promoted idolatry and led the entire nation into sin.