“Now as the king passed by, he cried out to the king and said, ‘Your servant went out into the midst of the battle; and there, a man came over and brought a man to me, and said, ‘Guard this man; if by any means he is missing, your life shall be for his life, or else you shall pay a talent of silver.’”—1 Kings 20:39 (NKJV)
I find it difficult to follow my own advice. Age and life experience have equipped me to advise my friends on how to navigate life, but I usually resist heeding my own wise counsel when it’s time to apply it to myself. We have all done this. In today’s verse, King Ahab is a perfect example.
Prophets of old told dramatic stories to get their messages through to people who were deaf to truth. Nathan used this technique when he faced down King David during the Bathsheba/Uriah scandal. In today’s verse, a prophet got creative in his delivery of God’s message to wicked Ahab. This prophet acted his message out. To get into character, the prophet convinced someone to brutally assault him so he’d look like a soldier wounded in battle. And here’s the scene: The soldier is panic–stricken because a prisoner under his oversight has just escaped. The death penalty awaits him unless he pays a ransom that no honest soldier could ever raise.
What Ahab doesn’t know yet is God, through this prophet, is holding Ahab to account for one of many crimes committed as king. Ahab was notorious for arrogantly governing and misrepresenting the heart of God. The prophet’s elaborate ruse proves Ahab is intelligent enough to distinguish between right and wrong. As Ahab gives his opinion about our “wounded soldier’s” predicament, he pronounces judgment on himself.
Ahab had unlimited resources to do his job, but he squandered everything God gave him to feed his own appetites at the expense of the poor in Israel. The present sin being addressed by the prophet: Ahab’s collusion with a crony king to escape justice. God’s message to Ahab: the party is over.
Ironically, to deflect enemy attention, Ahab disguises himself as a common soldier. But a random arrow finds its mark and Ahab dies.
When God gives you power, He expects you to lead as His representative, providing the resources you need. Because in the end, we’ll be held to account for what we did with what He gave.