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King Ahab v King Ben-Hadad

1 Kings 20, 22
King Ahab battles against King Ben-Hadad of Syria but refuses to obey God.
Contributed by Richard Gunther
Ben-Hadad was the king of Syria. He had gathered a large army accompanied by 32 kings with their horses and chariots ready to attack the city of Samaria in Israel. Having surrounded the city he wrote a letter to King Ahab who ruled the northern Kingdom of Israel. – Slide 1
In the letter he boasted to King Ahab that soon everything he owned would become his property. King Ahab was scared but the people of Samaria said, ‘Don’t listen to Ben-Hadad or agree to his demands.’ – Slide 2
Ben-Hadad sent another message to Ahab: ‘May the gods deal with me severely, if enough dust remains in Samaria to give each of my men a handful. <br/>King Ahab of Israel was furious. ‘Tell Ben-Hadad he had better not talk like he had beaten me until he has fought me.’ – Slide 3
Soon after that God sent a prophet to King Ahab. ‘This is what the Lord says: “Do you see this vast army? I will give it into your hand today, and then you will know that I am the Lord.”’ – Slide 4
‘But who can beat King Ben-Hadad?’ asked King Ahab. <br/>‘Your young men lead by the provincial officers,’ the prophet replied. ‘You should take the initiative and start the battle.’ <br/>So King Ahab went out to face the Syrian army. He had 7,000 men with the young men led by the provincial officers at the front ready to charge. – Slide 5
They set out at noon while Ben-Hadad and the 32 kings allied with him were in their tents getting drunk. ‘Men are advancing from Samaria,’ a scout reported. <br/>Ben-Hadad replied, ‘If they have come out for peace, capture them. If they have come out for war, capture them.’ – Slide 6
But King Ahab’s tiny army, led by the young fighting men, fought hard and each beat his own opponent. <br/>The Syrians fled, with the Israelites in pursuit. Ben-Hadad managed to escape on horseback with some of his horsemen. – Slide 7
Afterwards, the prophet of the Lord told the king, ‘Strengthen your position and see what must be done, because next spring King Ben-Hadad will attack you again.’ – Slide 8
And sure enough, the following spring, Ben-Hadad had gathered another army and was marching to fight King Ahab. The King of Syria had new battle tactics. He knew the Israelites were good at fighting in the hills so he wanted to battle with them on the plains. – Slide 9
The prophet of the Lord told Ahab, ‘The Lord says “As the Syrians think the Lord can fight in the hills but not in the valleys, I will deliver this vast army into your hands, and you will know that I am the Lord.”’ <br/>For seven days the two armies camped opposite each other, and on the seventh day the battle began. – Slide 10
King Ahab’s army of Israelites inflicted 100,000 casualties on the Syrian foot soldiers in one day. The rest of Ben-Hadad’s army escaped to the city of Aphek, where the wall collapsed on 27,000 of them. – Slide 11
Ben-Hadad hid in an inner room in the city. His officials said to him, ‘Look, we have heard that the kings of Israel are merciful. Let us go to king Ahab with sackcloth around our waists and ropes around our heads. Perhaps he will spare your life.’ – Slide 12
Wearing sackcloth around their waists and ropes around their heads, they went to the king Ahab and said, ‘Your servant Ben-Hadad says: “Please let me live.”’ – Slide 13
King Ahab asked, ‘Is Ben-Hadad still alive? He is my brother.’ <br/>‘Yes, your brother Ben-Hadad is alive!” they replied. <br/>‘Go and get him,’ King Ahab said. When Ben-Hadad came out, Ahab had him come up into his chariot. – Slide 14
Ben-Hadad promised, ‘I will return the cities my father took from your father and you can set up your own market areas in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria.” <br/>Ahab said, ‘Make a treaty and I will set you free.’ So he made a treaty with him, and let him go. – Slide 15
The prophet of the Lord went to King Ahab with a harsh message, ‘God told you to destroy Ben-Hadad but you let him go. Therefore God will destroy you.’ <br/>Sullen and angry, King Ahab returned to his palace in Samaria. – Slide 16
Three years later, King Jehoshaphat from the southern kingdom of Judah came to see King Ahab. – Slide 17
‘Let’s join our armies and go and fight King Ben-Hadad together,’ suggested King Ahab. <br/>King Jehoshaphat thought for a moment and then said, ‘We ought to ask the Lord God first.’ – Slide 18
Ahab called for his prophets but they worshiped false gods and liked to tell the king what he wanted to hear. 400 false prophets arrived and declared, ‘Go into battle because you will surely win.’ – Slide 19
King Jehoshaphat insisted a true prophet of God was summoned. Micaiah, a prophet of the Lord arrived and announced, ‘God says you will lose this battle, your armies will be crushed and it will be a disaster.’ – Slide 20
King Ahab was so annoyed with Micaiah’s answer he threw the Lord’s prophet in prison with instructions to keep him there until he returned victorious from the battle. – Slide 21
Ignoring the advice of the Lord’s prophet, King Ahab and King Jehoshaphat rode into battle. <br/>It was a disaster. The Syrians made a fierce attack towards King Jehoshaphat and he had to flee back home as fast as he could. – Slide 22
King Ahab had gone into battle disguised as an ordinary soldier with lots of amour for protection. During the battle a stray arrow hit him, finding a small gap in his armour. <br/>‘I’m hit’ he shouted. ‘Get me out of here!’ <br/>He left the battle mortally wounded. – Slide 23
King Ahab died later that evening. Dogs licked the blood off his chariot. He died, just as God said he would. If only he had listened to the Lord! – Slide 24
Slide 25