Daily Bible Studies
Series Theme: Studies in 1 & 2 Kings
"The Kings of Israel" (The Northern Kingdom)
Chapter: 1 Kings 17/18
Passage: 1 Kings 17:1 / 18:1-6,16-20
A. Find Out:
1. Who told Ahab what? 17:1
2. What was the state of Samaria 3 years on? 18:1,2
3. Who was Obadiah and what had he done? v.3,4
4. What had Ahab told him to do? v,5,6
5. How did Ahab greet Elijah? v.16,17
6. How did Elijah reply & what did he say to do? v.18-20
1. What was the state of Israel at this time?
2. What was Elijah's role?
3. Read the story of Elijah that we have missed out.
We now move into an area of Scripture that is a mix of telling about the kings of Israel and (more) about Elijah and Elisha, two of God's key prophets operating in Ahab's reign.
The first mention of Elijah is very simply when he comes to tell Ahab that there is going to be a God-sent drought. He then leaves and Ahab is left to himself for the next three years, after which Elijah is told by the Lord to return and pronounce an end to the drought. In all of this we see more of what is taking place in the state of the nation. Ahab, we read earlier had married Jezebel and had brought Baal worship into the land. Jezebel, we now learn, started persecuting and killing the faithful prophets of the Lord.
Fortunately for them, Obadiah who was a senior official of Ahab was also a believer and so he arranged to hide away a hundred of these ‘prophets'. (It would appear that at that time bands of believers who were prophetic would gather together). Ahab sends Obadiah out to look for grassland and while out he encounters Elijah who is on his way to pronounce the drought's end. Obadiah knows where Ahab is and directs Elijah to him. Ahab recognises Elijah and remembers he is the apparent originator of this drought. Elijah says, no, he Ahab is. He also instructs all the false prophets be called to meet with him. Such is his authority that Ahab arranges it. Watch this space!
1. However low spiritually the nation is, there will be some believers.
2. Remain faithful regardless of what others appear to be doing.
Chapter: 1 Kings 18
Passage: 1 Kings 18:20,21,38-46
A. Find Out:
1. How did Elijah challenge the people? v21
2. What did the Lord do and how did the people respond? v.38,39
3. What happened to the false prophets? v.40
4. What did Elijah tell Ahab? v.41
5. What did Ahab do? v.45
1. Read the story of Elijah from v.16 to 38 not covered.
2. What was Ahab's role in all this?
3. What do you think he felt about it all?
In a sense this chapter is all about Elijah, but we are following the story of Ahab and it's very easy to forget him in all that is happening. Recap: Ahab has married Jezebel and has allowed Baal worship into the land. Jezebel has been putting to death the Lord's prophets and be setting up her own Baal-worshipping ‘prophets'. The land is in a spiritual mess, and Ahab is king! However, from what we've just noted, this king has abdicated the power and it is in the hands of his wife. He's spiritually irresponsible – but he's a king of the covenant people of God.
There is almost an echo of humour in the background of these terrible events. The land is in a dire state because of the drought. Ahab puts it down to Elijah and is therefore loath to move against him. In fact when Elijah demands he sends for the prophets of Baal, he does so. We then go through the incident of the offerings on the two altars, which culminates in fire from the Lord. When Elijah orders death for the false prophets, the people have no problem in carrying it out. In all this Ahab has been a powerless onlooker. He's dealing with a powerful man of God and the people are obviously responding to Elijah so Ahab dare not do anything. Then before his eyes, all of his wife's prophets are killed! He is going to be in serious trouble with his wife when he gets home and tells her! Well, he got himself into this position so he can get himself out of it – or suffer the consequences!
1. Carelessness in sin still has bad consequences. No excuses.
Chapter: 1 Kings 19/20
Passage: 1 Kings 19:1,2 / 20:1-12
A. Find Out:
1. What did Ahab then do with what outcome? 19:1,2
2. Who came doing what? 20:1-3
3. What was Ahab's response? v.4,7
4. Yet what more was demanded? v.5,6
5. Who did Ahab turn to and with what result? v.7-9
6. What was the outcome of all this? v.10-12
1. What are we shown about Ahab and Jezebel in chapter 19?
2. What are we shown about him in chapter 20?
3. Sinful he may be, but how would you summarise this king?
Ahab comes back after losing all of Jezebel's prophets and tells her what has happened. She is furious and sends a threatening message to Elijah. You can see who is the power force in the palace!
Then comes an invasion from the north, the king of Aram with a confederation of minor rulers. They clearly overwhelm Israel 's resources and Samaria is surrounded and besieged and a message comes requiring all the plunder of Samaria be given over to the invaders. It is at this point that Ahab shows what he truly is made of – he gives in! They have demanded even his wives and his children, as well as all his riches. This is a weak and spineless king who has no power in his own family and no power in his land. But it gets worse.
The invader sends a further message that tomorrow he is going to come and work his way through the palace and clear out ANY valuables. Again Ahab shows how puny and weak he is – he appeals to the elders of the land. Who is the ruler here???? They at least have some courage and suggest resistance. Agree to the first demand but not the second. Ahab responds accordingly, receives a really strong threat back but seems to have built up a little courage as he responds in a rebuke. We might have said, “Don't count your chickens until they're hatched!” The invader is not happy and prepares to attack. Watch this space!
1. Leaders are supposed to stand against unrighteousness & be strong.
2. Leaders are called to lead. That is their role.
Chapter: 1 Kings 20
Passage: 1 Kings 20:13-29
A. Find Out:
1. Who came to Ahab and said what? v.13-14
2. What was the outcome? v.15-21
3. What did the prophet then instruct? v.22
4. What was the thinking of Aram and what happened? v.23-26
5. What did the prophet then say? v.28
6. What happened? v.29
1. How many times did Ahab receive divine guidance here?
2. Who was the divine messenger? What does that say to us?
3. What do you think is strange about all this?
So far every king of Israel has been bad. More than this, they have been getting worse and so the present king, Ahab, was described as doing more evil than any previous one. What is so remarkable therefore is that he receives so much help from the Lord. Surely this is a staggering picture of God's grace and mercy!
Three times in this passage an unnamed prophet comes to Ahab and brings him guidance. When you consider that recent history had seen Jezebel killing any of the Lord's prophets, this was a remarkably courageous act of obedience. Maybe it indicates that the tide was turning in Israel after Elijah's defeat of the false prophets on Carmel .
Anyway, the prophet comes and, remember, in the face of the siege, comes and brings a word about victory. Ahab is cautious and wonders who will do this (perhaps being aware he's not a courageous warrior!) and is told it will be his younger leaders. He follows the instructions he is given; they advance out of the city and rout the enemy. Victory! Then Ahab is told to strengthen the army, for Aram will be back next Spring. This happens and Ahab is given a further word about victory – which happens! Israel had been massively outnumbered, yet somehow Israel triumph. It must be the Lord! Despite Israel 's folly with idols, the Lord seeks to win back their hearts. He's giving them every chance for a new future.
1. God's grace keeps on flowing despite our folly.
2. Don't think God approves of sin simply because He blesses you!
Chapter: 1 Kings 20
Passage: 1 Kings 20:29-43
A. Find Out:
1. What happened to the army of Aram ? v.29,30
2. What did the king of Aram decide to do? v.31,32a
3. How did Ahab respond? v.32b,33
4. What agreement did they come to? v.34
5. How did the prophet approach Ahab? v.35-40
6. What judgement did he bring? v.41-43
1. Who had given victory to Israel ?
2. What error did Ahab commit?
3. What therefore was at the heart of his error?
Remember in the previous study we saw that three times the Lord gave his man a message to help and guide Ahab, a message that said He would grant them the victory over this king that came to enslave the people of God.
The victory is given and Ben-Hadad, the king of Aram manages to survive when the vast majority of his army are killed. His counsellors come up with an interesting idea. They have heard that the kings of Israel are merciful. That's interesting, that's different from how things were when Israel first took the land. That's different from what used to be. Originally if an enemy tried to wipe out Israel , God brought the death penalty on that people, but since Israel have drifted away from the Lord and allowed idolatry into the land, anything goes.
This battle had been the Lord's, He had enabled Israel to triumph, and His intention was that the triumph was complete, for He knows that unless it is, this enemy will rise up again and be a thorn in Israel's side. Amoral Ahab is foolish and ungodly and in an attitude of gracious magnanimity allows the enemy king to live. The only problem is that that is an act of total disregard for God and thus receives the Lord's censure. As God's people you judge when he judges and have grace when He has grace. He's the Lord! He's the only arbiter of right or wrong.
1. You don't forgive, condone or make light of sin. God doesn't.
2. You forgive when there is repentance. God does.
Chapter: 1 Kings 21
Passage: 1 Kings 21:1-29
A. Find Out:
1. What situation arose getting Jezebel's attention? v.1-5
2. So how did she ‘resolve' it? v.6-16
3. What did the Lord tell Elijah to do? v.17-19
4. What judgement did Elijah proclaim on Ahab? v.20-24
5. What was Ahab's response? v.27
6. How did the Lord respond? v.28,29
1. How is Ahab revealed in his dealings with Naboth?
2. Yet what does his response to Elijah's word indicate?
3. How is the outcome perhaps surprising?
The facts of this story are simple and straight forward: Ahab wanted a piece of land, asked the owner, Naboth, to sell it to him. Naboth refused, Ahab sulked and Jezebel had Naboth killed. Ahab took possession, Elijah brought judgement and Ahab repented and was spared. Now, what do the facts tell us?
First in respect of the way Ahab approached Naboth, this was good. He was willing to pay and he wasn't willing to use his power or authority to get the land. However when refused, he sulked. Not so good. Even more he let Jezebel act against Naboth. Even worse. But then he hears God's word and he repents - and it does seem genuine. That was good. This seems a weak willed, powerless king, who is easily swayed in any and every direction.
The condemnation of Ahab in verses 25 and 26 are staggering, all the more so that that Lord relents from killing him in the face of his repentance. Note he repents over the issue of Naboth, but there is no indication of repentance in respect of the ongoing idol worship. This doesn't mean he's going to get way with it, as we'll se later, merely that the Lord seems to deal with one sin at a time, and where there is repentance over one sin, then there is mercy in respect of that outcome. The grace and mercy of God are here for this situation but there is still much for which Ahab will be accountable.
1. We can receive mercy after repentance of individual sins.
2. Our heart needs to be turned to God else worse will come.
A. Find Out:
1. What did Ahab want to do and with whose help? v.1-4
2. Who was consulted and said what? v.5,6
3. Who did Jehoshaphat ask for and who was sent for? v.7-9
4. What further advice was being given to Ahab? v.10-12
5. What happened with Micaiah? v.13-15
6. How did Ahab react and what was the real message? v.16,17
1. What are we shown about the spiritual state of Israel here?
2. How is the king of Judah shown to be discerning?
3. How is Ahab still shown to be discerning?
We start to move into interesting waters! Things start happening with strong spiritual undertones. Having largely destroyed the army of Aram there is peace for three years, but Ahab realises that there is still some land belonging to them that is still occupied by Aram . There also seem to be friendly relations with Judah and so Ahab asks Judah to stand with them against Aram to get their land back.
Jehoshaphat, king of Judah is clearly a godly man and wants to seek the counsel of the Lord before taking any hasty action. Ahab calls together his prophets – almost certainly prophets of Baal, four hundred of them! They have obviously rebuilt since Elijah had eight hundred of them put to death. Jehoshaphat is wisely unhappy about these men who are counselling victory. This doesn't feel right to him so he asks is there a known prophet of the Lord in the land. Ahab begrudgingly acknowledges there is one, Micaiah but he's unhappy about him because he always speaks badly about Ahab. What a surprise!!! Micaiah is called and in the meanwhile Ahab's men are still prophesying triumph – well they did beat Aram three years before, didn't they! Micaiah is told to conform and does, but Ahab knows he's not speaking the truth – how amazing. An evil but discerning king! He challenges Micaiah who then warns of defeat. Is that the end? Oh no! Watch this space!
1. Watch and learn – even unbelievers know the truth deep down.
A. Find Out:
1. What did Micaiah see and what did the Lord ask? v.19,20
2. What answer did he get? v.21-22
3. So what conclusion did Micaiah bring? v.23
4. What happened to Micaiah? v.24-28
5. How did Ahab try to thwart Micaiah's word? v.29-33
6. But what eventually happened to Ahab? v.34-40
1. What heavenly insight are we given in this passage?
2. How was Ahab's folly further seen?
3. How do we see he could not avoid God's will for him?
A passage packed with challenge. First we are given a prophetic insight into heaven. It is the Lord who decrees Ahab's death but He will do it in a way that involves Ahab's folly. He will get the false prophets to lie. How can that happen? He'll simply allow a ‘spirit' (?an angel?) to go and make the suggestion to these false prophets and because they are false they will believe what seems obvious and go along with it, even if it's not true. Do you remember we commented previously that, after all, Ahab had defeated Aram twice before. Now he's got the help of Judah so it shouldn't be a problem. At least that's how it seems to these idol-worshipping so-called prophets. The amazing thing of course, is that Micaiah tells Ahab the truth but Ahab is so caught up in deception that he cannot see it when it is put before him.
Thus it was that Ahab goes to battle, but takes the precaution of going in disguise, and even putting the king of Judah out front in his royal robes so he can attract the enemy's attention. But you won't avoid God's judgement like that; for it's an apparently ‘random' arrow' that pierces Ahab's armour in a fatal place. By the end of the day he is dead.
It's not as if this king doesn't get enough warnings. Again and again he had had encounters with God through various prophets and again and again he ignored the warnings. Such is the folly of sin!
1. When God declares judgement, there is still time for repentance.
2. It is only repentance that will hold back the wrath of God.
RECAP - "Ahab" - 1 Kings 17-22
In this second group of 8 studies we have seen Ahab :
- hearing of a drought from Elijah (17:1)
- sending Obadiah to look for grass (18:1-6)
- summoned by Elijah to call the false prophets ( 18:16 -20)
- observing Elijah killing the false prophets ( 18:38 -46)
- besieged in Samaria by Aram (20:1-12)
- guided by a prophet to defeat Aram ( 20:13 -43)
- killing Naboth & condemned by Elijah (21:1-29)
- going against Aram with Judah (22:1-33)
- killed ( 22:34 -40)
Much of the chapters from chapter 17 on are really all about Elijah, but as we are focusing on the kings of Israel we will leave Elijah (and later Elisha) for a separate set of studies.
While the Lord is dealing with Israel and the false prophets, Ahab is, in many ways a mere onlooker. He does little to influence one way or the other what the Lord is doing. He has been passive in allowing his wife to built a cult of Baal worship with hundreds of false prophets, and then he stands by while Elijah has them all executed. As a guardian of Israel , he is a weak king who is unable to fend off the attacks of Aram and his only success in this area is when a prophet of the Lord prompts and guides him. In the matter of Naboth he is shown as a weak, sulky king who wants to get his own way but hasn't the courage to do anything about it properly, until he is prompted by his bullying wife to take unrighteous action against Naboth. Eventually when he gangs up with Judah against Aram , he has so lost any sense of spiritual perspective that he thinks he can outwit the word of God and survive the battle. In this he fails! In every way we see a weak, self-centred, unprincipled king who had plenty of input from the Lord but ignored it. Utter folly!
Ask the Lord to give you spiritual clarity to understand this.
PART 3 : " Moab & Aram "
In this next Part as we go through the following kings, we'll note God's use of enemy nations to discipline Israel . Watch for it.