1 Kings 20

The Book of 1 Kings
Chapter 20

Chapter Overview:

Ben - hadad's invasion of Israel and insolent demand, ver. 1 - 12.
Ahab, encouraged by a prophet, overthrows him twice, ver. 13 - 30.
Makes a covenant with him, ver. 31 - 34.
Is reproved and threatened by a prophet, ver. 35 - 43.
20:1Gathered his host - To war against Israel: wherein his design was to enlarge the conquest which his father had made, but God's design wasto punish Israel for their apostacy and idolatry.
20:3Thy silver, &c. - I challenge them as my own, and expect to have them forthwith delivered, if thou expect peace with me.
20:4The king said - I do so far comply with thy demand, that I will own thee for my Lord, and myself for thy vassal, and will hold my wives,and children, and estate, as by thy favour, and with an acknowledgment.
20:5Saying, &c. - Although I did before demand not only the dominion of thy treasures, and wives, and children, as thou mayst seem to understandme, but also the actual portion of them; wherewith I would then have beencontented.
20:6Yet, &c. - Yet now I will not accept of those terms, but together with thy royal treasures, I expect all the treasures of thy servants orsubjects; nor will I wait 'till thou deliver them to me, but I will sendmy servants into the city, and they shall search out and take away all thouart fond of, and this to prevent fraud and delay; and then I will grant theea peace.
20:7Seeketh mischief - Though he pretended peace, upon these terms propounded, it is apparent by those additional demands, that he intendsnothing less than our utter ruin. I denied not - I granted his demandsin the sense before mentioned.
20:10And said, &c. - If I do not assault thy city with so numerous an army, as shall turn all thy city into an heap of dust, and shall besufficient to carry it all away, though every soldier take but one handfulof it.
20:11Let not him, &c. - Do not triumph before the victory, for the events of war are uncertain.
20:13And behold, &c. - God, though forsaken and neglected by Ahab, prevents him with his gracious promise of help: that Ahab and theidolatrous Israelites, might hereby be fully convinced, or leftwithout excuse, that Ben - hadad's intolerable pride, and contempt ofGod, and of his people, might be punished: and that the remnant of hisprophets and people who were involved in the same calamity with the restof the Israelites, might be preserved and delivered.I am the Lord - And not Baal, because I will deliver thee, which hecannot do.
20:14He said, &c. - Not by old and experienced soldiers, but by those young men; either the sons of the princes, and great men of the land, whowere fled thither for safety; or their pages, or servants that used toattend them: who are bred up delicately, and seem unfit for the business.Thou - Partly to encourage the young men to fight courageously, as beingthe presence of their prince: and partly, that it might appear, that thevictory was wholly due to God's gracious providence, and not to the valouror worthiness of the instruments.
20:15All Israel - All that were fit to go out to war; all, except those whom their age, or the same infirmity excused.
20:18Take them - He bids them not fight, for he thought they needed not to strike one stroke; and that the Israelites could not stand thefirst brunt.
20:20His man - Him who came to seize upon him, as Ben - hadad had commanded. Fled - Being amazed at the unexpected and undaunted courageof the Israelites, and struck with a divine terror.
20:21The king went - Proceeded further in his march. Smote the chariots - The men that fought from them.
20:22Mark, and see - Consider what is necessary for thee to do by way of preparation. The enemies of the children of God, are restless in theirmalice and tho' they may take some breathing time for themselves, they arestill breathing out slaughter against the church. It therefore concernsus always to expect our spiritual enemies, and to mark and see what wedo.
20:23Said to him - They suppose that their gods were no better than the Syrian gods and that there were many gods who had each hisparticular charge and jurisdiction; which was the opinion of all heathennations; that some were gods of the woods, other of the rivers, and othersof the mountains; and they fancied these to be the latter, because the landof Canaan was a mountainous land, and the great temple of their God atJerusalem, stood upon an hill, and so did Samaria, where they hadreceived their last blow: it is observable, they do not impute their illsuccess to their negligence, and drunkenness, and bad conduct, nor to thevalour of the Israelites; but to a divine power, which was indeedvisible in it. In the plain - Wherein there was not only superstition,but policy; because the Syrians excelled the Israelites in horses,which are most serviceable in plain ground.
20:24Take the kings away - Who being of softer education, and less experienced in military matters, were less fit for service; and being manyof them but mercenaries, and therefore less concerned in his good success,would be more cautions in venturing themselves. Captains - That is,experienced soldiers of his own subjects, who would faithfully obey thecommands of the general (to which the kings would not so readily yield) anduse their utmost skill and valour for their own interest and advancement.
20:27And went - Being encouraged by the remembrance of their former success, and an expectation of assistance from God again.And pitched - Probably upon some hilly ground, where they might securethemselves, and watch for advantage against their enemies; which may be thereason why the Syrians durst not assault them before the seventh day,ver. 29 .Little flocks - Few, and weak, being also for conveniency of fighting, andthat they might seem to be more than they were, divided into two bodies.
20:30The wall - Or, the walls (the singular number, for the plural) of the city; in which they were now fortifying themselves. This mightpossibly happen thro' natural causes; but most probably, was effected by themighty power of God, sending some earthquake, or violent storm which threwdown the walls upon them; or doing this by the ministry of angels. And ifever miracle was to be wrought, now seems to have been the proper season forit; when the blasphemous Syrians denied the sovereign power of God, andthereby in some sort obliged him, to give a proof of it; and to shew, thathe was the God of the plains, as well as of the mountains; and that he couldas effectually destroy them in their strongest holds, as in the open fields;and make the very walls, to whose strength they trusted for their defence,to be the instruments of their ruin. But it may be farther observed, thatit is not said, that all these were killed by the fall of this wall; butonly that the wall fell upon them, killing some, and wounding others.
20:31He will save thy life - This encouragement have all poor sinners, to repent and humble themselves before God. The God of Israel is amerciful God; let us rend our hearts and return to him.
20:32My brother - I do not only pardon him, but honour and love him as my brother. What a change is here! From the height of prosperity, to thedepth of distress. See the uncertainty of human affairs! Such turns arethey subject to, that the spoke of the wheel which is uppermost now, maysoon be the lowest of all.
20:33Thy brother - Understand, Liveth: for that he enquired after, ver. 32 .
20:34Streets - Or, Markets, &c. places where thou mayest either receive the tribute which I promise to pay thee, or exercise judicatureupon my subjects in case of their refusal. So he made, &c. - He takes nonotice of his blasphemy against God; nor of the injuries which his peoplehad suffered from him.
20:35In the word - ln the name, and by the command of God, whereof doubtless he had informed him. Smite me - So as to wound me, ver. 37 .He speaks what God commanded him, though it was to his own hurt; by whichobedience to God, he secretly reproacheth Ahab's disobedience in a fareasier matter. And this the prophet by God's appointment desires, thatlooking like a wounded soldier, he might have the more free access to theking. Refused - Not out of contempt of God's command, but probably, intenderness to his brother.
20:36Slew him - We cannot judge of the case; this man might be guilty of many other heinous sins unknown to us but known to God; for which, Godmight justly cut him off: which God chose to do upon this occasion, that bythe severity of this punishment of a prophet's disobedience, proceeding frompity to his brother, he might teach Ahab the greatness of his sin, insparing him through foolish pity, whom by the laws of religion, and justice,and prudence, he should have cut of.
20:38With ashes - Or, with a cloath, or band; (as the Hebrew doctors understand the word) whereby he bound up his wound,which probably was in his face; for it was to be made in a conspicuousplace, that it might be visible to Ahab and others.
20:39He said - This relation is a parable; an usual way of instruction in the eastern parts, and most fit for this occasion wherein an obscureprophet was to speak to a great king; impatient of a down - right reproof,and exceeding partial in his own cause. A man - My commander as themanner of expression sheweth.
20:40Thy judgment - Thy sentence; thou must perform the condition.Either suffer the one, or do the other.
20:42Thy life - What was the great sin of Ahab in this action, for which God so severely punisheth him? The great dishonour herebydone to God, in suffering so horrid a blasphemer, to go unpunished, whichwas contrary to an express law, Leviticus 24:16 . And God had deliveredhim into Ahab's hand, for his blasphemy, as he promised to do,ver. 28 , by which act of his providence, compared with that law, itwas most evident, that this man was appointed by God to destruction, butAhab was so far from punishing this blasphemer, that he doth not somuch as rebuke him, but dismisseth him upon easy terms, and takes notthe least care for the reparation of God's honour, and the people werepunished for their own sins, which were many, and great; though God tookthis occasion to inflict it.