Ahab Defeats The Assyrians

Several years ago, Millard Fuller of Habitat for Humanity addressed the National Press Club on public radio, on which he recalled a workshop he conducted at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary with 200 pastors in attendance. The assembled pastors quickly pointed toward greed and se … More


The scene now switches temporarily from Elijah to an account of Ahab’s reign. This chapter begins with the first of three battles over Samaria. These are between Ahab and Ben-hadad, king of Israel’s northern neighbor.

This Syrian leader, Ben-hadad, was greedy for land. Ahab had strengthened the defenses of the capital city Samaria but he had not prepared an army to meet the threat of the emerging powers around him. Ben-hadad attacked the capital and attempted to intimidate Ahab into an easy surrender. At first Ahab agreed to give in to Ben-hadad’s demands for his silver and gold as well as wives and children. However, Ben-hadad sensed that he could gain more and so he pressed harder (vv. 5-6).

This led to a counsel of war and Ahab’s elders counseled the king not to listen to Ben-Hadad demands. When Ahab replied to the Syrian king that he would not comply he was told that Israel would be ground to dust. Ahab told them not to “count their chickens before they hatch” (v. 11). A prophet of the Lord came to Ahab with the encouraging news that God promised victory to Israel.  The instructions were given and 7,000 Israelites went out in the heat of the day and found the Syrian army resting and getting drunk. This surprised the Syrians and they fled back across their borders.


God defeated the Syrian army for Ahab. Despite this great victory Ahab continued to live without God. Evidence of God’s greatness surrounds me, but like Ahab I can choose to ignore it and disaster will strike. I need to open my eyes to the victories that God is winning for me.

I Kings 20:1-25 (English Standard Version)

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