1 Kings 20:31 MEANING

1 Kings 20:31
(31) Ropes upon our heads--like "the ropes round the necks" of the burghers of Calais, in the days of Edward III. The envoys offer themselves as naked, helpless criminals, to sue for mercy.

Verse 31. - And his servants [Possibly the very same men who (ver. 23) had counselled this second expedition] said unto him, Behold now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings [As no doubt they were when compared with contemporary pagan sovereigns]: let us, I pray thee, put sackcloth on our loins [in token of humiliation and contrition, שַׂק is identical, radically, with σάκκος, saccus, and our sack], and ropes upon our heads [i.e., round our necks. To show how completely they were at Ahab's mercy. Bahr shows that this custom still exists in China but the well-known story of the citizens of Calais, after its siege by Edward III., supplies a closer illustration], and go out [Heb. go] to the king of Israel [It would appear from the language of ver. 33 am if Ahab's army was now besieging the place. He himself may have kept at a safe distance from it]: peradventure he will save thy life. [LXX. our lives, τὰς ψυχὰς ἡμῶν.]

20:31-43 This encouragement sinners have to repent and humble themselves before God; Have we not heard, that the God of Israel is a merciful God? Have we not found him so? That is gospel repentance, which flows from an apprehension of the mercy of God, in Christ; there is forgiveness with him. What a change is here! The most haughty in prosperity often are most abject in adversity; an evil spirit will thus affect a man in both these conditions. There are those on whom, like Ahab, success is ill bestowed; they know not how to serve either God or their generation, or even their own true interests with their prosperity: Let favour be showed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness. The prophet designed to reprove Ahab by a parable. If a good prophet were punished for sparing his friend and God's when God said, Smite, of much sorer punishment should a wicked king be thought worthy, who spared his enemy and God's, when God said, Smite. Ahab went to his house, heavy and displeased, not truly penitent, or seeking to undo what he had done amiss; every way out of humour, notwithstanding his victory. Alas! many that hear the glad tidings of Christ, are busy and there till the day of salvation is gone.And his servants said unto him,.... Being reduced to the utmost extremity; for if he attempted to go out of the city, he would fall into the hands of the Israelites, and there was no safety in it, the wall of it being fallen down; and it could not be thought he could be concealed long in the chamber where he was, wherefore his servants advised as follows:

behold, now, we have heard that the kings of the Israel are merciful kings; not only the best of them as David and Solomon, but even the worst of them, in comparison of Heathen princes, were kind and humane to those that fell into their hands, and became their captives:

let us, I pray thee; so said one in the name of the rest:

put sack cloth on our loins, and ropes upon our heads; and so coming in such a mean and humble manner, and not with their armour on, they might the rather hope to have admittance; so, the Syracusans sent ambassadors to Athens, in filthy garments, with the hair of their heads and beards long, and all in slovenly habits, to move their pity (r);

and go out to the king of Israel: and be humble supplicants to him:

peradventure he will save thy life; upon a petition to him from him; to which the king agreed, and sent it by them.

(r) Justin e Trogo, l. 4. c. 4.

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