1 Kings 20:42 MEANING

1 Kings 20:42
(42) A man whom I appointed--properly, a man under my curse. The rash action of Ahab, like the deliberate disobedience of Saul (1 Samuel 15), may have been due partly to compassion, partly to weakness. In either case it had no right to stand unauthorised between God's judgment and him on whom it was pronounced; for even soft-heartedness, as in the case of Eli, may be treason to the cause of righteousness. The prophet (like Elisha, in 2 Kings 13:19) speaks partly as a patriot, jealous--and, as the event proved, with a sagacious jealousy--of the lenity which left the deadly enemy of Israel unsubdued; but he speaks also as the representative of God's stern and righteous judgment. which Ahab, after signal deliverance, had treated as of no account. (For the fulfilment of his words, see 1 Kings 22:34-36.)

Verse 42. - And he said onto him. Thus saith the lord, Because thou hast let go [Heb. sent away; same word as in ver; 34. This is an in direct proof that those were the words of Ahab] out of thy hand [Heb. out of hand - same idiom in 1 Samuel 26:23 - i.e., power, possession. Cf. Genesis 32:12; Exodus 18:9; Numbers 35:25] a man whom I appointed to utter destruction [Heb. a man of my devoting. Cf. Isaiah 34:5; Zechariah 14:11. It is the word used of the Canaanites and their cities, Deuteronomy 2:34; Deuteronomy 7:2; Joshua 8:26; Joshua 10:28; and it gave a name to the city Hormah, Numbers 21:3; Numbers 14:45. Ben-hadad, therefore, was doomed of God], therefore thy life shall go for [Heb. be instead of] his life, and thy people for his people. [By the lex talionis. It was probably because of this denunciation (cf. 1 Kings 22:8) that Josephus identifies this prophet with Micaiah, the son of Imlah, "whom Ahab appears to have imprisoned on account of some threatening prophecy (Rawlinson). See 1 Kings 22:9, 26. For the fulfilment o! this prediction see ch. 22. It has seemed to some writers as if Ahab were here very hardly dealt with for merely gratifying s generous impulse, and dealing magnanimously with a conquered foe. Indeed, there are commentators who see in his release of the cruel and insolent tyrant s "trait which does honour to the heart of Ahab." But it is to be remembered, first, that Ahab was not free to do as he liked in this matter. His victories had been won, not by his prowess, by the skill of his generals, or the valour of his soldiers, but by the power of God alone. The war, that is to say, was God's war: it was begun and continued, and should therefore have been ended, in Him. When even the details of the attack had been ordered of God (ver. 14), surely He should have been consulted as to the disposal of the prisoners. The prophet who promised Divine aid might at any rate have been asked - as prophets constantly were in that age (1 Kings 22:5, 8) - what was the "word of the Lord" concerning Israel's overbearing and inveterate enemy. But Ahab, who had himself played so craven a part (vers. 21, 31), and who had contributed nothing to these great and unhoped-for victories, nevertheless arrogated to himself their fruits, and thereby ignored and dishonoured God. Secondly, if he had so little regard for his own private interests as to liberate such a man as Ben-hadad, he ought, as trustee for the peace and welfare of Israel, to have acted differently. The demand of ver. 6 should have revealed to him the character of the man he had to deal with. And lastly, he was acting in defiance of all the principles and precedents of the Old Testament dispensation. For one great principle of that dispensation was the lex talionis. The king was the authorized dispenser of rewards and punishments, not only to wicked subjects but to aggressive nations. It was his duty to mete out to them the measure they had served to Israel. And the precedents were all in favour of putting such wretches as this Ben-hadad to the sword (Joshua 10:26; Judges 7:25; 1 Samuel 15:33). If he had been the first oppressor who fell into the hands of Israel, Ahab might have had some excuse. But with the fate of Agog, of Adonibezek, of Oreb and Zeeb, in his memory, he ought at any rate to have paused and asked counsel of God before taking Ben-hadad into his chariot and sending him away with a covenant of peace, to reappear at no distant period on the scene as the scourge of the Lord's people.]

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 he said unto him, thus saith the Lord,.... He spake not his own sense, and in his own words, but in the name of the Lord, for which he had authority, that it might have the greater weight with Ahab:

because thou hast let go out of thy hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction; meaning Benhadad; or "the man of my anathema or curse" (w); cursed of God for his blasphemy of him, and devoted by him to ruin on that account; or "of my net" (x), being by his providence brought into a net or noose at Aphek, out of which he could not have escaped, had not Ahab let him go:

therefore thy life shall go for his life; as it shortly did, and that by the hand of a Syrian soldier, 1 Kings 22:34,

and thy people for his people; which was fulfilled by Hazael king of Syria, the sins of Israel rendering them deserving of the calamities they endured by his means, see 2 Kings 8:12.

(w) "vir anathematis mei", Montanus, Piscator. (x) "Vir retis mei"; so some in Vatablus.

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