Kings Like Ahab

Scripture Focus: 1 Kings 20.28
28 The man of God came up and told the king of Israel, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Because the Arameans think the Lord is a god of the hills and not a god of the valleys, I will deliver this vast army into your hands, and you will know that I am the Lord.’ ” 

Reflection: Kings Like Ahab
By John Tillman

Ahab is the anti-David. If David shows us “a man after God’s heart,” Ahab is the mirror image. (1 Samuel 13.14; Acts 13.22) Ahab and David become moral measuring sticks. Scripture describes bad kings as following Ahab’s ways and good kings as following David’s.

Ahab gets the most ink in Kings. He’s unquestionably wicked, yet God used and spoke to him frequently. Why?

It may shock us that God blesses Ahab with victories and with his presence and voice, spoken through many prophets. Humans aren’t perfect, yet God works through them. We know this academically, but emotionally, we feel God should find someone else when he uses the wicked. We can learn from this.

God uses wicked kings to accomplish good things. This doesn’t make them good kings. God used Ahab as a mercy to the people of Israel and for the glory of his own name, not because Ahab was good. Victories don’t grant leaders a never-expiring stamp of God’s approval or mean a leader is “God’s man or woman.” They don’t suddenly deserve praise, adoration, or unquestioning, unshakable devotion.

God pursues the wicked for salvation. God repeatedly tells Ahab, “You will know that I am the Lord.” God wanted Ahab to know him and offered himself to Ahab, who repeatedly rejected God. We typically think of God pursuing the wicked, seeking to punish or destroy them, but God also pursues the wicked to turn them to him and change their hearts.

We are among the wicked. Ahab was wicked and God used him. David was wicked and God used him. We are wicked and God will use us. Our wickedness is different by degrees when we compare them humanly, but to God wicked is wicked. Just as God pursued wicked kings for repentance, he has and will pursue us. 

Jesus is the only righteous king. God did find a better, righteous king to do the work that no imperfect king could do. Jesus is the king who accomplishes all that God wants. He is the only king to whom we can be unswervingly loyal because he is the only righteous one.

Like Ahab and all wicked kings, we are wicked ones repeatedly called to repentance. Ahab and David differ in their response to God, not in God’s offer. May we respond like David and not like Ahab.

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus taught us, saying: “I tell you, if anyone openly declares himself for me in the presence of human beings, the Son of man will declare himself for him in the presence of God’s angels. But anyone who disowns me in the presence of human beings will be disowned in the presence of God’s angels.” — Luke 12.8-9

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
1 Kings 20 (Listen 7:03)
Psalms 40-41 (Listen 3:57)

Read more about Ahab and David
Even Ahab, the wickedest of wicked kings, obtained a measure of mercy from God when he showed humility and grief.

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The Purpose Beyond Growth :: Throwback Thursday

Scripture Focus: 1 Thessalonians 3.2-4
We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them. In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know.

Reflection: The Purpose Beyond Growth :: Throwback Thursday
By Isabella Lillias Trotter (1853–1928)

A flower that stops short at its flowering misses its purpose. 

We were created for more than our own spiritual development; reproduction, not mere development, is the goal of matured being—reproduction in other lives. There is a tendency in some characters, running parallel to the high cultivation that spends its whole energy on the production of bloom at the expense of seed. 

The flowers that are bent on perfecting themselves, by becoming double, end in barrenness, and a like barrenness comes to the soul whose interests are all concentrated upon its own spiritual well-being, heedless of the needs around. The true, ideal flower is the one that uses its gifts as means to an end; the brightness and sweetness are not for its own glory; they are but to attract the bees and butterflies that will fertilise and make it fruitful. All may go when the work is done. 

The pebble takes in all the rays of light that fall on it, but the diamond flashes them out again: every little facet is a means, not simply of drinking more in, but of giving more out. The unearthly loveliness of the opal arises from the same process, carried on within the stone: the microscope shows it to be shattered through and through with numberless fissures that catch and refract and radiate every ray that they can seize. 

Yes, there lies before us a beautiful possible life—one that shall have a passion for giving: that shall be poured forth to God—spent out for man: that shall be consecrated “for the hardest work and the darkest sinners.” But how are we to enter in? How are we to escape from the self-life that holds us, even after the sin-life has loosed its grasp? 

Back to the Cross.

Not only from the world of condemnation and from the world of sinning does it free us as we accept it, but from the power of outward things and from the thraldom of self. Not only does it open the door into the world of acquittal, and again into that of holiness, but yet again into the new realm of surrender, and thence into that of sacrifice. 

The essential idea of the Cross is a life lost to be found again in those around.

*From Parables of the Cross, by Isabella Lillias Trotter

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. — Psalm 86.4

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
1 Kings 20 (Listen – 7:03)
1 Thessalonians 3 (Listen – 1:44)

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Read more from Isabella Lillias Trotter: The Step After Surrender
There is another stage to be developed in us after the lesson of absolute unquestioning surrender to God has been learnt…

Read more about Joy Through SurrenderJ
esus teaches us courageous surrender. We see Him running headlong into His own demise for the sake of a greater eternal intention and destiny.