For all the glory that had been Solomon’s, it didn’t take long for it to disappear. No sooner had his son Rehoboam become king than the king of Egypt invaded the land and carried off the treasures of the temple and the king’s palace.
Though humbled, Judah was far from impoverished. There is enough gold and silver left for Rehoboam’s son, Asa, to buy a treaty with Ben-Hadad, the king of Aram (Syria). Though there had been much war between Israel and Judah, this treaty leveled the playing field and war ceased. But it also gave Syria tremendous power over both Israel and Judah.
When Syria (Aram) decided to exercise that power and humiliate Israel (chapter 20), it was more than Ahab (and the Lord) could take. God told Ahab he would deliver Syria into Israel’s hands – and did. You see here how much the Lord loved Israel.
Then, surprisingly, with victory in hand, Ahab made a treaty with Ben-Hadad, treating him as a brother rather than an adversary.
How Christian of him!
And yet, the Lord condemned Ahab. Why?
The reason is simple. God had decreed Ben-Hadad should die. Ahab did not like God messing with his foreign policy decisions – or any other decisions for that matter. Ahab, like many of us, wanted God’s help when it was needed, but never God’s direction. Whenever he couldn’t have his way, Ahab became “sullen and angry” (you will see it again in chapter 21). Ahab becomes a mirror in which we can see ourselves at our worst, living at the direction of self, and in disobedience to God.