The Expository Files.


Two Kings Receive Correction

1 Kings 20-21

Two kings sinned before God. Two prophets appeared to them to correct their errors. Their reactions were very different, showing a significant difference in the character of these two men.

The first man was Ahab, king of Israel (1 Kings 20 and 21). He was returning home after a great victory against Ben-Hadad, the king of Syria. A prophet met him on the road home and condemned him for failing to complete the mission God had given him. Instead of killing the arrogant king of Syria, Ahab had made a peace treaty and let him go. Ahab heard the words of the prophet and went home. On the way, he looked for some pleasant distraction from this divine rebuke. He offered to buy the beautiful vineyard of his neighbor, Naboth, but the owner would not sell. Ahab arrived at his home and sulked in self-pity and depression. He turned his back on the world, and on God. His evil wife, Jezabel, killed Naboth and his sons to try to ease the king's pain, but that evil plot backfired. God vowed to destroy the family of Ahab. His son was the last king from that evil family.

Three years later, another king returned from a battle (2 Chronicles 19). Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, was also greeted by a prophet with an unpleasant message. He had gone to war against Syria as an ally of the wicked king of Israel, against the will of God. God spared Jehoshaphat's life, but sent Jehu the prophet to condemn his reckless action. Unlike Ahab, who sought to ease his pain by fulfilling selfish desires and wallowing in self-pity, Jehoshaphat accepted the Lord's rebuke. Instead of turning his back on God, he worked hard to be pleasing to God. He toured the nation and appointed judges throughout the land to help the people follow God's law. The same God who eliminated the family of Ahab established Jehoshaphat's descendents on the throne of Judah.

Two kings. Two rebukes. Two reactions. Two results. What do we learn? We can respond to correction and rebuke with self-justification, selfish ambitions and self-pity, thus turning our backs on God. Or, we can humbly accept rebuke and seek to draw closer to God and to encourage others to serve him more faithfully. Ahab died in battle as a result of his sin. Jehoshaphat died in peace as a result of his faithfulness.

By Dennis Allan
From Expository Files 5.7; July 1998