Ben-hadad is back for round two with Israel. He thinks Israel’s God only works in certain places and in certain ways. Boy is he in for a shock!
We saw Israel defeat Ben-hadad, 32 kings, and all their armies with 7,232 men last time we were together. AMAZING odds until you figure in the REAL One who tipped the scales. Yes, you guessed it; it was God. Even Ben-hadad and all who ran with him realized Someone weighed in on Israel’s side. But he, and his people, didn’t know the whole truth and the full strength of Who they were coming up against.
When the battle ended last time, both Ahab and Ben-hadad, were prepped for the next encounter. Ahab was told by a prophet from God to make provisions because Ben-hadad would be back in the Spring. Ben-hadad was told that his people lost because they fought Israel in the wrong place. “Their gods are gods of the hills, and so they were stronger than we. But let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they” (verse 23b). He was told to commit the same number of troops and equipment. The last direction he received was to replace the kings with commanders. “And he listened to their voice and did so” (verse 25b).
Spring has arrived and both kings are ready. Ahab has kitted out his people and put them in place. They didn’t have to scramble at the last minute for their provisions or their orders. They met Ben-hadad’s forces in the plains instead of in the cities.
This suited Ben-hadad perfectly. He had rebuilt his forces and ‘forced’ Israel to meet him on his terms; in the plains to gain an advantage. The thing is, he didn’t get the truth the last time. God is NOT limited by terrain!
A week passes with these two forces staring one another down. Little Israel against HUGE Syria. I’m wondering if the forces being so enormously outnumbered are the same ones who stepped forward the last time. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to know that they were.
Ahab is approached before the battle again by the man of God. He once again assures Ahab that Israel will be victorious. And he tells Ahab WHY.
Ben-hadad will be defeated for two reasons:
- So Ahab will know that the Lord is God and there is NOTHING greater than Him.
- So Ben-hadad will know that Israel’s God has no limits.
The armies sit there looking at one another for a week before Ahab begins the battle. Ahab was the one to initiate hostilities last time, under God’s direction. This time we are not told who started it but we certainly know who ended it. One hundred and twenty seven THOUSAND Syrian troops died that day. We are not told if Israel suffered any losses. This only counts the “foot soldiers”, who knows how many of the other soldiers also fell that day.
I like the fact that even the city itself helped in the battle. “And the people of Israel struck down of the Syrians 100,000 foot soldiers in one day. And the rest fled into the city of Aphek, and the wall fell upon 27,000 men who were left” (verses 29b-30). Even their place of safety was not safe from the hand of God.
The story doesn’t end here. Ben-hadad still lives and he is going to play on Ahab’s mercy to go on living. Personally, I would have a problem with letting such a trouble maker go. I was in a conflict with the maternal grandmother of my two oldest grandchildren. It wasn’t as much my conflict as it was their parents because she wanted to take them from their parents. Every time I started to feel sorry for her because she had no relationship with these amazing little boys (who are nearly grown now), including having pictures of them, she would do something to stir the pot again. I don’t know how many times I was inches away from giving her pictures only to have her rise up and strike at my kids again.
Ahab didn’t see that as a possibility with Ben-hadad. He was ready, willing, and able to ‘let bygones be bygones’. He even called Ben-hadad his “brother.” I have no idea if they were related in some way but Ben-hadad’s men saw this as a GOOD sign that Ahab would be kind to their master. And Ahab was! “So he made a covenant with him and let him go” (verse 34b).
But God didn’t make that covenant with Ben-hadad, nor was He party to it. Ahab and Ben-hadad would pay for that mistake. But that is a story for another day.
God is NOT limited by our imaginations. He created the universe with a single word. NO WAY is he limited by man. And He expects His people to follow His directions. When we do as He directs we walk in His favor. That doesn’t mean that EVERYTHING is going to be easy and perfect but He has our back and His plans for us are amazing!
Father God, I want to walk in Your will. Show me the plans You have for my life and where You would have me walk. Please don’t let me miss the mark like Ahab did in the end. I want to walk where You would have me. I trust You with my future.