King Ahab had a habit of making bad decisions, and it shows here in his dealings with Ben-Hadad, the king of Aram.
Ben-Hadad, came out to Samaria and besieged it. First, he demanded Ahab’s gold and silver and the best of Ahab’s wives and children. After Ahab acquiesced, Ben-Hadad demanded more, asking for access to the entire palace and all the houses in order to loot whatever they wanted. At this, Ahab balked, leading to threats by Ben-Hadad saying he would wipe out all of Samaria. This led to one of my all-time favorite paraphrases. According to the Living Bible, Ahab replied, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” (I Kings 20:11).
Anyway, to make a long story short, God, in order to show Ahab that he was the only true God, promised through a prophet to deliver Samaria, and for once, Ahab actually followed God’s directions and won two victories over Ben-Hadad. After the second battle, he had Ben-Hadad cornered, and so Ben-Hadad offered a treaty in return for sparing his life. Ahab agreed.
The problem was that God had determined that Ben-Hadad would die. Why? Because he knew what Ben-Hadad would do if allowed to live: cause more trouble for the Israelites. But Ahab unwisely let him live. When he did so, God sent a prophet saying,
This is what the Lord says: ‘You have set free a man I had determined should die. Therefore it is your life for his life, your people for his people.’ (42)
And that’s what happened. Because he spared Ben-Hadad, Ahab eventually died to the armies led by Ben-Hadad (I Kings 22), and once again, Ben-Hadad besieged Israel leading to even more Israelite deaths. (II Kings 6)
What can we learn from this? I think we learn a lot about sin from this passage. Like Ben-Hadad, sin seeks to destroy us. And it will not stop at just hurting us. It will completely destroy us if we allow it to. So what should we do? We need to root it out completely from our lives. There can be no compromise with sin. There can be no treaty with sin.
Sin is like a cancer. And like a cancer, it will spread and destroy us unless we can completely root it out. We may seem to have it in remission, but we need to completely stomp it out so that it never comes back.
How about you? Do you make compromises with sin? “Oh, I know I shouldn’t probably watch this movie. I heard there are some illicit scenes in there, but I’m an adult. I can handle it.” Or “I know I shouldn’t be so selfish. But I need to look out for myself too.”
The problem with sin is that it won’t stop with having part of you. It wants all of you, and it will consume you if you let it. So let’s make no treaties or compromises with sin. Rather let us root it out so that we may be a people that are holy and blameless in God’s sight.