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promise made to the fathers of the nation, and for His own glory. So in the first help Ahab received, “Thus saith the Lord, Hast thou seen all this great multitude ? behold I will deliver it into thine hand this day; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord.”
The victory under the hand of the Lord was soon obtained. “They slew the Syrians with a great slaughter."
Then at the end of the year, when Benhadad came up again against Ahab, because he boasted against the God of Israel, therefore was Ahab again helped and Ben-hadad's army over-thrown. “The servants of the king of Syria said unto him, Their gods are gods of the hills, therefore they are stronger than we; but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they."! We then read of the great disproportion in strength and numbers between the two armies. “The children of
6 Israel pitched before them like two little flocks of kids, but the Syrians filled the country.”
Who, in looking with the natural eye on these' contending armies would have doubted to which side victory would have gone? Who would not have said, it is impossible but that the Syrians must over
come, for against these two little flocks of kids, they bring more than a hundred and thirty thousand men ? But neither numbers nor strength count any thing with the Lord. The question is, which side does God take ? And the Lord was on the side of Israel. And the invisible strength of God was what made the Israelites far stronger in reality than their enemy. "And there came a man of God, and spake unto the king of Israel, and said, Thus saith the Lord, Because the Syrians have said, The Lord is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys, therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into thine hand, and ye shall know that I am the Lord." Then we have the result of the battle. “And the children of Israel slew of the Syrians an hundred thousand footmen in one day. But the rest fled to Aphek, into the city; and there a wall fell upon twenty and seven thousand of the men that were left. And Ben-hadad fled, and came into the city, into an inner cham
} Learn then from this battle these two lessons." First, thats however unworthy a person may feel, and really is from sinfulness, this is no bar to the help God graciously grants for His own name's sake to those who
ask for it through the merits of the Redeemer. A sense of unworthiness will indeed increase upon us just as we learn out more of our own hearts' pollution, and are taught to weigh ourselves in the balance of God's Word, and not with the judgment of man. But never let this feeling rob us of the comfort of a promise and an expectation of God's help in the time of trouble, difficulty, or affliction. Such a strong plea as the merits of the Redeemer can never meet with a refusal from our Heavenly Father, and ought always to give to the believer strong consolation and confident hope.
A second lesson is, to fear no evil from our enemies, however great the disproportion between our strength and theirs. Let us apply this to the enemy that the world with all its strong temptations and allurements can be to us, and against which we can bring but a weak nature with great proneness to fall. Let us apply it too to our spiritual enemy, of whom it is said, he is “not flesh and blood, but principalities and powers, rulers of darkness of this world, spiritual wickedness in high places."
He is the god of this world, very subtle and very powerful. And what are we that we should go against such an enemy ? Surely we are
weakness itself. Yet we need not fear. We may safely say, “Thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory through Jesus Christ." Christ is the stronger One, and the believer in Him may triumphantly say, “If God be for us who can be against us ?”
But we have next to learn something from Ahab's weakness on this occasion, in the way he used his victory; and also from the remarkable way in which a prophet brought reproof to him.
Benhadad applied to Ahab to spare his life. And the grounds on which he did so were these, “His servants said, We have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings.” This was good grounds for such an appeal. It is well when even the world can see something of the character of God in the people of God. It ought ever to be so.
As a drowning man will catch at a straw, so now, the servants of Ben-hadad marked well the words which came from the mouth of Ahab, the victorious king before whom they stood with sackcloth on their loins, and ropes on their heads, in token of complete submission to their
“ Now the men did diligently observe whether any thing would come from him, and did hastily
catch it: and they said, Thy brother Benhadad,"and why did they call him a brother, but because Ahab first had said, “ Is he yet alive ? he is my brother.” Here was weakness and error on his part. Flattered by the submission of so great a king, he called him brother, who was the enemy of God, and then proceeded to make an alliance with him, whom he ought to have destroyed. He should have destroyed him, as it would seem, from the direct command of God; but if not, yet in obedience to the commandment given in the law with reference to such enemies, “ Thou shalt utterly destroy all the males.” (Deut. xx. 13.)
Ahab's sin was, therefore, somewhat like that of Saul, when he spared Agag, king of the Amalekites. God now sent a prophet to tell him of his sin. And the circumstances under which the prophet brought it are remarkable. "A certain man of the sons of the prophets said unto his neighbour in the word of the Lord, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man refused to smite him. Then said he unto him, because thou hast not obeyed the voice of the Lord, behold, as soon as thou hast de parted from me, a lion shall slay thee. And as soon as he was departed from him, a lion found him and slew him. Then he found