Ahab, King of Israel

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, August 8, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

While Asa was still the king of Judah and after all the chaos that ensued with Elah, Zimri, Tibni, and Omni, Ahab became king after his father Omri died. Ahab is perhaps the most notorious of the kings of Israel with the worst reputation.

Up to this point, Jeroboam held the title of the king who was most disobedient of God, but the Scriptures tell us that Ahab was even worse. “Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him. He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to arouse the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him” (1 Kings 16:30-33). Not only did Ahab worship the false god of Baal himself, but he instituted Baal worship for the entire kingdom of Israel.

In response to all of the evil and idolatry that Ahab was committing, the prophet Elijah proclaimed that there would be no rain (not even dew!) in the next few years except at his word (1 Kings 17:1). The nation had already had a drought for 6 months, so this prophecy from Elijah revealed the reason for it. God was concerned for His people and was trying to turn them back to worshipping Him and Him alone. It was during this drought that we see Elijah’s interaction with the widow at Zarephath.

After 3 years of drought with Ahab and the people not repenting of their idolatry, God sends Elijah to present himself to Ahab. This meeting was what led to the showdown on Mount Carmel. You can read about it in 1 Kings 18, but the short version is that the false gods did absolutely nothing (duh!) and God showed up and proved Himself to be the one true God in a miraculous way. After that encounter, it finally rained on the land.

The next significant event we read about in Ahab’s life is the battle with Ben-Hadad, king of Aram, in 1 Kings 20. Aram realized that Israel’s army was weakened by the famine, so they took that opportunity to attack Samaria. A prophet of God came to Ahab and informed him that God would bring them through this battle victoriously. True to the prophecy, the Arameans experienced heavy losses and Israel was victorious. This should have brought King Ahab back to trusting God, but it did not.

Ben-Hadad’s advisors decided that since they lost in the hills, then surely Israel’s God would not also be defeated on the plains. So, the next year, they returned for another battle in the plains. Again, a prophet told Ahab that Israel would be victorious in this battle in order to prove that God is the one true God and is powerful everywhere. Again, Israel was victorious because of God’s hand in the battle. Afterward, Ben-Hadad offered to return the land that his father had taken from Israel, and Ahab agreed to this. They made a treaty, and Ahab let Ben-Hadad go. Even though God had given Israel the victory, Ahab worked out the conclusion in his own strength rather than listening to God.

The next situation in Ahab’s life is regarding Naboth’s vineyard in Jezreel (1 Kings 21). Ahab really wanted this vineyard that belonged to Naboth, so Ahab offered to buy it from him. Naboth said no since it was his inheritance from his father. Ahab went home to his wife Jezebel and sulked about it, so Jezebel said she’d take care of it. She did so by having Naboth killed under false charges. Once Naboth was dead, Ahab easily got his vineyard.

Elijah confronted Ahab about this situation, accusing him (truthfully) of killing a man in order to get his vineyard. Elijah pronounced multiple negative prophecies against Ahab for this act, and Ahab actually appeared to repent of them. “When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly. Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite: ‘Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son’” (1 Kings 21:27-29).

In spite of all of the evil, disobedience, murder, and idolatry that Ahab had committed up to this point, this shows that he could still repent and be sorry for his actions. However, we do not see evidence in Scripture that Ahab’s character was completely transformed into doing good and following God. But this does show that there truly is hope even for the vilest offender to have their heart softened toward God!

Three years after the previous war with Ben-Hadad and the Arameans, Israel had still not reoccupied the land that they got back, so Ahab began to make a plan to do so, specifically the strategic city of Ramoth Gilead (1 Kings 22). By this time, Jehoshaphat was the king of Judah, so Ahab and Jehoshaphat discussed joining forces to retake that land. Jehoshaphat agreed on one condition – that they seek the Lord’s direction in the situation. There was only one true prophet left in Israel – Micaiah. Ahab’s other prophets had said he would be victorious, but Micaiah gave two prophetic visions that indicated that if Ahab went to battle, Israel would not only be defeated but Ahab himself would die.

So what did Ahab do? He threw Micaiah in prison and went ahead into battle, and Jehoshaphat went with him. Just as Micaiah prophesied, Ahab was killed by a “random” arrow: “But someone drew his bow at random and hit the king of Israel between the sections of his armor” (1 Kings 22:34). Ahab died later that day.

There is much we can learn from Ahab, King of Israel. As with every other evil king, God will not let idol worship and continued turning against Him go unpunished. God even sent the prophet Elijah to warn Ahab, but still Ahab persisted. Even after the miraculous showdown on Mount Carmel, Ahab still did not put his trust in the one true God. Even after God clearly delivered Israel in multiple battles against Ben-Hadad and Aram, Ahab still did not put his trust in the one true God. Elijah did finally get through to Ahab a little after the incident with Naboth’s vineyard, but it is clear from how Ahab handled the prophet Micaiah that he did not truly have a change of heart.

Ahab lived his life doing what he wanted, along with his evil wife Jezebel. He relied on God when it was convenient for him but not with his whole life and in all situations. How often are we like that? We rely on God when it seems easier or more convenient to do so, but when we think we can trust ourselves instead, we don’t listen to God or His message for our lives. Don’t be like Ahab; trust in God for all things at all times!

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.