1 Kings 21-22 But a certain man drew his bow at random

From 1 Kings 21-22

11 crown cross


1 Ki 21.1-16; Jehoshaphat; Ahab-Elijah; Naboth’s Vineyard

1 Ki 21.17-24; Jehoshaphat; Ahab-Elijah; The LORD Condemns Ahab

1 Ki 21.25-29; Jehoshaphat; Ahab-Elijah; Ahab’s Repentance

1 Ki 22.1-12; Jehoshaphat; Ahab-Micaiah; Ahab and the False Prophets

1 Ki 22.13-28; Jehoshaphat; Ahab-Micaiah; Micaiah Prophesies Against Ahab

1 Ki 22.29-40; Jehoshaphat; Ahab; Ahab Killed in Battle

1 Ki 22.41-50; Jehoshaphat; Ahab-Ahaziah; Jehoshaphat Reigns in Judah

1 Ki 22.51-53; Jehoshaphat; Ahaziah; Ahaziah Reigns in Israel

Passage and Comments

11 Kings-2

Ahab is an evil king of Israel and his actions have not escaped the LORD’s notice. The LORD has sent Elijah to condemn him. Elijah said Ahab and his house will die soon. Ahab listened to the prophet who slaughtered 450 prophets of Baal and wisely repented. The LORD acknowledged his repentance and postponed the judgment. He will live longer, but his house will be wiped out after he dies.

At some point Israel and Judah have made peace with one another. Now they join forces against their common foe Syria. They want to take back their land. They have a planning meeting where they consult various prophets regarding the outcome of the battle.

Ahab will die. This is not good news for their planning meeting. Presumably they will lose the battle. Jehoshaphat’s fate is unknown. None the less, Ahab is enticed to go into battle.

This is where our passage picks up.

29 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth-gilead. 30 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will disguise myself and go into battle, but you wear your robes.” And the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle. (1 Ki 22.29-30)

King Ahab increases the amount of precautions against being recognised in battle. Kings were high profile targets. Most likely, if the king of an army was killed, the war would end. By disguising himself, Ahab thinks he will survive the conflict.

You can’t hide from God.

31 Now the king of Syria had commanded the thirty-two captains of his chariots, “Fight with neither small nor great, but only with the king of Israel.” 32 And when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, they said, “It is surely the king of Israel.” So they turned to fight against him. And Jehoshaphat cried out. 33 And when the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, they turned back from pursuing him. (1 Ki 22.31-33)

The Syrian captains have been told to go out and search for Ahab. Chariots against chariots. During the battle a few times they think they see Ahab, but on closer inspection they find out it is Jehoshaphat, so they do not engage.

Jehoshaphat cries out when they begin to pursue him. Perhaps he is crying out to the LORD for protection. If so the LORD is indeed protecting him.

Jehoshaphat was a good king (2 Chr 17.3-6).

He doesn’t die in this battle.

34 But a certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate. Therefore he said to the driver of his chariot, “Turn around and carry me out of the battle, for I am wounded.” (1 Ki 22.34)

The text says at random. Certainly the man didn’t know he was shooting at the king of Israel. Perhaps he was just shooting in the general direction of a clump of enemy soldiers. There are no random acts when the LORD is concerned. I suspect the LORD was directing affairs such that this random act was the his will.

Do you believe in fate? Do you believe God controls everything according to his will?

All things, good and evil are directed by the LORD’s sovereign will to accomplish our destiny. It was what his prophet said would happen.

35 And the battle continued that day, and the king was propped up in his chariot facing the Syrians, until at evening he died. And the blood of the wound flowed into the bottom of the chariot. 36 And about sunset a cry went through the army, “Every man to his city, and every man to his country!” (1 Ki 22.35-36)

The king bleeds to death. He lasts until sunset and then he died. When his men find out they sound a general retreat. Fortunately it seems the Syrians did not pursue them further.

37 So the king died, and was brought to Samaria. And they buried the king in Samaria. 38 And they washed the chariot by the pool of Samaria, and the dogs licked up his blood, and the prostitutes washed themselves in it, according to the word of the Lord that he had spoken. (1 Ki 22.37-38)

The bizarre prophecy was fulfilled (1 Ki 21.19). In addition to the prophecy it says, ‘Prostitutes washed themselves’ in his blood.

The author does not have a high opinion of Ahab.

I assume both of these happened because they washed his blood into the pool of Samaria. This pool was probably used by dogs as a source of water and a place where prostitutes washed.

39 Now the rest of the acts of Ahab and all that he did, and the ivory house that he built and all the cities that he built, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 40 So Ahab slept with his fathers, and Ahaziah his son reigned in his place. (1 Ki 22.39-40)

Ahab’s life, like those of the kings before and after him is recorded for his people to remember.

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

In scripture, all events are subject to God’s sovereignty even though they appear to be based on chance.

The cows walk straight to where the LORD wants them (1 Sam 6.7-9). Ruth just happened to glean at the field belonging to Boaz (Ruth 2.3). The LORD decided which tribes would have the promised land by lot (Nu 33.53-54). The Urim and Thummim were used by the high priest to declare God’s will. These stones were a form of casting lots showing either an affirmative or negative response to an enquiry (Ex 28:29–30).

None the less, what may appear random to us is known in advance and planned by the LORD. The only way we can see through these events is to have the LORD tell us their meaning.

Story of Jesus

When Jesus died there were various events that seem to have happened at random but signified something greater.

44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. 47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” 48 And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. 49 And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things. (Lk 23:44–49)

The curtain of the temple tore in two. This very difficult (it was very thick) and ‘random’ act has great significance. The curtain separated people from the inner sanctuary. The holy of holies. The significance is, through Jesus’ death the unclean are washed and now as God’s people have access into the presence of the LORD.

When Ahab died by a randomly shot arrow, dogs and prostitutes were further made unclean by his blood. When Jesus died, people were washed by his blood and gained entrance into the LORD’s presence.

Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2015. All Rights Reserved.