This passage is a great narrative of life in Old Testament times but as we read it, let’s look at the ways in which it translates to our lives today. Every challenge we face as a nation - Brexit, Covid 19, climate change, a failing economy - is important to us and has life changing implications. Each of these could have the name Ben-Hadad with power to intimidate us and cause us to feel defeated, hopeless and helpless. We, like Ahab, have two choices to respond. 1. by doing something - anything! 2. By doing nothing because we probably can’t do anything to make it better. In both of these we approach the enemy already defeated. There is a 3rd option.
Ahab had witnessed the power of God on Mount Carmel not long before this event, yet when the prophet told him the vast army would be handed over to him, he didn’t say ‘Excellent - let’s do this’, he replied with all those questions we have asked ourselves “How? When? Who will he use?”
The words of a worship song say “when the enemy presses in hard, do not fear” - sing with me “the battle belongs to the Lord!”
The enemy hates that because no one can win against God: the entire history of the world is testament to that. However, if the enemy thinks the battle is only against you and me, then like Ben-Hadad, he can own the battle and the victory. Maybe, the enemy has had cause to become complacent in our lives with some of our battles that we have protected behind the guise of God being too busy to deal with our problems or that we’re not deserving of being rescued from the enemy. That’s simply not true. When we ask God for help, He responds in love and in power to defeat that enemy. The battle and the ensuing victory belong to Him.
Ahab forgot that and took the credit. God had declared that the army would be given over to him but Ahab let Ben-Hadad ‘off’ when he didn’t have that authority. The prophet God sent, used a metaphor to highlight how Ahab had been too busy to fulfil God’s command to him and that would cause more trouble for Israel. Perhaps Ahab thought the battle was over when he saw Ben-Hadad coming with all the apologies and felt it would be noble of him to almost reward him for the awful things he had done. It wasn’t his decision - the battle belonged to the Lord.
Lord, I cannot overcome the enemy without You. Help me today. For Yours is the glory, the honour and the victory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.