The conclusion of 1 Kings 20 is a very sobering story. King Ahab had just defeated the enemy. Ben-Hadad, the loser, comes to him begging for his life. The king of Israel decides to let him live and he also volunteers to give back “the cities my father took from your father” – the spoils of war. He just is going to give them back and let him live in peace. One of the prophets asks a bystander to “hit me, wound me”. Catch this now – “but the man wouldn’t do it” – would you? After all this prophet just walked up to some random guy and asked him to hit him. Since he did not obey “God’s order” which was the word delivered by this prophet “a lion met and attacked him” just like the prophet said would happen. Holy cow – this guy fails to do what the truth teller asked and instant death. The prophet asks another guy to do the same and he does which sets up the interaction with Ahab the king. The prophet declares these words: “Because you let a man go under sentence by God, it’s now your life for his, your people for his”. Are you paying attention. Ahab has just cleaned Ben Hadad’s clock. They killed over 100K of the enemy and now Ahab is showing some mercy – probably a little too much given history – but he is letting Ben live. And that failure to complete God’s direction will end up costing not only himself his life but will cause hardship on the people as well. Ahab almost obeyed all the way. He went to battle as God directed. He chased the enemy as God directed. He was 99% of the way there but did not complete what God had told him. The result – it is disobedience guys. Partial obedience is disobedience. Just like sin. A little sin is death.
God expects complete obedience. Jesus died for all sin. This is a hard but true lesson!