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  • Defensiveness or Repentance

    1 Kings 20:35-43

    The story I want to look into today involves a strange request, an unnamed prophet, and extreme consequences. As I dig a little more deeply, I see a prophet of God desperately trying to get a message across to his king.

    An unnamed prophet asks a man near him to strike him. The man refuses, which seems like a polite gesture. I’m not one to go about striking people just because they asked me to. The prophet curses the man by telling him a lion is going to kill him. This poor guy! I don’t know about you, but if a leader in my church asked me to hit him, I’d probably say no too.

    The man is a little dumbfounded by the message, he takes a few steps away AND A LION KILLS HIM. Exactly what the prophet predicts takes place moments later. 

    Try try again. The unnamed prophet finds another man, and makes the same request. This time, the man didn’t ask questions. He winds up, whacks the prophet, and wounds him. The prophet bandages himself up, covers half his face, and waits alongside the road like a beggar, for his king to pass by. The prophet yells out for the king. And the king listens. He paints a picture, much like Samuel did for King David after his sin with Bathsheba. He recounts this interesting story:

    “A soldier in the battle on the opposing side is captured. The soldier who captured him brings him to me and asked me to guard him with his life. I got busy doing this and that, and the man escaped. So the soldier told me I could either be killed or pay him what would take me 9 years of skilled labor to earn. What will happen to me?”

    The king is ruthless in his response to the prophet. He tells him that he will get precisely what he’s earned. His life for the soldier’s.

    At this, the prophet rips off the bandage over his eyes. The king gasps. This prophet is not unnamed to the king. Ahab knew him to be a prophet of God and then the prophet delivers a message from God. “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall go for his life, and your people for his people.’”

    Ahab gets a little sulky. Scripture says he’s “sullen and vexed.” If I had my disobedience called out and my destruction predicted, I think I might have a reason to repent. Not Ahab. His heart is so hard, all he can muster is sulkiness about his bad decisions. There is no repentance in his heart. When given the choice between repentance and guilt, he willfully chooses the guilt. And even his guilt is more wrapped up in the consequences than it is in how he’s turned against God’s heart.

    He starts out for Samaria. Where we’ll find him being more “sullen and vexed” next week.

    We know the proper response is repentance and receiving God’s grace, but we often choose the same path as Ahab, and sulk over our sin in self-deprecation. Why do we do this? Maybe instead of defensiveness, we ought to choose repentance. It seems an appropriate discussion this week after recent events in the U.S. 

    How do you respond when your wrongdoings are mentioned?

    How can you receive God’s grace today?