I Kings 20
From the Messenger's Journal
We'd barely caught our breath from running away. The Israelites conquered us like we were ants. Our king, his officials, and a few others hid in an inner room of Aphek, the closest city to the battleground.
Not knowing when the Israelites could burst through the door and find us, the officials immediately met with the king Ben-Hadad. They said, "Look, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful. Let's go to him with sackcloth around our waists and ropes around our heads. Perhaps after he sees us, he will take pity and spare your life."
I knew what they really wanted was their own lives spared. Either way, if their plan worked, both the king and the official's would be spared."
Ben-Hadad thought for a moment then nodded. "This is good."
They sent me out to purchase sackcloth and ropes and bring the supplies back. I did so and piled the material and rope in the middle of the floor. All the officials dressed as the king in the sackcloth and tied the ropes around their heads.
The officials led the way, leaving king Ben-Hadad safely out of reach. The Israelites welcomed the officials and led them to the king. King Ahab granted permission for them to speak.
"Your servant Ben-Hadad requests you grant him permission to live."
King Ahab looked at their clothes and raised his eyebrows as if surprised. "Is he still alive? He is my brother."
The officials looked at each other and smiled. They whispered to each other, "This is a good sign, surely he will spare our king."
The head official turned back to king Ahab and said, "Yes, your brother Ben-Hadad!"
Ahab lifted his cup and said, "Go and get him."
The official hurried back to king Ben-Hadad and told him the good news and brought him back to the Israelites. Ahab was sitting in his royal chariot. He signaled Ben-Hadad to climb up and sit next to him.
Ben-Hadad pressed his hands together and bowed. "I will return the cities my father took from your father. You may set up your own market areas in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria."
Ahab said, "If you will make this treaty with me, I will set you free." The two kings agreed and Ahab set our king, Ben-Hadad free.
I must admit my surprise at the ending. Had Ahab come to our king, I know we would not have spared his life. I wonder if Ahab has some trick, some secret plan he is plotting for another day.
Note: The messenger had a good reason to be suspicious. Be sure to come back next time to see what happens.
Photo courtesy of visualbiblealive.com
1. Where did Ben-Hadad hide?
2. Who was he hiding from?
3. What plan did his official suggest?
4. What did Ahab do when he saw the officials?
5. What did Ahab do when he saw Ben-Hadad?
6. What did Ben-Hadad offer to give back?
7. What did Ahab decide to do with Ben-Hadad?