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Chariots of Fire (16 of 18)
Who Shall Command the Battle?-Ahab
Clarence E. Macartney
1 Kings 20:14
2 Timothy 4:7
(This sermon, entitled, "Life Is Your Battle,"
appeared in the Pulpit Digest, Dec., 1950. (C) 1950 by
The Pulpit Digest Publishing Company.)
From an ancient battlefield outside the walls of
Samaria where the Syrians fought against the army of
Israel-a battlefield strewn with fallen pavilions,
wrecked chariots, unlifted lances, shields which had
been cast away, and, alas, strewn also with the dead-
we can gather this timeless message: "Who shall order
the battle? And he answered, Thou!"
With thirty-two tributary kings Ben-hadad, the king of
Syria, inveterate foe of Israel, had invaded the land
with a great army and was encamped before the walls of
Samaria. He had come in such overwhelming force that
Ahab, king of Israel, had no thought of resistance. To
the Syrian's insolent demand for Ahab's treasure, his
wives, and his children, Ahab answered, "O King, I am
thine, and all that I have!" Not satisfied with thus
humiliating Israel, Ben-hadad overreached himself and
sent a second message, demanding that at a fixed hour
Samaria be given over to pillage by the Syrian army.
This was too much, even for Ahab. He called a council
of the elders of Israel, to see
What reinforcement he might gain from hope,
If not, what resolution from despair.1
With one voice the elders of Israel urged Ahab not to
yield to the demand of Ben-hadad. "Hearken not unto
him, nor consent." Ahab was a weak and wicked king,
yet he had left a degree of respect for himself and
his people. He told Ben-hadad that although he had
consented to the first demand, this second demand he
would not grant. "This thing I may not do!" Every man
ought to have a "thus far and no further" in his
character, a "this thing I may not do" to hurl at the
When Ahab's refusal was brought to him, Ben-hadad was
beside himself ...
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