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Ben - hadad's invasion of Israel and insolent demand, ver. 1 - 12.
Ahab, encouraged by a prophet, overthrows him twice, ver. 13 - 30.
Makes a covenant with him, ver. 31 - 34.
Is reproved and threatened by a prophet, ver. 35 - 43.
1: Gathered his host - To war against Israel: wherein his design
was to enlarge the conquest which his father had made, but God's design was
to punish Israel for their apostacy and idolatry.
3: Thy silver, &c. - I challenge them as my own, and expect to have
them forthwith delivered, if thou expect peace with me.
4: The king said - I do so far comply with thy demand, that I will
own thee for my Lord, and myself for thy vassal, and will hold my wives,
and children, and estate, as by thy favour, and with an acknowledgment.
5: Saying, &c. - Although I did before demand not only the dominion
of thy treasures, and wives, and children, as thou mayst seem to understand
me, but also the actual portion of them; wherewith I would then have been
6: Yet, &c. - Yet now I will not accept of those terms, but together
with thy royal treasures, I expect all the treasures of thy servants or
subjects; nor will I wait 'till thou deliver them to me, but I will send
my servants into the city, and they shall search out and take away all thou
art fond of, and this to prevent fraud and delay; and then I will grant thee
7: Seeketh mischief - Though he pretended peace, upon these terms
propounded, it is apparent by those additional demands, that he intends
nothing less than our utter ruin. I denied not - I granted his demands
in the sense before mentioned.
10: And said, &c. - If I do not assault thy city with so numerous
an army, as shall turn all thy city into an heap of dust, and shall be
sufficient to carry it all away, though every soldier take but one handful
11: Let not him, &c. - Do not triumph before the victory, for the
events of war are uncertain.
13: And behold, &c. - God, though forsaken and neglected by Ahab,
prevents him with his gracious promise of help: that Ahab and the
idolatrous Israelites, might hereby be fully convinced, or left
without excuse, that Ben - hadad's intolerable pride, and contempt of
God, and of his people, might be punished: and that the remnant of his
prophets and people who were involved in the same calamity with the rest
of the Israelites, might be preserved and delivered.
I am the Lord - And not Baal, because I will deliver thee, which he
14: He said, &c. - Not by old and experienced soldiers, but by those
young men; either the sons of the princes, and great men of the land, who
were fled thither for safety; or their pages, or servants that used to
attend them: who are bred up delicately, and seem unfit for the business.
Thou - Partly to encourage the young men to fight courageously, as being
the presence of their prince: and partly, that it might appear, that the
victory was wholly due to God's gracious providence, and not to the valour
or worthiness of the instruments.
15: All Israel - All that were fit to go out to war; all, except
those whom their age, or the same infirmity excused.
18: Take them - He bids them not fight, for he thought they needed
not to strike one stroke; and that the Israelites could not stand the
20: His man - Him who came to seize upon him, as Ben - hadad had
commanded. Fled - Being amazed at the unexpected and undaunted courage
of the Israelites, and struck with a divine terror.
21: The king went - Proceeded further in his march. Smote the
chariots - The men that fought from them.
22: Mark, and see - Consider what is necessary for thee to do by way
of preparation. The enemies of the children of God, are restless in their
malice and tho' they may take some breathing time for themselves, they are
still breathing out slaughter against the church. It therefore concerns
us always to expect our spiritual enemies, and to mark and see what we
23: Said to him - They suppose that their gods were no better than
the Syrian gods and that there were many gods who had each his
particular charge and jurisdiction; which was the opinion of all heathen
nations; that some were gods of the woods, other of the rivers, and others
of the mountains; and they fancied these to be the latter, because the land
of Canaan was a mountainous land, and the great temple of their God at
Jerusalem, stood upon an hill, and so did Samaria, where they had
received their last blow: it is observable, they do not impute their ill
success to their negligence, and drunkenness, and bad conduct, nor to the
valour of the Israelites; but to a divine power, which was indeed
visible in it. In the plain - Wherein there was not only superstition,
but policy; because the Syrians excelled the Israelites in horses,
which are most serviceable in plain ground.
24: Take the kings away - Who being of softer education, and less
experienced in military matters, were less fit for service; and being many
of them but mercenaries, and therefore less concerned in his good success,
would be more cautions in venturing themselves. Captains - That is,
experienced soldiers of his own subjects, who would faithfully obey the
commands of the general (to which the kings would not so readily yield) and
use their utmost skill and valour for their own interest and advancement.
27: And went - Being encouraged by the remembrance of their former
success, and an expectation of assistance from God again.
And pitched - Probably upon some hilly ground, where they might secure
themselves, and watch for advantage against their enemies; which may be the
reason why the Syrians durst not assault them before the seventh day,
Little flocks - Few, and weak, being also for conveniency of fighting, and
that they might seem to be more than they were, divided into two bodies.
30: The wall - Or, the walls (the singular number, for the plural)
of the city; in which they were now fortifying themselves. This might
possibly happen thro' natural causes; but most probably, was effected by the
mighty power of God, sending some earthquake, or violent storm which threw
down the walls upon them; or doing this by the ministry of angels. And if
ever miracle was to be wrought, now seems to have been the proper season for
it; when the blasphemous Syrians denied the sovereign power of God, and
thereby in some sort obliged him, to give a proof of it; and to shew, that
he was the God of the plains, as well as of the mountains; and that he could
as effectually destroy them in their strongest holds, as in the open fields;
and make the very walls, to whose strength they trusted for their defence,
to be the instruments of their ruin. But it may be farther observed, that
it is not said, that all these were killed by the fall of this wall; but
only that the wall fell upon them, killing some, and wounding others.
31: He will save thy life - This encouragement have all poor sinners,
to repent and humble themselves before God. The God of Israel is a
merciful God; let us rend our hearts and return to him.
32: My brother - I do not only pardon him, but honour and love him as
my brother. What a change is here! From the height of prosperity, to the
depth of distress. See the uncertainty of human affairs! Such turns are
they subject to, that the spoke of the wheel which is uppermost now, may
soon be the lowest of all.
33: Thy brother - Understand, Liveth: for that he enquired after,
34: Streets - Or, Markets, &c. places where thou mayest either
receive the tribute which I promise to pay thee, or exercise judicature
upon my subjects in case of their refusal. So he made, &c. - He takes no
notice of his blasphemy against God; nor of the injuries which his people
had suffered from him.
35: In the word - ln the name, and by the command of God, whereof
doubtless he had informed him. Smite me - So as to wound me, ver.(37).
He speaks what God commanded him, though it was to his own hurt; by which
obedience to God, he secretly reproacheth Ahab's disobedience in a far
easier matter. And this the prophet by God's appointment desires, that
looking like a wounded soldier, he might have the more free access to the
king. Refused - Not out of contempt of God's command, but probably, in
tenderness to his brother.
36: Slew him - We cannot judge of the case; this man might be guilty
of many other heinous sins unknown to us but known to God; for which, God
might justly cut him off: which God chose to do upon this occasion, that by
the severity of this punishment of a prophet's disobedience, proceeding from
pity to his brother, he might teach Ahab the greatness of his sin, in
sparing him through foolish pity, whom by the laws of religion, and justice,
and prudence, he should have cut of.
38: With ashes - Or, with a cloath, or band; (as the
Hebrew doctors understand the word) whereby he bound up his wound,
which probably was in his face; for it was to be made in a conspicuous
place, that it might be visible to Ahab and others.
39: He said - This relation is a parable; an usual way of instruction
in the eastern parts, and most fit for this occasion wherein an obscure
prophet was to speak to a great king; impatient of a down - right reproof,
and exceeding partial in his own cause. A man - My commander as the
manner of expression sheweth.
40: Thy judgment - Thy sentence; thou must perform the condition.
Either suffer the one, or do the other.
42: Thy life - What was the great sin of Ahab in this action,
for which God so severely punisheth him? The great dishonour hereby
done to God, in suffering so horrid a blasphemer, to go unpunished, which
was contrary to an express law, (Le 24:16). And God had delivered
him into Ahab's hand, for his blasphemy, as he promised to do,
ver.(28), by which act of his providence, compared with that law, it
was most evident, that this man was appointed by God to destruction, but
Ahab was so far from punishing this blasphemer, that he doth not so
much as rebuke him, but dismisseth him upon easy terms, and takes not
the least care for the reparation of God's honour, and the people were
punished for their own sins, which were many, and great; though God took
this occasion to inflict it.