This has to be one of my favourite responses in the Bible. I imagine the face of the hearer when he gets the answer to his question, it makes me chuckle and inwardly say, ‘serves you right’. And then I remember that is the same answer I get when I ask similar questions.
Okay here is the story.
Ahab was one of the worst recorded Kings of in Israel, and trust me, they had a whole load of bad Kings. He was weak, spineless and full of fear, in short, a coward. He was never able to stand in his own right and married an evil manipulating woman (Jezebel) who, filled the land with idols. The glimpses we see into his life show us hints of his character. Even after witnessing the blatant power of God through Elijah (a prophet), Ahab still could not stand as a man in his own house and lead his family. So there was really no hope for Israel.
So it was no surprise when the King of Syria came to Ahab with a pretty harsh demand. ‘Give me your gold and silver, your best wives and children,’. And Ahab, true to character, meekly responds, ‘Yes’ (1 King 1:20). He had no guts to stand and say No!.
As an aside, let this be a lesson for us, ‘the world takes’! There is no place for cowardice or weakness in our inner selves, the devil is not going to say ‘awwwh, poor baby, there he is feeling weak, lets leave him for a while. History has shown over and over again, that its the world’s way to tread on the weak, so wise up. ‘be strong’ be who you are made to be. Why do you think that God said, ‘in our weakness, he has made us strong?’ He said, ‘he gives strength to the weary’. We need to be strong, no excuses.
Back to our story, Ahab’s response was not good enough for Ben-hadad, the King of Syria. Not content to be given what he asked for, He planned to come into the city of Samaria and take whatever he pleased. Ahab stands up to this (about time too) and encouraged by the elders of the land sends a message back to King Ben-hadad, ‘I will not do this, I will not allow you into the City.’
King Ben-hadad, who had probably been spoiling for a fight, then readies himself to attack Israel.
In the meantime, back in Israel, a prophet comes to Ahab and says to him ‘Look at the armies of the Syrians, I will give them into your hand’ that you will know that I am the Lord’. What a great prophecy . . . God is going to sort the day out!
King Ahab, I am sure was rejoicing, his problems were over, but there was a slight problem, who was God going to use? So he asked the prophet, ‘by whom’ translated, ‘How is God going to do this? Who is he going to use, Am I safe?’
The prophet answered, ‘By the servants of the governors of the district.’
Relief. The servants are going to fight. And then he asks again, coward as he is, ‘Who will begin the battle’
Now this was an awkward question, throughout the Bible, Kings have led armies into battles, followed by commanders and strong men. But Ahab in asking this question was seeking a ‘way out of the fight’. But there was none for him. The prophet gives my favourite response. ‘You’.
It is true isn’t it, that we all face battles in our lives and we do expect God to give us the victory. It is great when God uses others to bring the victory to us, to encourage us, walk alongside us, preach the word, pray with us. This is vital.
Yet, when it comes to the crux of the matter, ‘who will begin the battle, who will get down on their knees and pray, who will lay hold of the word and believe it, who will put their hands to the plough, who will bell the cat, who will take the first step. Don’t look around you, hoping for a superhero. Look to YOU. For once, stick your neck out, take a risk, lead the troops. Be bold and very courageous.
Postscript: I wrote the above whilst going through a difficult time. I realised that whilst I had friends and family who cared, they all had their own ‘issues’. Everybody is dealing with something. Never fool yourself thinking that, ‘its all about you and your issue.’ Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you will come first in someone else’s life. Not really, most times, they come first in their lives and some of the time they don’t really really care about your issue. This is just a fact of life, an observation. Face your battles and fight, it is the Lord that brings people alongside you, its the Lord that prepares the situations to work for your good. Don’t be afraid to deal with your issues, whatever does not kill you will only make you stronger. Have a great day!