Strange Stories in the Bible: Strike Me, Please!

The Bible is very interesting because the lessons are not always explicit. There are strange stories that leave you baffled as to what was the right thing to do in the story. However, these mysteries often have important messages that we urgently need to understand.

And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said to his fellow at the command of the LORD, "Strike me, please." But the man refused to strike him. Then he said to him, "Because you have not obeyed the voice of the LORD, behold, as soon as you have gone from me, a lion shall strike you down. Then he found another man and said, "Strike me, please." and the man struck him - struck him and wounded him. So the prophet departed and waited for the king by the way." (1 Kings 20:35-38)
This story jumps out because of its seemingly disproportionate punishment with regards to not doing something that doesn't seem right, but there is more to this story. Israel and Syria were at war and had frequent battles. Israel had won the last battle, but the Syrians said that it was because "the LORD is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys (1 Kings 20:28)." The next battle they fought the Syrians also lost, but when Ben-hadad, the king of Syria, realized the battle was lost he went to the king of Israel and asked for mercy. Ahab the king of Israel extended him mercy, which displeased God.

The prophet who had asked the men to strike him confronted King Ahab with a little story:
Your servant went out into the midst of the battle, and behold, a soldier turned and brought a man to me and said, 'Guard this man; if by any means he is missing, your life shall be for his life, or else you pay a talent of silver.'  And as your servant was busy here and there, he was gone. The king of Israel said to him, 'So shall your judgment be; you yourself have decided it. (1 Kings 20:39-40)
King Ahab's response condemned himself and God's judgment was made plain by the prophet:
Thus says the LORD, 'Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I have devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall be for his life, and your people for his people.' (1 Kings 20:42)
The seriousness of Ahab's offence cannot be understood properly without understanding the law. The law says that, "whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the LORD alone, shall be devoted to destruction (Ex. 22:20)." It also states that, "no one devoted, who is devoted for destruction from mankind, shall be ransomed; he shall surely be put to death (Lev. 27:29)." Ben-hadad was devoted to destruction because of his idolatry and it was not up to Ahab to show mercy, which he understood and demonstrated by his answer to the prophet.

This event in Ahab's life is symbolic of Israel's failure during their reign in the promised land. They did not devote to destruction the things that were devoted to destruction and eventually became devoted to destruction as well.

Thankfully, we no longer fight battles with swords and spears, but with the Word of God. Our obedience to God's Word as found in the Bible is paramount for our own lives. This lesson is as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago. If we don't get rid of the things that are going to be destroyed with the LORD's judgment, we ourselves will be destroyed.


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