1 Kings 20 Office Staff


Active Member
1 Kings 20:13 Meanwhile a prophet came to Ahab king of Israel and announced, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Do you see this vast army? I will give it into your hand today, and then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

14 “But who will do this?” asked Ahab.

The prophet replied, “This is what the Lord says: ‘The junior officers under the provincial commanders will do it.’”

“And who will start the battle?” he asked.

The prophet answered, “You will.”

15 So Ahab summoned the 232 junior officers under the provincial commanders. Then he assembled the rest of the Israelites, 7,000 in all. 16 They set out at noon while Ben-Hadad and the 32 kings allied with him were in their tents getting drunk. 17 The junior officers under the provincial commanders went out first.​

I found a commentary at Bible.org this morning!


In the history of Israel, there were “superpowers” with whom God’s people had to contend—Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia—but on a day-to-day basis they had to deal with those nations or city-states which surrounded them. Among these “neighbors” would be the Philistines, the Midianites, the Moabites, the Syrians, and others. We have already read of the intrigue regarding Judah, Israel, and Syria when Asa, king of Israel, hired Ben Hadad of Syria to break his treaty with Baasha, king of Israel. It would appear that Syria was now going to attempt to tighten their grip on Israel. Ben Hadad (probably the son of the Ben Hadad in 1 Kings 15:18) marches toward Israel, joined by 32 kings and a combined army that must have totaled more than 127,000 men. When Ben Hadad nears the city of Samaria, he does what virtually every commander did before besieging a city—he gave them his terms for surrender. If the enemy surrendered, no lives would be lost, and terms for peace would be easier. If a city chose to fight and lost, their defeat would be devastating (see Deuteronomy 20:10-18).​


I read the first 12 verses of our text and, as a man, I can understand it. My wife (and most women), however, would almost certainly respond, “This is stupid and senseless! This war that will cost many lives is simply about two kings, their over-sized egos, and their problem with alcohol.” It really is a stupid war, isn’t it? There did not need to be a war nor did anyone have to die, but these two kings are too proud to back down. What appears up to this point to be a very human thing now takes on a very different look with the arrival of an unnamed prophet, who has a message for king Ahab.

Ahab must have gulped as he pondered what he had gotten himself into. He was faced with an opponent who greatly outnumbered him. It would take a miracle to save Israel from total annihilation. But for all its appearances of being purely human (and senseless) in its origins, it was a war that God had purposed to use for His glory. This is yet another occasion on which God is going to demonstrate His sovereignty. This great army will be handed over to Ahab and Israel on this very day. Here is a clear and concise prophecy revealing how God will prove Himself to Ahab and to Israel.

Ahab does not appear to doubt the words of this prophet. But then who else can he trust besides God? Here is a man who needs God’s help and knows it. Ahab inquires as to who should lead out in battle. The prophet informs him that it is to be the “servants of the district governors” (verse 14), all 232 of them (verse 15). There is some discussion and disagreement amongst the scholars as to whom this expression, “the servants of the district governors,” refers. It could be the equivalent of the “White House staff,” I suppose, those young civilians who serve the “leaders of the people” (verse 8). If this refers to men in the military, it would be the youngest and most inexperienced men in uniform. It is those whom all would have considered “least likely to succeed” in this task. God is once again stacking the odds against Himself and His people to clearly demonstrate His presence and power to His people. Ahab would have a 50-yard-line view as he would be leading the Israelites in the attack.

This is from the easy English site.

The prophet of God told Ahab that he would win the battle against Benhadad. Ahab was a very evil king, and he certainly did not deserve God’s help. But God showed his kindness to Ahab. God did this for two reasons:

(1) The Israelites were still God’s people, although most Israelites were not loyal to him. He wanted them to turn back to him.

(2) This would give Ahab an opportunity to change his ways. Israel would defeat the proud soldiers from Syria. God was kind to his people. He gave them every opportunity to put their trust in him.​

He sent the youngest of his soldiers to begin the attack. Behind them came the large army of 7000 men. Benhadad had drunk too much alcohol. He was very confident. As a result, he told his soldiers not to kill the young men who were attacking. But he was very foolish. The young Israelites killed the soldiers who were trying to capture them. When Benhadad’s army saw this, they were very afraid. They tried to run away. But a soldier cannot fight when his back is towards his enemies. So the Israelites killed many more of Benhadad’s soldiers. The result was that the Israelites won the battle.