1 Kings 20:42 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

1Ki 20:42 And he said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall be for his life, and your people for his people.'”

The context of 1 Kings 20 is that King Ahab has just released an enemy captive, Ben-hadad. Ahab defeats Be-hadad in war, but then signs a trade agreement with him and lets him go. A prophet of God disguises himself and tells the king a fake story about himself. He says he was tasked with watching a prisoner but the prisoner escaped. The King affirms the death penalty would be warranted. The King has condemned himself.

The prophet removes his disguise as declares, as rendered in the NKJV: “Because you have let slip out of your hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore your life shall go for his life, and your people for his people.”

God appointed Be-hadad to destruction. Ahab let Ben-hadad go. Ahab thwarted God’s plans for Ben-hadad. As a result, Ahab is given Ben-hadad’s punishment. For God’s contingency plan, Be-hadad is later killed by Hazael after being enticed by the prophet Elijah.

This shows that God’s will is sometimes thwarted. God then uses alternative means of affecting His will.

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