1 Kings 22:51 - 2 Kings 1:18


The books which we know as 1st and 2nd Kings were originally written as a single volume.  We do not know exactly when or how the book came to be divided into its current configuration, but it was likely due to the fact that a large scroll was considered to be too unwieldy.  The place in which it came to be divided is unfortunate, for this is a part of a continuous section.


1 Kings 22:1-40

1 Kings 22:41-50

1 Kings 22:51 - 2 Kings 1:18

Ahab and Jehoshaphat


Ahaziah, son of Ahab

Israel & Judah



Judgment of God

Following God

Judgment of God





51                     Ahaziah the son of Ahab became king over Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and he reigned two years over Israel.

52                     He did evil in the sight of the Lord and walked in the way of his father and in the way of his mother and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin.

53                     So he served Baal and worshiped him and provoked the Lord God of Israel to anger, according to all that his father had done. (1 Kings 22:51-53).


You’ve heard the old saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”  It expresses the truth that children are often very much like their parents.  It is not an absolute truth and there are often notable exceptions.  But it is often the case.  And so it is in the case of Ahaziah.  He was the son of Jezebel and Ahab - two bad apples.


Jezebel had been the daughter of the king of Phoenicia.  When she came to Israel to be the wife of Ahab, she brought her religion with her.  It wasn’t long before others were also worshiping Baal.  Although Elijah put to death 450 prophets of Baal, their influence continued to be felt throughout the land.

This is seen in the case of Ahaziah.  Even though he was an Israelite and a part of the chosen people of God, he now became a worshiper of Baal.  This action provoked the Lord God of Israel to anger.  That anger was manifested in two ways.


2 Kings 1:1

2 Kings 1:2

Political Manifestation

Personal Manifestation

Rebellion of Moab

Ahaziah fell through the lattice





            Now Moab rebelled against Israel after the death of Ahab. (2 Kings 1:1).


The lands of Moab were located to the east of the Dead Sea and south of the Arnon River which flows into the Dead Sea from the east.  This area rests on a high plateau rising over 4000 feet above the Dead Sea.  The name “Moab” means “my father” and is taken from the fact that Moab was the offspring of an incestuous relationship between Lot and one of his daughters.


It often took place that a vassal nation would rebel following the death of the subjugating king.  What is noteworthy about this rebellion is that we have an extra-Biblical record of its occurrence.


The Moabite Stone is a slab of basalt measuring 3 feet high by 2 feet wide.  It was discovered in 1868 and today resides in the Louvre Museum in Paris. Though it has been broken into pieces, about two-thirds of the pieces have been recovered along with an impression made before the stela was destroyed.  Today all but the last line has been reconstructed. There are a total of 34 lines written in Moabite, a language very similar to Hebrew.


            I am Mesha, son of Kemosh[yatti], the king of Moab, the Dibonite.  My father was king over Moab for thirty years, and I became king after my father...


            Omri was the king of Israel, and he oppressed Moab for many days, for Kemosh was angry with his land.  And his son reigned in his place; and he also said, “I will oppress Moab!”  In my days he said so.  But I looked down on him and on his house, and Israel has been defeated; it has been defeated forever!  And Omri took possession of the whole land of Medeba, and he lived there in his days and half the days of his son: forty years. But Kemosh restored it in my days. And I built Baal Meon, and I built a water reservoir in it. And I built Qiryaten. And the men of Gad lived in the land of Atarot from ancient times; and the king of Israel built Atarot for himself, and I fought against the city and captured it. And I killed all the people of the city as a sacrifice for Kemosh and for Moab...


...And Kemosh said to me, “Go, take Nebo from Israel.”  And I went in the night and fought against it from the daybreak until midday, and I took it and I killed the whole population: seven thousand male subjects and aliens, and female subjects, aliens, and servant girls. For I had put it to the ban for Ashtar Kemosh. And from there I took the vessels of Yahweh, and I presented them before the face of Kemosh. And the king of Israel had built Yahaz, and he stayed there throughout his campaign against me; and Kemosh drove him away before my face...


            And I cut the moat for Qarcho by using Israelite prisoners. I have built Aroer, and I constructed the military road in Arnon. I have built Beth‑Bamot, for it had been destroyed. I have built Bezer, for it lay in ruins. And the men of Dibon stood in battle formation, for all Dibon were in subjection. And I am the king over the hundreds in the towns which I have added to the land. (Mesha Stone, translated by K. C. Hanson; Adapted from Albright, 1969).


As seen from this inscription, this revolt involved a retaking of Mount Nebo and the lands of Medeba.  This disputed territory lay to the north of the Arnon River Gorge.





            And Ahaziah fell through the lattice in his upper chamber which was in Samaria, and became ill.  So he sent messengers and said to them, “Go, inquire of Baal‑zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I will recover from this sickness.” (2 Kings 1:2).


Ahaziah suffers a debilitating fall in his palace in Samaria.  His injury leads to complications which makes it doubtful whether he will recover.  And so, he sends messengers to inquire of the pagan god of the Philistines.


Baal-zebub is literally, “Lord of flies.”  We do not know the details of this pagan deity.  He may have been thought to be able to bring disease or death.  Evidently this god was worshiped in Ekron, the northernmost of the cities of the Philistines.


3                       But the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria and say to them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal‑zebub, the god of Ekron?’

4                       “Now therefore thus says the Lord, ‘You shall not come down from the bed where you have gone up, but you shall surely die.’”  Then Elijah departed. (2 Kings 1:3-4).


Ahaziah had already suffered the judgment of God in his fall.  There are times when God knocks us flat on our back so that we will look up.  But Ahaziah did not look to the Lord in the midst of his illness.  He sought the word of one of the false gods of the land.  In this he sinned.


Where do you turn in times of trouble?  If it is to anyone but the Lord, then you are practicing the same sort of idolatry that Ahaziah practiced.


5                       When the messengers returned to him he said to them, “Why have you returned?”

6                       They said to him, “A man came up to meet us and said to us, ‘Go, return to the king who sent you and say to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are sending to inquire of Baal‑zebub, the god of Ekron?  Therefore you shall not come down from the bed where you have gone up, but shall surely die.’”’”

7                       He said to them, “What kind of man was he who came up to meet you and spoke these words to you?”

8                       They answered him, “He was a hairy man with a leather girdle bound about his loins.”  And he said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.” (2 Kings 1:5-8).


Ahaziah had sent to the “Lord of the Flies” in time of trouble.  But his servants were met by a “hairy man” - literally, a “lord of hair.”   Evidently Elijah was known by the clothes that he wore.  Instead of wearing the more traditional linen, cotton or wool, Elijah wore the coarse, hairy skin of a camel with a leather waistband.


Elijah asks a rhetorical question.  “Is there no God in Israel?”  We see this refrain three times in this chapter (1:3, 6, 16).  It is a rhetorical question because it expects no answer.  The answer is obvious.  The question points out the sin of Ahaziah.  He was acting as though there were no God in Israel.  He was a practicing atheist.  That is what happens when you sin.  You are living as though God does not exist.  You are living as though there is no God in Israel.





Ahaziah could have taken the message of Elijah as an opportunity to confess his sins and to repent and seek the Lord’s mercy.  Instead he sends out a company with orders to arrest Elijah.


9                       Then the king sent to him a captain of fifty with his fifty. And he went up to him, and behold, he was sitting on the top of the hill. And he said to him, “O man of God, the king says, ‘Come down.’”

I0                      Elijah replied to the captain of fifty, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.”  Then fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.

11                     So he again sent to him another captain of fifty with his fifty. And he said to him, “O man of God, thus says the king, ‘Come down quickly.’”

12                     Elijah replied to them, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.”  Then the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty. (2 Kings 1:9-12).


The company which is sent with orders to arrest Elijah are destroyed with a heavenly fire.  A second company is sent forth on the same mission and they are also destroyed.  At this point, Ahaziah would have done well to remember that this is the same prophet who called fire down from heaven on Mount Carmel.  It was not that Elijah was so great.  Elijah was merely a normal man with normal frailties and weaknesses (James 5:17 - he was “a man with a nature just like ours”).  But Elijah served a mighty God.


There is a principle here.  It is that God takes care of his own.  That doesn’t mean that nothing bad ever happens to God’s people.  But it does mean that you don’t want to be the one who harms one of the Lord’s children.  Jesus said that you would be better off taking a swim with a cement life preserver than to bring harm to one of God’s children (Matthew 18:6).  His attitude toward those who hurt His people is akin to that of a mother bear whose cubs are threatened.  He takes such things personally.


There is great comfort in knowing that we have One who loves us with that sort of fierce love.  And there is a warning to those who would harm His people.





13                     So he again sent the captain of a third fifty with his fifty. When the third captain of fifty went up, he came and bowed down on his knees before Elijah, and begged him and said to him, “O man of God, please let my life and the lives of these fifty servants of yours be precious in your sight.

14                     “Behold fire came down from heaven and consumed the first two captains of fifty with their fifties; but now let my life be precious in your sight.”

15                     The angel of the Lord said to Elijah, “Go down with him; do not be afraid of him.”  So he arose and went down with him to the king. (2 Kings 1:13-15).


Two companies had already been destroyed with fire from heaven when they attempted to arrest Elijah.  Now a third company is chosen.  The captain of this third company is not thrilled with his assignment.  He has become convinced by the previous episodes that Elijah is indeed a man of God and he doesn’t wish to go up against God.  On the other hand, he has his orders from the king.  His is in a lose/lose situation.  No matter what he does, he will lose his life.  And so he comes to the man of God and he asks for mercy.  And his prayer is answered.


There is a contrast here between this unnamed captain and King Ahaziah.  They each had a meeting with the man of God, but with very different results.


King Ahaziah

The Third Captain

His father Ahab had seen fire come down from heaven at the word of Elijah.

His predecessors had been destroyed by fire from heaven at the word of Elijah.

He had suffered the loss of Moab as well as the loss of his own health.

The two captains who had preceded him had lost their lives.

He responded with a hardness of heart.

He responded with a humble heart.

He demanded Elijah’s arrest.

He pled for mercy.

He ended in childless death.

He and his men were spared.

His poor leadership led the nation away from God.

His humble intercession saved both himself and the men under his command.


God always answers the prayer of a humble heart.  That was the case of the repentant thief who hung on the cross next to Jesus.  His prayer was a simple one - “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  He found salvation, not because of the simplicity of his prayer, but because of the humility of his prayer.





16                     Then he said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because you have sent messengers to inquire of Baal‑zebub, the god of Ekron ‑‑ is it because there is no God in Israel to inquire of His word? ‑‑ therefore you shall not come down from the bed where you have gone up, but shall surely die.’”

17                     So Ahaziah died according to the word of the Lord which Elijah had spoken. And because he had no son, Jehoram became king in his place in the second year of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. (2 Kings 1:16-17).


The events which had taken place in the king’s life were designed to turn him toward the Lord.  But instead of doing so, he had sought the oracles of false gods.  Because of this sin, the king died.  Here is the lesson.  God takes idolatry seriously.  We ought never to turn to the world system for our answers.  We are called to trust in the Lord.


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