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another man and said, Smite me, I pray thee, and the man smote him, so that in smiting he wounded him. So then the prophet departed, and waited for the king by the way and disguised himself with ashes on his face." Then, by a kind of parable, he proceeded to show the king his error, and to make him condemn himself.
It was no easy matter doubtless to convey a reproof to a king, and such an one as Ahab. He therefore put the matter before the king in this way. "Thy servant went out into the midst of the battle; and, behold a man turned aside, and brought a man unto me, and said, Keep this man: if by any means he be missing, then shall thy life be for his life, or else thou shalt pay a talent of silver. And as thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone. And the king of Israel said unto him, So shall thy judgment be; thyself hast decided it. And he hasted, and took the ashes away from his face; and the king of Israel discerned him that he was of the prophets. And he said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Because thou hast let go out of thind hand a man whom I had appointed to utter destruction, therefore thy life shall go for his life, and thy people for his people. And the king of
Israel went to his house heavy and displeased."
Here, then, is weighty instruction from all this, especially on the one subject, of the extreme importance of obedience to the word of the Lord: and the exceeding sinfulness, and terrible consequences of the sin of disobedience.
Striking, indeed, are the many instances of where God has visited disobedience to His word with punishment in this world.
Indeed, what but one single act of disobedience brought ruin, misery, pain, death temporal and eternal, into this world,-that one act of our first parents, Adam and Eve? We learn from that what sin is.
Then, of the word of God given under the law, we find "every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward." The man who gathered sticks on the Sabbath: the man who was stubborn and rebellious to his parents: the man who blasphemed and cursed in the name of the Lord each of these met with his death, like many others, because they broke the word of the Lord! One act of disobedience lost Saul his kingdom. One act of disobedience on the part of the man of God, though deceived by a prophet, cost him his life.
(1 Kings xiii.) And so now here, Ahab is condemned for one act, and a young prophet is slain by a lion, for one act also, because these acts proceeded from a heart in a state of rebellion against the Lord whose word they disobeyed.
For, observe of this young prophet, lest his case should seem hard, when the man of God asked him to strike him, it is said, he did it "by the word of the Lord." It was not on the authority of his own will and wish, but on the authority of God; to whom the prophet was required to give obedience. Failing in that he perished. Oh! what force do not all these cases give to the words of the Apostle to the Hebrews chap. xi. 1. "How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation: which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord; and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him." How dreadful will be that last judgment with which God will visit those "who know not God and obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." The severity on them that have fallen here ought, indeed, to make us fear the severity reserved in the next world, and feel how awful it will be "to fall into the hands of the Living God." Are we hidden from the wrath of the Lamb, by
being washed in the blood of the Lamb? Are we really giving the obedience of faith. to the Gospel of Christ, and trusting in the merits of the righteous One.
Ought we not also to learn from this prophet's case, that with regard to the things which God's word requires of us, we must never turn away from them because they are unpleasant duties. For a man with any tender feelings, it was no doubt a most unpleasant duty to have to smite a brother so as to wound him and bring blood. But he should not have hesitated on that account, his only enquiry should have been, Is this really required of me by God. We must never consult our own feelings, and tastes, and inclinations, when the will of God and our duty to Him or our neighbour are concerned. One only question let us ask, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" One only resolve let us make. "What the Lord saith unto me, that will I do.”
AHAB AND NABOTH'S
"And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
"Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, which is in Samaria: behold he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it. "And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, thus saith the Lord, hast thou killed, and also taken possession? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the Lord, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine.
"And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, Ö mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee; because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the Lord." 1 KINGS XXI. 17-20.
It is said of Ahab in this chapter, "there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord : whom Jezebel his wife stirred up." His wickedness was therefore very great, and his wife was often at the bottom of it; and yet this did not lessen his guilt in the eyes God. This is an important consideration in