1 Kings, chapters 21 & 22

“Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself on my account? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the calamity during his lifetime. […]”
~1 Kings 21:29

The point I’d like to highlight of last week’s reading is the mercy Jehovah extended toward King Ahab of northern Israel, despite Ahab’s evil ways.

“[…] There has never been anyone like Ahab, who was so determined to do what was bad in the eyes of Jehovah, egged on by his wife Jezebel,” (1 Ki. 21:25).

Jehovah is able to see past a person’s sins and give him a chance to change time after time because he sees his full potential.
If someone humbles himself, Jehovah is always ready to make peace with that person.
In Ahab’s case, he did not fully grasp the privilege of being forgiven, for he continued to endanger true prophets’ lives and ended up going to war against God’s will, where he died (1 Ki. 22:26-28, 34, 35).
Truly Jehovah is “good and ready to forgive,” so long as we follow through with repentance by changing our ways of the past (Ps. 86:5).

1 Kings, chapters 18-20

“Now you are saying, ‘Go and tell your lord: “Elijah is here.”’ […] When I tell Ahab and he does not find you, he will surely kill me. Yet, your servant has feared Jehovah from his youth.”
~1 Kings, 18:11,12

The man saying these words, Obadiah, was a servant to the apostate king of Northern Israel, Ahab.
While Ahab and his pagan wife, Jezebel, were determined to execute every one of Jehovah’s prophets in the land, Obadiah bravely hid the prophets in caves (1 Ki. 18:3,4).
The prophet Elijah’s soul was much sought after in royal excursions, for Elijah had caused a severe three-year drought to plague the land, on account of the people’s unfaithfulness to their God (1 Ki. 17:1).
That is why when Elijah asked Obadiah to tell Ahab that he would meet with him to relay a divine message, Obadiah hesitated.
He thought Elijah would immediately be sent elsewhere by God, thereby eluding King Ahab once more.
Then surely Ahab would take his wrath out on Obadiah himself.

“However, Elijah said: ‘As surely as Jehovah of armies whom I serve is living, today I will present myself to him.’
“So Obadiah went off to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah.” (1 Ki. 18:15,16).

What impresses me about Obadiah is his ability to have kept his zeal for true worship alive even under extremely dangerous circumstances.
His loyalty to Jehovah came first, even at the risk of his own life.
He collaborated with Elijah and put faith in him as God’s messenger.
As for us, do we let our bosses or professors order us around into a frame of mind in which God is no longer a priority for us?
Do we let work or school dictate our priorities, constantly leaving out spiritual activities because we are afraid of what our superiors will think?
Like Obadiah, we need to know where to draw the line when someone influential tells us to go against God’s principles.

1 Kings, chapters 15-17

“When Zimri saw that the city had been captured, he went into the fortified tower of the king’s house and burned the house down over himself, and he died.”~1 Kings 16:18

Zimri was a chief warrior, overseeing half the forces of Israel (1 Ki. 16:9).

He betrayed his king, slayed him, then sat on his throne (1 Ki. 16:10).

Zimri then proceeded to exterminate the entire house of his predecessor (1 Ki. 16:11)

Although this was in alignment with Jehovah’s prophecy, Zimri was not motivated by a desire to carry out God’s will (1 Ki. 16:1-3; 12).

He was an idol-worshiper and an opportunist, greedy for power, who, in a transient display of bravery, acted purely out of self-interest (1 Ki. 16:19,20).

A few days later, the ten-tribe nation of Israel opted to make another one of their army-chiefs king.

This new king’s name was Omri (1 Ki. 16:16).

Omri besieged the palace where Zimri was hiding himself (1 Ki. 16:17).

Up to that moment, Zimri had solely relied on his own power and not God’s.

Thus, it played out that he caved in to his fears and killed himself before his enemies could grab a hold of him.

How long did Zimri’s rule last?

Seven days.

Any satisfaction he had derived out of his corrupt actions was extremely short-lived.

Zimri’s actions are a lesson in loyalty and lack of faith.

1 Kings, chapters 12-14

“It is the man of the true God who rebelled against the order of Jehovah; so Jehovah gave him over to the lion, to maul and to kill him, according to the word of Jehovah that he spoke to him.”

~1 Kings 13:26

The prophet whom Jehovah had sent to warn the newly formed northern nation of Israel of its future destruction, faced a simple test of faith while he traveled back home (1 Ki. 13:1,2).
He was to not eat or drink with any of the inhabitants of that land (1 Ki. 13:9).
When a false prophet deceived him, telling him God changed his mind about the orders given, the first prophet did not inquire of God.
He simply went along with the false prophet, perhaps because he said the words he wanted to hear:
“An angel told me by the word of Jehovah, ‘Have him come back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water,'” (1 Ki. 13:18, 19).
When we suddenly come under pressure to do what we thought was wrong, do we take the time to pray and investigate God’s will?
Or do we simply succumb to the pressure because it’s an easier way out of our immediate problems?
The shallowness of the first prophet’s decision cost him his life (1 Ki. 13:21,22).

1 Kings, chapters 9-11

So Hiram went out from Tyre to see the cities that Solomon had given him, but he was not satisfied with them. He said: “What sort of cities are these that you have given me, my brother?” So they came to be called the Land of Cabul* down to this day. In the meantime, Hiram sent to the king 120 talents of gold.

~1 Kings 9:12-14

*possibly meaning “the land as good as nothing.”

The attitude that King Hiram of Tyre demonstrated toward supporting true worship is worthy of noting.

Before Solomon’s reign, Hiram was a friend to King David, sending him cedar and craftsmen to work on his palace (2 Sam. 5:11).

Once the building of the temple and Solomon’s palace was underway, King Hiram contributed significantly by sending his own best workers to support the 20-year project (1 Ki. 5:6-18).

“He rejoiced greatly and said: ‘May Jehovah be praised today, for he has given David a wise son over this great people!’” (1 Ki. 5:7).

Although this was a business transaction, King Hiram saw Solomon as more than a friend, calling him “my brother” even upon being let down by him.

After receiving the cities that were “good for nothing,” we continue to read about King Hiram’s monetary contributions to King Solomon’s reign (1 Ki. 10:11,12,22).

May we follow his example and continue to view our brothers and sisters in the faith with respect and admiration, ever-willing to support one another, even when we do not feel that they have fulfilled their end of an important agreement.

1 Kings, chapters 7 & 8

King Solomon described Jehovah’s kindness in the context of a deep prayer:

“Whatever prayer, whatever request for favor may be […] (for each one knows the plague of his own heart) […], then may you hear from the heavens, your dwelling place, and may you forgive and take action; and reward each one according to all his ways, for you know his heart (you alone truly know every human heart), so that they may fear you […]” (1 Ki. 8:38-40).

Fearing God in our hearts does not mean we dread God or that we flee from him.

Fear of God implies fear of letting him down, fear of disrespecting him.

Whether or not a person is sincere in their service toward God can only be judged by God himself.

One is assured, however, that regardless of what we do, God pays to each his own.

Imagine someone in a dire situation.

He calls out to God, but God sees that he is insincere.

God does not forgive him.

Not even Jehovah God, the God of all love, kindness and forgiveness, forgives him, because that person is insincere and God can see through his facade.

That would be truly dreadful.

It is different, though, when one serves God.

If you sincerely strive to do what is good because you fear displeasing God, or if you sincerely repent, you can rest assured that Jehovah will listen to your prayer and bless you according to your ways, sooner or later (Ps. 145:16; Rev. 21:3-5).

“O Jehovah the God of Israel, there is no God like you in the heavens above or on the earth beneath, keeping the covenant and showing loyal love to your servants who are walking before you with all their heart,” (1 Ki. 8:23).

1 Kings, chapters 3-6

“[…] In the 11th year, in the month of Bula (that is, the eighth month), the house was finished in all its details and according to its plan. So he spent seven years building it.”
~1 Kings 6:38

King Solomon’s extraordinary wisdom was a blessing from Jehovah (1 Ki. 3:11,12).

Yet, when the time came to carry out the colossal project of building the temple, Solomon did not rely on his own ideas or expertise.
Rather, he humbly put the plans his father David had drawn out for him into effect.

King David had received the plans by divine inspiration through a dream (1 Chron. 28:11,12).
So really, it was Jehovah who was the true architect, and Solomon recognized that.

By not taking creative liberties and altering God’s plan for his own temple, King Solomon set an example of humility and submission.
We, too, should be careful not to overstep instructions in our congregation duties.