That might be an appropriate title for chapter 16 of 1 Kings: “From Bad to Worse.” Abandonment of the Lord produced debauchery, murder, division, idolatry. The chapter shows divine justice being carried out in the midst of a nation’s perfidy. Here are a few lessons from the chapter.
#1. Man’s schemes cannot frustrate the purpose and judgment of God. God still speaks (Jehu, v. 1ff) and acts (Joshua, v. 34) in the midst of human depravity. The chapter starts with a word from God and with news of its fulfillment against the king. Isn’t it better, then, to submit to, and participate in, God’s purpose, than to work against it?
#2. You usually get what you deserve. What you dish out is what you are served. Murderer is slain by murder. Idolaters die at the hands of the true God. God responds faithfully to the faithful, and upon those who do evil the Lord brings evil.
#3. Alcohol never serves a good purpose. Elah’s heavy drinking recalls the Proverbial advice of King Lemuel’s mother, Prov 31.4-7. If a king should not drink for the good of his kingdom, should not Christians refrain for the good of the kingdom of God, whose interests they have been elected to promote?
#4. Apples don’t fall far from the tree. “Omri did more evil in the sight of the Lord than all who were before him” 1 Kings 16.25. And of his son Ahab is written, “he did more to anger the Lord God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him” 1 Kings 16.33. Thanks be to God who can interrupt such evil family traits and bring healing and transformation to individuals who want to escape a bad history!
#5. Change of location doesn’t change the heart. Omri left Tirzah and built Samaria as his new capital. Same man, same evil works. Let us not seek palliative solutions, but let God work in the heart to conform us to the image of his Son.
#6. Marriage can be a blessing or a curse. Jezebel was a scourge upon Israel, 1 Kings 16.31. Ahab should have learned better, from Solomon. The choice of a mate will cause many to abandon the Lord. Choose well!
#7. Worship of the Lord cannot be mixed with human idols and false gods. So Jesus speaks of the eye that is single, and the heart that is completely dedicated to him. Here, it is not true, “the more, the merrier.” Joy comes in exclusive worship of the one God, who has given us one way in Christ.
There are certainly other lessons to be drawn from this chapter. What would you add?