1 Kings 20:35 – And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said unto his neighbour in the word of the LORD, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man refused to smite him.
1 Kings 20:36 – Then said he unto him, Because thou hast not obeyed the voice of the LORD, behold, as soon as thou art departed from me, a lion shall slay thee. And as soon as he was departed from him, a lion found him, and slew him.
1 Kings 20:37 – Then he found another man, and said, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man smote him, so that in smiting he wounded him.
Hello all, today I will be talking about a couple verses from 1 Kings 20 quoted above. The context of this event has to do with the war between Israel and Syria. Ahab was king of Israel, Benhadad was king of Syria. Benhadad had come up to Samaria against Israel multiple times with his rampaging army, a coalition of forces against Israel, and yet the Lord had mightily delivered Israel. After a great final victory by Israel which decimated the Syrian forces, Ahab had Benhadad trapped in a city with critically dwindled forces, but through cunning Benhadad managed to escape with his life by causing Ahab to spare him. Ahab let him go. Benhadad made a couple enticing promises appealing to Ahab’s ego and pride and they made a covenant together. King Ahab spared Benhadad, he made a fatal mistake, he was a wicked, godless king and this was just one of a number of things that he did against the Lord that sealed his own fate.
There was a certain man of the sons of the prophets in those days. He said to his neighbour in the word of the Lord, Smite me, I pray thee. Wow, what an unusual request. He wanted his neighbour to smite him. Smiting is not a joking matter. Smiting is striking, punching, driving a force against with the intention to hurt, to kill, to destroy. The first man did not smite him, and look what happened. He got killed by a lion for disobeying the prophet in not smiting him. How is that fair? Wasn’t it a good thing not to smite him? Not to hurt the prophet? The prophet then found a second man, and this man smote him and wounded him. So what do we get from this story? In the context of the story of Ahab and Benhadad we know that the prophet then went to see Ahab and told him that because he had disobeyed the Lord by not utterly destroying Benhadad, his (Ahab’s) life would be required for his (Benhadad’s) life because he let him go. We see through this story and through the whole Bible that lives are at stake. Sin is serious, sin is against God, it separates the sinner from God, sin must be paid for, sin must be dealt with, sin must be forgiven or the sinner must be and will be punished. Sin must be paid for and forgiven through sacrifice, through the shedding of blood. This was the whole point of the sacrificial system, bringing an innocent lamb to be sacrificed to atone for the sin of the bringer. But the Old Testament sacrifices were inferior, they saved nobody, the sacrifices gave an appreciation for the seriousness and consequences and necessity of dealing with and atoning for sin, they were offered by faith, and pointed to the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, who fulfilled all the sacrifices in the perfect, atoning, once and once for all sacrifice of himself.
The prophet represents the Word of God, the Living Word (Jesus Christ) and the Written Word (the Scripture – the Bible). The Bible says the prophet spoke in the word of the LORD. God spoke by him. When the first man disobeyed him, he was disobeying God. We can learn a great deal both from the man that didn’t smite and the man that did smite the prophet. What is God showing us from this story? That someone must be smitten. It can be you and me personally, or it can be the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. Because he was smitten. As the prophet was in this story, Jesus was both smitten and wounded. Isaiah 53:4,5 – Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. In Exodus, Moses smote the rock at God’s command.The second man smote the prophet, and this shows us that we must personally receive what Jesus has done for us. Either he is smitten in our place, for us, or we will be smitten in eternal hell fire. The second man was obedient to God’s word. As he smote the prophet, so we smite Christ when we believe and receive his smiting in our place – personally appropriating what he did on the cross to ourselves. By smiting him, he takes the pain instead of us. And that’s what happened at the cross, on the cross. Jesus bore God’s wrath against sin for us. The innocent Lamb of God slain in our place. He was smitten in our place, for us, because of us. Smiting the prophet, smiting the rock is a picture of the great Biblical principle of substitution – the innocent for the guilty. Because Jesus Christ is our substitute. We cannot atone for sins ourselves. We can never be good enough. We are under the curse, the works of our hands are cursed, as we see from the story of Cain, whose sin cursed sacrifice, the work of his own hands, was eternally rejected by God. Substitution is all through the Bible. The Old Testament sacrifices were substitutes, innocent animals for guilty humans.
We must each appropriate what Jesus has done for us. Jesus Christ died for the world, and yet most of the world is going to hell. The sins of the world have been paid for. Forgiveness is available to all, but only received by few. We must each personally receive and appropriate what he has done for us. John the Baptist baptizing Jesus Christ showed that we must all personally appropriate what Jesus has done for us ie. he must be baptized in our place, he tastes death for us and we are raised with him, in him, by him, through him. Our life is in him, not in ourselves. And this is what the smiting of the prophet shows us. We have choice and personal responsibility. Will Christ be smitten in your place, or will you be smitten because you refuse to accept his sacrifice in your place for you? And truly we are responsible for the smiting of Christ. He was sinless, but he died because we are sinners, we are sinners by birth and by nature. We put Christ on the cross. Human hands nailed him to the cross, human voices rejected and denied and lied about him and demanded his crucifixion. He died for us, because of us. Jesus was smitten by God. He was not only rejected by men, but he bore God’s wrath against him. The shepherd was smitten so that we didn’t have to be.
Matthew 26:31 – Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.
The first man did not want to smite the prophet at his request by the word of the Lord. At first glance, we might think fair enough, he didn’t want to do any violence and furthermore, why should he be killed by a lion for seemingly doing a noble thing? Because the refusal of the man to smite him shows self righteousness, unbelief and disobedience to the word of God. The first man was a hearer, not a doer of the word. The man not smiting the prophet shows that man putting his own righteousness over Christ’s righteousness. Even our best righteousness we can muster is as filthy rags. The Bible says there is only one righteous, Jesus Christ. The Bible calls him Jesus Christ the righteous. What seemed right to this man ended in death. The Bible says there is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. He put his word over God’s word. He thought I don’t need to, I don’t want to smite the man, I’m “better” than that. He did not obey the word. Do you obey the word? Or is your word, your reasoning, your righteousness exalted over and against Christ?
The second man obeyed the prophet and smote the prophet and wounded him. The prophet was not killed, it was not a fatal blow. Jesus Christ was smitten and wounded. But not fatally, not mortally. Jesus Christ died, but he arose victoriously from the dead. Jesus was wounded, Jesus died, but that was not the end of the story. If we die without Christ, that’s it, it’s all over, because in him alone is life. If we die unsaved, we are damned to eternal hell. And compare the Lord Jesus Christ to Satan, who is mortally wounded by what Jesus did at the cross, Satan who is smitten and finished. Look at the first prophecy from the mouth of God in Genesis about Jesus (seed of the woman) vs Satan in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 3:15 – And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Jesus’ heel was bruised, but that did not finish him. Satan’s head is bruised, and he is finished, because that is a mortal wound. Satan is destroyed, he is in his death throes right now, he is going to the lake of fire forever. He has been conquered by the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said in Revelation 1:18 – I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
In summarizing, the man smiting the prophet is a picture of personal belief, true saving faith, obedience to the gospel, of Jesus being smitten in our place, for us, because of us, by us. But like the first man, are you too good for Jesus to be smitten for you, because of you, indeed, by you? We, like the first man, might think morally we are pretty good, we might not see the need for Jesus Christ. Job 35:3 – For thou saidst, What advantage will it be unto thee? and, What profit shall I have, if I be cleansed from my sin? We are dirty vile rotten guilty hell deserving sinners, Jesus needed to be smitten in order for us to be forgiven and saved and freely given eternal life. Jesus did not sin personally. He is the Lamb of God, which taketh away this sin of the world. But someone needs to be smitten. Will you smite the prophet, which symbolizes personally believing and receive the Lord Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, in your place, for you? Will it be Jesus in your place, taking the smiting that was coming to you, or will you disobey the gospel? Thank God for Jesus Christ. It’s him and not us. Because if it was us, we are done for. Because without Christ it’s over. If you do not believe, you are disobedient to the word like the first man and the lion, the roaring lion, Satan, will get you. Satan is the spiritual father of all unbelievers, and he is out to destroy you, he wants to slay you, he is a murderer. He wants you spiritually dead to God, he wants you to join him in hell, to miss out on forgiveness, eternal life, heaven, which are all free gifts to us from Jesus Christ.
And there is no pacifistic way out, there is no way of absolving you from the serious choice. Smite the prophet, or be slain by a lion. Pilate tried to wash his hands of Christ. What will you do with Christ? You will do something with him, you cannot avoid it. Will you obey the gospel? We obey the gospel when we are saved. We obey by doing what the Bible says, and Jesus said the work of God is to believe on him who he has sent. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. He died for sinners. The man that disobeyed had a terrible end. A lion found him and slew him. The first man did not repent even despite being foretold what would happen. Many people are warned of hell, but go there anyway. Unlike Jesus Christ, Benhadad could be utterly destroyed, as the prophet said, but Ahab would not. Ahab chose wrong. And we can be like Ahab, refusing to destroy sin in our life through the power and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, even a sin or something that we are hanging on to which prevents us from being saved. The prophet was smitten first before he relayed the message to Ahab that he should have utterly destroyed his enemy. Because our utter victory over Benhadad is only possibly because of Jesus smitten for us on the cross. That’s why we can only and should only glory in the cross. Because it is the cross of Christ that has saved us and given us the victory. But Ahab wasn’t truly saved. He was a wicked king not a godly king. Because of the cross of Jesus Christ, we can and should slay the Benhadads in our life, our vicious enemies that besiege us and war with us, sin, lust, the world, Satan, the flesh. It is the victory of Christ that enables us victory over our Benhadads. By faith we enter into his victory. And he wins the victory. Don’t let your Benhadad’s go! God delivers Benhadad into our hand! Utterly destroy Benhadad! But are there pleasures of this world, deceitful riches or something which is choking the precious seed of the word of God that has come to you? Don’t let Benhadad outwit you. God had delivered Benhadad to Ahab, but Ahab spared him. God delivered his Son to us, we must do what he says with him, we must receive his forgiveness, or we will pay the consequences with our own life. His sinless blood or our sinful blood? Smite me was an unusual request, what will your answer be? Will you lay hold on forgiveness and mercy and truth and victory and eternal life today?