I sat through a great homily yesterday taken from 1 Kings 22. It had to do with two predatory kings, Jehosophat, the king of Judah and Ahab, the king of Israel. They had laid claim to Ramoth Gilead and inquired of their local prophets as to whether or not to go through with it. Virtually every prophet asked, rubber stamped the political and military aspirations of Jehoshaphat and Ahab. (Funny how that happens :-).
Well, every prophet, that is, except a rather troublesome one named Micaiah, who effectively told said kings, that such a war would not end well. For his insubordination, he was summarily arrested. (funny how THAT happens).
Fast forward: Judah and Israel go to war..... and lose badly. Amidst the carnage, Ahab takes a fatal arrow, shot by ‘a random foot soldier.’ This is the same Ahab, by the way, who'd murdered an ‘average citizen’ named Naboth, to confiscate his land in order to plant a vegetable garden close to his palace. At the time, another prophet by the name of Elijah, told Ahab that he’d pay with his life for his unjust treatment of Naboth. Said Ahab's blood would be ‘licked up by dogs.’ That is exactly what transpires at the end of chapter 22. Justice served.
What fascinated me was the fact that the author of 1 Kings makes it a point to mention that it was a ‘random soldier’ through whom Elijah’s prophesy would be fulfilled.
Think about the amazing symmetry of it all, and the attention to detail. A king who specialized in taking the lives of a random, ordinary citizen named Naboth, would himself have his life taken by a random, ordinary soldier.
Could it be a subtle way of reminding us that even the most powerful are easily toppled at the hands of even the most ordinary, when God is involved?
Could it be that power, when attained through unjust means, is little more than a house of cards?
Could it be that the rest we seek will never be found by the acquisition of status, prestige or power, whether it be in one’s checking account, in one’s career, in one’s community, in one’s church, at one’s school, among one's colleagues, among fellow coaches.... or anywhere for that matter, if its attained through predatory, unjust means?
Rest is not found through the accumulation of power or status but, as the prophet Micah puts it: through the practice of justice, mercy and humility. (Micah 6:8)
A lesson that Ahab learned too late.
All the best,