In the second victory over Syria God sent a prophet to king Ahab who said, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Because the Syrians have said, “The LORD is God of the hills, but He is not God of the valleys,” therefore I will deliver all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the LORD.’” And they encamped opposite each other for seven days. So it was that on the seventh day the battle was joined; and the children of Israel killed one hundred thousand foot soldiers ofthe Syrians in one day.
Ben-Hadad begged king Ahab to let him live. This is the same king who went up and besieged Samaria and made war against it. He is the same king whom Ahab said of, “Notice, please and see how this man seeks trouble, for he sent to me for my wives, my children, my silver, and my gold; and I did not deny him.”
Ben-Hadad made war with the king of Israel twice yet when he asked Ahab to spare his life Ahab made a treaty with him and sent him away. Later he received this message through one of the prophets, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Because you have let slip out of your hands a man whom I appointed for utter destruction, therefore your life shall go for his life, and your people for his people.'” Ahab went home sullen and displeased. He made a treaty with the enemy and it will cost him his life.
This reminded me of Saul who spared Agag, the king of the Amalekites when he was commanded to utterly destroy men, women, children and the animals. He was told, “Go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.” However, Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fallings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. As a result of his disobedience, the Lord rejected Saul as king over Israel. He tore the kingdom of Israel from Saul and gave it to David who was a far better choice. Samuel, the prophet ended up killing Agag who thought or hoped that the bitterness of death was past (1 Samuel 15:8, 9, 18, 28, 32-33).
Ahab should have consulted the Lord before releasing Ben-Hadad. Ben-Hadad called himself Ahab’s servant but Ahab called him “brother”. He invited the defeated Syrian king into his chariot. A peace treaty was made and during all of this God was not consulted. Ahab was treating Ben-Hadad as a friend rather than an enemy of Samaria and Israel. Whereas Saul was rejected as king for sparing the Amalekite king, Ahab was condemned to death for sparing Ben-Hadad. Both paid dearly for their disobedience–for failing to follow the will of God.
Bottom line: obey the voice of the Lord so that it may be well with you. Jesus said that His brothers and sisters are those who do the will of the Father (Matthew 12:50).