1 Kings 20
This is one of those chapters that challenges our understanding of God. First, God gives victory to Ahab. Yes, that Ahab.
Isn’t he a pagan king who married the wicked Jezebel?
Isn’t he the one who prophets of Baal Elijah recently defeated?
But then, Ahab shows mercy on the king of Aram, makes a treaty with him, and spares his life. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t see that one coming.
And, instead of God being pleased with him sparing a life and making peace, God sends a prophet to tell him that God had determined Ben Hadad should die, and by sparing him, Ahab has forfeited his own life in Ben Hadad’s place.
Timothy Keller has said, “If your God never disagrees with you, you might be worshipping an idealized version of yourself.” The God of the Bible is often unfathomable. We want to fit Him into a neat box and pull Him out like a party trick, but He refuses to play along. He has His own agenda. While we catch glimpses of it in the sacrifice of Christ for our salvation, much of it is simply beyond our understanding.
Yet a God who is able to fit in our little box is not worthy of worship and is not capable of meeting our deepest needs. Just as Jacob wrestled with God, each of us must wrestle with aspects of God’s design that confound us. At the end of our wrestling, we must come to grips with the fact that God is who He says He is. We must accept His words: “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” (Exodus 33:19 and Romans 9:15)
Yes, this is the biblical equivalent of “because I said so,” and my rebellious heart bristles at the notion that God doesn’t have to explain Himself or His decisions to me.
But the reality is it is incredibly arrogant to believe my finite brain could grasp it if He did explain His infinite plans. Even more so to assume God has any obligation to do so.