And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will disguise myself and go into battle, but you wear your robes.” And the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle.31 Now the king of Syria had commanded the thirty-two captains of his chariots, “Fight with neither small nor great, but only with the king of Israel.”32 And when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, they said, “It is surely the king of Israel.” So they turned to fight against him. And Jehoshaphat cried out.33 And when the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, they turned back from pursuing him.34 But a certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate. Therefore he said to the driver of his chariot, “Turn around and carry me out of the battle, for I am wounded.”35 And the battle continued that day, and the king was propped up in his chariot facing the Syrians, until at evening he died. And the blood of the wound flowed into the bottom of the chariot.36 And about sunset a cry went through the army, “Every man to his city, and every man to his country!”
37 So the king died, and was brought to Samaria. And they buried the king in Samaria.38 And they washed the chariot by the pool of Samaria, and the dogs licked up his blood, and the prostitutes washed themselves in it, according to the word of the Lord that he had spoken. (1 Kings 22:30-38)
Leading up to this scene is Micaiah’s prophecy that Ahab would die in battle, and earlier still was Elijah’s prophecy that Ahab’s blood would be licked up in the place where he (as accomplice) had Naboth’s killed for his vineyard.
What’s interesting is that Ahab does not discount or ignore the Word of the Lord. He believes it and so he takes steps to try and “outsmart” it. By disguising himself, he thinks he is safe. And while the Syrians are indeed befuddled by his disguise and can’t seem to find him, God is not. Verse 34 shows us the sovereign hand of God on the seemingly random arrow.
This helps us understand some key things. One, you cannot outrun our outsmart God. But then, the only reason you would want to us to continue in something that you know is wrong. God is for us, not against us and that is so important to remember! Why did God issue prophecies of judgment against Ahab? At least one reason is to show him his fault and lead him to repentance. Ahab does repent in the previous chapter when Elijah prophecies judgment for his taking of Naboth’s vineyard, and that repentance delays God’s judgment for a time. But sadly for Ahab his repentance did not last and he turned back to his evil ways.
Two, it shows us that God is steering history that seems random and meaningless. Sometimes God lets us see how he is doing it, as in this case, but most often we don’t. But seeing behind the curtain every once in a while helps us to rest knowing that God has even the minutia of life under his direction. That is good news when you know that God is for you and not against you.