(NIV1984) 1 Kings 18:5-6 – “Ahab had said to Obadiah, ‘Go through the land to all the springs and valleys. Maybe we can find some grass to keep the horses and mules alive so we will not have to kill any of our animals.’ So they divided the land they were to cover, Ahab going in one direction and Obadiah in another.”
This passage really shows where Ahab’s heart was. He and Obadiah could have been searching for food and water for the people. As king, Ahab should have been thinking of and looking out for his people. He shouldn’t have wanted them to die, and he should have been working for them to live. Instead, his focus is on finding grass for the horses and mules, for the animals, because he didn’t want to have to kill them. The horses and mules – their lives – were more important in this moment than the lives of the people of his kingdom.
This is not to say he didn’t try to look for food for his people beforehand, but that, if that were true, at least he seems to have given up on them by now. (Or perhaps he found food for them – but then why would he have to look for separate food and water for the animals? Unless there wasn’t enough to go around?)
And it makes me wonder if either Ahab or Obadiah took anyone with them. Did they just go alone? That’s kind of what the upcoming scene between Obadiah and Elijah seemed like to me, but I’ll talk about that more later, when we get there. And if that were true, why alone? Why just those two? Obviously Ahab trusts Obadiah because he did put him in charge of his house, but is he really the only one person – besides, perhaps, Jezebel (and even that may be a stretch) – that Ahab trusts? And if so, why didn’t Ahab realize that might be because of Obadiah’s connection to God? Did Obadiah ever even tell him (considering Ahab or Jezebel probably would have killed him, I would suspect not)? These are just…interesting dynamics going on here.
And, although this is mainly a study in Elijah and his life (and then Elisha – and then John the Baptist – carrying on the legacy, how they are connected to Elijah, I mean…John the Baptist is referred to as “the Elijah who was to come” (NIV, Matthew 11:14)) – I do want to look at Ahab’s life. He is considered one of – if not THE – most wicked men in the Bible. And although there are a lot of problems with him, the greatest problem I see is that Ahab listened to everyone else’s opinions. He tried to mold himself into what they wanted him to be. We will see him be whiny and complacent and not really sure of himself. He lets himself get walked over. He tries to be a good king, but he listens to everyone’s opinion on what a good king is and then tries to fit that instead of just listening to what God wants. And over and over again there are miracles and prophecies and he just….
Ahab’s just a pretty interesting guy, is all. I’m still not quite sure what I think of him.
Feel free to come back tomorrow when we’ll see the first part of Obadiah’s encounter with Elijah!