War with Aram
20 Now Ben-hadad king of Aram gathered all his army, and there were thirty-two kings with him, and horses and chariots. And he went up and besieged Samaria and fought against it. 2 Then he sent messengers to the city to Ahab king of Israel and said to him, “Thus says Ben-hadad, 3 ‘Your silver and your gold are mine; your most beautiful wives and children are also mine.’” 4 The king of Israel replied, “It is according to your word, my lord, O king; I am yours, and all that I have.” 5 Then the messengers returned and said, “Thus says [a]Ben-hadad, ‘Surely, I sent to you saying, “You shall give me your silver and your gold and your wives and your children,” 6 but about this time tomorrow I will send my servants to you, and they will search your house and the houses of your servants; and [b]whatever is desirable in your eyes, they will [c]take in their hand and carry away.’”
7 Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land and said, “Please observe and see how this man is looking for trouble; for he sent to me for my wives and my children and my silver and my gold, and I did not refuse him.” 8 All the elders and all the people said to him, “Do not listen or consent.” 9 So he said to the messengers of Ben-hadad, “Tell my lord the king, ‘All that you sent for to your servant at the first I will do, but this thing I cannot do.’” And the messengers departed and brought him word again. 10 Ben-hadad sent to him and said, “May the gods do so to me and more also, if the dust of Samaria will suffice for handfuls for all the people who [d]follow me.” 11 Then the king of Israel replied, “Tell him, ‘Let not him who girds on his armor boast like him who takes it off.’” 12 When Ben-hadad heard this message, as he was drinking [e]with the kings in the [f]temporary shelters, he said to his servants, “Station yourselves.” So they stationed themselves against the city.
The message from this passage somewhat follows that of yesterday, as it’s about family. Ben-hadad attacks Ahab, and demands his silver, gold, wives and children. And Ahab does not refuse him. Then Ben-hadad takes it up a notch and says, “I’m going to send my servants to take away your silver, gold, wives, children AND anything that looks like it might be valuable to you. Only then does Ahab get his dander up and consult the elders to see what to do. Now, we know women and children didn’t have the value they do now, and less so to a king who may have had several wives and many children, but how is it that he sacrifices his family willingly, while certain possessions are not up for grabs?
We might think such a man heartless, but is this uncommon in even our day and age? Do men and women neglect their children or spouses for career, wealth, power, and more? As we would think Ahab a cruel heartless man for offering up his family so willingly, so must we be on guard that we do not put worldly things above those who ought to be nearest and dearest to us. While God certainly wants to be #1 in our lives, He built the family, and would expect them to be nothing less than a close second in our priorities. Indeed, it’s often been said that when you put God first, your family relationships will be strengthened, and so it ought to be. As we chase after God, we get our perspective adjusted, and family should become more important to us in the process.