Searchlights from the Word by G. Campbell Morgan: 1 Kings

Helpful outline sermon suggestion from every chapter from the Book of 1 Kings

Gene Exod Levi Numb Deut Josh Judg Ruth 1Sam 2Sam 1Kin 2Kin 1Chr 2Chr Ezra Nehe Esth Job_ Psal Prov Eccl Song Isai Jere Lame Ezek Dani Hose Joel Amos Obad Jona Mica Nahu Haba Zeph Hagg Zech Mala Matt Mark Luke John Acts Roma 1Cor 2Cor Gala Ephe Phil Colo 1The 2The 1Tim 2Tim Titu Phle Hebr Jame 1Pet 2Pet 1Joh 2Joh 3Joh Jude Reve

The Book of 1 Kings - "Searchlights from the Word" by G. Campbell Morgan.

Chapter 1

Amen: the Lord, the God of my lord the king say so too.
1 Kings 1:36

As the days of David ran out, trouble arose in the kingdom through his son Adonijah. A remarkable statement is made concerning the training, or lack of training, of this man, which throws light on his action: "His father had not displeased him at any time in saying, 'Why hast thou done so?'" He now sought to secure the kingdom for himself and was joined in his rebellion by Joab and Abiathar. David took prompt action, and Solomon was crowned king. When David gave his instructions to his, loyal men, he said concerning Solomon: "I have appointed him to be prince over Israel and over Judah." To this Benaiah replied: "Amen: Jehovah, the God of my lord the king say so, too"; thus showing himself to be a man understanding the matters which are of real importance. This should be, not only the prayer we pray in connection with all the arrangements we make for our service, but the principle upon which we act in making those arrangements. In this case it certainly was so, for it was within the Divine purpose that Solomon should succeed David. According to Nathan, there were of the people who had already said, "Long live king Adonijah!" Now others of them would say, "Long live king Solomon!" In these words Benaiah appealed to the Divine arbitrament. His "Amen" signified his personal agreement; but he knew the importance of the Divine approval. No elections are really valid, and no choices of any lasting value, except the Lord say so too!

Chapter 2

And the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon.
1 Kings 2:46

Solomon's first action was characterized by the best side of his nature. In dealing with Adonijah, clemency and dignified authority were alike manifest. The charge which David gave him was one which revealed his understanding of the secrets of true success, in so far as he called him to absolute loyalty to God. That part of this charge which had to do with Joab and Shimei has been severely criticized. Much of this criticism is surely unwarranted. David knew these men by experience, and appreciated their danger to the State. He had kept his covenant with them and spared their lives. Moreover, it is to be carefully noted that in each case he left the matter of how to deal with them in the hands of Solomon, being assured of his wisdom. His words concerning the death of each were prophetic rather than vindictive. Events soon proved the accuracy of his forecast. Adonijah's request for Abishag, interpreted in the light of Eastern customs, was a movement toward rebellion. Joab and Abiathar were implicated in this movement. Solomon acted in the highest interests of the kingdom as with clemency and yet with strict justice, he dealt with these treacherous impulses. Adonijah and Joab were slain, and Abiathar was deposed from the priesthood. To Shimei an opportunity of life was granted on certain well-defined conditions. He broke his parole, and paid the penalty. The words with which the story ends vindicate the action of the new king. There are times when, in the interest of the establishment of a true order, the sternest measures are the most kind.

Chapter 3

Behold, I have done according to thy word.
1 Kings 3:12

This was the answer of God to the request of Solomon, when appearing to him at Gibeon He commanded him to ask a gift. Only be it observed, that the context shows that God gave more than he asked. This appearing of God to the new king was all of grace. The first paragraph of the chapter reveals at once the strength and weakness of Solomon. He was strong in that he loved Jehovah, and walked in the statutes of his father David. The weak side of his nature was manifested in his affinity with Pharaoh and marriage with his daughter. Politically it seemed an astute move, but it was unutterably foolish. The perils of mixed motives and a divided heart are very grave. This appearing of God gave him a great opportunity, and his choice again was due to the triumph of the highest side of his character. Realizing his personal disability for the great work devolving upon him, he asked for an understanding heart. God's answer was full of gracious kindness. He gave him what be asked, and superadded the things he might have chosen, yet showed his wisdom in passing by. Long life, wealth, and victory are good things when they come as the direct gifts of God. Should a man from selfish motives choose them rather than ability to fulfil the Divine purpose, they would prove curses rather than blessings. In the case of Solomon, so long as he sought the highest, these lower things were means of blessing to his people.

Chapter 4

And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig-tree.
1 Kings 4:25

These were the golden days of the monarchy. For a while the people had rest from war, and the king gave himself up to the careful organization of his kingdom. He ruled with the understanding heart which he had received from Jehovah, and the system of government as set forth in this chapter is remarkable. The king was supreme, but he gathered around him a company of officers of state, each having his own department, for which he was responsible. The words which we emphasize pictorially set forth the peace and prosperity which characterized the period. Such a time is always one of peril to a nation. It is under circumstances of adversity, when a strain is put upon life, that man is most likely to realize and practise his dependence upon God. Circumstances of ease, when demands upon life are not severe, are always calculated to produce evil results, spiritually and morally. In saying that, have we not almost inadvertently revealed the secret of the peril? Life is not intended for ease, if by ease is meant anything approaching indolence. Days of prosperity should never be days when service ceases. Life is so rich potentially, that there is always room for fuller realization, and all enrichment should but create opportunities for more complete development. That was the meaning of the garden of Eden with its work, before man sinned. That will be the meaning of the Kingdom of God when fully established on earth, not laziness, but strenuous activity in the fullness of strength. Luxury, producing languor, destroys. Abundance, inspiring endeavour, makes for permanence.

Chapter 5

Blessed be the Lord this day, which hath given unto David a wise son over this great people. – 1 Kings 5:7

These words of the King of Tyre constitute one of the illustrations constantly, if incidentally, occurring in these Hebrew records of the fact that men outside the actual covenant people had some very definite knowledge of God. This man used the special name or title of God, which was that of the Hebrews, namely, JEHOVAH. Moreover, he recognized the coming of Solomon to the throne, as the appointment and gift of God. In this case almost certainly this knowledge was directly due to the influence of the people of God. David had obtained timber for the building of his own house from Hiram King of Tyre, and a friendship had existed between them. Whether this was the same man, or his son - for forty years had elapsed between these two events - he "was ever a lover of David." These stories all serve to remind us that men everywhere have capacity for receiving truth about God; and some of them at least suggest that God may make Himself known to men in other ways than those of the more self-evident lines of revelation. Perhaps the case of Melchizedek is the supreme example of this. In any case, all such stories as that of Hiram should serve to call us to the sense of opportunity and responsibility of revealing God to those with whom we are brought into contact in every walk of life. In these words of Hiram, we have not only a recognition of God, and of His government, but a definite act of worship in an ascription of praise to JEHOVAH.

Chapter 6

So was he seven years in building it.
1 Kings 6:38

Directly Solomon had set the kingdom in order, he turned his attention to the building of the Temple, which work he evidently considered to be his by special appointment. The time was now opportune, for the nation was at peace, and his own words to Hiram had aptly described the conditions: "Jehovah my God hath given me rest on every side; there is neither adversary nor evil occurrent." In this chapter we have a comparatively brief, but very impressive account of the carrying out of the work. In all essentials this Temple was patterned after the Tabernacle as to its actual central building. It was, however, twice its size, and built of solid material, because intended to remain in permanent position, seeing that the nation was now settled in the land. The time occupied in its construction was seven years, during which the actual work of erection in the city went forward in impressive silence. Like the Tabernacle, its chief splendour was within, where everything was encased in gold, neither wood nor stone being visible. The magnificence of this small Temple - for small it was by comparison with temples erected to other gods - may be gathered from the fact that the amount of gold used was six hundred talents, the approximate value of which in English currency has been estimated at over three millions in gold. These must have been great years for Solomon. With loving devotion he was carrying out, as the one appointed by God, the dearest desire of his father's heart; and at the same time, by the work, establishing at the centre of the national life that which would be a persistent witness to the deepest secrets of national strength and prosperity.

Chapter 7

And Solomon was building his own house thirteen years.
1 Kings 7:1

It is impossible to escape the contrast between these words and those of our last note. Moreover, the contrast was evidently intended by the chronicler, for in his writing there were no chapter divisions, and the two statements run right on thus: "So was he seven years in building it. And Solomon was building his own house thirteen years." This is not to suggest that the work of building the Temple was hurried. There is no doubt that it was done thoroughly. But it does show the place which his own personal comfort and luxurious tastes had come to occupy in the life of Solomon, that he should build for himself a palace which took nearly twice as long to build as the House of his God. It is often by such simple, and unexpected tests, that the deepest facts of a human life are revealed. However strong our zeal may be for the House of God, and however accurately we may discharge our obligations in regard to it, if the proportion of time and possessions devoted to the things of our own ease and comfort be greater than the proportion devoted to the service of God, our master-passion is surely proven thereby to be selfish rather than godly. In the case of the Christian campaign of witness, this is even more searching a test. Solomon did discharge his obligation so far as the Temple was concerned, even though the love of self played so large a part in his life's activities. We have never discharged our obligation while any region of the earth remains unevangelized, or any human soul is yet without the knowledge of Christ.

Chapter 8

The cloud filled the house of the Lord.
1 Kings 8:10

This shining of the glory of Jehovah in the house which Solomon had built was a radiant manifestation of the grace of God. The thoughtful consideration of the whole account of the erection of this Temple will show that in permitting it, God was accommodating His methods to meet human frailty, as He had done in the appointment of the priesthood and in the choice of a king. When David had desired to build, it had been pointed out to him that such a building was not by Divine request or command. Nevertheless God had permitted the building, and now filled the house with His glory. The one permanent and unchanged link between the Tabernacle and the Temple was the Ark of the Covenant; and it was when that sacred symbol of the Divine presence and authority found a resting-place in the Temple, that the mystic glory filled the building. Over all human failure grace triumphs; and this shining-forth of the Divine glory in the new Temple was an evidence of that truth. The human attitude which made this possible, was that of the loyalty of the king and people to the deepest truth of their national life, as this was expressed in the desire to give that Ark its proper place at the heart of the city of the king. When the heart is loyal, God acts in grace, even when the methods of expression are not in themselves of the highest. This explains many of the manifestations of Divine glory in the midst of systems and methods which are not in strict harmony with the simplicity which is in Christ.

Chapter 9

The Lord appeared to Solomon the second time, as He had appeared unto him at Gibeon.
1 Kings 9:2

This second special appearance of Jehovah to Solomon was very significant. It came at a critical time. Solomon had finished all the work prompted by his desires, both godly and self-centred. He had completed the House of God, and his own house. It was the hour when the accomplishment of work means the relaxation of effort. That is always a perilous hour, and the greater the work done, the graver the peril. A life which has been full of activity, when that activity ceases, demands some new interest, and will find it, either high or low, noble or ignoble. It was at such a moment that Jehovah specially manifested Himself to His servant. He declared that his prayer had been heard and answered, but that in order to continued well-being there were conditions which must be fulfilled. Thus the king was called to a new sense of responsibility as to his own life, and as to the administration of his kingdom. Alas, the sequel is a very sad one. The conditions were not kept, either by king or people; and the ultimate issue was that of the destruction of the Temple, and the driving out of the nation. That sad sequel, however, does but serve to reveal more completely to us the importance of heeding all those tender and strong methods by which our God is ever seeking to deliver us from failure. When one task is accomplished, He never leaves us a prey to the perils which follow. For us, in. Christ, He is always at hand and available, no longer needing to come in special ways; and it is for us to listen for His next word, that we may continue in His will.

Chapter 10

The fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord.
1 Kings 10:1

It is well to notice these words, as they reveal the real reason of the visit of the queen of Sheba. Her coming shows how far the fame of this king of Israel had spread, and these words teach us the nature of that fame. The reports of him had evidently accounted for his greatness and his wisdom, by his relationship to Jehovah. It was not the story of his magnificence which attracted this Arabian queen, but his fame concerning the name of Jehovah. Her visit revealed to her what the government of God really meant. Arriving, as she did, in the time of the nation's peace and prosperity, she was constrained to employ words which set forth her sense of the greatness of all she saw, as exceeding all reports concerning the prosperity of the kingdom and the happiness of the people. She saw clearly that the secret of everything was that of the reign of God, This she expressed in words which revealed the clearness with which this had been manifested: "Blessed be Jehovah thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel; because Jehovah loved Israel for ever, therefore made He thee king, to do judgment and justice." These were the great days in Solomon's reign. That is true fame for the servant of. God, then people are attracted through him, not to him, but to the God whom he represents. It is an evil hour when, concerning the servants of God, men are attracted by them, and by what they are, rather than directed through them to God.

Chapter 11

The Lord was angry with Solomon.
1 Kings 11:9

What a tragic sentence this is! In its setting, it is a revelation of the anger of God which we do well to ponder. The reasons for it are found in the story of Solomon contained in this chapter. Here we have the account of his degeneracy and doom. The nature of the man had ever a strong animal side. His commercial enterprises led him into alliance with surrounding nations, and following Oriental custom, he allowed his heart to go after strange women. The wrong thus began invaded higher realms, and he built temples for these women. Inevitably there followed the demoralization of king and people, until at last: "Jehovah was angry with Solomon." It is indeed a tragedy that the man who had built the Temple, and in priestly dignity had presided over its dedication, crying to God for His abiding presence, should, seduced by the lower side of his nature, turn from his loyalty, and break the covenant. This anger of Jehovah was not passive merely. "Jehovah raised up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite" (verse 14). "God raised up another adversary unto him, Rezon the son of Eliada" (verse 23). "And Jeroboam ... he also lifted up his hand against the king" (verse 26). All this was Divine judgment, and yet it was but the natural outworking of the evil heart which had possessed the king and people. Man is never punished for sin but that in the midst of the punishment he may say: This is the stroke of Jehovah, but it is my own deed and act. The whole story of King Solomon is full of the most solemn value. His was a life full of promise, but it ended in failure and gloom, because his heart turned from loyalty to God, in response to the seductions of his sensual nature.

Chapter 12

My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke: my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
1 Kings 12:14

In this and the four following chapters, we have the appalling story of the break-up and degradation of the nation. It covers a period of about sixty years, from the disruption after the death of Solomon, to the corruption under Ahab, and the coming of Elijah. The seeds of strife had long been growing. The occasion of the actual division arose with the accession of Rehoboam, and the rebellion of Jeroboam. Both these men were unworthy, as the folly of the one, and the sin of the other, prove. Jeroboam led a popular movement of protest against the burdens which had been imposed upon the people under the reign of Solomon. Rehoboam was proud and despotic, and answered the people in these words. They were foolish and empty. He had no right and no power to rule thus despotically. The terrible rending of the kingdom in twain was the result. The story remarkably illustrates the fact that despotic power is not hereditary. Solomon had gained such a position that his rule had become actually despotic. Rehoboam's will was to increase its grip and severity. He could not do so. The people will strangely submit to tyranny for a long time, if the tyrant has managed by some means to gain a personal influence over them. But there are limits. Stooping humanity has the persistent habit of lifting itself up after a time. Then kings are swept aside and revolutions result. Such revolutions are often wrong in their method; but, in their assertion of the greatness of humanity, they all contribute to the onward march of God.

Chapter 13

It is the man of God, who was disobedient unto the mouth of the Lord. - I Kings 13:26

The story of the "man of God out of Judah," and the "old prophet in Bethel" is a very strange one. We may rest assured that the prophet in Bethel was not a good man. It is quite evident, however, that he gained influence over the "man of God" by his claim to speak in the Name of Jehovah. That, however, was no sufficient excuse for the other's disobedience, and swift judgment fell upon him. The sentence is a very arresting one: "It is the man of God, who was disobedient to the mouth of Jehovah." It is possible to be called of God, sent of God, and yet to be disobedient. Moreover, the disobedience may be in some apparently minor detail. This man of God had faithfully delivered the message of God, and yet broke down in obedience. We are taught that no command of God must be disregarded by His messengers, even when, or if, an angel suggests a change of method. A Divine purpose directly communicated is never set aside by inter-mediation of any kind. How necessary, therefore, that those who are called of God should "prove the spirits whether they are of God!" When direct assault of evil would utterly fail to seduce the servants of God, the enemy constantly transforms his appearance into that of an angel of light, and claims to bring to the soul a Divine revelation. That is the most subtle of his methods. One thing may ever remain a certainty with us, and that is, that all suggested revelations may be tested by those already received. God never contradicts Himself in His dealings with His servants. Let us be true to His commands, refusing to be deflected from the path of obedience, even by an angel from heaven.

Chapter 14

There was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually.
1 Kings 14:30

And the supreme tragedy of the situation was that neither the northern nation of Israel, nor the southern one of Judah, was right. In the north, a false system of worship had been set up in the interests of supposed political expediency, and the people were being swiftly corrupted thereby. In the south, the people were also doing that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, and provoking Him to jealousy with their sins. Thus the whole nation was steeped in idolatry, and utterly failing to bear, to the surrounding nations the testimony to the purity and power of the Divine government, for the bearing of which they had been created. Then God is revealed as acting in judgment. Unenlightened peoples - unenlightened through this very failure on the part of the chosen nation - become a scourge in, the hands of God for the punishment of the chosen. This is seen in the invasion and spoliation of Judah by Shishak. Moreover, this long internecine strife was also a method of Divine retribution. When the life of the nation was not employed in fulfilment of Divine purpose, it expended itself in a process which was destructive. To fail to fulfil the Divine purpose is not only to be useless, it is to retard that purpose. Therefore the chosen instrument must itself pass under the destructive power of God.

Chapter 15

Nevertheless, the heart of Asa was perfect with the Lord all his days. - 1 Kings 15:24

Rehoboam was succeeded as King of Judah by his son, Abijam, who for three years continued the evil courses of his father, and the process of national deterioration went forward. Then, with the accession and long reign (of fifty-one years) of Asa, there was in a measure a halt in the downward progress. The partial reform under his influence preserved Judah from the speedy spread of corruption which occurred in the case of Israel. The statement of the chronicler, that his heart "was perfect with Jehovah," is a revelation of the fact that his purpose and intention were right. His will and power were not equal to his purpose, and consequently the reforms were not radical. He went a long way when he removed his mother Maacah from being queen, and cut down the abominable image which she had erected; but he left the high places still standing. It is the record of a faulty life, but one in which the deepest thing, that of desire, was right; and so it is the record of a life, the influence of which was a blessing rather than a curse. It is a revealing story. While it is necessarily true that the higher form of life is that in which will completely answers desire, and at all costs carries out high purpose, it is a great source of encouragement thus to discover that God accepts, values, and makes use of those whose desires are in harmony with His will, even though they do not attain to the fullness of realization.

Chapter 16

Ahab the son of Omri did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him.
1 Kings 26:30

The uttermost corruption of the northern kingdom of Israel was reached in the reign of Ahab, and represented in him. He was a veritable incarnation of evil. The story of the kings of Israel is tragic in the extreme! The record of corruption runs on from Jeroboam through Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri. Of these, two were murdered, and one committed suicide. Then further division was attempted, but Omri overcame Tibni and reigned in continued evil for six years. Then came Ahab. He united Jezebel with himself in the exercise of power, and gave himself and his people over to the most appalling forms of idolatry. This alliance with Jezebel was in itself contradictory to the law of God, and she became a terrible curse to the nation. Under the joint reign of Ahab and Jezebel, Israel sank to the same level as the surrounding nations. Its testimony as a nation was completely destroyed. The truth of the one God was denied by the multiplication within her borders of idols and idol-shrines. The call to purity was silenced by the awful corruption of the court and people. There was hardly a ray of light, for although, as subsequent declarations reveal, a remnant loyal to God still existed, their testimony was overwhelmed by the abounding pollution. It is a most searching history, giving the heart solemn pause, as it shows how complete may be the ruin of the most highly privileged peoples, if they are deflected from the way of absolute loyalty to the Throne of God. There is no safety for man or nation, apart from the liberty which results from complete bondage to the rule of God.

Chapter 17

And Elijah the Tishbite.
1 Kings 17:1

This sudden introduction of Elijah is in itself suggestive of the startling and dramatic way in which he broke in on the national life of the kingdom of Israel. To this day there are doubts as to his nationality and parentage. He came like a bolt from the blue; or, more accurately, he flamed like a lightning flash upon the prevailing darkness. His coming was the initiation of a new method in the Divine government, that of prophetic authority. There had been prophets before, but with the appearance of Elijah the office was elevated to one of supreme national importance. From that point onward the prophet was superior to the king. Presently kings arose whose hearts were set upon reform, but their work was directed by the prophets of God, through whom the Divine will was made known. The very first words of Elijah declared his authority. He affirmed that Jehovah the Pod of Israel lived; and he announced the fact that in the message he was about to deliver he spoke as the messenger of the enthroned Jehovah. The Divine action in thus sending Elijah was arresting. All earthly authority and protection were swept aside as being unnecessary. In simplest ways God protected His messenger, and provided for him. Thus God does break in upon human affairs, and assert Himself ever and anon, by some messenger. Men may refuse the message, and persecute the messenger; but the word he speaks is the word of Jehovah, and it is the word by which men live or die according to their response to it.

Chapter 18

I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father's house.
1 Kings 18:18

Ahab the corrupt king of Israel met Elijah the prophet of God for the first time under strange circumstances. For over two years there had been a drought in the land according to the word of the prophet. The judgment of God had rested upon the whole land. During that period Elijah had been preserved by God, away from the court of the king. Then, by the direct command of God, Elijah appeared to Ahab. The king greeted him with the words: "Is it thou, thou troubler of Israel?" They were a tacit confession that he knew that the judgment which had fallen upon the land was not due to natural causes, that it had come rather by the word of this strange messenger of the Divine authority. The question was one of resentment and anger. The reply .of Elijah was immediate, direct, revealing: "I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father's house." And that was so. Apart from the national sins resulting from the corrupt practices of the king, there would have been no judgment. The troubler of a nation is never the man who, in loyalty to righteousness, proceeds against wrong-doing, even though he be probably an outsider. It is rather he through whose corruption the nation becomes corrupt even though he be king. The men who stand for God, and protest against iniquity, are always troublers of those who are doing evil. But that is a very different thing from troubling the nation. The destroyers of the nation are these very evil-doers, and those who trouble them are rendering the highest service to the nation, even though they are persecuted, and their message, for the time being, refused.

Chapter 19

Arise and eat.
1 Kings 19:5

The story of Elijah is very human, and appeals to us because it is so true to the experience of life. The account of his encounter with the prophets of Baal is full of majesty. With calm dignity he stood against the combined evils of a corrupt court and a pagan religion. His vindication by the fire of God was perfect. The slaughter of the prophets of Baal aroused the ire of Jezebel to such a degree, that she sent a direct message, full of fury, to Elijah, Then came reaction. The man who had stood erect, confronting all the forces of evil, now fled for his life. Full of beauty is the story of God's method with His over-wrought and fearful servant. Before entering into that communion with him which was for the correction of his false attitude of fear, He commanded him to eat, thus ministering to his physical weakness. The words which are suggested by the story are those of the psalmist: "He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust." How often the way to spiritual strength and mental restoration is that of physical renewal! While we are serving our King in this sphere of earth there can be no divorce between physical and spiritual health. Over and over again the breakdown of spiritual vision is the result of physical weariness. Let us never forget that the word of Jehovah to. His servant of old under these conditions was, first: "Arise and eat." He had much to say to Elijah afterwards, and much to reveal to him; but He prepared him by renewing his bodily strength. A wonderful, understanding God is ours!

Chapter 20

As thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone.
1 Kings 20:40

These words constitute the central light in a parable which one of the sons of the prophets employed to rebuke Ahab for his failure in the matter of Benhadad. God had created for the king an opportunity of return to Himself. Benhadad, drunken, profligate, despotic, came in the pride of his arms against Samaria. By the prophets Jehovah spoke to Ahab, who acting under Divine direction, gained complete victory over his enemy. Then followed failure in the very hour of triumph. He made a covenant with the man whom God had devoted to destruction. He had one thing to do by the command of God, and while he did a hundred things he neglected the one. That was the meaning of the parable. What a revelation this of a perpetual reason and method of failure! We are given some one responsibility by God, some central definite thing to do. We start to do it with all good intention; and then other things, not necessarily wrong in themselves, come in our way. We get "busy here and there," doing many things, and neglect the one central thing. That is failure of the most definite kind. If a man is called to preach the Word, and becomes busy over a hundred things other than that of his central work and so loses the opportunity to preach, his failure is complete. That which is our God-appointed work, we must do. If we fail in that, the fact that we have been "busy here and there," doing all sorts of other things, is of no avail. Concentration upon the work entrusted to us is a solemn obligation. Diffusion of energy over all sorts of things not appointed to us, is a waste, and a wrong.

Chapter 21

Hast thou killed, and also taken possession?
1 Kings 21:19

Ahab had allowed the selfish and corrupt coveting of his evil heart to drive him to the murder of Naboth, in order to gain his vineyard. And now he had gone into the vineyard to take possession of it. But men do not so easily possess the things which they obtain by unrighteous methods. Right there, in the midst of the coveted garden, with startling abruptness, Elijah, the rough prophet of Horeb, stood before him. Thus God perpetually confronts the evil-doer, and spoils for him the gain of his wrong-doing. One can easily imagine the mixture of terror and of anger in the voice of the king as he exclaimed: "Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?" Elijah rose to the full dignity of the prophetic office. There was neither fear nor faltering in the awful message which he delivered. Men may outwit their fellowmen, may deceive and wrong them, may even murder them to rob them. The last word is always with God. He cannot be outwitted or deceived. This question which the prophet asked rings with holy satire. There is a taking possession which never results in possessing. Ahab never possessed the vineyard of Naboth. He held it, but that very fact became to him a torment. However fine the vintage, for him the grapes were acrid, poisonous. Nothing is ever possessed by any man, save that which is his by righteousness and truth and as the gift of God. Not the overlords of injustice, but the meek, inherit the earth. That which is gained by fraud is never possessed.

Chapter 22

There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, Micaiah the son of Imlah; but I hate him ... - 1 Kings 22:8

This was the hatred of an evil soul for the truth. Ahab knew in his heart that Micaiah would not fear or flatter him, but only declare the word of Jehovah. This he construed into personal hatred. Mark the following words: "He does not prophesy good concerning me but evil." What a revelation this is of the degradation of soul which follows upon evil courses! This man knew, none better, the true function of the prophet to be that of expressing the truth, as made known by God. With a superstitious dread, he still desired the supernatural interpretation which came from the prophetic word, only he wanted it to be in his favour. He was not seeking the truth, but such messages as would be for his own personal advantage. This is the lowest level to which a soul can sink. To rebel absolutely against the interference of the prophet, to decline to give any heed to the Divine thought or will, is a far less evil thing than to desire to make use of the prophet to minister to selfish desires. And yet how often this same appalling thing is seen at work! There are men who hate the prophet of God still, simply because he has no care other than to utter the very Word of God. Whenever this is so, it is because, in their deepest consciousness, men know that their courses are evil, and therefore can only be denounced. Hatred of the messenger of God is clear evidence of wilful wickedness.