Was Ahab the first king of Israel since Saul not to rule according to God’s will?


The short answer is NO. Though the Lord God was the leader of the Israelites, He predicted a time when His people would desire to have a human king to rule over them. He both predicted and permitted this, commanding, “When thou art come unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me.” Deuteronomy 17:14

In the verses following Deuteronomy 17:14, we find several insights that can provide wisdom for the selection of leaders today. First, God tells His people to make sure they are following His will when crowning a king. The Bible makes it clear that leaders are chosen by the Lord. “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” Romans 13:1

Second, leaders are often best selected from among the people they will lead. In the case of Israel’s kings, the Lord commanded, “Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the Lord thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.” Deuteronomy 17:15

Third, a godly leader must not focus on amassing personal wealth. “But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the Lord hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way. Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.” Deuteronomy 17:16–17 Great wealth has a way of turning a person’s heart from the Lord (Matthew 19:23), and a leader of people should not allow himself to be distracted by riches.

Fourth, a good leader must be content with his family situation. “Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away” Deut. 17:17 Too many women will turn a leader’s heart from the Lord. This is exactly what happened in the reign of King Solomon, who had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3). Despite Solomon’s great wisdom, his heart turned from the Lord to honor his wives’ deities.

Fifth, a good leader must be committed to God’s Word. “And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:” Deuteronomy 17:18–19 There is no record of an Israelite king actually writing out the entire Law of the Lord, but King David serves as an example of a leader who was committed to the Law and was blessed as a result. Other kings of Israel who did not adhere to God’s laws did not enjoy the same leadership quality.

Sixth, a godly leader serves in humility. The Israelite king was told “not [to] consider himself better than his fellow Israelites” (verse 20). Even though he sits on a throne, a king is still God’s servant. The benefit to Israelite kings who followed these commands was a long reign and an established dynasty: “That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.” Deuteronomy 17:20.

The people under a godly king also benefited. It is important that leaders in any nation, in any era, seek to be godly. “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” Proverbs 29:2 In none of these ways was Ahab, he was one in a line of increasingly evil kings in Israel’s history, starting with the reign of Jeroboam. “Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him.” 1 Kings 16:30. Among the events chronicled in Ahab’s life that led to his downfall was his marriage to an evil woman named Jezebel who had a particular hatred for God’s people (1 Kings 18:4). Because of his marriage to a pagan woman, Ahab devoted himself to the worship of the false gods Baal and Asherah in Israel (1 Kings 16:31–33).

After the death of Solomon, the kingdom was divided. Ten tribes formed the Northern Kingdom, called Israel; Judah and Benjamin formed the Southern Kingdom, called Judah. The date of the division of the kingdom is approximately 931 BC. The following is a list of the kings of Israel and Judah following the death of Israels third King Solomon. The dates of their reigns are approximate, due to overlapping reigns, associated sovereignty, intervals of anarchy, and the Jewish practice of counting parts of years as full years. Portions of some reigns were concurrent. All the kings of Israel practiced idolatry; the worst served Baal. Many of the kings of Judah served idols; few served the Lord faithfully. Some bad kings were partly good; some good kings partly bad. The kings, the approximate dates of their reigns, and descriptions of their overall obedience to God are as follows:

KINGS OF ISRAEL: Jeroboam I, rebellious, 931—910 BC Nadab, bad, 910—909 BC Baasha, wicked, 909—886 BC Elah, evil, 886—885 BC Zimri, sinful, 885 BC Tibni, iniquitous, 885—880 BC Omri (overlap), extra bad, 885—874 BC Ahab, the worst to that point, 874—853 BC Ahaziah, disobedient, 853—852 BC Joram/Jehoram, mostly rotten, 852—841 BC Jehu, not good but better than the rest, 841—814 BC Jehoahaz, noncompliant, 814—798 BC Joash, wayward, 798—782 BC Jeroboam II (overlap), badly behaved, 793—753 BC Zechariah, abysmal, 753 BC Shallum, full of vice, 752 BC Menahem, horrible, 752—742 BC Pekahiah, idolatrous, 742—740 BC Pekah (overlap), awful, 752—732 BC Hoshea, appalling, 732—722 BC

KINGS OF JUDAH: Rehoboam, mostly bad, 931—913 BC Abijah, mostly perverted, 913—911 BC Asa, good, 911—870 BC Jehoshaphat (overlap), righteous, 873—848 BC Jehoram/Joram (overlap), terrible, 853—841 BC Ahaziah, bad, 841 BC Athaliah (queen), devilish, 841—835 BC Joash/Jehoash, mostly virtuous, 835—796 BC Amaziah, mostly wholesome, 796—767 BC Uzziah/Azariah (overlap), mostly respectable, 790—739 BC Jotham (overlap), worthy, 750—731 BC Ahaz, heinous, 735—715 BC Hezekiah, the best, 715—686 BC Manasseh, depraved until he repented at the end, 695—642 BC Amon, treacherous, 642—640 BC Josiah, great, 640—609 BC Jehoahaz, dreadful, 609 BC Jehoiakim, degenerate, 609—597 BC Jehoiachin, frightful, 597 BC Zedekiah, foolish, 597—586 BC

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