39. Fight

39. To Fight or Not to Fight

8?? BC

Plaza, Samaria City, Israel

Obadiah entered the aroma of roasting beef and mutton at the city gate, followed by his bodyguards. On the threshing floor, he turned away from the harps and lyres and threaded through the happy, gossiping crowd to the potter’s shop. With his back to the flails and the donkeys, he sat on a goatskin facing King Ahab and King Jehoshaphat.

Near the center of the threshing floor, the two kings sat on thrones—a pair of marble chairs servants had carried from the palace—and chuckled and chatted together, their voices covered by the noise of the crowd. Ahab wore his flowing blue robe of state. Jehoshaphat wore purple. They held plates of mutton and beef roast.

Obadiah accepted a plate from a server and stabbed a sliver of beef. The sun was high, so Ahab would make his move on Jehoshaphat soon. Yet, unlike previous battles, Ahab had no plan for retaking Ramoth. How could Obadiah get his king away from this crowd and talk strategy?

Ahab smirked at Jehoshaphat then raised his voice to Generals Jehu and Bidkar relaxing over by the tailor shop. “You know Ramoth up in Gilead belongs to us, but we sit here in our green hills, doing nothing to take it back.” Then Ahab turned to King Jehoshaphat. “So, my friend, will you help us take back Ramoth?”

Jehoshaphat placed a hand against his chest. He lifted his handsome chin and stroked his neat, black beard. “Of course,” came his powerful bass voice. “Especially after such an impressive feast.”

Obadiah kept his head down and peeked. Pick up on the feast cue, Ahab. Three days ago, Obadiah had drilled the story into him. What was he waiting for?

Ahab cut his eyes toward Obadiah then refocused on his royal guest. He gave Jehoshaphat a conspiratorial elbow nudge and said with a voice too eager, “Ah, but this little spread is nothing compared to the twenty-two thousand oxen and hundred and twenty thousand sheep at King Solomon’s banquet.”

Several heads near the two kings nodded, and the tempo of the harps and lyres stepped up a beat.

King Jehoshaphat rewarded Ahab’s tiny tap on the reservoir of history with an open smile. “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.” Then his face went blank. His smile fell. “Um, maybe we should ask the Lord.”

Behind his hand, Obadiah laughed with Zak. Jehoshaphat rode down from Jerusalem to this banquet in his flowing royal purple and surrounded by fifty bodyguards. Yet, “horses” triggered pictures of bags of silver leaving the Jerusalem treasury.

Ask the Lord? No problem.” King Ahab waved at a guard. “Bring in the counselors.”

While guests sipped wine and nibbled at beef and mutton, Jezebel’s Asherah goons filed through the gate and onto the threshing floor.

Obadiah groaned. Jezebel had ordered her men to stay away from Elijah, and the crowd that cut the throats of the Baal thugs on Mount Carmel would have done a neat job on this gang.

Ahab opened his hands to them. “Shall we go to Gilead and fight for Ramoth or stay home?”

A chorus of four hundred shouted, “War! Make war! God will lay that city in your hand!”

What a sham,” Obadiah whispered to Zak. To keep Jezebel’s father happy, Ahab gave room and board to cheap entertainers.

King Jehoshaphat scowled. “Is this it? These Asherah guys? Don’t you know any counselor from the Lord?”

The crowd grew quiet. The harps and lyres ceased to play.

Obadiah set his drink on a paving stone. Now what? Ahab was rushing blind into battle. He only knew one true bubbler, and he had told that one to stay out of sight.

Ahab glowered at Obadiah, sighed, and fluttered his hand at a guard. “Bring me Mikayhu son of Imlah. He’s with Gera the grove manager. Make it snappy. We don’t want to keep the king of Judah waiting.”

The guard bowed and left.

Ahab tugged his tunic away from throat and gave a weak smile to Jehoshaphat. “You asked for someone from the Lord. I hope you’re not disappointed. This Mika kid—he sings and bounces, bounces and sings. He’s a fine boy and means well. But he has nothing good to say about me.”

Obadiah scowled at the floor. Mika adored the king, but he cut no corners on messages from the Lord.

Ahab beckoned to a server. “Let’s give our guest more of that roast.”

As the server slid a slice of beef onto Jehoshaphat’s plate, a song floated through the gate. “Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn.”

King Jehoshaphat dropped his knife.

Heads turned. The harp and lyre at the edge of the crowd struck up the tune of the psalm.

Heh-heh.” Ahab beamed at Jehoshaphat. “That’s our boy.”

Mika bobbed in with his messy brown hair and the slight lift to his step. He stopped in front of the two kings. First, he bowed to Ahab. Then to Jehoshaphat. His heels moved up and down. “The Lord’s alive, you know. I repeat what He tells me.” He grinned over at the Asherah chorus. “Nothing like those clowns.”

One stepped out from the chorus holding a set of ram horns to his head. Zedekiah.

Ahab’s face turned red.

Obadiah groaned. What would these guys think up next?

Zedekiah leaped forward and back, right and left. With both hands holding the heavy horns to his head, he couldn’t use his arms to balance, so he toppled and staggered with each thrust—yelling, “The Lord says, ‘With these you will gore and destroy!’”

Obadiah smothered a laugh with his hand. Poor Zee and his unbalanced bull.

Yet, the Asherah chorus of four hundred backed their man with cheers. “Attack Ramoth in Gilead. Attack! The Lord says, ‘Hold out your hand!’ Grasp victory! Success!”

Ahab peeked at Jehoshaphat.

The king of Judah cringed and held his head in his hands.

Um, thank you, Zee. Zedekiah.” Ahab pasted on a fresh smile and asked Jehoshaphat’s question for him. “Well, Mika, what do you say? Go to war or stay home?”

Mika crouched in front of the two kings. He floated his head forward and back while he clicked his fingers to a beat.

Jehoshaphat scooted forward on his throne and bobbed with him. Then snapped his fingers. A slow grin lit the face of General Jehu. Chariot captains wagged their heads and rolled their shoulders, while servers at the edge of the threshing floor twitched their knees. Across the crowd, heads moved, fingers clicked, shoulders rolled.

While King Jehoshaphat led the beat, Mika chanted.

Sure thing, King.

Yeah, I mean bring.

Bring it on. War.

War, of course.

Chariot and horse.

Attack ’em. Smack ’em.

Easy vict’ry.

Hold out your hand.

Success!

Ahab hurled his wine cup to the threshing floor. “Cut the song and dance, Mika. Just tell us what the Lord showed you.”

I don’t like what I saw, King.” Mika’s heels sagged.

With the beat lying dead, Jehoshaphat turned on his throne and stared at Ahab. “Who is this boy?”

Ahab ignored him. “Tell us what you saw, Mika.”

Mika wiped his eyes with the back of his hand and licked his top lip.

Obadiah’s mouth fell open. What horror had Mika seen?

“Tell us,” Ahab said.

Mika’s face drooped. Yet, he stretched and pointed an arm toward the mountains of Gilead. “I saw Israel scattered.” He hiccupped but took a deep breath and continued. “Men dotted the hills, wandering sheep, and the Lord said, ‘They have no leader. Send them home to fend for themselves.’”

See what I mean,” Ahab said. “Never anything good.”

Jehoshaphat stared at Mika then at Ahab.

Obadiah wiped his cheeks. No leader. Mika had seen the army without the king. What did he see happening to Ahab?

The boy splayed his arms at his side. He turned his face to the sky and called to the circling vultures. “I saw the Lord on his throne with angels left and right. The Lord asked, ‘Who will lure Ahab to go die at Ramoth in Gilead?’”

Gasps floated from the crowd.

One said, ‘This way.’ Another, ‘Here’s how.’ Then one angel took center stage. ‘I’ll make those Asherah buffoons think they’ve discovered Truth.’”

The Lord waved him on. ‘Go. Do it.’”

Mika waved toward the chorus. “So the Lord put this victory dance in the mouths of your puppets here and… and…” He sobbed.

Zedekiah jumped over with his ram’s horns in one hand and punched Mika in the mouth with the other. “What makes you think the Spirit of God left me and talked to you?”

Obadiah leaped to his feet. Time to put the horns away.

But Mika wiped blood off his mouth and stood tall in Zedekiah’s face. “You’ll know, Zee. When you’re looking for a place to hide, you’ll know.”

Obadiah sat back down. If he could get Ahab alone and talk strategy, maybe he could keep his old friend alive.

Ahab pulled his knees up on his throne and looked sideways at a guard. “Lock Mika up. Bread and water until I get back.”

Oh, King. I don’t want you to die. Don’t you understand?” Mika’s voice caught. “Do what you want with me. But you’re not coming back.” He turned to Obadiah, sniffed and wiped at his nose. “Can’t you make King stay home, Mr. Biah? Our king’s not coming back.”

Obadiah rose and approached Ahab. He had to talk him out of this fool’s venture. “My king.”

Ahab whirled on him. “Shut it. I want this fight.”


Background

This Story – 1 Kings 22

King Solomon’s banquet – 1 Kings 8:63 & 2 Chronicles 7:5

I will awaken the dawn. – Psalm 108:2

Port of Eilat – Deuteronomy 2:8, 2 Kings 14:22, 16:6, 2 Chronicles 8:17-18i

iMove to proper chapter – Port of Eilat – Deuteronomy 2:8, 2 Kings 14:22, 16:6, 2 Chronicles 8:17-18

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