This article can also be read in The Expository File.
Ahab was a bad man and an even worse king. The author of Kings stresses that his wickedness was not just undesirable, but worse than every Israelite king before him. “Ahab did more to provoke the Lord…to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (1 Kings 16:33). He built and worshipped idols, married the evil Jezebel, and led Israel further away from God than they had ever been before. Yet these were just the beginning of Ahab’s issues. At the root of Ahab’s impiety was a hard heart that refused to evaluate himself or listen to godly counsel. Ahab never asked himself, “am I the problem?”
Because of Ahab’s wickedness, Elijah told Ahab that there would be a multi-year drought. When they met again Ahab said to Elijah, “is it you, you troubler of Israel?” (1 Kings 18:17). Elijah set him straight: “I have not troubled Israel, but you have…because you have abandoned the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals” (v18). After Jezebel’s conspiracy against Naboth and Ahab’s complicity, Elijah approached Ahab again. This time Ahab wryly asked, “have you found me, O my enemy? (1 Kings 21:20a). Again, Elijah set him straight: “I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the Lord (v20b). After Jehoshaphat insisted on a prophet that wasn’t a “yes man,” Ahab answered, “there is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord…but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil” (1 Kings 22:8). Over and over, Ahab blamed his problems on everyone but himself.
Ahab’s problem still plagues mankind. He always assumed that everyone but him was the issue. Bad things were happening and he could only blame Elijah. Never did he stop and think, “maybe I have something to do with it.” Ahab is like the guy who, everywhere he drives, people honk at him, he gets a speeding ticket a week, and he gets in 10 accidents each year. But all he ever says is, “everyone else are terrible drivers and the police are out to get me!” Never does he stop and ask, “am I the problem? Maybe I’m the terrible driver!”
When we are in conflicts with people or feel like we’re constantly being persecuted, our first question ought to be, “am I the problem?” If conflict and controversy has been the story of my life, that probably says more about me than everyone else (it did with Ahab). Humility, honesty, and self-evaluation are in order—all things Ahab never practiced. Conflicts among brethren would be very short-lived (non-existent?) if all parties asked themselves “am I the problem?”