Ahab’s insistence on going his own way is evident in his decision to attack Syria after entering into a peace treaty with king Ben-hadad (1 Kings 22:3). Ahab didn’t seem to understand that he was not free to do as he pleased. As God’s representative to the nation of Israel, Ahab was required to do God’s will, even if that meant staying at home and minding his own business.
The role of the prophets was to inform the king of God’s will, but the prophets in Ahab’s kingdom were telling him what he wanted to hear rather than speaking God’s word to him. At the request of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, Ahab agreed to consult a prophet that was faithful to God, Micaiah, before attacking Syria.
And the messenger that was gone to call Micaiah spake unto him, saying, Behold now, the words of the prophets declare good unto the king with one mouth: let thy word, I pray thee, be like the word of one of them, and speak that which is good. And Micaiah said, As the LORD liveth, what the LORD saith unto me, that will I speak. (1 Kings 22:13-14)
At first, Micaiah told Ahab what he wanted to hear, that he should attack the Syrians and the LORD would deliver them into his hand, but Ahab knew he was lying. “And Ahab said unto him, How many times shall I adjure thee that thou tell me nothing but that which is true in the name of the LORD?” (1 Kings 22:16).
Ahab knew it was a mistake to attack the Syrians, but he did it anyway. Ahab believed he could beat the Syrian army in his own strength, without the LORD’s help. Under normal circumstances, Ahab’s army might have been able to beat the Syrians, but the covenant between Ahab and Ben-hadad prevented Ahab from attacking Syria. Therefore, “the king of Syria commanded his thirty and two captains that had rule over his chariots, saying, Fight neither with small nor great, save only with the king of Israel” (1 Kings 22:31).
With Ben-hadad’s entire army coming after him, king Ahab didn’t stand a chance. Ultimately, it was the LORD’s divine judgment that sealed Ahab’s fate, but Ahab’s foolishness put him in harm’s way unnecessarily. If Ahab had listened to Micaiah, his life would have been spared.