Jump Start # 3495
1 Kings 22:37-38 “So the king died and was brought to Samaria, and they buried the king in Samaria. They washed the chariot by the pool of Samaria, and the dogs licked up his blood (now the harlots bathed themselves there), according to the word of the Lord which He spoke.”
Our verse ends the life of wicked king Ahab. Ungodly, cruel and unfaithful to God, he was slain in battle against the Syrians. Ahab thought if he disguised himself, no one would recognize that he was the king. A random arrow pierced his armor and he was left bleeding in his chariot. The battle raged on throughout the day. Ahab was propped up in his chariot, likely a sign to encourage and lift the morale of his troops. By evening, the king was dead. Blood filled his chariot, indicating that he probably bled to death. Carried back to the city, he was buried in Samaria.
In an interesting bit of detail, we are told that the blood was washed out of the chariot at the Samarian pool and in a fulfillment to a prophecy, dogs licked up the blood of the king. The pool is where the prostitutes bathed.
Why identify the pool as where the harlots bathe? The King James version omits the harlots and translates this as they washed his armor. Nearly all the other translations include the description of the pool as where the harlots bathe.
Here are some thoughts:
First, what a poke in the eye to think that the king’s blood was licked up by dogs and the chariot washed with unclean water of prostitutes. It’s as if all the glory and glamour the king sought in his life, in his death, God was showing the true picture.
The prostitutes may have been temple prostitutes that were connected with the idolatry that Ahab allowed and encouraged. Impure and defiled, his blood was mingled with the unclean waters of harlots. The prostitutes may have bathed in that pool, but they remained unclean in their soul. And, for a king who allowed, encouraged and promoted idolatry, his blood was washed with the waters of impure prostitutes.
How often do we hear of someone whose final deeds are dishonest and disgraceful. The rest of his life is forgotten by the wickedness that came at the end. He is only remembered by the final disgraceful thing that he did.
Second, this may have been a warning to the nation that God was aware of what they were doing. Their king wasn’t so great. He wasn’t so powerful. Killed in battle, he’s not given a heroes send off. Dogs lick his blood and his chariot is washed where prostitutes bathe. The list of wrongs committed by Ahab and Jezebel are long. The amount of people they hurt was numerous. But they didn’t have the final word. Dogs ate Jezebel and dogs licked the blood of Ahab. It was time for the nation to turn around and follow the Lord.
Hebrews tells us that Abel, though he is dead, still speaks. In many ways, that’s true of every person that has died. We leave footprints and examples. We show what was important to us. For Abel, it’s faith and obedience to God that matters. For Ahab, it’s shame and disgrace that follow a life of selfishness and rebellion. Dogs and prostitute waters.
Third, God left this record for people to know. After Ahab, the next king was his son, Ahaziah. He was worthless, wicked and evil. He reigned only two years, serving Baal and not Jehovah. Did he use the same chariot as his father, Ahab? This detail, about the dogs and the polluted water, may have been only known by the servants and no one else. But not only did God know, He wanted His people to know. This was recorded. And, did Ahaziah learn any lessons? Apparently not. He followed in the same foolish steps as his father did. And, that cycle continues today. One generation of selfish people, who have no regard for the Lord or His ways, is followed by another generation who walk in those exact same steps. Bloody chariots, dogs and the water prostitutes bathed in didn’t seem to awaken the indifferent heart of Ahaziah. “I’m different, and it won’t happen to me,” is the foolish song of the blind following the blind.
The closing sentences of Ahab’s life is dirty. Street dogs licking his blood, and impure water washing a chariot is in contrast to the holiness and purity surrounding the Lord. God’s priests were to wash and wear special garments as they came into the presence of the temple. The sacrifices were to be unblemished and pure. The entire setting of worship is reverent and pure. But for the leader of the nation, it was dirty dogs and impure water. Ahab never got it. He never understood the Lord. Swayed by his evil wife, Jezebel, Ahab didn’t lead his home nor the nation.
And, maybe that’s one final lesson for us. The impure can come into the worship of God, but they ought to leave better. They ought to see in the holiness and goodness of God, that our selfish, impure ways need to be washed out of our hearts and our minds. The waters that the world offers cannot cleanse us. It’s only God who can truly wash us clean.
Peter declared, be holy as He is holy. We must leave the polluted world of dogs and impurity and come to the holiness of God. Ahab never understood that. We should.
Licking dogs and prostitute waters—such lessons that God leaves us with.