1 Kings 20:42
He said to the king, This is what the LORD says: 'You have set free a man I had determined should die. Therefore it is your life for his life, your people for his people.'
Around this time yesterday, the web walls flooded with Miss U posts. It may be Miss Angola who bagged the crown, but our very own Shamcey Supsup definitely did not lag behind. Malacanang had three words for her: humility, intellect and grace. The Q&A portion displayed an admirable fourth one: faith. When asked if she would change her religion to marry the one she loves, she answered, ‘If I would have to change my religious beliefs, I would not marry the person that I love. Because the first person that I love is God, who created me. I have my faith and my principles, and this is what makes me who I am. If the person loves me, he’ll love my God, too’. Some found her last sentence fatal in a competition where mutual respect is highly observed. But who says it was her personal principles? It was God’s in the first place and she merely acted in obedience. And that, for us, is her winning crown.
Many would give up everything for the crown. Five chapters back, we read of Judah’s King Asa bribing Ben-Hadad to break treaty with Israel and side with him instead. That same king of Aram reappears here and besieged Samaria. His pride and malice called out King Ahab to surrender everything under his feet. If not for God’s hand, there was no way Israel’s flock could fight against this vast army – twice! The win was for both Israel and Aram to know that He is God, the Gracious and Just. But when Ben-Hadad pleaded for mercy, Ahab gave him full pardon. He even called him a brother and made a treaty with him. He sure could win a title for this world peace act. But was it for him to give? As ultimate judge, we find God’s verdict to Ahab’s seemingly humanitarian answer: ‘You have set free a man I had determined should die. Therefore it is your life for his life, your people for his people.’ Woew! I guess not even God’s answer could win by popular vote. Play-rewind to verse 36 and you’ll find a prophet killed by a lion for refusing to strike a fellow prophet as commanded by God. It was an object lesson for Ahab for putting his personal convictions ahead of God’s. He thought giving mercy was better than God’s justice. And for that, the crown was taken away from him.
It is God’s rule above all. His mercy above ours, His love above ours. Many were offended by Shamcey’s insisting her faith on someone (although it shouldn’t be out of love for her). But reflecting on Elijah’s fight against the Baal prophets, God was not calling Israel to respect other beliefs. He wants us to act in obedience and declare there is only ONE God. He is the jealous One who demands man's exclusive devotion, like a husband who has every right and reason for his wife’s full affection. Christianity’s voice on society has long been muted because of crown-compromises. We’d rather win than win them over. We easily let go for respect’s sake. Jesus didn’t. The crown of thorns was proof to that.