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Theology matters. From Bible professors to the person sitting next to you on the bus, we all think certain things about God, and this will affect how we live and act. Unfortunately for King Ben-Hadad of Aram, he got his theology very wrong—and it led to a stunning defeat of his army.
There were several kings of Aram named Ben-Hadad, and all of them fought with Israel at one time or another. The one who fought against King Ahab of Israel was Ben-Hadad II, likely the son of Ben-Hadad I.
Ben-Hadad mustered a vast coalition of forces and besieged Samaria, the capital city of Israel. He called for Ahab to surrender, but Ahab refused. Instead, he launched a preemptive attack that caught the drunken Arameans by surprise, and Ahab won a great victory.
Ben-Hadad’s officers must have been looking for some excuse as to why they were unable to defeat Ahab’s forces, so they offered a bit of bad theology to Ben-Hadad: The God of Israel is a god of the hills. Attack them on the plains, and you will win. They couldn’t have been more wrong. When the Arameans attacked Israel again the next year, Ahab’s forces defeated them again, killing one hundred thousand of them in a single day!
The world is fond of portraying theology as a bunch of ivory-towered musings of the socially irrelevant elite. But in the end, how we think about God affects everything we do. Our beliefs about God will either lead us to our salvation or our demise. Don’t be like Ben-Hadad—know the God of Israel and live.