Even though God’s prophets have repeatedly shown themselves to be accurate, Ahab rejects God’s prophet, while at the same time sort of believing him. God says that he will fall in battle, presumably that means he will die in the battle. Ahab has the prophet locked up, but he also disguises himself when he goes into battle.
I don’t know why Jehoshaphat is willing to go along with the plan, but it’s a credit to him that he’s not fearful and is willing to go out into battle dressed in his kingly attire while Ahab hides himself.
The Syrians do want to go after Ahab alone. They go after Jehoshaphat, supposing that was Ahab. Jehoshaphat instinctively calls out to God and is rescued.
Ahab is then killed “accidentally.” The verse goes like this: “a certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate.”
The word random is really something like innocently in the Hebrew. A certain someone innocently shot off an arrow and it happened to strike in the little gap between the pieces of armor that Ahab was wearing. Of course, this was no accident.
God was using a “certain man” to fulfill His word and bring justice where it was due and deserved. This could have even been “friendly fire.” It wasn’t any old random person; it was a certain man. He was innocent in killing Ahab, though. There was no intent to kill him.
Ahab thought he could outsmart God and prevent the disaster declared over him. Isaiah 43:13 says, “Even from eternity I am He, and none can deliver out of My hand. When I act, who can reverse it?” (BSB)
There was only one way Ahab could have avoided his fate that day. What was it? He could have repented.
Would God have been willing to turn back from His choice that day? You bet. We know that’s who God is. Jeremiah 9:24 says that God delights in mercy, righteousness, and judgment.
How does He delight in judgment? He doesn’t delight in the death of the wicked. Destroying the wicked is not what it means that God delights in judgment. His delight is in lovingkindness and righteousness. He delights in bringing down a judgment of forgiveness, in pronouncing us clean and in right-standing before Him because of repentance and obedience.
That was God’s desire for Ahab.