II Chronicles 18

 

 

 

This chapter, from its second verse, finds its parallel in 1 Kings 22:2-35.

It opens with dangerous symptoms, recording in one sentence the event

that was to bear ill fruit, if not till “years” afterward (v. 2), of

Jehoshaphat “joining affinity with Ahab.” His son Jehoram married

Athaliah, daughter of Ahab and Jezebel (ch. 21:6). The

further steps by which Jehoshaphat became entangled with Ahab are

graphically described. He forms an alliance with him in the war with

Ramoth-Gilead (vs. 1-3); he urges Ahab to consult “a prophet of the

Lord” (vs. 4-12). Ahab unwillingly consents, and receives Micaiah’s

answer (vs. 13-27); and finally the chapter tells us how Ahah went up to

battle, and in battle received his mortal wound (vs. 28-34).

 

1 “Now Jehoshaphat had riches and honor in abundance, and joined

affinity with Ahab.”  The purport of the verse is to let us into the secret that

the riches and honor in abundance of Jehoshaphat were, in fact, the snare

by which he was led to entangle himself with one who, probably only on

that account, was willing to be entangled by affinity with him (ch. 21:6;

22:2-4; II Kings 8:25-29). It is not hard to see how they would both lead him,

if not always out of big and patronizing thoughts, to seek and also lay him

open to be sought. When this verse says Jehoshaphat joined affinity, etc.,

it means that he had done so, to wit, not fewer than nine years before, in

promoting or allowing, whichever it was, the marriage of his son Jehoram

with Ahab’s and Jezebel’s daughter Athaliah. For the issue of this marriage,

Ahaziah, took the throne at the age of twenty-two years, thirteen years hence

from this seventeenth year of his grandfather Jehoshaphat’s reign, the year

of Ahab’s death. But as we are told that Ahaziah was the youngest son of

Jehoram and Athaliah (for explanation of which see ch. 21:17), the

joining affinity” must have been something earlier than nine years, and

very probably came yet nearer the prosperity of the earlier years of

Jehoshaphat’s reign, with which would agree well the keynote touched again

significantly here from our ch. 17:5. Compare II Kings 8:17, 26; and here,

ch. 21:20; 22:2 (which needs the correction of twenty-two to forty-two).

Although it is certain that the act of Jehoshaphat was wrong in principle,

disastrous in practice (ch. 19:2-3), and threatened fatal consequences to

himself (here vs. 31-32), yet it is not impossible to suppose his motives

were for the most part good, and he may naturally have thought that the

sunshine of his own peace and abundance might be the set time to win influence

in and over Israel, rather than strengthen Israel in its ungodly independence.

On the other hand, nothing could justify Jehoshaphat risking such intimacy

of relationship with such a family, heedless of consequences, looking towards

idolatry, which he should have known were overwhelmingly probable.

 

 

Temporal Advancement and Spiritual Decline (v. 1)

 

Writing the biography of Jehoshaphat from a purely religious standpoint,

another conjunction than the one used might well have been employed. It

might well be written, “Now Jehoshaphat had riches and honor in

abundance, but joined affinity with Ahab.” For the latter clause affirms that

on which we can by no means congratulate the king. Yet such is the

common course of things; such is the bent of the human mind and the way

that circumstances usually take, that the simple connective “and” is perhaps

the more natural of the two. This close association deliberately entered

upon between the servant of Jehovah and the devotee of Baal is human

enough. The man who has become strong, according to all earthly

measurements, seeks to become stronger still, not considering what care he

is taking or is neglecting of his deeper and his higher interests. We look at:

 

 

  • THE COMMONNESS OF THIS COURSE. How true it is that “much

wants more;” that the bank account never seems full enough to the man who

is amassing wealth, nor the rank high enough to him who is pursuing

honor, nor the authority great enough to him who is striving after power]

Men eat of earthly food and are the hungrier for their feasting. They have

“abundance of riches and honor,” but they will not be satisfied without

that fascinating alliance; they must “join affinity with Ahab.” Let no man

imagine that when he has reached a certain height of worldly advancement

he will be satisfied and will crave nothing more. He will most certainly find

that, when he reaches that desired point, he will long to stand on the height

that will be still beyond him. And the evil of it is that this thirst for more

worldly good is something which so often displaces a nobler longing, a

craving for more of goodness and of fellowship with God. It even affects

and injures the spirit to such a degree that it positively LESSENS that better

longing, until IT IS REDUCED TO ALMOST NOTHING!

 

  • THE GRAVE FOLLY OF IT. What did Jehoshaphat gain by this

alliance with the house of Ahab? A measurable, momentary gratification.

What did he lose by it? An immeasurable, permanent good. The mistake he

then made was one the effects of which stretched far, very far forwards,

and affected for evil many hundreds of households beside his own (ch. 21:4).

What do we gain by adding something more to our material prosperity —

another thousand dollars to our fortune; another honor to our titles;

another position to our acquirement? Something truly, but something

the worth of which is quite measurable; possibly very small,

as an increase to our life-happiness. But if we are neglecting our higher

interests, if we are allowing those sacred obligations to be relaxed, if we

are departing from God, what do we LOSE? Who shall estimate the value of

the favor and friendship of Jesus Christ, of the integrity of our Christian

character, of the excellency and blessedness of holy usefulness, of that

brighter and broader sphere WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN OURS,  if we

had not let earthly and human interests WEIGH DOWN and PRESS OUT

the higher and the heavenly ones?

 

  • ITS GUILT. As God multiplies His gifts to us, of whatever kind those

gifts may be, we ought to be thereby more closely attached to Him and to

be more heartily devoted to His service. When we permit increase of

substance or added honor to lead us AWAY FROM HIM we are as guilty as

we are unwise; our sin is as sad as our folly.

 

2 “And after certain years he went down to Ahab to Samaria. And

Ahab killed sheep and oxen for him in abundance, and for the

people that he had with him, and persuaded him to go up with him

to Ramothgilead.”  After certain years he went down. In lieu of the italic type

certain” here, the English idiom, “years after,” would aptly reproduce the

facts of the case. This journey to Samaria to see Ahab was made in the

seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat’s reign (I Kings 22:51; compare here ch. 20:35

and II Kings 3:1). What were the precise antecedent circumstances of this visit

of Jehoshaphat to Ahab it is interesting to surmise — whether it were the fruit

of an invitation direct from Ahab, who had his own designs, or whether it were

for diplomatic reasons, that worked in the mind of Jehoshaphat as well as of

Ahab, in view of Syria. It is evident that Ahab promptly determined to improve

this conference of kings. Persuaded him; i.e. he took steps to induce him. This

is the uniform signification of the word here used in the eighteen times of its

occurrence, and mostly in doubtful, or worse than doubtful, matter. The form

is the hiphel of סוּת, in which conjugation only the verb occurs. The Revised

Version renders “moved.” The visiting and cooperating of Jehoshaphat and

Ahab made a novel departure in the history of the rended kingdoms of

Judah and Israel, and continued till the time of Jehu. Ramoth-Gilead. This

important city of Gad (Joshua 20:8; 21:38), in Palestine beyond Jordan,

comes into question as one not surrendered to the kingdom of Israel in

good faith, according to the promise of Benhadad (I Kings 20:34;

compare 1, 4, 7, 11, 20, 30, 33), Benhadad’s father having taken it from

Omri, father of Ahab. For “all the might that he showed,” and presumably

in conflicts with Syria, Omri was evidently a heavy loser. Ramoth-Gilead

means “the heights of Gilead.”

 

3 “And Ahab king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat king of Judah, Wilt

thou go with me to Ramothgilead? And he answered him, I am as thou

art, and my people as thy people; and we will be with thee in the war.”

I am as thou, etc. The same unqualified kind of language was

used By Jehoshaphat on another occasion (II Kings 3:7), two years

later, when Jehoram, son of the deceased Ahab, also asked his help against

Moab. Whether on the one occasion or the other, it is quite possible that

Jehoshaphat thought he was serving common interests, and the cause of his

own kingdom, as well as of Israel; nevertheless Jehu the son of Hanani the

seer ignores the supposed justification (here, ch. 19:2).

The False Steps of a Good King (vs. 1-3)

 

  • AN UNFORTUNATE ALLIANCE. Jehoshaphat joins affinity with

Ahab (v. 1). This refers to the marriage of Jehoram his son with Athaliah,

Ahab’s daughter (ch. 21:6), eight or nine years before. The date may be

approximately determined thus. Athaliah’s son ascended the throne of Judah

at the age of twenty-two (II Kings 8:26), not forty-two (here, ch. 22:2). But

Jehoram his father reigned eight years (ch. 21:5; II Kings 8:17). Hence the

fourteen years leading back to Ahaziah’s birth must have been the last

fourteen of the reign of Jehoshaphat. Since, then, Jehoshaphat reigned

twenty-five years (I Kings 22:42), Ahaziah’s birth must have happened in the

eleventh year of Jehoshaphat’s and the fifteenth of Ahab’s reign (I Kings 22:41).

But Ahab reigned twenty-two years (II Kings 16:29). Hence the interval

between Ahaziah’s birth and Ahab’s death must have been at least seven

years. The wedding, therefore, of Jehoram and Athaliah may be set down

eight or nine years prior to Jehoshaphat’s visit to Samaria. The alliance that

wedding represented was the first wrong step Jehoshaphat took. It was:

 

Ø      Unnecessary.

 

o        Not required by the safety of the state. The army that, with no ally but

God (ch. 14:12), had defeated Zerah’s million of soldiers, could hardly

stand in need of succor from the son of Omri. In league with

Jehovah (ch. 17:3), Jehoshaphat should have reckoned

himself dispensed from the necessity of seeking other confederate

(Romans 8:31; I John 4:4).

 

o        Not demanded by the glory of his crown. His diadem had descended

from David; Ahab’s was of recent date. Omri had been an upstart

(I Kings 16:16); David a prince legitimate, a sovereign created by special

act of Jehovah Himself. Then he (Jehoshaphat) had “riches and honor

in abundance,” second only to those of Solomon, both of which were

tokens of Divine approbation (Psalm 112:3). Besides, he possessed a

good name (ch. 17:3), which is better than great riches (Proverbs 22:1)

or precious ointment (Ecclesiastes 7:1).

 

Ø      Dangerous.

 

o        To his own religious character, which could not be improved thereby.

“Evil communications corrupt good manners” (I Corinthians 15:33).

Few can touch pitch and not be defiled. Considering Ahab’s infamous

character (I Kings 16:29-33), Jehoshaphat should have reasoned that

the wider they stood apart the better for him (Proverbs 13:20), and

should have remembered David’s prayer (Psalm 28:3), as well as

acted on David’s resolution (Psalm 101:4).

 

o        To his son’s piety (if that son had any), which would not likely be

increased thereby. Nothing more ruinous to a young man for both time and

eternity than an irreligious wife (Proverbs 12:4); nothing more helpful

than a woman that fears the Lord (ibid.  ch. 31:11-12). Whatever

Jehoram was in youth — and his upbringing may be assumed to have been

godlywhen he reached the throne he was truculent and debased, a

murderer and an idolater, both of the worst type. This appalling

deterioration the writer of the Kings and the Chronicles ascribe to

Athaliah’s influence (ch. 21:6; II Kings 8:18).

 

o        To the best interests of his kingdom, which were not likely to be

furthered thereby. On the contrary, these were grievously hindered. Judah

declined till, in respect of idolatry, she stood at a level almost as low as

that of Israel (ch. 21:13).  (Compare the state of affairs on the day after

the 2016 Presidential Election - CY - 2016)

 

Ø      Sinful. A daughter from the house of Omri was no fitting mate for a son of

Jehoshaphat. The offspring of a Jezebel and an Ahab a good man should

not have taken to his bosom (II Corinthians 6:14-16).

 

  • AN ILL-ADVISED JOURNEY. Jehoshaphat pays a visit to Ahab (v. 2).

The second wrong step of Judah’s king:

 

Ø      Not demanded by duty. Nothing in his relations to Ahab or in the

obligations resting upon him with reference to Ahab called for his journey

to Samaria. Jehoshaphat in this case ran without being sent, always

perilous for a good man.

 

Ø      Not prompted by self-interest. Jehoshaphat’s true interest lay in keeping

as far apart as possible from the house of Omri (Proverbs 4:14). Had

Ahab been a pious sovereign, Jehoshaphat might have profited by his

society; being the opposite, Ahab could not advance Jehoshaphat’s religion

(Proverbs 13:20).

 

Ø      Not required by courtesy. Had Jehoshaphat been invited to Samaria, he

might have found it difficult to decline without offending his royal brother.

But Jehoshaphat traveled northwards of his own motion. Considering who

Ahab was, it would have evidenced more prudence had Jehoshaphat stayed

at home. To say the least, it was hazardous to fraternize with such a son of

Belial as the King of Israel (IISamuel 23:6-7).

 

  • AN UNHOLY CONFEDERACY. Jehoshaphat makes a league with

Ahab (v. 3).

 

Ø      At what time? After enjoying Ahab’s hospitality, which was sumptuous.

The pleasures of the table have a tendency to lay one open to

temptation; indulged in to excess, they lead to other sins (II Timothy

3:4; I Peter 2:11). Gluttony and drunkenness go commonly together

(Deuteronomy 21:20; Proverbs 23:21; Matthew 24:49); and all

experience shows that when wine is in wit is out. Besides, it requires

courage to accept a neighbor’s hospitality — to eat his dinner and drink

his wines-and deny his request. (N.B. — Beware of dining with those

whose characters cannot be trusted!)

 

2. On whose persuasion? Ahab’s. The King of Israel doubtless reasoned he

had a double claim on Jehoshaphat, to whose son he had given a wife, and

to whose self he had furnished a splendid entertainment. It is dangerous for

good men to accept favors at the hands of the wicked. Jehoshaphat

should have remembered David’s prayer (Psalm 141:4).

 

Ø      For what object? To recover Ramoth-Gilead upon the northern frontier

of Israel — a town which belonged to Israel (Deuteronomy 4:43;

Joshua 21:38), and had been captured by Benhadad’s father, not in the

war with Baasha (ch. 16:4; I Kings 15:20), who was not

Ahab’s father, but in a subsequent unrecorded struggle with Omri who

was. Benhadad had promised to restore it (I Kings 20:34), but had

neglected or refused to do so. Accordingly, Ahab may have argued that his

plea for the projected campaign was good, as the monuments appear to

show he had ground for thinking the time opportune, Shalmaneser II. of

Assyria having shortly before, in the battle of Karkar, defeated the Syrian

king (Sayce, ‘Fresh Light,’ etc., p. 121) Still it was not clear that this

expedition, though justified by political and military considerations, was

approved by God, and Jehoshaphat would have been excused had he

viewed with suspicion any enterprise that had Ahab for its author.

 

Ø      In what terms? “I am as thou art,” etc. (v. 3). The magniloquence of

this utterance was probably due to the time when and the place where it

was given forth. Had Jehoshaphat not been dining with Ahab, he would

most likely have consulted Jehovah before committing himself and his

battalions in so pompous and foolhardy a fashion. Yet it may have

proceeded from a constitutional pomposity of manner with which the

southern king was afflicted (compare II Kings 3:7), as were ancient

sovereigns generally; compare the treaty of the Grand Duke of Kheta with

Rameses II. of Egypt, “Behold, I am at one in heart with Ramessu-

Meriamen, the great ruler of Egypt” (‘Records,’ etc., 4:29). The world has

traveled far since the clays when kings could send their peoples to war

without asking their opinion, simply to gratify revenge or slake ambition.

Amount civilized nations subjects cannot now be plunged into hostilities

by their rulers without their own consent.

 

  • LEARN:

 

Ø      The danger of mixed marriages.

Ø      The perils of the table (Proverbs 23:2, 6, 20).

Ø      The slipperiness of evil paths — one sin leads to another.

Ø      The propriety of wisely selecting companions (Proverbs 28:7, 19).

Ø      The folly of being confederate with wicked men.

Ø      The wisdom of consulting God before engaging in a doubtful

enterprise.

 

 

 

Spiritual Unwariness (vs. 2-3)

 

When Jehoshaphat came into contact with Ahab, he encountered a man

who was more than his match in respect of policy. Indeed, he may be said

to have fallen readily into the trap which his neighbor laid for him. Ahab

received him as his guest with ostentatious hospitality; and when

Jehoshaphat was in a grateful and perhaps elated mood, he proposed a

combination in which they were to share the risks and losses, but not to

divide the gains. To this the King of Judah unwisely consented. The

“offensive alliance” was a mistake on his part. Simple straightforwardness

needs to be flanked with some wariness or natural sagacity, otherwise it

may lead us into compromising and even ruinous situations. In the conduct

of our life, it is of very great importance that we should not show

unwariness in:

 

  • THE FORMATION OF OUR FRIENDSHIPS, Jehoshaphat did an

unwise thing in forming a friendship with Ahab; intimacy with such a man

could not possibly end in his own elevation. We should not “love them that

hate the Lord” (see homily on ch. 19:2). In nothing is it more

needful to show wariness and wisdom than in the choice of our friends; a

mistake here means:

 

Ø      bitter disappointment,

Ø      unimaginable misery, and, in all likelihood,

Ø      spiritual deterioration if not

Ø      positive ruin.

 

Be slow to bind this bond of friendship, which may, indeed, be a link to

every good thing that blesses us, but which may be a fetter that chains us

to every bad thing that curses and degrades us.

 

  • THE ENCOUNTERING OF SOCIAL PERILS. Whether or not

Jehoshaphat suffered from the blandishments and allurements of the court

where Jezebel was queen, we do not know. Certainly he ought to have

thought twice before he exposed himself and his attendants to that serious

peril. How much of social peril can we meet and master? That is a question

which every man must answer for himself. But it is clear that a very large

number of human souls have overestimated their capacity for resistance.

The degenerating influences of a society which is not Christian, but

worldly, or vicious, are a power which we must only encounter with the

utmost circumspection. We may take counsel here of Ahab himself

(I Kings 20:11). Men go airily and easily to the contest with those social

forces, and they come out of the conflict worsted and wounded, perhaps

even unto death. Be wary here, for you stand in a “slippery place.”

 

  • THE UNDERTAKING OF OUR ACHIEVEMENTS. Very readily,

to all appearance, Jehoshaphat acceded to Ahab’s proposal (v. 2). But it

was one involving:

 

Ø      himself,

Ø      his family,

Ø      his princes, and

Ø      his people in GREAT HAZARDS!

 

 Syria was a power not at all to be despised, and, except the Lord

appeared on their behalf, they would most likely be defeated. And what

reason had Jehoshaphat to conclude that he would have the arm of Jehovah

on his side when he was going hand-in-hand with such a man as Ahab? It

was a very doubtful procedure; and the haste with which it was agreed.

upon showed no sagacity at all. Before we adopt our neighbor’s proposal

we should weigh well all its probable and, so far as we can tell, its possible

consequences; and not those which affect ourselves only, but those also

which affect our kindred and connections. We may go “with a light heart ‘

into an enterprise that means nothing less than disaster. Before undertaking

anything of importance, there should be;

 

Ø      careful consideration, looking at the subject from all points of

view;

Ø      consultation with the wise and good;

Ø      prayer for Divine guidance.  (Not necessarily in that order! – CY –

2016)

 

  • THE REGULATION OF OUR CHRISTIAN LIFE. Some men leave

the retention of their spiritual integrity almost wholly to their good

impulses. But this is a rash and perilous course. It is, indeed, the foolish

and often fatal absence of all method. He who has the wariness which is

wisdom, will adopt and maintain carefully regulated habits of devotion and

of self-culture.

 

4 “And Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Enquire, I pray thee,

at the word of the LORD today.”  The wording of this verse is identical with

that of the parallel (I Kings 22:5). Jehoshaphat, if even not quite conscious of it,

is throwing some sop to his conscience in essaying to become, and posing as,

the godly counselor of “the ungodly” (ch. 19:2). At any rate,

his counsel is right, even to the point of urging today, and significantly

deprecating procrastination. It is not, however, so clear that he was, in the

first instance, as decided in respect of the necessity of inquiring the will of

the Lord at the mouth of a true prophet, in distinction from a prophet

merely of Israel, though they should be “four hundred” in number!

Compare the following two verses, however, which show as though he was

holding himself quite prepared and on the lookout for the expected

occasion of having to rein Ahab up!

 

 

Inquiring of the Lord (v. 4)

 

We are not at all surprised that Jehoshaphat did not wish to risk the chances

of a great battle without “inquiring at the word of the Lord,” For it

was with him as it should be with us:

 

  • A WISE AND HOLY HABIT to seek a knowledge of God’s mind, and

the supreme advantage of His direction. Not, indeed, that he invariably

asked in this admirable spirit. If we may judge from the silence of

Scripture, he had hurried into this questionable partnership without any

such reverent solicitude (see preceding homily). Nevertheless, as a devout

servant of Jehovah, he was accustomed to consult the Divine will; and it

was, no doubt, a strong feeling that he must not depart from this good

habit on so great an occasion that prompted him to ask of Ahab what that

king would most willingly have dispensed with. It should be our constant

custom, our fixed habit of life, to inquire of God concerning everything we

propose to ourselves to do; and more particularly respecting the greater

events of life on which large issues hang. For who are we that we should

lean unto or upon “our own understanding”?  (Proverbs 3:5)  How few of

all possible considerations can we take into our mind! How impossible for

us to give the proper weight to those which are the more grave and serious.

How short a way can we look into the future, and how unable we are to

foretell what other factors, now out of sight, will come into play! How

continually our greatest sagacity must prove to be but childish simplicity

in the sight of Him who sees everything at a glance! How wise, therefore,

to form the habit of:

 

Ø      continually inquiring of God,

Ø      seeking Divine guidance at every stage and even at every step

of our human life!

 

  • THE RARE PRIVILEGE for which we may not look. Jehoshaphat

wished to know, not only whether God was willing for him to go up to the

battle, but also that he would return victorious. He believed that he might

gain, not only the instruction, but the information he desired. Now, it is not

at all certain that God never gives His people intimation of coming events in

our own time; the evidence is rather the other way. But we may not look

for Divine predictions as the ordinary and regular thing. Certainty

concerning the event would probably have an unfavorable effect on the

duty and the struggle before the event. It is, on the whole, best for us not

to know what the issue will be; best for us to act as if the result were

hanging on our own fidelity. The “long result” we do know, and rejoice to

foresee: it nerves us for action; it sustains us in misfortune and temporary

defeat. But as to the immediate issue we are best left in uncertainty.

(I once saw on a marquee in Clarksville, Tennessee, the words

 

            “Lord, we know the beginning and we know the end,

              but it is this middle that we need your help!”

 

CY – 2016)

 

  • THE PROMISE WE MAY PLEAD, AND THE HOPE WE MAY

CHERISH. (Psalm 30:10; 121:1-8; Proverbs 3:6; Isaiah 58:11; Matthew 7:7-11;

Hebrews 13:6.) If we are walking in the fear of God, and are His children

reconciled to Him in Jesus Christ, then we may continually ask and

confidently expect:

 

Ø      His guidance at the outset, and

Ø      His help all through the work we have undertaken, the duty we are

discharging, the burden we are bearing.

 

Reverently, intelligently, obediently, God “will be inquired of” by those

who love and serve Him.

 

5 “Therefore the king of Israel gathered together of prophets four

hundred men, and said unto them, Shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to

battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for God will

deliver it into the king’s hand.”  These four hundred prophets, as Keil

justly notes, were not prophets of Asherah, nor of Baal, but strictly of Israel,

i.e. of the images of the calf (I Kings 12:26-33). Their word speedily showed

itself not the word of the Lord, but the word that was made up to order of the

king, and to suit his known wish at any time.  (Our conception of modern

yes-men!  CY – 2016)

 

6 “But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD

besides, that we might enquire of Him?  The Revised Version well arranges

the words of this verse, “Is there not here besides a prophet of the Lord?”

The conscience of Ahab successfully made a coward of him, that he took

so quietly this pronounced slight put on his kingdom s prophets

 (prophetae vitulorum) by his brother-king Jehoshaphat!

 

7 “And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man,

by whom we may enquire of the LORD: but I hate him; for he never

prophesied good unto me, but always evil: the same is Micaiah the son

of Imla. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so.  8 And the king

of Israel called for one of his officers, and said, Fetch quickly Micaiah

the son of Imla.”  The same is Micaiah. This true prophet of the Lord is

known only here in recorded history, but it is evident he was otherwise well

known to his generation and to Ahab. The outspokenness of Ahab and the

sustained courtesy of Jehoshaphat are alike agreeable to notice in this verse.

 

 

   A Council of War: Jehoshaphat and Ahab among the Prophets (vs. 4-8)

 

  • JEHOSHAPAT’S PROPOSAL. To inquire at the Lord (v. 4). A

proposal:

 

Ø      Good. Commanded by God (Proverbs 3:5-6), recommended by the

pious (Genesis 25:22; I Samuel 23:2, 4; I Chronicles 21:30),

approved by experience as indispensable for safety (Jeremiah 10:23),

and one that can seldom be neglected without loss (Zephaniah 1:6), and

even hurt (I Chronicles 10:14).

 

Ø      New. At least in Israel, where the custom had been to say, ‘Inquire of

Baal’ (Hall). As such, it probably appeared to Ahab unnecessary, as to

ungodly men generally religion and its forms mostly do; though to Ahab it

should likewise have served as a rebuke, reminding him of his apostasy

from Jehovah and inviting, him to return. A word fitly spoken,” etc.

(Proverbs 25:11).

 

Ø      Untimely. It should have been made not after but before the conclusion

of the treaty, and was now too late. It is not clear that God will direct

those whose minds are fixed before they consult him.  (I remember

one time [circa. 1985] praying to God for guidance in something I had

already made up my mind to do.  It turned out a disaster.  I should have

asked God to bless my intended endeavor and not try to fake asking for

direction!  Eventually, things turned out but, not before I had learned

a good lesson!  CY – 1016)

 

Ø      Insincere. Jehoshaphat’s suggestion not that of an honest man who

desired guidance from Heaven, but of one who half suspected he had

entered on a doubtful course, from which, however, he did not care to

withdraw, but for which he wished Divine permission, if not approbation.

Compare Balaam with the messengers of Balak (Numbers 22:7-8).

 

  • AHAB’S CONSULTATION. (v. 5.)

 

Ø      The oracle inquired at.

 

o        Seemingly safe. The advisers were “prophets,” whose calling was to

pronounce upon cases of conscience, and deliver authoritative utterances

concerning Heaven’s will (Exodus 7:1; Deuteronomy 18:22; Ezekiel 14:7).

The recognized media of communication between Jehovah the theocratic

King and His subjects; they were likewise four hundred in number, and

had not Solomon said, “In the multitude of counselors there is safety”?

(Proverbs 11:14; 15:22; 24:6).

 

o        Really doubtful. “These four hundred privy councilors were prophets,

not of Jehovah, but of the calves introduced by Jeroboam, who gave

themselves out, indeed, as prophets of Jehovah worshipped under the

symbol of the calves,” but who “came forward of their own accord

WITHOUT A Divine call, and were, if not in the pay, at least in the

service of the idolatrous king” (Keil).

 

o        Wholly misleading. Not being in the secret of Jehovah (Psalm 25:14),

Ahab’s prophets could not reveal Jehovah’s mind. Merely calling

their answer, or believing it to be, Jehovah’s would not make it so. Men

have been known to dignify as “revelations” and “visions” from God

what was purely the product of their own imaginations or the

whisperings of lying spirits.

 

o        Perfectly useless. Since Ahab’s prophets could not tell the mind of

Jehovah, they were not the advisers Jehoshaphat wanted. Their answer

would shed no light upon the problem that perplexed him.

 

Ø      The question proposed.

 

o        Wrongly expressed. Instead of asking, “Shall we go to Ramoth-Gilead

to battle, or shall we forbear?” Ahab should have said, “Have we done

right in deciding to go to Ramoth-Gilead? or have we done wrong?” When

men consult God they should state the case submitted to His judgment with

accuracy. Perhaps, however, so far as Ahab was concerned, the statement

was correct enough, as it cannot be supposed the rightness or wrongness

of the contemplated expedition would much trouble him. That Jehoshaphat

did not check his royal brother looked suspicious.

 

o        Insincerely moved. Ahab did not want to know the mind of Jehovah

upon the subject; Jehoshaphat secretly wished that mind to accord with

his own inclinations. With both the Ramoth campaign was a foregone

conclusion. Under such circumstances to have asked Jehovah at all was

hypocrisy and insult. (Such were my own actions in the situation I

mention in the first section above – CY – 2016)  Compare the conduct

of the Jewish remnant who pretended to consult God through Jeremiah

about going into Egypt (Jeremiah 42:20).

 

Ø      The answer returned.

 

o        What the two kings wanted: “Go up to Ramoth-Gilead.” To

Jehoshaphat’s uneasy conscience this ought to have given relief,

though it did not.

 

o        What Jehovah intended: that Ahab should at Ramoth receive his

death-stroke.

 

o        What the prophets invented: they derived it from their own deceived

imaginations.

 

Ø      The reason given.

 

o        A fiction, framed by the speakers to please their royal patron.

 

o        A falsehood, since it was not the Divine purpose at this time to permit

the recovery of Ramoth-Gilead.

 

  • JEHOSHAPHAT’S QUESTION. (v. 6.)

 

Ø      Dictated by suspicion. The King of Judah was not satisfied with the

answer of the prophets; which was not wonderful, considering:

 

o        Whose prophets they were — Ahab’s: “Like master like man.”

 

o        What sort of prophets they were: “of the calves,” not “of Jehovah.”

Men usually become like the deities they worship; so do prophets.

 

o        What inducements they had to return such an answer to Ahab’s

interrogation. Ahab being their master, by whose favor they lived,

their interest clearly was to please Ahab.

 

o        What reason he had to suspect their deliverance — it was too like the

response he himself desired.

 

Ø      Prompted by caution. Jehoshaphat would not act precipitately. If

possible, he would have Jehovah’s mind upon the matter. He would imitate

David, and urge Ahab to inquire at Jehovah again (I Samuel 23:4). Good

men should ponder the paths of their feet (Proverbs 4:26), remembering

that he who hasteth with his feet sinneth (Proverbs 19:2), and that the

prudent man looketh well to his going (Proverbs 14:15).

 

  • AHAB’S ANSWER. (v. 7.)

 

Ø      Promptly given. To Jehoshaphat’s inquiry, “Is there not here a prophet

of Jehovah besides?” etc. (v. 6), Ahab responded there was one. Ahab

probably at the moment did not know where Elijah was, or was afraid of

the Tishbite. Most likely he mentioned Micaiah because he expected either

that Jehoshaphat, hearing Micaiah was in jail, would never dream of

proposing he should be called, or that Micaiah, though summoned, would

not have courage to speak in presence of two kings and four hundred

prophets. In both expectations Ahab miscalculated and outwitted himself,

as wicked men usually do.

 

Ø      Instantly qualified. The prophet’s name was Micaiah, the son of Imlah

— conjectured, without historical foundation, to have been the disguised

prophet who had announced to Ahab his doom for permitting Benhadad to

escape (I Kings 20:38), and by the rabbis to have been either he or the

unnamed prophet mentioned earlier (ibid. vs. 13, 22, 28). That Ahab

disliked him was a point in his favor, it being a dubious commendation to

be liked by a bad man. Moreover, the ground of Ahab’s displeasure was an

additional certificate to Micaiah, though a heavy condemnation of Ahab.

Unless Micaiah had been a true prophet he would not so invariably have

spoken evil of Ahab; that he did so was unmistakable evidence that Ahab

was a bad man (Isaiah 3:11; 48:22). Then Micaiah at the moment was

in prison, which Ahab probably imagined would end the matter. But it did

not, Jehoshaphat perhaps remembering that good men were often

imprisoned unjustly (Genesis 39:20), and that Micaiah’s incarceration,

like Hanani’s (ch.16:10), might be to his credit rather than the opposite.

 

  • JEHOSHAPHAT’S REMONSTRANCE. (v. 7.) The speech of Ahab

told of:

 

Ø      A great wrong to Micaiah. Ahab would have sinned in hating Micaiah

even had Micaiah been an offender (Leviticus 19:17 ); much more

when Micaiah was innocent and Ahab’s anger was without a cause

(Psalm 35:19; Matthew 5:22); most of all when Micaiah was a

prophet of Jehovah (Psalm 105:15), who had only spoken the words

Jehovah put into his mouth (Jeremiah 1:7; 7:27).

 

Ø      A greater wrong to Jehovah. Just because Micaiah’s words were not his

own so much as Jehovah’s, a reflection on Micaiah was a virtual reflection

on Jehovah. When Ahab charged Micaiah with always speaking evil

concerning him, he practically charged Jehovah with being malignant

towards him. But if Micaiah prophesied calamity for Ahab that was

conditional on Ahab’s disobedience, and would have been averted by

repentance and reformation (Ezekiel 33:14-16); if Jehovah put threatening

language into his prophet’s mouth; — this was out of love to Ahab,

to turn him from his evil ways.

 

  • AHAB’S SUBMISSION. (v. 8.) An officer (or eunuch) was hastily

despatched to fetch Micaiah from his cell. The haste may have indicated:

 

Ø      Ahabs sense of the importance of the question under consideration;

and certainly nothing can be of greater moment for any than to

understand WHAT THE WILL OF THE LORD IS!   Only this can

be ascertained by none but renewed hearts (Romans 12:2).

More likely, however, it marked:

 

Ø      Ahabs sense of his own importance, which could brook no delay in

the execution of his royal commands. An earthly king’s business, even

when insignificant, is commonly supposed to require haste (I Samuel 21:8);

how much more the business of the KING OF KINGS!   (John 9:4;

Romans 12:11)  The haste may even have been due to:

 

Ø      Ahabs inward irritation with Jehoshaphat, to whom he had submitted,

possibly not with the best grace. It requires a large amount of magnanimity

to enable even good men to accept the rebukes and yield to the persuasions

of others.

 

  • LEARN:

 

Ø      The propriety and wisdom of consulting God in everything (Proverbs

3:6; Philippians 4:6; James 1:5).

 

Ø      The unlikelihood of learning God’s mind from the world’s prophets or

teachers (John 3:31).

 

Ø      The certainty that God’s faithful servants will not be liked by their

contemporaries, and that in exact proportion to their faithfulness

(John 7:7; 15:19).

 

Ø      The danger of playing fast and loose with conscience.

 

9 “And the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah sat either of

them on his throne, clothed in their robes, and they sat in a void

place at the entering in of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets

prophesied before them.”  The contents of this and the following two verses

narrate either what had already taken place, or the continuation of the scene

that had not come to its end, but had been interrupted in order to carry out

fully the urgent exhortation of Jehoshaphat “today,” so that Ahab sent at once

there and then a messenger for Micaiah. Anyway, the unreal prophets have

their full opportunity and their say at least twice over, as also Micaiah

below (vs. 14, 16, 18-22, 27). A void place; i.e. a level floor; Revised

Version, an open place. The Hebrew word designates often just a

“threshing-floor,” גּרֶן; but quite possibly here, a recognized court at the

gate of the city, used for judgment, is intended.

 

10 “And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah had made him horns of iron,

and said, Thus saith the LORD, With these thou shalt push Syria

until they be consumed.  11 And all the prophets prophesied so, saying,

Go up to Ramothgilead, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver it into

the hand of the king.”  Zedekiah (named son of Chenaanah to distinguish him

from some now unknown contemporary, or, perhaps, because the father was in

some way distinguished) was one of those who knew the truth, nor feared

to put it on his lips at the very time that his life did not incorporate it

(Deuteronomy 33:17). For other particulars of him, borrowed from the

doubtfulness of Josephus, See Smith’s ‘Bible Dictionary,’ 3:1836. Had

made him horns of iron. It would seem as though Zedekiah had made

these “horns of iron” at some previous time, or, perhaps, now simulated

some very rough presentation of horns of an impromptu kind. The horns

were the symbol of power, and the iron of a power invincible.

 

12 “And the messenger that went to call Micaiah spake to him, saying,

Behold, the words of the prophets declare good to the king with one assent;

let thy word therefore, I pray thee, be like one of their’s, and speak thou

good.  13 And Micaiah said, As the LORD liveth,  even what my God saith,

that will I speak.”  This verse bespeaks very clearly the rotten condition of

Church and state, prophets and king and “officers” (v. 8).

 

14 “And when he was come to the king, the king said unto him,

Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I forbear?

And he said, Go ye up, and prosper, and they shall be delivered

into your hand.  15  And the king said to him, How many times shall

I adjure thee that thou say nothing but the truth to me in the name

of the LORD?”  This first reply of Micaiah, given in the latter half of the

verse, does not stand for untruth or deceit, but for very thinly veiled, very

thinly disguised, very keen taunt and reproof. It has been well described as

the ironical echo of the language of the unreal prophets. Micaiah begins by

answering a fool according to his folly, i.e. according to his own heart’s

desire. He had just come from some place of imprisonment or punishment

(v. 25). And he so spoke or so looked that the king should know he had

not spoken his last word in answer to the inquiry addressed to him.

 

16 “Then he said, I did see all Israel scattered upon the mountains, as

sheep that have no shepherd: and the LORD said, These have no

master; let them return therefore every man to his house in peace.”

The brief parable smote the very heart of Ahab (Numbers 27:17); and

Ahab felt it, like “the sentence of death” in him; in a way all different,

indeed, from that in which an apostle of many a century afterward felt it.

(II Corinthians 1:9)

 

17 “And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that

he would not prophesy good unto me, but evil?  18 Again he said, Therefore

hear the word of the LORD; I saw the LORD sitting upon His throne, and

all the host of heaven standing on His right hand and on His left.” Ahab’s

language in this verse shows that, though he had adjured Micaiah, he did not

wish to seem to believe that he could speak anything but his own temper.

 

19 “And the LORD said, Who shall entice Ahab king of Israel, that he

may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one spake saying after

this manner, and another saying after that manner.

20 Then there came out a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said,

I will entice him. And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith?

21 And he said, I will go out, and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all

his prophets. And the Lord said, Thou shalt entice him, and thou

shalt also prevail: go out, and do even so.”

Who shall entice, etc.? Hebrew piel future פָתָח. This and the

following three verses must have told, manifestly did tell, with fearful force

of faithful preaching, upon the unreal prophets and the wicked king. How it

was that their contents did not avail with Jehoshaphat to throw full energy

again into his conscience, and to enable him to break at once with Ahab

and his expedition, is inexplicable (and the more as it was his own pressing

suggestion that the true prophet should be summoned), except as another

illustration of the fearful difficulty that lies so often to human weakness, in

the way of retracing a false step. Both these visions (vs. 16, 18-22) well

illustrate how God revealed His truth, will and specific messages to His true

prophets in vision. The vision of the throne, grand in all the majesty of its

simplicity, of the psalmists ( chapters 9, 11, 45, 103), of Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1-5),

of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:26), of Daniel (Daniel 7:9), of Stephen (Acts 7:56),

of John (Revelation 4:2), is part of heaven’s own stamp of authentication of

THE BIBLE!

 

22 “Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth

of these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil against thee.”

The vision culminating as regards its practical object in this

verse is Micaiah’s bold explanation of how it comes to pass that he has to

bear the brunt of Ahab’s “hate,” on account of the uniformly unfavorable

character of his answers to him, instead of four hundred other men sharing

it with him. He declares, on the authority of his rapt vision, that it is

because they are possessed by a lying spirit (Romans 1:25, 28; II Thessalonians

2:11-12). And, like the true prophet of all time, he declares it at all hazards and

at all cost.

 

23 “Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near, and smote Micaiah upon

the cheek, and said, Which way went the Spirit of the LORD from me to speak

unto thee?”  Which way went the Spirit of the Lord from me to speak

unto thee? This question of Zedekiah, and Micaiah’s answer to him in the

following verse, arc both obscure and of doubtful interpretation, but their

drift not at all so. Keil and Bertheau correctly say, — in that Zedekiah used

the force and the language that he did, it is not a bad sign that he was

under a spirit’s influence, but in that it was physical force which he used in

a moral subject, this was a conclusive sign of the character of the spirit

that he was amenable to. Among many possible suggestions as to the exact

meaning of the question, “Which way,” etc.? it is possible that a skeptical

taunt best explains Zedekiah’s words, and that he meant that he did not

believe the Spirit of the Lord went any way to Micaiah. He will not yield to

a doubt or to a suspicion thrown upon it that the Spirit had been with

himself, and he will fain throw great doubt, whether he had proceeded from

him to Micaiah!

 

24 “And Micaiah said, Behold, thou shalt see on that day when thou

shalt go into an inner chamber to hide thyself.”  So also, probably, this

verse would purport to tell us beforehand distinctly what is not told after the

issue of the battle and Ahab’s death, that Zedekiah and his co-prophets did

what they could, however vainly, to hide and to elude the vengeance of Jezebel

(I Kings 20:30; 22:25; II Kings 9:2).

 

25 “Then the king of Israel said, Take ye Micaiah, and carry him back

to Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash the king’s son;”

Carry him back. The last of these three words tells, of

course, its own tale, of what had already been the treatment accorded to

Micaiah. Amon the governor… Joash the king’s son. This latter person

is found only here and in the parallel, and the designation given him

probably does not intend a personal relationship to the king, but an official;

so see again ch. 28:7; and note the conjunction again of the

governor of the house, in the next clause. The Vulgate translates the

Hebrew for “the king’s,” as though it were a proper name, Amelech.” See

also Smith’s ‘Bible Dictionary,’ under the name “Maaseiah” 17. Nor is

Amon the governor known elsewhere except in the parallel (I Kings

22:26), but these designations, as through some chinks, throw a little

scanty light into the subject of the internal administration at this time of

the kingdom of Israel. In this kingdom subsequent to the separation,

de-centralization seems to have been carried to a further point than in

Judah, and considering its greater extent, its far inferior metropolitan force,

its double place of worship and sacrifice, these largely idolatrous, and in all

this the undoubted degraded authority of its central government, this is

very explainable. It is true that in both kingdoms history speaks equally of

such offices and officers as were distinctly military or looked that way, but

it can scarcely be without a reason that for the numerous allusions in Israel

(I Kings 16:8-10; 18:3; 20:7; 21:7-13; II Kings 1:8-17; 3:6; 10:5)

to councils of elders (well known before the disruption), and governors of

palaces, of cities, of houses, and of provinces, there is scarcely one in the

records of Judah. Here possibly enough the executive would be more

vigorous, more compact, and more direct and close in its action from

headquarters, while in both divisions of what should have been the one

kingdom, royalty was by profession constitutional, and in its devolution

hereditary.

 

26 “And say, Thus saith the king, Put this fellow in the prison, and feed him

with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I return in peace.”

Only the slightest differences are noticeable between this verse

and the parallel, this latter using the sign of the objective case (which in this

instance would probably lend some contemptuousness of expression), and

using the word “come” instead of return.

 

27 “And Micaiah said, If thou certainly return in peace, then hath not

the LORD spoken by me. And he said, Hearken, all ye people.”

The courage and fidelity of Micaiah, in not deserting either his

prophet-message or his prophet-Master, are admirable, and for his

determined appeal to all the people, which was made in the very face of

the king or kings, see again Micah 1:2.

 

28 “So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to

Ramothgilead.”  It must remain doubtful which of the kings carried with him

the uneasier heart. What Jehoshaphat might have gained in less element of

personal and physical fear, he by rights should have lost in sensitiveness of

conscience.

 

29 “And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, I will disguise

myself, and I will go to the battle; but put thou on thy robes. So the

king of Israel disguised himself; and they went to the battle.”

Ahab does not seem disposed to lose anything again for want

of asking, and even vouchsafing apparently (but it is exceedingly likely that

this arises from our failing to appreciate exactly the force of the Hebrew

forms in the text) to use the tone of directing, to his brother-king of the

better part and kingdom. It must be presumed that there was something to

relieve Ahab’s language of the barefaced disregard for the safety of

Jehoshaphat and regard for his own, which lie on the surface of the words

he uses. Quite possibly, for instance, both knew that Ahab was to be the

mark of the shooters. Also Ahab’s disguise may have meant a heavy price

to pay to his pride, while Jehoshaphat’s dignity was saved intact. So, too,

Ahab may have merely purported to say, “You can, without any special

risk, wear your royal apparel; but I,” etc.

 

 

 

The Battle of Ramoth - an Ill-Fated Expedition (vs. 28-34)

 

  • AHAB’S DISGUISE (v. 29.)

 

Ø      Artfully contrived.  Apprehensive of the truth of Micaiah’s prediction,

Ahab agreed with Jehoshaphat to lay aside his royal robes and go into

battle in the garb of a common soldier, perhaps (though not so said)

concealing his well-known features behind a vizor, while he (Jehoshaphat),

who had no occasion to dread an evil issue from the campaign, should

array himself as usual in regal apparel — not in Ahab’s robes (Josephus),

but in his own. In this way Ahab may have reckoned on a double chance of

safety. On the one hand, his disguise would assist him to elude the notion

of the enemy; on the other hand, Jehoshaphat’s kingly clothing would

probably cause him to be mistaken for Ahab.

 

Ø      Wickedly designed. In so far as Ahab’s contrivance was prompted by a

desire of self-preservation it was legitimate, though scarcely valorous, and

palpably selfish, considering that he did not suggest the like expedient to

Jehoshaphat, but rather recommended the contrary. The King of Israel’s

artifice, however, had not its origin in any praiseworthy motive. Whether

he hoped that Jehoshaphat might fall, while he escaped and seized upon the

southern kingdom (Schulz), cannot be known, and is probably “too low

and unworthy” a scheme “even for a character so bad as Ahab” (Keil); it is

certain he aimed at falsifying Micaiah’s prediction by evading his

threatened doom. This, indeed, he might have done by foregoing the

Ramoth campaign, to which he was not called by Jehovah; but to attempt

by such a flimsy or even any device to elude Divine vengeance while

defying the Divine will, was a fearful aggravation of his original offence.

 

Ø      Completely ineffectual. “Ahab’s fate found him without his robes”

(Josephus), while Jehoshaphat, who seemed to be in the greater peril of the

two, escaped unhurt. So God commonly confounds the counsels of the

crafty, and defeats the designs of deceitful workers.  (Job 5:13;

I Corinthians 3:19)

 

  • BENHADAD’S ORDER  (v. 30.)

 

Ø      The meaning of it. In commanding the captains of his chariots, thirty-two

in number (I Kings 22:31), to fight neither with small nor great,

but only with the King of Israel, the King of Syria meant that against Ahab

they should direct their principal and, as far as practicable, exclusive attack.

This they would be able to do, seeing that Ahab, according to custom,

would appear upon the field in his royal robes. That ancient monarchs

followed this practice appears from the monuments of Egypt — the heroic

poem of Pentaur representing Ramses II. as fighting in person at the head

of his warriors and charioteers against the Khita and saying, “The diadem

of the royal snake adorned my head. It spat fire and glowing flame in the

face of my enemies” (Brugsch, ‘Egypt under the Pharaohs,’ 2:63).

 

Ø      The motive of it.

 

o        Perhaps clemency, as knowing that the shortest way to end the war

was to secure the capture or destruction of Ahab, armies commonly

being disheartened when they lose their leaders.

 

o        More probably revenge, as never having been able to forget, and far

less forgive, the disgrace of his own capture by Ahab in a previous

campaign of his against Ahab. If it was so, it was a poor return for the

merciful consideration and mild treatment then shown to him by Ahab

(I Kings 20:30-34). But in ordinary life least kindness is often

received from those from whom one might expect the most.

 

  • JEHOSHAPHAT’S DELIVERANCE (v. 31.)

 

Ø      His imminent peril. Mistaking him for the King of Israel, the Syrian

charioteers surrounded him. This natural, and had Jehoshaphat been

smitten the blame would have been his own. He who runs into danger

unbidden need hardly expect to come out of it in safety. Moreover, just as

certainly as he who walketh with wise men shall be wise, the companion of

fools shall be destroyed (Proverbs 13:20); if he is not, the praise is due

not to himself but to God (Psalm 115:1).

 

Ø      His sudden outcry. That this “cry” was a prayer, the Chronicler is

thought by some to indicate; this, however, is not absolutely certain. The

Chronicler says not Jehovah helped Jehoshaphat because (compare ch.19:3),

but only when he cried, and Jehovah might have helped him without being

appealed to by a formal supplication. Considering where Jehoshaphat was,

it is as likely as not that he did not address Jehovah in prayer; but

remembering who and what Jehoshaphat was, a descendant of David and a

follower of Jehovah, it is certain his “outcry” would sound in Jehovah’s

ears as an appeal for help.

 

Ø      His mysterious rescue. Scarcely had he “cried” when the Syrian

charioteers turned aside and left him unmolested. If the “cry” was a

prayerJehoshaphat must have looked upon his unexpected escape as an

answer to his supplication; if only a “shout” or signal of distress, he must

still have regarded the extraordinary behavior of the Syrians as little short

of a providential miracle — as a merciful interposition of Jehovah on his

behalf, as indeed it was. Jehovah helped Jehoshaphat; moved the

charioteers and, warriors to turn aside, not by any supernatural influence

upon them, but by so ordering the succession of events, that they

understood Jehoshaphat’s cry and recognized his features in time to let

them see he was not the object of their pursuit.

 

  • JEHOVAH’S ARROW (v. 33.)

 

Ø      Whence it flew. From the bow of an unknown warrior, most likely an

obscure common soldier, who shot either aimlessly into the ranks of the

Israelitish army, or with deliberate aim, but at no one he knew, at the first

man that came into his field of vision. Either explanation satisfies the

phraseology“a certain man drew a bow at a venture.” That the man’s

name was Naaman (Josephus) is a groundless tradition.

 

Ø      Whither it sped. To the person of Ahab. All events are under God’s

control. He directs the flights of arrows as of fowls, the careers of

javelins as the courses of stars, according to the counsel of His will.

Nothing happens by accident. In a world governed by infinite wisdom and

power chance is impossible. The Syrian archer drew his bow at a venture;

not so did Jehovah draw His. The Syrian sharpshooter knew not at whom

he aimed; Jehovah understood well who was his target. “Every bullet has

its billet,” not because the gunner but because God directs its path through

the air. Not a sparrow can fall to the ground without our heavenly

Father’s permission (Matthew 10:29), nor shaft can hit till He pleases.

 

Ø      To what it led. To the death of Ahab. It smote him “between the joints

of the harness;” rather between the lower armor and the breastplate

(Revised Version), between the corselet and the tunic (Luther), between

the joints and the harness (Keil). It found the spot where the parts of

Ahab’s armor fitted least closely, and there it entered the lower region of

his body. Had it penetrated as far as did the arrow with which Jehu shot

Jehoram (II Kings 9:24), it must have proved instantaneously fatal. That

it did not seems a natural inference from the fact that he was able to

remain upon the field.

 

  • LEARN:

 

Ø      The folly of attempting to outwit GOD!

Ø      The certainty that no disguise can hide a wicked man from God.

Ø      The impossibility of evading death when the appointed hour has

come.

Ø      The clemency of God to His erring people.

Ø      The reality of God’s interference with the affairs of time.

 

30 “Now the king of Syria had commanded the captains of the chariots

that were with him, saying, Fight ye not with small or great, save only with

the king of Israel.”  Our had commanded stands rendered in the parallel not

so explicitly “commanded,” but in both cases the Hebrew text is the same

(צִוָּה). Therefore, if the place of vs. 29-30 were inverted, what reads like

the cool suggestion of Ahab in v. 29 would seem more tolerable. Meantime,

Benhadad’s command argues the intensity of his resentment towards

Ahab, and not less ungrateful forgetfulness for the ultimate consideration

that Ahab had allowed to him (I Kings 20:31-34).

 

31 “And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw

Jehoshaphat, that they said, It is the king of Israel. Therefore they

compassed about him to fight: but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the

LORD helped him; and God moved them to depart from him.

32 For it came to pass, that, when the captains of the chariots

perceived that it was not the king of Israel, they turned back again

from pursuing him.”  Comparing this and following verse minutely with the

parallel (I Kings 22:32-33), the exact correspondence of the latter of each pair

of verses only the more clearly points the significance belonging to the two

clauses of foreign matter interposed so characteristically by the writer of

Chronicles for his own unvarying special objects, viz. the Lord helped

him; and God moved them. What the cry of Jehoshaphat was remains

uncertain; whether a cry to his own bodyguard and soldiers, or a cry to

those who were beginning to compass him about as bees,” to let them

know at any rate that he was not the king they sought, or whether most

improbably, a cry to the Lord is meant. The cry fulfilled its purpose, and if

Jehoshaphat had a sneaking love for Ahab (see the significant “love them,”

etc., of Jehu in second verse of next chapter), he evidently had not any idea

of needlessly dying for him. The happy distinction of perceiving in next

verse, as compared with seeing in this verse, is not warranted by the

Hebrew text (in both cases כִּרְאות), though it is by the gist of the

connection and English idiom,

 

33 “And a certain man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the king of

Israel between the joints of the harness: therefore he said to his

chariot man, Turn thine hand, that thou mayest carry me out of the

host; for I am wounded.  34 “And the battle increased that day: howbeit

the king of Israel stayed himself up in his chariot against the Syrians until

the even: and about the time of the sun going down he died.”

At a venture; Hebrew, לְתֻמּו; i.e. “in his innocence.” The

root is the familiar root expressive of uprightness, perfectness, simplicity,

and the meaning here is that the shooter was innocent of what a

distinguished deed he was doing, of the personality of the man at whom he

aimed (for it is not necessary to suppose his shot was quite at random), and

of the skill that gave the arrow to reach its ultimate destiny. Between the

joints of the harness; literally, between the joints and the harness, i.e. that

part called the breastplate. The arrow went through, or by the side of one

of the actual articulations of the armor-mail worn. Ahab’s direction to the

chariot-driver at the spur of the first wounded moment to turn and carry

him out of the host, was evidently qualified, when he found that the

wound was not immediately fatal. As the heat of the battle grew, and

victory did not at once turn one way or the other, he was the more anxious

to give the moral support of his presence to the last to his army, and,

unable to stand by himself, he was supported by his own orders (so our

rendering is not inconsistent with that in the parallel was stayed (I Kings

22:35) in the chariot till he died in the evening. Although the spirit of

Ahab, and his fidelity to his own army, kingdom, and self, cannot but

appear to advantage in these last incidents of his unworthy life, yet it is

probable that they find their record here for the sake of giving clear

statement to the fact, that in the chariot his life-blood collected according

to the saying of the parallel (v. 35 compared with v. 38). Note,

therefore, particularly the truncated history of the writer of Chronicles in

this instance. He, no doubt, consciously omitted, and with a purpose, his

own usual purpose; but light is lost, and the cross light tends rather to

misleading, except for that only correct user of Scripture, which teaches us

to compare one Scripture with another, and balance one part against

another — a thing easy to do in matters of fact, but too often forgotten in

the weightier matter of doctrine. Here our eighteenth chapter closes, less

the mention of the proclamation for the self-disbanding of Ahab’s army

(v. 36 of the parallel chapter) which should fulfill the prophecy of our v.16,

and less any mention of Ahab’s burial, of the washing of his chariot in

the pool of Samaria, of the dogs licking up of the blood there, and of his

ivory house, etc. (vs. 37-40 of the parallel chapter). All of which

omittings accord well with the one clear ecclesiastical and religious intent

of the Chronicles, in place of the pursuit of matters of general and merely

graphic historic interest, however charged with instruction they too might be.

 

 

 

The Second Chapter in Jehoshaphat’s Career (vs. 1-34)

 

This chapter opens with the statement of a fact that portends no good

the “affinity’ which Jehoshaphat “joined with Ahab,” the King of Israel.

This came to pass in the incident of the marriage of Jehoram, son of

Jehoshaphat, with Athaliah, daughter of Ahab. Eight years, or a little more,

and it seems to bear no evil fruit; but, if so, it was only that it was taking its

time to form and ripen, and now too surely is found. Clusters of lessons in

this chapter gather round the names of:

 

  • JEHOSHAPHAT. They now, unfortunately, all descend from that one

false position in which he had involved himself and his family with Ahab

and his family.

 

Ø      Jehoshaphat has become undoubtedly the leading man, and is

proportionately exposed to the dangers inherent in, inseparably inherent in,

being courted — courted by attentions, by flattery, by luxurious

entertainment, by being appealed to for his opinion on great questions, and

tacitly treated as arbiter in high questions of state.

 

Ø      He must repay these, if possible, in somewhat similar coin, and must use

large language, speak after the manner of an entangling generosity (v. 3),

and, before he knows what he means, commit himself to something

dangerously near a promise.

 

Ø      After this promise, instead of before it, he admonishes the man who is in

tact a rival king to inquire “the word of the Lord,” and has to wince under

the notorious humiliation of listening to the report of four hundred men,

well known for false prophets!

 

Ø      He has to save, if not his credit, the bare necessities of the truth, by

asking for a true prophet, “a prophet of the Lord, without, as it would

appear, one word of blank and flat denunciation of Ahab’s troop of

prophets, and with only the mildest deprecation (v. 7) of Ahab’s

unqualified assertion that he “hates” the true man, and with utter ignoring

and neglect of the favorable opportunity of asking how it may be

supposed to have come to pass that the true man “never has prophesied

good, but always evil unto” Ahab. Yes, but the inconvenience was that he

was a guest in his house, and a guest sumptuously entertained and most

deferentially treated.

 

Ø      He has a long sitting’s humiliation, when, clothed in his royal robes, he

sat, throne by throne, with Ahab, to see “the prophet of the Lord,”

Micaiah; to hear his parables, every word of which he knew to be truth; to

witness the horror of that true prophet being “smitten on the cheek” of the

false, and the royal honor of the Lord God proportionately disparaged; to

observe the meek forbearance of Micaiah in his reply; and, to crown all, his

sentence and relegation to a bread-and-water imprisonment by Ahab. It

ought to have been a long day of torture for the king of the true line of

David!

 

Ø      Lastly, though it is impossible to doubt that he was in possession of the

true state of the whole case, Jehoshaphat has to go on to the end. He does

the thing that is wrong (ch. 19:2); he seems, at last, to be obeying Ahab

rather than to lead him-going into battle and, at his suggestion, clothed for

a target for the archers — till the undignified cry to be spared is wrung

from his lips, because he would have it known he is Jehoshaphat, and not

Ahab! All this was dangerously close steering for the conscience; it brought

upon him the distinct reproof and very forcibly expressed condemnation of

the seer Hanani, so soon as ever he reached Jerusalem; and all was

occasioned by his being dragged on, step by step, in a wrong course from

the position, originally a false one, in which he had placed himself.

 

  • AHAB. Things are very near their end for Ahab. The view is that of a

man using up to the best advantage the last of his wits, which he had of

long time trusted to his disadvantage, which long time had led him wrong,

and were now rapidly going to lead him to the fatal end. We notice:

 

Ø      How he prepared the way by lavish entertainment of the King of Judah

and his retinue, in order to utilize the opportunity to persuade him,

apparently, to pass his word “to go up to Ramoth-Gilead,” but certainly to

pass an opinion favorable to doing so.

 

Ø      How immediately he acceded to the proposal of Jehoshaphat that the

Lord should be inquired of, but as immediately repaired to and summoned

“his” own “prophets” (v. 21).

 

Ø      How the force of circumstances extracted from him a faithful statement

of the true state of his feelings towards the true prophet (v. 7).

 

Ø      How the “officer,” or “messenger,” sent to bring Micaiah quickly, did

his endeavor, no doubt at the instigation of Ahab, to pervert (vs. 12-13)

the testimony which Micaiah should give, but vainly.

 

Ø      How certainly he detected the consequent sarcasm, the veiled

compliance of Micaiah (vs. 14-15), and the rather drew out more fully all

the thing as it was from Micaiah, but as he did not want to have it, or to

have it uttered!

 

Ø      How the wicked action of one of his false prophets suited him exactly

(vs. 23-25), and bridged the way both to satisfy his own resentment and

to put a fair face on the position in the presence of Jehoshaphat. He was,

perhaps, trembling all the while lest Jehoshaphat, hearing and seeing all,

should have summoned up the moral courage to have done just the thing

which he ought to have done, and withdrawn altogether from the

enterprise, or from all association with Ahab in it!

 

Ø      Lastly, how Ahab entered the battlefield, ill at ease, dishonoring

himself by disguising himself, and with too sure a presage of what was in

store for him; and the prophecy of Elijah found its fulfillment (I Kings

21:19).

 

  • THE FALSE PROPHETS. These, wherever found, are the prophets

who seek to please man; who would divine, a task only too easy, what man

wishes them to say. In this case they are emphatically called, on the highest

authority (vs. 21-22), Ahabs prophets, not those of the Lord.

Unfaithfulness in the professed teaching of religion never does anything

better than lets through those who accept it. The anger and

intemperateness of that one of the false prophets who had been most

demonstrative, most dramatic (vs. 10, 23), are much to be noticed —

noticed as marking, as measuring the personal feeling and, in a word, the

very temper which should be most utterly absent from the true messenger

of God, of His truth, and His will.

 

  • THE ONE BLAMELESS, BEAUTIFUL, AND EVEN TYPICAL

FIGURE OF THE TRUE PROPHET. He was already, it appears, a

marked man, and, had it been possible, marked down by King Ahab. We

notice:

 

Ø      When all pressure was put on him, and he knew very well what it meant,

that he asserted the inviolability of his duty — absolute fidelity to his

instructions!

 

Ø      We must notice the deep knowledge imparted to him of human nature;

how to touch it at its root; how to gain effectively its ear under the most

favorable circumstances; how, in the presence of such, even to enlarge its

own opportunity for exposition of the truth (vs. 14. 22). The parable, as

we may call it, of the sheep on the mountains without a shepherd, and the

vision of the council of heaven, or in heaven, which had been vouchsafed

to Micaiah, — what tales they tell to all those who now are listening to

him! One against not fewer than four hundred and two! The plainness, the

point, the forcibleness, and the fearlessness of his utterance are all the

perfection of the true prophet. For us, too, this passage most instructively

illustrates the method, or one of the methods, by which prophet and seer of

old saw and then announced the real revelations of heaven to earth.

 

Ø      But the perfection of the true prophet is yet more intrinsically present in

the forbearing, the patient suffering, the not returning railing for

railing, “the fellowship of sufferings” with the One Prophet; as Micaiah was

“smitten on the cheek,” as he was “thrust into prison,” as he was “fed with

the bread and water of affliction,” as he uttered no provoking word nor

murmured, because of the consequences to himself, of his faithful ministry.

The day that was fateful and fatal to the wicked king Ahab, who now filled

up the measure of his iniquity; that was dismay, confusion, exposure, to

four hundred false prophets; that, alas! tarnished even the history and

character of Jehoshaphat — was the day in which the blameless Micaiah

“shone forth as the sun in the firmament of heaven.”  (Daniel 12:3;

Matthew 13:43)

 

Speaking for God (vs. 6-27)

 

We may take Micaiah as the type of the true prophet, i.e. of the man who

speaks for God; he is not merely the man who has a vision of the future —

that is the smaller part of his function; he is the one who is charged with a

Divine message, and who faithfully delivers it, however it may be received.

Thus regarding him, we learn that the spokesman for God must be:

 

  • UNCONCERNED ABOUT NUMBERS. There may be “four hundred

men on one side (v. 5), and only one on the other; or see I Kings 18:19.

The prophet of the Lord may be in a most honorable but most

decisive minority, but he must not consider that. “Truth cannot be put to

the vote” and carried by a majority. Many a time it has been

overwhelmingly outnumbered, and yet ULTIMATELY TRIUMPHANT!

We must not count heads when we undertake to speak for THE ETERNAL!

“A man with truth on his side can never be in a smaller minority than

Almighty God and himself.”

 

  • INACCESSIBLE TO HUMAN BLANDISHMENTS.  The messenger

that summoned Micaiah and attended him to the king seems to have

employed his opportunity in trying to persuade the prophet to give a

pleasant and courtly answer (v. 12). He did not succeed. Many times

have men sought to tamper with the ministers of the truth; sometimes they

have succeeded. But when they have done so, there has been a lamentable

failure. “We seek not yours, but you” (II Corinthians 12:14), “If I pleased

men I should not be the servant of Christ”  (Galatians 1:10).  These are the

sentiments and this is the spirit of the true prophet. No human whisper in the

ear as he goes before his audience will make him change one word or tone

in the message he delivers FROM HIS MASTER!

 

  • FEARLESS OF HUMAN AUTHORITY. Micaiah had caused

Ahab to “hate” him (v. 7); and once again he drew upon him the

king’s resentment. There were two kings now present, arrayed in royal

apparel and seated on thrones (v. 9); there was much in the position to

constrain a deliverance that would answer to their known wishes; but

Micaiah was unmoved by fear. He acted as honorably and as heroically as

if he had witnessed the example and heard the exhortation of the Lord

himself (Luke 12:4-5 – Have you ever considered Him who has the

power to cast into hell?”  - CY - 2016). To be condemned of man is a

small thing when we are commended and honored of God. We can afford

to incur the hatred even of kings when we rest in the loving favor of our

heavenly Father.

 

  • UNMOVED BY ILL TREATMENT. Micaiah responded to Zedekiah

in a spirit that showed no shade of submission or withdrawal (v. 23); and

when the vexed and passionate king ordered him to be imprisoned and fed

with the bread and water of affliction, he still manifested a fearless spirit,

totally unmoved by the ill usage he was receiving (v. 27). The minister of

Christ, who is (or should be) the successor of the Hebrew prophet, will not

use the language or cherish the spirit of retaliation, but he will be utterly

undisturbed in his aim and in his purpose by any unjust or unkind treatment

he may receive. Nothing of this kind will move him from his resolve, will

turn him from his high and noble task. Acting under the inspiration of God,

and conscious that he is “partaking of the afflictions of Christ” (I Peter 4:13),

the “bread and water of affliction” will be sweet to his taste. In that day he

willrejoice and be exceeding glad” (Matthew 5:10-12).

 

  • WHOLLY ATTENTIVE TO THE DIVINE VOICE. “Even what my

God saith, that will I speak” (v. 13). So spoke the faithful witness. One

greater far than he described Himself as “a Man that hath told you the truth,

which I have heard of God” (John 8:40). What has God said to us that

we can tell our brethren? What do we learn of Christ and in His service?

What do we read in HIS WORD by a careful, reverent, and intelligent study

of it? What sacred lessons have we gleaned, as His holy providence has led

and His Divine discipline has taught and trained us? This, nothing else and

nothing less, will we carry to the minds of men:

 

Ø      to redeem them from sin,

Ø      to succor them in sorrow,

Ø      to prepare them for the burden and battle of life,

Ø      to make them ready for the time of judgment and

Ø      the long day of ETERNITY.

 

 

     Micaiah, the Son of Imla — an Old Testament Hero (vs. 9-27)

 

  • THE COURAGE HE DISPLAYED  (vs. 9-13.) He delivered

Jehovah’s message under circumstances that might and probably would

have intimidated him had he not been a hero.

 

Ø      Before two kings to whom that message was unacceptable. The scene

was calculated to steal away Micaiah’s fortitude, could anything have done

so. In an open space or threshing-floor, at the entering in of the gate of

Samaria, Ahab and Jehoshaphat, arrayed in royal robes, sat each upon his

throne. Immediately encircling them were the four hundred prophets; while

each, king was attended by his army (Josephus ‘Ant’ 8:15. 3.) Ordinarily,

there is such a divinty doth hedge a king,” that Micaiah might have been

excused had he trembled when ushered into the presence of two such royal

personages, decked out with the trappings of lofty station, waited on by

bowing courtiers, and escorted by battalions of warriors; much more when

one of them was Ahab, whose displeaure he had already felt, and the might

of whose arm he had lately experienced; most of all when he knew or

suspected that his words could not be acceptable to the kingly auditors on

whose ears they were about to fall. Yet Micaiah flinched not. Composed as

if he stood before peasants, he told out the message Jehovah put into his

lips. Compare the attitudes of:

 

o        Hanani before Asa (ch. 16:7),

o        Elijah before Ahab (I Kings 18:18; 21:20),

o        Daniel before Belshazzar (Daniel 5:13),

o        John the Baptist before Herod (Matthew 14:4),

o        Paul before Felix and Agrippa (Acts 24:25; 26:28),

o        Polycarp before Antoninus,

o        Luther before the Diet of Worms, and

o        John Knox before the court of Mary.

 

Ø      In the presence of four hundred false prophets whom that message

opposed. Had numbers been a test of truth, then was Micaiah wrong, since

he stood alone against the united body of the Israelitish prophets. Their

answer to Ahab’s question was unanimous. Without one dissenting voice

they had assured him Jehovah would reward his efforts with victory.

Ramoth-Gilead would be delivered into his hand, and the power of Syria

crushed. Zedekiah, one of these prophets, playing the clown on the

occasion, putting iron horns on his head and butting like an ox, added,

“Thus saith the Lord, With these horns thou shalt push Syria until they be

consumed;” while all his brother-prophets, applauding his performance,

urged the king to “go up to Ramoth-Gilead, and prosper.” Micaiah,

however, knew that all that was false, and in spite of appearing singular,

non-complaisant, obstinate, perverse, would not cry, “Amen!” would not

shape his words either to please the king or accord with the fashion of the

hour. It mattered nothing to Micaiah that he stood alone — his feet were

planted on the rock of truth; or that men might regard him as “odd,”

punctilious,” “over-scrupulous,” provided he was right. Compare Elijah

on Mount Carmel before the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, with

the four hundred prophets of the grove (I Kings 18:19).

 

Ø      Though he knew that message would not improve his own prospects. On

the way from prison to the king’s presence he had obtained a hint from his

conductor what kind of “oracle” would best suit — would most gratify the

king and recompense himself. All the state-prophets had observed in what

quarter the wind blew, and had prophesied accordingly. They discerned what

their royal master wanted, and why should they who ate his bread decline

to gratify his whims? With one consent had they declared “good” to Ahab.

If he, Micaiah, consulted for “good” to himself he would act upon that

hint; taking his cue from the “prophets,” he would let his word be as theirs.

But Micaiah was too honest to play the knave. Micaiah understood not the

art of studying self. Micaiah knew his duty was to speak the word given

him by God, without regarding consequences to any, least of all to himself.

And he did it!

 

  • THE ORACLE HE DELIVERED (vs. 14-22.)

 

Ø      A seeming permission. Micaiah answered Ahab in the words of the false

prophets (v. 14), in, irony (Keil, Bertheau), or in reproof of Ahab’s

hypocrisy (Bahr). Either Micaiah meant the opposite of what he said —

that the advice Ahab had received was worthless; or he intended to be

understood as declining to give other oracle than that already spoken by

the prophets, which was the one Ahab wanted. But in any case Ahab

suspected Micaiah’s sincerity.

 

Ø      Symbolic warning. Adjured to speak the truth, he related to the king a

vision he had seen — “all Israel scattered upon the mountains as sheep

without a shepherd;” and a voice he had heard — “These have no master;

let them return every man to his house in peace.” Whether the words of

Moses (Numbers 27:17) were in Micaiah’s mind when he described his

vision or not, the import of the vision and the voice was as patent to Ahab

as to him:

 

o        Ahab was to fall at Ramoth-Gilead;

o        Israel to become like a flock without a shepherd; and

o        the campaign to end in failure and shame.

 

Ø      A serious explanation. Accused by Ahab of speaking from a spirit of

malignant hatred towards him, Micaiah depicted another vision, which let

the king see the real deceivers were his own prophets, not he, Micaiah. The

vision, most likely received some time before and not then only for the first

time, consisted of a dramatic representation of the Divine government, in

which were set forth the following truths:

 

o        That God can work by means of secondary agents. The prophet saw

Jehovah, as Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1) afterwards beheld Him, seated upon His

throne, with all the host of heaven, standing on His right hand and on

His left. The host of heaven was the innumerable company of angels

of which David sang (Psalm 68:17), two battalions of which met Jacob

at Mahanaim (Genesis 32:2), and many regiments of which protected

Elisha and his servant at Dothan (II Kings 6:17). Their designation

host indicated their number and order; their position, “on His right

hand and on His left,” marked their submission and readiness to

execute Jehovah’s will (Psalm 103:20-21).

 

o        That agencies of evil are equally with those of good are under the

Divine control. Though God is not and cannot be the author of sin,

He may yet, through the wicked actions of His creatures, accomplish

His designs. His purpose was that Ahab should fall at Ramoth-Gilead;

he effected that purpose by suffering Ahab to be misled by his false

prophets, and these to be deceived by a lying spirit. Neither could the

prophets have spoken to Ahab, nor the lying spirit whispered to the

prophets, without the Divine permission. This truth Micaiah

dramatically portrayed by representing Jehovah as taking counsel

with His angels, and asking, “Who shall entice Ahab King of Israel,

that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-Gilead?”

 

o        That God does not always hinder from being deceived those who wish

to be deceived. Ahab and his prophets desired to believe Jehovah in

favor of the campaign, and Jehovah allowed them to be persuaded by

the lying spirit that he was. Having willfully turned their backs upon

Jehovah and become worshippers of idols, Jehovah now left them to

reap the fruit of their folly — gave them up to strong delusion to

believe a lie (Isaiah 66:4; II Thessalonians 2:11). “Not by any

sudden stroke of vengeance, but by the very network of evil counsel

which he has woven for himself, is the King of Israel to be led to his

ruin (Stanley, ‘Jewish Church,’ p. 316).

 

o        That God, in permitting the wicked to be the victims of their own evil

machinations, only exercises upon them righteous retribution. “It is

just that one sin should be punished by another” (Bishop Hall). This

principle is universally operative in Providence.

 

Ø      A solemn denunciation. Without further parley, or veiling of his

thoughts in metaphorical speech, he declares that the king had been

imposed upon by his prophets, and that Jehovah had spoken evil against

him. There are times when God’s messengers must deliver God’s messages

to their hearers with utmost plainness and directness of speech.

 

  • THE RECOMPENSE HE RECEIVED (vs. 23-27.)

 

Ø      Insult from the prophets, through their leader Zedekiah, the son of

Chenaanah.

 

o        What it was. A blow from the fist, and a stroke from the tongue — the

first hard to bear, the second harder; the first a common resort of

cowards, the second of persons overcome in argument. For Zedekiah to

smite Micaiah on the cheek, as afterwards the soldiers smote Jesus in

Pilate’s praetorium (Matthew 27:27), and later the bystanders Paul in

the council chamber at Ananias’s command (Acts 23:2), was

intolerably insolent — much more to do so in the presence of two

kings.” “The act was unbecoming the person, more the presence;

prophets may reprove, they may not smite” (Hall). It was, besides,

painfully like a confession that Zedekiah was conscious of having

been found out.

 

o        Why it was. To gratify his thirst for revenge. It was easier to do so in

this way than by attempting to disprove the truth of Micaiah’s oracle.

Any fool can exercise his fist; it takes a wise man to use his tongue

with effect.  Zedekiah probably imagined he did so when he

mockingly inquired, “Which way went the Spirit of the Lord from

 me to speak unto thee?”  That in so saying he claimed to be as

much under the Spirit of Jehovah as Micaiah, may be true; that

Micaiah understood him to be talking lightly seems apparent from

the reply returned him: “Thou shalt see on that day when thou

shalt go into an inner chamber to hide thyself.” The event would

decide which of the two predictions was correct. When the people

rose up against the prophets who had misled their king, Zedekiah,

as he fled for safety to some inner chamber, or from chamber to

chamber, would understand how to answer his own jest.

(I recommend Proverbs ch14 v14 – Spurgeon Sermon – How a

Man’s Conduct Comes Home to Him – # 1246 - this website –

CY – 2016)

 

Ø      Punishment from the king. Micaiah was remanded back to his

confinement in the city jail. Amen the governor of the city, and Joash the

king’s son — not necessarily a son of Ahab, but a prince of the blood — as

commandants of the prison, were instructed to thrust him back into his old

cell, and “feed him with bread of affliction and water of affliction;” in

modern phrase, to subject him to imprisonment with hard labor, until

Ahab should return in peace (v. 26). It was severe upon Micaiah, yet he

retracted not. Without a murmur at his hard fate, he cheerfully returned to

his cell, only calling the people to observe that if Ahab returned home

from the war in peace, he was not a true prophet (v. 27).

 

  • LEARN:

 

Ø      The nobility of true courage.

Ø      The certainty that good men will suffer for their goodness.

Ø      The reality of an overruling Providence.

Ø      The infallibility of God’s Word.

 

 

The True Lesson of Human Ignorance (vs. 28-34)

 

What are the true lessons that we gather from this interesting episode?

There may be suggested:

 

  • TWO THOUGHTS WHICH ARE PLAUSIBLE, BUT FALSE. Some

men would probably infer from similar facts happening in the range of their

own observation:

 

Ø      That the issue of events is in the hands of an irreversible fate. Ahab (they

would argue) was bound to fall that day; do what he might, disguise

himself as he pleased, take whatever precaution he could, his death was

decreed and was simply unavoidable. But this is not the wise, nor is it the

right, way of regarding it. Had he been as brave as Jehoshaphat (see v.29),

he certainly would not have fallen in the way he did; had he been as

true to Jehovah as the King of Judah was, and as he might and should have

been, he would not have “gone up to Ramoth-Gilead” at all, for he would

have been dissuaded by the prophet of the Lord, and he would not have

fallen at all. His death that day, as well as that way, was due to his own

course and to his own choice. Our destiny is not in the hands of some

inexorable necessity; it resides in our own character; it is the work of our

own will.

 

Ø      That many things, if not most things, are decided not by choice, but by

chance. The death of Ahab (they would say) was the result of “a bow

drawn at a venture.” And it is this chance-work that has a very large share

in the determination of our whole earthly history. But chance, in the sense

of positive lawlessness, does not exist. Everything happened here

according to law. The soldier drew his bow according to his instruction,

aiming at the enemy, though not at any one whom he recognized in

particular; the arrow went on its career according to the laws of motion,

and did its work on Ahab’s person in accordance with all the laws of

physics. There was no violation of law in the smallest degree, though

something happened which no man could have calculated and predicted. If

we succeed, it will be by using the laws of health, of prosperity, etc.; if we

fail, it will be in consequence of our disregarding these laws, which are

LAWS OF GOD!  Chance will neither make nor mar us.

 

  • TWO THOUGHTS WHICH ARE BOTH TRUE AND SERVICEABLE.

 

Ø      That we do not know what harm we do by our most casual strokes. We

draw a bow at a venture,” we “send an arrow through the air;” it is only a

sentence, it is a very simple deed, we think; but it hits and wounds a

sensitive human heart; it may even slay a Soul. It may cause such grief as

we would on no account have inflicted if we could have foreseen it; it may

lead to the first declension of a valuable human life, and may end in such

SPIRITUAL DISASTER as it would grieve us indeed to originate.

 

Ø      That we cannot tell what good we do by our simplest efforts. Little did

the Syrian soldier suppose that by that shot of his arrow he was to serve his

royal master as he did. It is a most cheering and inspiring thought that we

cannot tell what kind or measure of good we are effecting by our everyday

service of our Lord. A kindly smile, a gracious recognition, an encouraging

word, a neighborly kindness, a warning utterance, the taking of “a class,”

the giving of “an address,” the conduct of “a service,” perhaps under the

humblest roof, or to the most unpromising audience, may prove to be a

most valuable contribution to the cause of Jesus Christ, to the service of

mankind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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