And all the prophets were prophesying the same, saying, "Go up to Ramoth-gilead and prosper, for the LORD will deliver it into the hand of the king."
There would be no counterfeit coin if there were no sterling; so neither would there be false prophets if there were no true. Because there are both, their qualities have to be tested, that we may refuse the spurious and value the genuine (see Jeremiah 23:38
). To this end let us consider -
I. TESTS WHICH MAY NOT BE TRUSTED.
1. The test of profession.
(1) Ahab's prophets "prophesied." That is to say
(a) They used modes usual with prophets to procure information from Heaven. These were sacrifice, prayer, music (see 1 Samuel 10:5, 6; 2 Kings 3:15), and, when time permitted, fasting.
(b) They used modes usual with prophets to communicate the information when received. "Zedekiah, the son of Chenaanah, made him horns of iron: and he said, Thus saith the Lord, With these shalt thou push the Syrians, until thou have consumed them" (cf. Jeremiah 27:2; Jeremiah 28:18). The "horn" was the symbol of a king (see Daniel 7:24; Revelation 17:12). These were "two," to represent Ahab and Jehoshaphat, Israel and Judah. They were of "iron" to express strength (see Daniel 2:40). The prophecy was that, aided by Jehoshaphat, Ahab should push the Syrians to destruction.
(2) They prophesied "in the name of the Lord." Some think because their number corresponded to that of the prophets of Ashere (1 Kings 18:19) these were the same, having escaped when the prophets of Baal were slain at the brook Kishon (1 Kings 18:40). If so, then their profession on this occasion was designed to deceive Jehoshaphat (see Jeremiah 23:30).
(3) Anyhow there was profession enough, but it was hollow, and proved conclusively that profession must not be taken as a test of truth.
2. The test of numbers.
(1) Here were "four hundred" who prophesied professedly in the name of the Lord. Against this number Micaiah the son of Imlah stands alone; yet the truth of God is with him against the multitude. "Truth is not always to be determined by the poll. It is net numbers, but weight, that must carry it in the council of prophets" (Bishop Hall).
(2) This instance does not stand alone. The majority was in the wrong against Noah. Elijah was in the minority on Carmel, but he was right. Jesus had the whole Jewish Church against Him, though He was Truth itself.
3. The test of unanimity.
(1) The four hundred were united against Micaiah. Sometimes there is unanimity of this kind against a common object, where otherwise there is little agreement. Herod and Pilate made friends in opposition to Jesus.
(2) But these prophets were agreed among themselves. They all seem to have followed the leadership of Zedekiah. "And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, Go up to Ramoth-Gilead, and prosper: for the Lord shall deliver it into the king's hand."
4. How does this argument bear upon the authority of the Church?
(1) It is pleaded that the Church, which is practically understood to be the clergy in council, has authority to bind the conscience in matters of faith. The arguments relied upon to sustain this view are generally based upon claims of profession, numbers, and agreement.
(2) On the other hand, the. definition of the Church is questioned, and the claims are refused as insufficient for their purpose, since by them Ahab's prophets might prove themselves true!
II. TESTS WHICH MAY BE TRUSTED.
1. The witnesses should be honest.
(1) Ahab's prophets were interested in their testimony. They enjoyed the patronage of the king, and they said what they knew would gratify him. Their testimony, therefore, is open to suspicion.
(2) Micaiah, on the contrary, had nothing to gain, but everything to lose, in taking his course. He knew the temper of the king. He was importuned by the king's messenger to concur with the king's prophets. He had already suffered for his faithfulness, for he seems to have been brought from the custody of Amen, in whose prison he had probably lain for three years. By flattering Ahab he might now obtain release, but by taking an opposite course he could only expect to go back to jail. Probabilities also were against him, for in the last two battles, Ahab, without the aid of Jehoshaphat, worsted the Syrians. Should the king of Israel now "return in peace" what may Micaiah expect?
(3) Nothing but the consciousness that he was uttering the truth of God could account for the son of Imlah deliberately encountering all this. And only upon this ground could he hope for any favour from God. Suspicion, therefore, as to the honesty of Micaiah is out of the question.
(4) But can it be pleaded that the honesty of the ecclesiastics who framed the decrees of councils is beyond suspicion? In decreeing the infallibility of the bishop of Rome, e.g., were they disinterested, when they knew how pleasing to him would be the reputation of such an attribute, and when they knew what patronage and power to injure were vested in his hands?
2. They should have miraculous athentication.
(1) It is easy to say, "Thus saith the Lord," but not so espy to evince it. The four hundred could say it, but they could show no miracle to prove that they spoke from God.
(2) It was otherwise with Micaiah. For, with the Jews, we presume he was that prophet who "prophesied evil concerning Ahab," and authenticated his message by the sign of the lion destroying his fellow for disobedience (cf. ver. 8 with 1 Kings 20:35-43).
(3) Clergy in council may claim Divine authority for their decrees, but unless they can verify their claim by adequate signs they presume when they impose.
3. Their testimony should be agreeable to the word of God.
(1) "Micaiah said, As the Lord liveth, what the Lord saith unto me, that will I speak. The one question for us in these days is this: Is the testimony agreeable to the Bible? This we know by infallible proofs to be the word of God. "But," it is objected, "the Bible needs authoritative interpretation, and who is to interpret but the Church?" To which we may answer, And the Church still more needs authoritative interpretation, and who is to interpret bus the Bible? The authority of the Bible is admitted; that of the Church is in question.
(2) The right of private judgment must be maintained. For the exercise of this right we shall every one of us give account of himself unto God. That ill-defined thing, the Church, cannot release us from this obligation. We cannot put our judgment and conscience into commission. - J.A.M.
I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth.
How important that every wife have her ambition an elevated, righteous, and divinely approved ambition! And here let me say that what I am most anxious for is that woman, not waiting for the rights denied her or postponed, should promptly and decisively employ the rights she already has in possession. Some say she will be in a fair way to get all her rights when she gets the right to the ballot-box. I do not know that it would change anything for the better. But let every wife, not waiting for the vote she may never get, or, getting it, find it outbalanced by some other vote not fit to be cast, arise now in the might of the Eternal God and wield the power of a sanctified wifely ambition for a good approximating the infinite. No one can so inspire a man to noble purposes as a noble woman, and no one so thoroughly degrade a man as a wife of unworthy tendencies. While in my text we have illustration of wifely ambition employed in the wrong direction, in society and history are instances of wifely ambition triumphant in right directions. All that was worth admiration in the character of Henry VI. was a reflection of the heroics of his wife Margaret. William, Prince of Orange, was restored to the right path by the grand qualities of his wife Mary. Justinian, the Roman Emperor confesses that his wise laws were the suggestion of his wife Theodora. Andrew Jackson, the warrior and President, had his mightiest reinforcement in his plain wife, whose inartistic attire was the amusement of the elegant circles in which she was invited. Washington, who broke the chain that held America in foreign vassalage, wore for forty years a chain around his own neck, that chain holding the miniature likeness of her who had been his greatest inspiration, whether among the snows at Valley Forge or the honours of the Presidential chair. Pliny's pen was driven through all its poetic and historical dominions by his wife, Calpurnia, who sang his stanzas to the sound of flute, and sat among audiences enraptured at her husband's genius, herself the most enraptured. Pericles said he got all his eloquence and statesmanship from his wife. When the wife of Grotius rescued him from long imprisonment at Lovestein by means of a bookcase that went in and out, carrying his books to and fro, in which he was one day transported, hidden amid the folios; and the women of besieged Wurzburg, getting permission from the victorious army to take with them so much of their valuables as they could carry, under cover of the promise shouldered and took with them, as the most important valuables, their husbands — both achievements in a literal way illustrated what thousands of times has been done in a figurative way, namely, that wifely ambition has been the salvation of men. De Tocqueville, whose writings will be potential and quoted while the world lasts, ascribes his successes to his wife, and says: "Of all the blessings which God has given to me, the greatest of all in my eyes is to have lighted on Maria Motley." Martin Luther
says of his wife, "I would not exchange my poverty with her for all the riches of Croesus without her." Isabella of Spain, by her superior faith in Columbus, put into the hand of Ferdinand, her husband, America. John Adams, President of the United States, said of his wife: "She never by word or look discouraged me from running all hazards for the salvation of my country's liberties." A whole cemetery of monumental inscriptions will not do a wife so much good after she has quit the world as one plain sentence like that which Tom Hood wrote to his living wife when he said: "I never was anything till I knew you." O woman, what is your wifely ambition, noble or ignoble? Is it high social position? That will then probably direct your husband, and he will climb and scramble and slip and fall and rise and tumble, and on what level, or in what depth, or on what height he will, after a while, be found, I cannot even guess. The contest for social position is the most unsatisfactory contest in all the world, because it is so uncertain about your getting it, and so insecure a possession after you have obtained it, and so unsatisfactory even if you keep it. The whisk of a lady's fan may blow it out. The growl of one "bear," or the bellowing of one "bull" on Wall Street, may scatter it. Some of us could tell of what influence upon us has been a wifely ambition consecrated to righteousness. A man is no better than his wife will let him be. O wives, swing your sceptres of wifely influence for God and good homes! Do not urge your husbands to annex Naboth's vineyard to your palace of success, whether right or wrong, lest the dogs that come out to destroy Naboth come out also to devour you. Righteousness will pay best in life, will pay best in death, will pay best in judgment, will pay best through all eternity. In our effort to have the mother of every household appreciate her influence over her children, we are apt to forget the wife's influence over the husband. In many households the influence upon the husband is the only home influence. In a great multitude of the best and most important and most talented families of the earth there have been no descendants. Multitudes of the finest families of the earth are extinct. As though they had done enough for the world by their genius or wit or patriotism or invention or consecration, God withdrew them. In multitudes of cases all woman's opportunity for usefulness is with her contemporaries. How important that it be an improved opportunity! While the French warriors on their way to Rheims had about concluded to give up attacking the castle at Troyes, because it was so heavily garrisoned, Joan of Are entered the room and told them they would be inside the castle in three days. "We would willingly wait six days," said one of the leaders. "Six!" she cried out, "you shall be in it to-morrow," and, under her leadership, on the morrow they entered. On a smaller scale, every man has garrisons to subdue and obstacles to level, and every wife may be an inspired Joan of Are to her husband. What a noble, wifely ambition, the determination, God helping, to accompany her companion across the stormy sea of this life and together gain the wharf of the Celestial City! Coax him along with you! You cannot drive him there You cannot nag him there; but you can coax him there. That is God's plan. He coaxes us all the way — coaxes us out of our sins, coaxes us to accept pardon, coaxes us to heaven. If we reach that blessed place, it will be through a prolonged and Divine coaxing.
By the fate of Ahab, whose wife induced him to steal; by the fate of Macbeth, whose wife pushed him into massacre; by the fate of James Ferguson, the philosopher, whose wife entered the room while he was lecturing and wilfully upset his astronomical apparatus, so that he turned to the audience and said: "Ladies and gentlemen, I have the misfortune to be married to this woman"; by the fate of Bulwer, the novelist, whose wife's temper was so incompatible that he furnished her a beautiful house near London, and withdrew from her company; by the fate of John Milton
, who married a termagant after he was blind, and when somebody called her a rose, the poet said, "I am no judge of colours, but I may be so, for I feel the thorns daily" — by all these scenes of disquietude and domestic calamity, we implore you to be cautious and prayerful before you enter upon the connubial state, which decides whether a man shall have two heavens or two hells, a heaven here and a heaven there, or a hell now and a hell hereafter.
PeopleAhab, Ahaziah, Amon, Aram, Asa, Azubah, Chenaanah, David, Geber, Imlah, Jehoram, Jehoshaphat, Jeroboam, Joash, Micah, Micaiah, Nebat, Ophir, Shilhi, Sodomites, Syrians, Tarshish, Tharshish, Zedekiah
PlacesEdom, Ezion-geber, Jerusalem, Ophir, Ramoth-gilead, Samaria, Syria, Tarshish
TopicsAttack, Deliver, Gilead, Hands, King's, Prophesied, Prophesying, Prophets, Prosper, Ramoth, Ramothgilead, Ramoth-gilead, Saying, Thus, Triumph, Victorious
Outline1. Ahab, seduced by false prophets, by Michaiah's word, is slain at Ramoth Gilead
37. The dogs lick up his blood, and Ahaziah succeeds him
41. Jehoshaphat's good reign
45. His acts
46. Jehoram succeeds him
51. Ahaziah's evil reign
Dictionary of Bible Themes1 Kings 22:1-28
7774 prophets, false
1 Kings 22:1-38
8131 guidance, results
1 Kings 22:10-28
1 Kings 22:12-14
7778 school of prophets
1 Kings 22:12-23
8129 guidance, examples
'And the king of Israel said unto his servants, Know ye that Ramoth in Gilead is ours, and we be still, and take it not out of the hand of the king of Syria?'--1 KINGS xxii. 3. This city of Ramoth in Gilead was an important fortified place on the eastern side of the Jordan, and had, many years before the date of our text, been captured by its northern neighbours in the kingdom of Syria. A treaty had subsequently been concluded and broken a war followed thereafter, in which Ben-hadad, King of Syria, …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
Ahab and Micaiah
'And Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the Lord besides, that we might enquire of him? 8. And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the Lord: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.'--1 KINGS xxii. 7,8. An ill-omened alliance had been struck up between Ahab of Israel and Jehoshaphat of Judah. The latter, who would have been much better in Jerusalem, had come down to Samaria …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
The Prophet Micah.
PRELIMINARY REMARKS. Micah signifies: "Who is like Jehovah;" and by this name, the prophet is consecrated to the incomparable God, just as Hosea was to the helping God, and Nahum to the comforting God. He prophesied, according to the inscription, under Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. We are not, however, entitled, on this account, to dissever his prophecies, and to assign particular discourses to the reign of each of these kings. On the contrary, the entire collection forms only one whole. At …
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament
The Poetical Books (Including Also Ecclesiastes and Canticles).
1. The Hebrews reckon but three books as poetical, namely: Job, Psalms, and Proverbs, which are distinguished from the rest by a stricter rhythm--the rhythm not of feet, but of clauses (see below, No. 3)--and a peculiar system of accentuation. It is obvious to every reader that the poetry of the Old Testament, in the usual sense of the word, is not restricted to these three books. But they are called poetical in a special and technical sense. In any natural classification of the books of the …
E. P. Barrows—Companion to the Bible
The Assyrian Revival and the Struggle for Syria
Assur-nazir-pal (885-860) and Shalmaneser III. (860-825)--The kingdom of Urartu and its conquering princes: Menuas and Argistis. Assyria was the first to reappear on the scene of action. Less hampered by an ancient past than Egypt and Chaldaea, she was the sooner able to recover her strength after any disastrous crisis, and to assume again the offensive along the whole of her frontier line. Image Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a bas-relief at Koyunjik of the time of Sennacherib. The initial cut, …
G. Maspero—History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 7
Use to be Made of the Doctrine of Providence.
Sections. 1. Summary of the doctrine of Divine Providence. 1. It embraces the future and the past. 2. It works by means, without means, and against means. 3. Mankind, and particularly the Church, the object of special care. 4. The mode of administration usually secret, but always just. This last point more fully considered. 2. The profane denial that the world is governed by the secret counsel of God, refuted by passages of Scripture. Salutary counsel. 3. This doctrine, as to the secret counsel of …
John Calvin—The Institutes of the Christian Religion
The Shepherd of Our Souls.
"I am the good Shepherd: the good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep."--John x. 11. Our Lord here appropriates to Himself the title under which He had been foretold by the Prophets. "David My servant shall be king over them," says Almighty God by the mouth of Ezekiel: "and they all shall have one Shepherd." And in the book of Zechariah, "Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and against the man that is My fellow, saith the Lord of Hosts; smite the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered." …
John Henry Newman—Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VIII
Of Councils and their Authority.
1. The true nature of Councils. 2. Whence the authority of Councils is derived. What meant by assembling in the name of Christ. 3. Objection, that no truth remains in the Church if it be not in Pastors and Councils. Answer, showing by passages from the Old Testament that Pastors were often devoid of the spirit of knowledge and truth. 4. Passages from the New Testament showing that our times were to be subject to the same evil. This confirmed by the example of almost all ages. 5. All not Pastors who …
John Calvin—The Institutes of the Christian Religion
That the Employing Of, and Associating with the Malignant Party, According as is Contained in the Public Resolutions, is Sinful and Unlawful.
That The Employing Of, And Associating With The Malignant Party, According As Is Contained In The Public Resolutions, Is Sinful And Unlawful. If there be in the land a malignant party of power and policy, and the exceptions contained in the Act of Levy do comprehend but few of that party, then there need be no more difficulty to prove, that the present public resolutions and proceedings do import an association and conjunction with a malignant party, than to gather a conclusion from clear premises. …
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning
Of Passages from the Holy Scriptures, and from the Apocrypha, which are Quoted, or Incidentally Illustrated, in the Institutes.
TO THE AUTHORS QUOTED IN THE INSTITUTES PREFATORY ADDRESS TO HIS MOST CHRISTIAN MAJESTY, THE MOST MIGHTY AND ILLUSTRIOUS MONARCH, FRANCIS, KING OF THE FRENCH, HIS SOVEREIGN;  JOHN CALVIN PRAYS PEACE AND SALVATION IN CHRIST.  Sire,--When I first engaged in this work, nothing was farther from my thoughts than to write what should afterwards be presented to your Majesty. My intention was only to furnish a kind of rudiments, by which those who feel some interest in religion might be trained to …
John Calvin—The Institutes of the Christian Religion
He Does Battle for the Faith; He Restores Peace among those who were at Variance; He Takes in Hand to Build a Stone Church.
57. (32). There was a certain clerk in Lismore whose life, as it is said, was good, but his faith not so. He was a man of some knowledge in his own eyes, and dared to say that in the Eucharist there is only a sacrament and not the fact of the sacrament, that is, mere sanctification and not the truth of the Body. On this subject he was often addressed by Malachy in secret, but in vain; and finally he was called before a public assembly, the laity however being excluded, in order that if it were …
H. J. Lawlor—St. Bernard of Clairvaux's Life of St. Malachy of Armagh
Sovereignty of God in Administration
"The LORD hath prepared His Throne In the heavens; and His Kingdom ruleth over all" (Psa. 103:19). First, a word concerning the need for God to govern the material world. Suppose the opposite for a moment. For the sake of argument, let us say that God created the world, designed and fixed certain laws (which men term "the laws of Nature"), and that He then withdrew, leaving the world to its fortune and the out-working of these laws. In such a case, we should have a world over which there was no intelligent, …
Arthur W. Pink—The Sovereignty of God
Tit. 2:06 Thoughts for Young Men
WHEN St. Paul wrote his Epistle to Titus about his duty as a minister, he mentioned young men as a class requiring peculiar attention. After speaking of aged men and aged women, and young women, he adds this pithy advice, "Young men likewise exhort to be sober-minded" (Tit. 2:6). I am going to follow the Apostle's advice. I propose to offer a few words of friendly exhortation to young men. I am growing old myself, but there are few things I remember so well as the days of my youth. I have a most …
John Charles Ryle—The Upper Room: Being a Few Truths for the Times
General Principles of Interpretation. 1 Since the Bible Addresses Men in Human Language...
CHAPTER XXXIV. GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF INTERPRETATION. 1. Since the Bible addresses men in human language, and according to human modes of thinking and speaking, the interpreter's first work is to ascertain the meaning of the terms employed. Here he must proceed as in the case of other writings, seeking by the aid of grammars, lexicons, cognate languages, ancient versions, ancient interpreters, and whatever other outward helps are available, to gain a thorough knowledge of the language employed by …
E. P. Barrows—Companion to the Bible
The remarkable change which we have noticed in the views of Jewish authorities, from contempt to almost affectation of manual labour, could certainly not have been arbitrary. But as we fail to discover here any religious motive, we can only account for it on the score of altered political and social circumstances. So long as the people were, at least nominally, independent, and in possession of their own land, constant engagement in a trade would probably mark an inferior social stage, and imply …
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life
The Figurative Language of Scripture.
1. When the psalmist says: "The Lord God is a sun and shield" (Psa. 84:11), he means that God is to all his creatures the source of life and blessedness, and their almighty protector; but this meaning he conveys under the figure of a sun and a shield. When, again, the apostle James says that Moses is read in the synagogues every Sabbath-day (Acts 15:21), he signifies the writings of Moses under the figure of his name. In these examples the figure lies in particular words. But it may be embodied …
E. P. Barrows—Companion to the Bible
Instruction for the Ignorant:
BEING A SALVE TO CURE THAT GREAT WANT OF KNOWLEDGE, WHICH SO MUCH REIGNS BOTH IN YOUNG AND OLD. PREPARED AND PRESENTED TO THEM IN A PLAIN AND EASY DIALOGUE, FITTED TO THE CAPACITY OF THE WEAKEST. 'My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.'--Hosea 4:6 ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR. This little catechism is upon a plan perfectly new and unique. It was first published as a pocket volume in 1675, and has been republished in every collection of the author's works; and recently in a separate tract. …
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3
The book of Kings is strikingly unlike any modern historical narrative. Its comparative brevity, its curious perspective, and-with some brilliant exceptions--its relative monotony, are obvious to the most cursory perusal, and to understand these things is, in large measure, to understand the book. It covers a period of no less than four centuries. Beginning with the death of David and the accession of Solomon (1 Kings i., ii.) it traverses his reign with considerable fulness (1 Kings iii.-xi.), …
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament
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