Then the messenger who had gone to call Micaiah instructed him, "Behold now, with one accord the words of the prophets are favorable to the king. So please let your words be like theirs, and speak favorably."
Journal that when he was about twenty-two, before he knew by joyous experience the salvation of God, he read Thomas Kempis The Imitation of Christ Christian Pattern, and he began "to see that true religion was seated in the heart, and that God's law extended to all our thoughts, as well as words and actions." He says with brave frankness, "I was, however, very angry with Kempis for being so strict!" This is an illuminating sentence. The sense of guilt recoils in anger from that which exposes our sin.
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.
Behold now, the words of the prophets declare good unto the king with one mouth.I. A CERTAIN FEAR OF GOD IS MADE TO SERVE THE SELFISH ENDS OF WORLDLY MEN. Here is a wicked king, a pervert from the true faith, a patron of idolatry, a man whose actions were only evil continually, a man buckling on his armour for an unnecessary war, yet a man who will not move until he gets a sign that the gods will take his part. Ahab is a religious man, although a man of sin — a man who has his priests and prophets, as well as his warriors, and who in doing wrong likes to fortify himself by the assurance that the heavens are on his side. "Shall I go against Ramoth-Gilead to battle, or shall I forbear" said the king. In form that was an inquiry; in reality it was an attempt to blend religion with worldly designs, that thus he might the better compass their fulfilment. There is much of this incongruous mixture in the conduct of ungodly men among us now. There are few persons so worldly but that they have a vein of the religious running through them; and generally they are shrewd enough to somehow turn this element to their own advantage. Many persons going to church on Sunday is done to keep their conscience quiet through the week of questionable conduct. Religion is to some a refuge from uncomfortable thoughts, and as much a means of keeping a man in face with himself as with his neighbours. It is oftentimes a valuable auxiliary to a worldling's temporal progress, winning him the good opinion of his fellows as well as furnishing a basis of self-confidence.
II. THE WIDE PREVALENCE OF THE DEMAND FOR SMOOTH-SPEAKING PROPHETS. Ahab said to his assembled seers, "Shall I go, or shall I forbear?" There is always a demand for prophets who tell us what we like. There is a good deal of satisfaction to the man who all the week long is driving doubtful bargains, indulging in sharp practices, and living by the world's smart maxims rather than the principles of Scripture — it is most gratifying to such a person when he comes to church to find a man in the pulpit who dwells only on the brighter side of human conduct, who seldom mentions people's sins, who is too polite to speak of hell, and who in general seems in favour of a "downgrade" in morals as well as in theology. And this demand is always followed by an adequate supply. If the pew clamours for smooth-tongued prophets it will not have to wait many Sundays before one mounts the pulpit. The Christian Church has never been without such men. As a rule, they abound.
III. HOWEVER MUCH SMOOTH-SPEAKING MAY ABOUND, WE CAN NEVER GET AWAY ENTIRELY FROM THE INTERMINGLED VOICE OF TRUTH. Micaiah was not at first summoned into the royal presence. No; Ahab knew he had a rasping voice and an awkward honesty about him which would ill harmonise with the general concurrence he expected. But somehow Micaiah was fated to appear. This world of ours has never lacked true prophets, as it has never wanted false ones. Even in the most unfriendly times there have been more of them than the prophets themselves have thought. And, somehow, as in this case, bad men are obliged to hear the prophet of the Lord sometimes. The jarring note will break in upon the smooth current of man-pleasing doctrine. Despite men's evasions, the rousing voice makes itself heard above the sibilations of your religious parasites end sycophants; the pure light flashes convincingly into the dark places of the corrupt heart; and the word of the Lord moves right royally over men's cowering souls and crooked lives. In the providence of God it is always ordered that the truth shall speak to evil men, "whether they will hear or whether they will forbear." If it speaks but seldom it makes up for it by compensating emphasis.
(J. J. Ingram.)
Homiletic Magazine.I. A MAN MAY DELIBERATELY SET HIMSELF AGAINST GOD. This may appear an improbable thing, as there must be an apprehension that the only clear issue to such conduct is the defeat of the man, and the triumph of God.
II. A MAN MAY TURN THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD INTO A PERSONAL. GRIEVANCE. This evidently Ahab did; and also the men of Christ's day, who, resenting the plainness of His speech, became His bitter adversaries. To be reproved when wrong is meditated or pursued should be regarded as an advantage. Warning is an indication of interest in one's well-being when uttered by a friend, and ought never to be thought of other than as a kindness.
III. A MAY COME TO REGARD WHAT IS TRUTH AS EVIL INSTEAD OF ITS BEING GOOD. A man must have had his way for a long time before such a verdict may be announced; but selfishness is not long indulged before he is upon this track.
IV. A MAN MAY NEVER BE TAUGHT BY EXPERIENCE, BUT EVER RUSH ON TO DESTRUCTION, WELL KNOWING WHAT IS BEFORE HIM. It was so with Ahab. No amount of teaching or experience — and his life had not been without instruction — sufficed to turn him from his set purpose and awaken him to the danger in which by his conduct he was placed.
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
TopicsAccord, Agree, Assent, Behold, Declare, Favorable, Favorably, Hast, Messenger, Micah, Micaiah, Micai'ah, Mouth, Please, Predicting, Prophets, Saying, Servant, Spake, Speak, Spoke, Spoken, Success, Summon, Theirs, Towards, Uniformly, Voice
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 22:13
'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
The Prophet Micah.
The Poetical Books (Including Also Ecclesiastes and Canticles).
The Assyrian Revival and the Struggle for Syria
Use to be Made of the Doctrine of Providence.
The Shepherd of Our Souls.
Of Councils and their Authority.
That the Employing Of, and Associating with the Malignant Party, According as is Contained in the Public Resolutions, is Sinful and Unlawful.
Of Passages from the Holy Scriptures, and from the Apocrypha, which are Quoted, or Incidentally Illustrated, in the Institutes.
He Does Battle for the Faith; He Restores Peace among those who were at Variance; He Takes in Hand to Build a Stone Church.
Sovereignty of God in Administration
Tit. 2:06 Thoughts for Young Men
General Principles of Interpretation. 1 Since the Bible Addresses Men in Human Language...
The Figurative Language of Scripture.
Instruction for the Ignorant:
Links1 Kings 22:13 NIV
1 Kings 22:13 NLT
1 Kings 22:13 ESV
1 Kings 22:13 NASB
1 Kings 22:13 KJV
1 Kings 22:13 Bible Apps
1 Kings 22:13 Parallel
1 Kings 22:13 Biblia Paralela
1 Kings 22:13 Chinese Bible
1 Kings 22:13 French Bible
1 Kings 22:13 German Bible
1 Kings 22:13 Commentaries