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Wednesday, December 6th, 2023
the First Week of Advent
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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 22

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-53

1 Kings 22:2 . Jehoshaphat had married his son Jehoram to Athaliah, daughter of Jezebel; probably from the idea that the connection would prevent internal war for the future: oh fatal mistake!

1 Kings 22:7 . Is there not here a prophet of the Lord besides? It was a maxim, even of the ancient pagan priests, that nothing of importance was to be undertaken without consulting the gods.

1 Kings 22:17 . As sheep that have not a shepherd. Cyrus and David are called shepherds. Here then is a plain inference, that Ahab should be killed, and the Israelites lose their shepherd. Ministers must still prophesy evil against the wicked: to them they are “prophets of disasters.” Iliad 1.

1 Kings 22:38 . The dogs licked his blood, as Elijah had foretold: 1 Kings 21:19.


After the sentence of the Lord on Ahab by Elijah, we left him penetrated with the deepest appearance of true repentance, which was at least so sincere that it obtained a personal respite. But on the removal of the rod, Ahab’s old habits and old company drew him back into his former sins. He neither demolished his altar, nor dismissed the order of his pensioned prophets. Hence God resolved to destroy him, and such is his way with those who spare their sins. Hence the great difficulty, the almost impossibility of converting an old and a hardened sinner.

It is always dangerous, and often fatal, for a good man to visit and associate with the wicked; more especially to contract matrimonial connections, as we shall find was now the case. Jehoshaphat was indeed courteously entertained in Samaria; but Ahab’s court attempted to improve this visit to their interest, and to involve him in a war with Benhadad his old ally, for the recovery of Ramoth-gilead, a frontier town. And to human appearance there was the fairest prospect of success; for if God saved Israel with seven thousand men, how much more when the king of Israel and the king of Judah were joined. There was however a moral difference: when God first saved Samaria the Israelites had just renewed their covenant on Carmel: now they had reverted to all their former sins. The errors of those kings were productive of some good to the church, in causing to be laid more fully open the manner in which God governs the world, and reveals himself by vision to the prophets. Micaiah, supposed to be the disguised prophet who reproved Ahab for letting Benhadad go, saw in a vision the Lord sitting on a throne, and surrounded with a throng of angels. He asked who would go and persuade Ahab, that he might go up, and fall at Ramoth? A spirit, evil no doubt in his disposition, offered to go and be a lying spirit in the mouth of his prophets. Conformably to this vision, the whole phalanx of those prophets, though scattered in different places, began in the most extravagant terms to augur the success of the expedition. And who could doubt, when statesmen and prophets were agreed, but that the assurances were from God.

Whenever we have serious doubts and misgivings of mind concerning any eventful step, we ought to be cautious how we act. Jehoshaphat saw something in these men he did not like, and would not be satisfied without farther intimations; for God had promised the Theocracy of Israel instruction of this superior kind. Therefore he asked for another prophet: and Ahab was obliged either to consult Micaiah, or lose the company of the king of Judah. Micaiah presently appeared; and was full proof against all secret efforts to make him temporize with his ministry. But finding that the company resolved not to hear a dissentient voice, he said, Go up and prosper, taking care that his looks and the inflections of his voice should sufficiently convey his meaning to the king. This method produced the desired effect: the king perceived his meaning, and abjured him by the living God to tell the truth. Then at once he said, that he saw all Israel scattered on the mountains as sheep without a shepherd; a most delicate declaration that the king should surely fall in the expedition. What a multitude of remarks crowd upon us from this vision. How safe are the righteous while God watches over them in an angelic council. How infatuated was Abab to follow his passions against a warning so clear: and how weak was Jehoshaphat to go without God, against his own ally. Happy that he escaped with his life.

We have now in Ahab a model of the hardness and infatuation to which a man may attain by a long course of crimes, and by a disregard of sacred truth. Hitherto he had always shown some reverence or awe when divinely reproved; but now he set revelation at defiance, and reserved the prophet in the fortress, that he might die on his safe return. He suffered the lying prophet to strike him in his presence, and meanly disguised himself in the battle, that he might elude the sentence of God. Oh how just for heaven to strike at last. How instructive is the fall of this king to audacious characters in all future ages! How sure is the long suspended blow to fall at last on the impenitent. A thousand circumstances, all trivial, all chance, all accidents in appearance, shall conspire to avenge the quarrel of heaven on those who defy the sanctifying power of Omnipotence!

Let all good men learn to shun too intimate a connection with the wicked. Good from them they cannot get; they may get harm, and harm of the most serious kind. How calamitous that Jehoshaphat, who seemed resolved to do nothing without God, should be so far misguided by seeing an obscure prophet so degraded as to doubt whether he were a prophet. The torrent was strong, and he was borne away with the stream. He became a partaker of Ahab’s sins; and it was a special favour of heaven that he was not a partaker of his punishment. Happy that he returned with his life. And as the Lord did not bless him in this connection, so he did not bless him in his connection with Ahab’s house in the fleet of Ezion-geber. This was driven on the rocks almost as soon as it left the port. Learn then, oh my soul, that God is sufficient to protect thee without seeking the aid of the wicked, or carnal connections in marriage.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Kings 22". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/1-kings-22.html. 1835.
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