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This chapter concludes the history of Ahab. He was a rich and prosperous king (1Kgs 22:39), who also brought prosperity to his people. However, that is not the way God describes history. God writes history about the heart. The world describes the great deeds of a man it honors; God describes the evil deeds of people who do not take Him into account.
Ahab Wants Jehoshaphat to Join Him
By the grace of God there is no war for three years. It is a grace that follows the grace at Carmel and the showing of grace to Ahab for his repentance, which gives him respite of judgment.
What we read from 1Kgs 22:2 onwards is a history that is almost verbatim repeated in 2 Chronicles 18, because this history is also about Jehoshaphat, a king of the two tribes. Here the histories of the ten and two tribes come together.
The reason is not beautiful. There are friendly relations between the faithful and good king Jehoshaphat and the wicked Ahab. Jehoshaphat makes three covenants. He makes a covenant with Ahab, with the son of Ahab, Ahaziah – that is a business covenant - and with another son of Ahab, Joram or Jehoram. He should never have had those friendship-like relationships with a bad king like Ahab, because by doing so he has fellowship with evil.
Jehoshaphat goes to Ahab. That means a literal descent from Jerusalem to Samaria, because Jerusalem is high, on a mountain. It is also and especially a spiritual descent. Jehoshaphat has related himself with Ahab with marriage ties (2Chr 18:1). Jehoshaphat’s son, Jehoram, marries Ahab’s daughter, the corrupt Athaliah. So Jehoshaphat and Ahab become friends. Jehoshaphat goes to Ahab, without invitations, on his own initiative. On that occasion Ahab organizes a party (2Chr 18:2). That will be a trap.
Jehoshaphat is there, but very cunningly Ahab talks to his servants – and not directly to Jehoshaphat – about an attack on the king of Aram or Syria. When the proposal is incidentally launched, Ahab asks Jehoshaphat if he wants to join him. Without thinking, Jehoshaphat makes an unconditional promise that he will certainly go along. He promises his cooperation in the strongest possible way and fully commits himself to this evil king. He takes on an unequal yoke (2Cor 6:14-15).
Jehoshaphat Wants to Consult the Lord
It seems that Jehoshaphat suddenly thinks of the LORD. He wants to hear a word from the LORD. He should have done this first. But how are we? Have we not often made decisions, and have we taken a certain path, and only then asked the Lord to go with us? How important it is to be led through the eye of the Lord and not to be like a horse that needs to be corrected because we always want to go the wrong way (Psa 32:8-9). We follow a zigzag route. We must first ask the Lord for His guidance and only then go that way.
Jehoshaphat did not have to ask if the proposed road is the right one, because the road is evil. We should ask if we do not know whether the road is a good one. If it is perfectly clear that we are going the wrong way, we should not pray. The Lord does not listen to such a prayer and says that we should not pray, but listen to the Scriptures. Praying for something against the Scriptures is asking the Lord to bless a way of disobedience.
In order to comply with Jehoshaphat’s request, Ahab has no fewer than four hundred prophets to show up. However, they are not prophets of the LORD, but prophets who moderate themselves to speak in the name of the LORD. The prophets are not just people who mean well, but who see it wrong, no, they are people who speak through demons. They are not false prophets because they speak the wrong word, but because they are controlled by evil spirits.
These people are not interested in the will of the LORD, but in the advantage of the king. It may be that these are the four hundred priests of Astarte who have escaped judgment and who have now adopted a different name. The LORD is for them a new idol. Ahab chooses teachers who speak what he wants to hear (2Tim 4:3-4). We must be careful not to listen only to the speakers we like to hear because they say things we like to hear.
We may ask the Lord to keep us from any compromise with people who profess to belong to God’s people, but only for their own benefit. We too must learn to listen, not to a message that sounds good, but to God’s Word. As for our speaking, it is necessary to ask the Lord’s help to speak only God’s Word and not what one likes to hear.
It is clear that the church is not going in the right direction. We see that a gospel is being preached with a message that things will be better and more beautiful. It is all presented more gloriously: ‘There will be a revival’, this will happen and that will happen. They propose: ‘Go into battle, enter into discussion with the world, start governing, join in.’ There are some ‘doomsayers’ who go against this. Of them is told that they preach nothing but doom and disappointments and that the world will be worse off. Whosoever preaches the Word of God in a warning manner will be seen as such.
Ahab is also interested in hearing what he should do. He has a very primitive idea of God. If he only gets a favorable message, then, he thinks, the gods are forced to give him the victory. The prophets prophesy under the influence of demons. This is evident from what Micaiah says later in this chapter. They are wizards or witches who open themselves up to demonic powers that use them to respond to people’s superstition.
The greatest witch is Jezebel. She is a woman who not only believes in idols made of wood and stone, but she is a charmer of evil spirits who could bring this evil to God’s people. Every witch had to be eradicated inexorably, because they can cause so much evil from the realm of darkness. Dark powers are controlling the land. That tidal wave has also come over the Netherlands. They are not fairy tales, but what was once Christian is increasingly falling prey to pagan superstition.
However, Jehoshaphat is not satisfied. Deep inside him is still the awareness that the true God is also there and that He must be asked. Therefore he asks for “a prophet of the LORD”, emphasizing “of the LORD” because the other prophets are not. This means that Ahab will again have to deal with a prophet of the LORD. Not only Elijah is sent by God on his way, and not only Elijah is his enemy, but also every other true prophet of the LORD. The man who speaks the truth is an enemy of Ahab.
Ahab’s enmity also concerns Micaiah. He sees in Micaiah someone who brings evil upon him. In his folly and short-sightedness, he attributes the evil that Micaiah professes to Micaiah himself. This is the superstition or blinding work of Satan who excludes God. It does not come to mind in Ahab that evil is in himself and is the reason for the truth that the prophet speaks.
Micaiah Is Called
While Micaiah is picked up, the false prophets prophesy. That will have happened, just like at the Carmel, with the necessary rituals. False prophets not only speak, they also want to impress through all kinds of spiritual manifestations, injuring themselves and getting out of mind. That is what happens in all pagan peoples. In the same way, all kinds of elements of idolatry have entered the Christian worship service. People are brought into a trance by sensational manifestations, which they falsely claim to be manifestations of the Spirit. Also deafening music is used that causes a narrowing of consciousness, causing actions to be performed that will not be remembered later on.
One of the false prophets, Zedekiah, dramatically foretells the victory of Ahab. The horns and words he uses are reminiscent of what Moses says about Joseph in his blessing, which he pronounces about the twelve tribes (Deu 33:17a). He imitates Moses. In that way pious statements are often made, but they serve as a varnish to make the lie acceptable. This sounds like music to people’s ears. It’s like the Christmas carols echoing through the shops. The words are about the Child in the manger, but the music is meant to put the people to sleep and encourage them to buy.
The man who has to pick up Micaiah, tries to persuade him not to have an aberrant opinion of what the false prophets have said. Micaiah must not become a killjoy. Today’s prosperity preachers are also the people who speak pleasant words. The question is not whether God speaks, but what people like to hear. God is not King, the customer is king.
But Micaiah is not influenced by the opinions of the many. He knows doubtless that he goes to the lion’s den and that the whole atmosphere is filled with demons. However, he goes in full confidence that the LORD is with him. However great the threat of the enemy may be, the power of the LORD is infinitely greater. Micaiah does not yet know what to say, but he trusts that the LORD will let him know what to say (cf. Lk 21:14-15).
Do we dare to apply that to ourselves or do we go with the big crowd that with beautiful words gives us the feeling that we are somebody? If the latter is the case, grace cannot work because with such an attitude we pass by God. The prophets in the Old Testament did not bring a good message at all. Jeremiah’s message, for example, that the people will be deported, is not accepted either. Although it is not experienced in this way, it is a great grace from God that He always gives someone who speaks words in which His heart and thoughts clearly emerge.
The Message of Micaiah
There Micaiah stands opposite four hundred prophets, representatives of the religious class and opposite the highest rulers, the representatives of the whole people. Because the rulers rule over God’s people, they are also religious leaders. The sight alone must make a great impression on Micaiah. The grim, hostile atmosphere will have struck him. The loner opposite the mass. The messenger who has picked him up has already tried to influence him to speak as the others and not to speak as a loner opposite all.
By the power of faith and trust in the LORD, Micaiah does not succumb to the pressure. On the contrary, he mocks the whole company. This is clear from his first answer. In this answer he seems to say the same as the other prophets have said and thus seems to join them. But there is a heavy sarcastic undertone in what he says. He imitates the four hundred and pretends to be one of them. Ahab feels that too. He realizes that what Micaiah says is meant to be sarcastic. He is therefore not satisfied with this answer. He wants to know what the real message of Micaiah is.
Micaiah answers with what he has seen and heard in a vision. He describes that the intended mission will result in a scattering of the people. The reason for this is that the people have no leader who trusts in God. A leader who lets the people trust in God keeps God’s people together (Num 27:16-17). A leader who does not take God into account, forsakes the people and the sheep become the wolf’s prey (Jn 10:12). With the Lord Jesus is concern for sheep that have no shepherd (Mt 9:36) and to His disciples He speaks of the striking down of the shepherd and the scattering of the sheep (Mt 26:31).
After this prophecy, Ahab addresses Jehoshaphat and points out that he is right with what he said about Micaiah. Do you see that Micaiah is a prophet of doom? But Ahab looks no further, blinded eyes by the prince of darkness as he has.
But Micaiah is not finished yet. He has another message. From that message it appears that there is an invisible world that lets these four hundred prophets say what Ahab likes to hear. But Micaiah may stand before Ahab as a prisoner, the word of the LORD cannot be bound. Ahab served the idols and with them the demons. Baal does not exist as a dead idol; Baal however does exist because of the demons behind it. In the invisible world, demons are working together to mislead people with death as the end result.
We can make an application for today. In the great Christianity it is no longer about what God’s Word says, but about what one likes to hear and what connects to the experience. The charismatic movement is particularly responsible for this. In many cases we have to conclude that there are spiritual powers behind this that leads people away from Christ and from the Word of God because it is purely about the feeling of man.
It is becoming increasingly clear how wrong certain influences are, especially by songs that are sung. Several songs contain statements about, for example, the atonement, which remove aspects of the atonement of the Lord Jesus or highlight them in a way that is not in accordance with the Word. We must clearly warn against this, because it leads people away from obedience to the Word and from the uniqueness of Christ and His work. Therefore we must also be clear to ourselves by asking about the will of God in every situation, which comes down to asking: What does the Word of God say?
Micaiah says from a new vision that the demons are ultimately under the authority of God. What Micaiah sees in the vision, is presented to us humanly, so we can understand it. We are witnessing a discussion that is starting. One says this, the other that, all very human. Then a spirit comes and says: “I will entice him.” After a question from the LORD and an answer from the spirit, the LORD says: ““You are to entice [him] and also prevail. Go and do so.” We clearly see that the LORD is in charge of this whole event. He finally determines the deployment of evil spirits and the success in what they undertake. The evil spirits also serve His purpose, against their will.
We see the calamity that God has decided about Ahab. That calamity is certain (1Kgs 22:23), there is no change to be made. It is also certain how that calamity will occur: “The LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’” (1Kgs 22:20)?
Through this message, the uprising in the heart of Zedekiah becomes public. Zedekiah claims that what he said is by the Spirit and that it cannot be by Micaiah. His pretentious words are accompanied by violence. He strikes Micaiah on the cheek. People of the world cannot assume that the four hundred are wrong and that one is right. Micaiah would be the only one who has the Spirit of the LORD? There is a unanimous testimony of the masses. Are only those few faithful Christians right?
Micaiah does not protest against the mistreatment. He only says that it will become clear that his words are truth. Zedekiah will notice this when he flees and is anxious to find a place where he can be safe from judgment, a place he will seek in vain.
The ‘reward’ Ahab has for Micaiah for speaking the truth is being locked up in prison. The words spoken by Ahab with the order for confinement give Micaiah another reason to testify. There is no fear to be noticed with this man of God. Violence and prison do not lead him to a change in his message. He does not compromise, but preaches the pure Word of God. Every abuse leads him to pronounce a confirmation of what he has said.
In all of this there is no moderation or self-exaltation. He points out that he has spoken God’s words and that their truth will be proven in the fulfillment of what he has announced. He even dares to add that he will prove to be a liar when Ahab returns in peace, so when his words will not come true (cf. Deu 13:1-4; Deu 18:20-22).
In his closing words he no longer addresses Ahab, but all peoples. He makes his words a testimony to all peoples. Later another prophet, Micah, will speak the same words (Mic 1:2). It is a word that relates to the Lord Jesus and the time when He will be famous among the peoples.
Ahab and Jehoshaphat Go to War
Jehoshaphat, too, does not seem to have been really impressed by Micaiah’s speech. He lets himself not be warned, we do not hear a word from him that he will not go. In any case, he does abort the undertaking, but goes to war with Ahab. He probably has to go along out of himself, because he has committed himself to go along. Jehoshaphat knows everything that awaits him, what is going to happen, but he can’t go back.
Jehoshaphat seems to be completely at the mercy of Ahab. Ahab determines the tactics and Jehoshaphat follows slavishly. Ahab will disguise himself, but he tells Jehoshaphat to keep his royal clothes on. Ahab thinks that by disguising himself he can escape the judgment that has been announced. This is primitive superstition. He also behaves cowardly, because by letting Jehoshaphat keep his royal clothes on, he knows that the enemy will focus mainly on Jehoshaphat, who can be recognized as king.
God’s Spirit tells us that the king of Aram or Syria has commanded his men to focus only on the king of Israel. Ahab and Jehoshaphat know nothing about this order. The enemy will search until he finds the king. It’s only about him. When the battle burns loose, it is not surprising that the enemy’s arrows are on Jehoshaphat. After all, he is recognizable as king. For the enemy he is the king of Israel. That’s the result of his going along with Ahab. The world no longer sees a difference between those who fear God and those who do not fear Him. What a warning for us.
When Jehoshaphat notices that the enemy is aiming for him, he cries out for help (1Kgs 22:32). In the description of this history in 2 Chronicles 18 it then follows: “And the LORD helped him, and God diverted them from him” (2Chr 18:31). What a grace from God. Whosoever calls unto Him in his need shall be helped by Him. It is a miracle of the LORD that they discover that he is not the king of Israel and turn away from him.
The Death of Ahab
Just as Jehoshaphat is spared by a miracle of the LORD, so Ahab is killed by a miracle of the LORD. Without the soldier, who at random draws the bow and shoots the arrow away, knowing who he strikes, he strikes Ahab deadly. Ahab is not killed by a stray arrow. No soldier shoots in the wild. It is an arrow controlled by the LORD to strike Ahab deadly.
Ahab is not instantly dead. He instructs the driver of his chariot to drive away from the battle. The wound appears to result in death. Ahab loses more and more blood, life flows away from him. He remains in the turmoil of battle, without opportunity to dress the wound. Finally, he dies because the blood continues to flow from the wound.
It shows how accurately the LORD fulfils His word. When Ahab has died, he is taken to Samaria and buried there. The car with the blood of Ahab is washed “by the pool of Samaria”. The pool is given a further indication: it is the place where “the harlots bathed themselves”, these are the temple harlots, women who serve as temple prostitutes in the Baal’s service. By this we are reminded at the death and funeral of this wicked king of this horrible religion and its deep depravity. In this way Ahab disappears from the stage and so he remains in the memory.
Jehoshaphat King Over Judah
In a few verses the government of Jehoshaphat is described. In 2 Chronicles this is much more extensive. In the books 1 Kings and 2 Kings the emphasis is on the history of the kings of Israel. Jehoshaphat is a God-fearing king, but one who has unfortunately several times connected himself with godless Israel and its king. For example, he has allied himself with Ahaziah to build ships (2Chr 20:36). But even before the ships have, so to speak, left the port where they were built, God lets the fleet perish. Jehoshaphat seems to have learned from that. If Ahaziah the son of Ahab wants to do anything together with him, he refuses (1Kgs 22:49).
After his death he is succeeded by his son Jehoram. Unfortunately, this son does not walk in the footsteps of his father’s faith (2Chr 21:5-6), which despite the various mistakes Jehoshaphat made, was clearly present with him.
Ahaziah King Over Israel
When Ahab has died, he is succeeded by his son Ahaziah. He is no exception to all the kings of Israel. He also does what is “evil in the sight of the LORD”. His bad way has three aspects: walks “in the way of his father”, “in the way of his mother” and “in the way of Jeroboam”. He unites all the evils of His predecessors within himself. Thus evil increases. In such a way you can only do what is evil in the sight of the LORD and provoke Him to anger.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 1 Kings 22". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20