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Jehoshaphat Consults Prophets
v. 1. Now, Jehoshaphat had riches and honor in abundance, as described in detail in the preceding chapter, and joined affinity with Ahab, entered into a formal league or alliance with him, which was cemented, moreover, by the marriage of Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab, to Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat. But neither the league nor the matrimonial alliance which brought the two reigning houses into closer union met with the approval of the Lord, 2 Chronicles 19:2.
v. 2. And after certain years, at the end of nine years, he went down to Ahab to Samaria, for a formal visit. And Ahab killed sheep and oxen for him in abundance and for the people, his entire retinue of courtiers and servants, that he had with him, entertaining Jehoshaphat with the most lavish hospitality, and persuaded him to go up with him to Ramoth-gilead. This was the real object which Ahab tried to push upon the occasion of this visit, to interest Jehoshaphat in a campaign against Ramoth-gilead, which the Syrians were either holding or else were endeavoring to get into their power again, 1 Kings 22:3.
v. 3. And Ahab, king of Israel, said unto Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, Wilt thou go with me to Ramoth-gilead? And he, flattered by the banquets which had been prepared in his honor, and the hospitality shown him, answered him, I am as thou art and my people as thy people; and we will be with thee in the war, he placed himself and all his resources at the service of Ahab. For the entire history Cf 1 Kings 22.
v. 4. And Jehoshaphat, following the custom of consulting the Lord before declaring hostilities, said unto the king of Israel, Enquire, I pray thee, at the word of the Lord today.
v. 5. Therefore the king of Israel gathered together of prophets, not those of Baal or Ashteroth, but those of the official calf-worship, ostensibly to Jehovah, four hundred men and said unto them, Shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they, as willing tools of Ahab, whose good will they wanted to retain, said, Go up; for God will deliver it into the king's hand.
v. 6. But Jehoshaphat said, since he was dissatisfied with this procedure, is there not here a prophet of the Lord besides, that we might enquire of him?
v. 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. The hatred of Ahab was due to the fact that this servant of the true God reproved his evil ways and threatened him with the punishment of God. Both an evil conscience and stubborn wickedness caused him to persecute Micaiah. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so.
v. 8. And the king of Israel called for one of his officers, one on duty in the palace, and said, Fetch quickly Micaiah, the son of Imla, literally, "hurry him here. "
v. 9. And the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, sat either of them on his throne, on fine seats placed for their convenience, clothed in their robes; and they sat in a void place, a great, open space, like a threshing-floor, at the entering in of the gate of Samaria, and all the prophets prophesied before them.
v. 10. And Zedekiah, the son of Chenaanah, had made him horns of iron, following the custom of true prophets, who often emphasized their words with symbolical actions, and said, Thus saith the Lord, With these thou shalt push Syria until they be consumed.
v. 11. And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, Go up to Ramoth-gilead and prosper; for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king. All this was done, of course, in order to win the favor of the king still more.
v. 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 theirs, and speak thou good. The messenger spoke with kindly intent, since he evidently wanted Micaiah to escape the king's wrath.
v. 13. And Micaiah said, As the Lord liveth, even what my God saith, that will I speak. Nothing could induce him to deviate even the least bit from the way of duty which lay before him.
v. 14. And when he was come to the king, to Ahab, whose subject he was, the king said unto him, Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And he said, apparently in a mocking and sarcastic tone of voice, Go ye up and prosper, and they shall be delivered into your hand.
v. 15. And the king, noting the irony of his words and manner, said unto him, How many times shall I adjure thee that thou say nothing but the truth to me in the name of the Lord?
v. 16. Then he, thus solemnly urged to give a serious and truthful answer, 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. That was the vision which the Spirit of prophecy had revealed to him, meaning that the army of Israel would be defeated and scattered, that Ahab would meet his death, and that the soldiers would return home without being pursued by the enemy.
v. 17. And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, for he ascribed this prophecy on the part of Micaiah to personal enmity, Did I not tell thee that he would not prophesy good unto me, but evil?
v. 18. Again he, Micaiah, said, in describing in full the scene which he had beheld in his vision, Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting upon His throne, as the great King of the universe, and all the host of heaven standing on His right hand and on His left.
v. 19. And the Lord said, Who shall entice Ahab, king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? Note: The Lord does not influence men to do evil, but He makes use of their sinful acts occasionally in carrying out His designs. And one spake saying after this manner, and another saying after that manner.
v. 20. Then there came out a spirit, as in the case of Job, Job 1:6, and stood before the Lord and said, I will entice him. And the Lord said unto him, Wherewith?
v. 21. And he said, I will go out and be a lying spirit, literally, "a spirit of deceit or lying falsehood," in the mouth of all his, Ahab's, prophets. And the Lord said, Thou shalt entice him, and thou shalt also prevail, so that his advice would be accepted; go out and do even so, this being understood, of course, in the nature of a permission and not of a command.
v. 22. Now, therefore, behold, Micaiah makes the application to the case in hand, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets, and the Lord, in this indirect manner, hath spoken evil against thee.
v. 23. Then Zedekiah, the son of Chenaanah, came near, angry because he was thus exposed before the king, and smote Micaiah upon the cheek, and said, Which way went the Spirit of the Lord from me to speak unto thee? It was a taunt provoked by jealousy: If you know so much, then tell me how all this happened, and how it is that you have a monopoly of the Spirit of inspiration.
v. 24. And Micaiah, replying calmly, in spite of the insult offered him, said, Behold, thou shalt see on that day when thou shalt go into an inner chamber to hide thyself, fleeing from one chamber to the next in a futile effort to escape his pursuers.
v. 25. Then the king of Israel said, Take ye Micaiah, and carry him back to Amon, the governor of the city, who also was in charge of the prison, and to Joash, the king's son,
v. 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, the poorest prison-fare, until I return in peace, an expectation which he held with confidence.
v. 27. And Micaiah, once more repeating his prophecy that the outcome of the war would be fatal to Ahab, said, If thou certainly return in peace, unharmed, as victor, then hath not the Lord spoken by me. And he said, Hearken, all ye people! He wanted them all to be witnesses of these words. Note: People who, like Ahab, have sold themselves into the power of sin, are left by God in the service of Satan and punished with eternal damnation.
The Syrians Defeat Israel
v. 28. So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, went up to Ramoth-gilead, in order to take it from the hands of the Syrians by force.
v. 29. And the king of Israel, desiring to shield himself and thus to escape the fate predicted to him by Micaiah, said unto Jehoshaphat, I will disguise myself, by putting on the dress and the armor of an ordinary soldier or officer, and will go to the battle; but put thou on thy robes. So the king of Israel disguised himself; and they went to the battle.
v. 30. Now, the king of Syria, in order to put an early and satisfactory end to the war by removing Ahab at once, 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. They were to single him out for their attacks, concentrate all their efforts upon him in order to slay him.
v. 31. And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, who was clothed in his royal attire, that they said, It is the king of Israel. Therefore they compassed about him to fight, directing all their assaults against his person; but Jehoshaphat cried out, either in prayer or in making himself known, and the Lord helped him; and God moved them to depart from him. God saved the life of His servant.
v. 32. For it came to pass that, when the captains of the chariots perceived that it was not the king of Israel, when they became aware of their mistake, they turned back again from pursuing him, they no longer massed their attacks against his person.
v. 33. And a certain man drew a bow at a venture, without taking specific aim at anyone person in the army of Israel, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness, there being small slits or openings where the several parts of the armor fitted together; therefore he said to his chariot man, Turn thine hand that thou mayest carry me out of the host, away from the battle-line; for I am wounded, he felt that he had received a mortal wound.
v. 34. And the battle increased that day; howbeit, the king of Israel stayed himself up in his chariot against the Syrians until the even, holding himself upright by a strong effort of his will; and about the time of the sun going down he died. That was the end of Ahab, the enemy of the Lord. Like him, all the enemies of Jehovah will be destroyed, while He Himself holds His hand over those who trust in Him.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 18". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany