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THE DEATH OF AHAB
CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES.—
1 Kings 22:2. Jehoshaphat the king of Judah came down to the king of Israel—This visit is accounted for in Chronicles (chap. 1 Kings 18:1): Jehoshaphat came to Israel for the marriage of his son Jehoram to Ahab’s daughter, Athaliah (see 2 Kings 8:18). Ahab entertained with sumptuous hospitality Jehoshaphat and his immense retinue, composed largely of military officers; and then seized the occasion for forming an alliance with the king of Judah against the Syrian king for the recovery of Ramoth-in-Gilead.
1 Kings 22:14. I am as thou art—The Chronicles’ account omits the words “my horses as thy horses,” and gives instead וִעִמְּךָ בַּמִּלְחָמָה, “and I am with thee in the war.”
1 Kings 22:5. Enquire of the Lord—The king of Judah had conscientious misgivings; such, indeed, as were unlikely to trouble the godless Ahab.
1 Kings 22:6. The prophets—The number, “400,” must not mislead. They were not the Astarte prophets again reinstated (1 Kings 18:19; 1 Kings 18:22), but a group of men who continued Jeroboam’s Jehovah-worship (calf worship) in the land, and were probably employed by Ahab for seductive religious purposes, to estrange the nation from the true worship of Jehovah. Go up; for the Lord shall deliver it into the hands of the king Notice: “it” is in italics; omit the word, and the prophets merely affirm that the Lord shall deliver—what? Ramoth or Israel?—into the hands of the king. What king? Ramoth into Jehoshaphat’s (or Ahab’s) hands, or Israel into the king of Syria’s hands? Couched as their prediction is in ambiguous terms they evade the responsibility of failure. Thus did the Delphian oracle reply to Pysrhus: Aio te Æcida, Romanos vincere posse: Ibis redibis nunquam in bello peribis. “I say to thee Pyrrhus the Romans shall overcome; thou shalt go, thou shalt return never in war shalt thou perish;” which may mean, Pyrrhus shall overcome the Romans; that he should return; never in war should he perish; or, the Romans should overcome Pyrrhus, he should return never; in war he should perish. All depended on the punctuation of the sentence. This prophecy is alike equivocal.
1 Kings 22:7. Is there not a prophet of the Lord besides?—Perhaps Jehoshaphat had heard rumours of Elijah, and referred to him.
1 Kings 22:8. Micaiah the son of Imlah—Who was this? Strong probabilities favour the conclusion that he was the nameless prophet of chap. 1 Kings 20:13; 1 Kings 20:35-11.20.41. Whether this man or not, Micaiah had incurred the guilty king’s hatred, which is to the honour of the prophet, for Ahab counted every man his “enemy” (1 Kings 21:20) who denounced his iniquitous conduct.
1 Kings 22:9. Hasten hither Macaiah—He was doubtless then in the prison to which he was afterwards carried back (1 Kings 22:27).
1 Kings 22:10. In a void place—בְּגֹּרָן, probably an open threshing-floor.
1 Kings 22:11. Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah—One of the “four hundred” who sought to convince the kings by assuming the symbolic manners of a prophet, probably for the misapplication in the present instance of the grand promise formerly made to Ephraim (Deuteronomy 33:17).
1 Kings 22:15. Go and prosper, &c.—Micaiah repeats the delusive words, as in irony. The angry king sees it to be mockery (1 Kings 22:16); yet he resents with greater indignation the “true” word.
1 Kings 22:19. I saw the Lord sitting on His throne—This is not a parabolic form of speech, but a solemn recital of a prophetic vision.
1 Kings 22:20. Persuade Ahab—Entice.
1 Kings 22:21. A spirit—הָרוּהַ, the spirit; definite art., i.e., the prophetic spirit which moved the prophets to speak (1 Samuel 10:6; 1 Samuel 10:10; 1 Samuel 19:20; 1 Samuel 19:23). Jehovah permits this “spirit” (which must not be identified with the Spirit Divine) to use the perverted prophetic gifts of Ahab’s prophets for Ahab’s merited ruin. Ahab would have false prophecy, false prophecy he shall have. God gave him over to believe a lie (Romans 1:28).
1 Kings 22:22. I will be a lying spirit—רוּחַ שָׁקָר—not Satan, assuredly, nor aliquem ex Satanæ familia (as Grot.): for this spirit only assumed falsity for the time, whereas Satan was “a liar from the beginning.”
1 Kings 22:24. Zedekiah … smote Micaiah—Feeling himself, after his ostentatious conduct (1 Kings 22:11), especially insulted. Keil thinks Zedekiah could only have come thus boldly forward “because he was conscious to himself that he had not feigned his oracle.” Possibly so; then this proves how the “spirit” had really moved these men to prophecy falsely unknowingly to themselves. Zedekiah’s insolence called out no rebuke from Ahab, nor Micaiah’s endurance his praise.
1 Kings 22:28. And he said, Hearken, O people, every one of you—These are the words with which Micah the prophet opens his book (Micah 1:2), and manifestly were interpolated by some scribe who identified Micaiah with Micah.
HOMILETICS OF 1 Kings 22:1-11.22.28
THE FAITHFUL PROPHET
1 Kings 22:1. Is indispensable in great emergencies.
1. Is appealed to in times of national difficulty (1 Kings 22:1-11.22.7). A coalition had been formed between the kings of Israel and Judah. The common danger to which they were exposed from the growing power of Syria led them to forget for a time their differences, and to combine for mutual protection. War was determined upon to wrest from the hands of Benhadad one of the cities he had failed to give up according to treaty (1 Kings 20:34). The four hundred prophets of Ahab declared unanimously in favour of the war, and assured the allied monarchs of victory. But there was something wanting. The pious Jehoshaphat was suspicious of the four hundred; and, in so grave a crisis, demanded a clearer indication of the Divine will. The faithful prophet was needed. Great national emergencies demand the utmost care and thought of men of piety and intelligence.
2. Is appealed to despite the hatred of those who are compelled against their will to consult him (1 Kings 22:8). Probably it was this Micaiah who uttered against Ahab the oracle referred to in 1 Kings 20:42. “O corrupt heart of self-condemned Ahab! If Micaiah spake true to thee, how was it evil? If others said false, how was it good? And if Micaiah spake from the Lord, why dost thou hate him? This hath wont to be the ancient lot of truth, censure and hatred: censure of the message, hatred of the bearer.” Yet, however much the faithful counsellor is disliked, his services are valued, and often anxiously sought. Cincinnatus was twice called from his farm to the dictatorship of the Roman commonwealth, though the opposing parties would have dispensed with his services if they could.
II. Is favoured with signal opportunities of declaring the will of God (1 Kings 22:9-11.22.12). The two kings were seated on their thrones in a conspicuous place, robed in royal vestments, attended by the gaily dressed officers of the court and by the ministering priests, and surrounded by warlike horsemen and infantry. The leading representatives of church and state were assembled together, and the people in great number. It was an opportunity not to be neglected. The faithful, earnest worker will never lack opportunities; and his divinely implanted instincts will teach what are the great opportunities of life, when God can be most honoured.
III. Declares only what is divinely revealed.
1. He spurns all attempts at bribery (1 Kings 22:13-11.22.14). The messenger who went for Micaiah seeks to influence him to speak to the same effect as the false prophets, and assured him that by doing so he would win the royal favour. “Those who adore earthly greatness think every man should doat on their idols, and hold no terms too high for their ambitious purchases. Faithful Micaiah scorns the notion: he knows the price of the word, and condemns it. Neither fears nor favours can tempt the holily resolute. They can trample upon dangers or honours with a careless foot; and, whether they be smiled or frowned on by the great, dare not either alter or conceal their errand.”
2. Is not intimidated by the presence of royalty
(1). Ironically exposes and rebukes the false (1 Kings 22:15). Micaiah uttered the same words as the four hundred prophets; but by his manner of voice and look imitated the irony of Elijah at Carmel, as if to suggest to Ahab how misleading and unworthy of Jehovah was such an ambiguous oracle as theirs. This mocking manner, which might be familiar to Micaiah, galls by its contemptuousness: it is a dangerous weapon; should be judiciously used; in some hands it is strikingly effective.
(2). Speaks the truth, though it is unpleasant to royal ears (1 Kings 22:16-11.22.18). Micaiah wholly changes his tone, becomes profoundly serious, and relates his vision, the meaning of which Ahab could not possibly mistake, especially as the metaphor of “sheep and shepherd” for king and people was familiar to the Israelites from the prayer of Moses (Numbers 27:17). “He was resolved to speak the naked truth, though he were sure to kiss the stocks for his stiffness.” The man who is inspired to declare the Divine will is raised far above the fear of his fellow-creatures, whether they are robed in silks or in rags.
IV. Is sustained and confirmed in his work by heavenly visions (1 Kings 22:19-11.22.23). A vision like this of the ineffable glory of Jehovah was a great favour, and only granted on special occasions and for special ends. It was granted to Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1), who immediately supposed he must die, because he had seen the King, the Lord of Hosts; to Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:26); to Daniel (1 Kings 7:9); and in Christian times it was allowed to Stephen (Acts 7:56) and John (Revelation 4:2). Thus God prepares His servants for special work by a course of training and discipline in every way suited to bring about its faithful accomplishment—by special arrangements of His providence, and by special and striking displays of His glory. The man who sees the Lord, and gains an insight into heavenly realities, will be filled with indomitable courage and perseverance.
V. Is often called to suffer for his faithfulness (1 Kings 22:24-11.22.27). The king to whom his fidelity was disagreeable had cast Micaiah into prison, and the leading spirit of the four hundred prophets, whose falseness and delusion he had exposed, struck the bound and helpless prisoner, unrebuked by the great ones in whose presence the insult and injury were committed. “It was enough for Ahab to punish with the hand: no weapon was for Zedekiah but his tongue; neither could this rude presumption have been well taken, if malice had not made magistracy insensible of this usurpation. Ahab was well content to see that hated mouth beaten by any hand. It is no new condition of God’s faithful messengers to smart for saying truth. Falsehood does not more betray itself in anything than in blows: truth suffers, while error persecutes. None are more ready to boast of the Spirit of God than those that have the least; as in vessels, the full are silent.”
VI. Is not hindered by suffering from proclaiming his message (1 Kings 22:28). Though smitten and dragged back to prison, and threatened with the harshest treatment (1 Kings 22:27), the faithful Micaiah persists in maintaining the truthfulness of his message, and calls upon the people to bear witness to it. How little do we know of suffering compared with what our forefathers endured for the truth. We should be more energetic and earnest than they in making known the will of God. There is danger that immunity from suffering should render us less, rather than more, concerned in upholding and propagating the truth. We prize that most for which we suffer most.
1. It is a calamity to a nation when every faithful voice it hushed.
2. The faithful prophet is often alone in his witness-bearing.
3. The faithful are nevertheless sustained by Jehovah, and will be by-and-by acknowledged and rewarded by Him.
THE MAN WHO SAW THE LORD (1 Kings 22:19)
The prophets frown; the king turns pale; the people hiss; while the uncompromising man of God delivers the unwelcome message. He is the master spirit of that great multitude. How are we to account for his commanding power? The text (1 Kings 22:19) is the line that fathoms the mystery, the key which unlocks the secret. “I saw the Lord.” We are no longer astonished at the effect now we know the cause. We think we can understand the man’s behaviour; after such a sight, earth’s poor pomp must have appeared trivial indeed. Faith’s perception of God has ever been the strength of the Church. True—
“Not with our mortal eyes,
Have we beheld the Lord,”
yet, Moses like, the Church “endures,” as seeing Him invisible. Notice—
I. The man who sees the Lord can best understand life’s mysteries.
1. We need not attempt to prove that life has its mysteries. The Psalmist was not the only one who had been perplexed by them (Psalms 73:2-19.73.17). Many a good man’s faith has staggered under the burden of mysterious providences. Micaiah was a “man of like passions” to ourselves. It must have sorely tried him to see godless Ahab upon a throne; godless prophets basking in royal favour and popular esteem; whilst he—who, true to his convictions, had trodden the path of duty—was shut up in a dungeon. But God’s presence can transform a dungeon to a palace. The dungeon was heaven’s ante-room. “I saw the Lord”—such a sight would wean his soul from earthly delights, and help him to understand the hollowness of earthly grandeur and pomp.
2. Micaiah also understood the mysteries of the Divine government. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him, and He will show them His covenant.” The imprisoned prophet had seen the moving power—the unseen forces that had acted upon the four hundred prophets. He had heard the evil spirit obtain permission to lure Ahab to his ruin. He knew that the king was given over to believe a delusion and a lie, that his damnation might be more speedy. He alone, of all the crowd, regarded him as a ruined man. While others were feasting their eyes with the trappings of royal pageantry, he saw the fingers writing “Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin.” He understood the unanimity of the prophets. There were four hundred Ayes, to one No; a miserable minority, the people said, and Jehoshaphat thought so too, or he would not have accompanied the doomed expedition. But truth is never in a minority. The man who has God on his side is always with the majority. Such was Moses in Pharaoh’s court; Luther before the Diet at Worms; Whitfield amid the showers of rotten eggs on Kennington Common. Such is the God-fearing young man in the shop or warehouse; who, amid the taunts of ungodly associates, maintains a Christian bearing, and testifies to the Gospel’s worth.
II. The man who sees the Lord can best perform life’s duties.
1. God sometimes calls His people to very unpleasant duties. It is not pleasant to run counter to the wishes of friends by giving our protest against their cherished projects. Yet this was what Micaiah had to do. He knew the consequences of such a course; he would exasperate a king whom he had already offended; he would make his own punishment more severe and intolerable than it had already been; he would become the object of popular hatred and contempt. Yet “none of these things moved him.” God had the first claim. He had seen the Lord, and that sight had changed unpleasant duties into delightful pleasures
2. The sight of the Lord is essential to the possession of qualifications necessary for religious work. ’Tis the basis upon which faith rests. Strong faith is the mainspring of earnest work. Unbelief paralyzes Christian effort. The man who has never seen the Lord is not the man for church work. Colleges cannot give this qualification. Ten minutes beside the burning bush was more useful in preparing Moses for his work, than all the years he had spent in acquiring “all the wisdom of the Egyptian.” It took Gamaliel years to train young Saul to be a bigoted persecutor. It didn’t take five minutes for Christ to change him to a devoted Apostle, and from that hour his life testified the truth of his assertion, that he “looked at the things which are not seen.”
3. A sight of the Lord will cause men to regard worldly interests and personal comforts as secondary matters. The narrative does not give the name of the officer who conducted the prisoner into the royal presence. John Bunyan would call him Worldly Wiseman. The man regarded his prisoner with something akin to pity; his haggard face and bent form moved him to advise him concerning his conduct before the king: “Behold now, the words of the prophets declare good unto the king with one mouth; let thy word, I pray thee, be like the word of one of them, and speak that which is good.” The man didn’t mean what he said; he meant: “Speak that which is pleasing.” And Micaiah said: “As the Lord liveth, what the Lord saith unto me, that will I speak.” How that reply would annoy the officer, who would regard him as an obstinate and foolish man, whose singular folly merited all the punishment he would get. He would not understand such a man. A word, and his rags would be exchanged for purple and fine linen: from a dungeon to a court; from famine to plenty; from degradation to position and fame. But he would not speak the word; he was no time-server to pander to popular taste. “What the Lord saith unto me, that will I speak.”
III. The man who sees the Lord can best endure life’s sufferings. The prison is no longer a prison if God is there. God loves to favour His suffering people with manifestations of His presence, whether it be the three young men in the fiery furnace, or Paul in prison, or John on Patmos; all alike shall testify that “He is a very present help in trouble.” It was, probably, when Paul had been beaten so severely by his foes as to be unconscious of all around him, afterwards unable to tell whether he was “in the body or out of the body,” that he was caught up into the third heaven, and heard God say: “My grace is sufficient for thee.” We know it was when they had many stripes laid upon them, after they had been subjected to the rough violence of a brutal mob, and had spent hours with their swollen limbs in the stocks, that “at midnight Paul and Silas sang, and the prisoners heard them.” Such sounds had never before been heard through the gloomy corridors of the prison; groans and curses had been frequently heard there, but joyous Christian song, never. That inner cell was dark—so dark, that though bolts and bars and fetters were felt, they could not be seen; but the apostles saw the Lord that night, and “endured as seeing Him who is invisible.” A wild, excited mob is dragging a prisoner along to execution; the most brutal passions are depicted in their countenance; they cannot reserve their insults and cruelty until they reach the spot where the bloody scene is to be enacted; as they drag, they beat and stone him. But mark his face, how calm, how joyous! And when they reach the place, the victim stands until the stones bruise and gash his frame, but the blood cannot wash out the expression of joy from holy Stephen’s face. We can account for that joy: had he not just said: “Behold I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” Such a sight enabled him to endure the suffering; and, in an atmosphere charged with the hatred of hell, and amid a storm of death-dealing missiles, he calmly lay down and “fell asleep.” The presence of God is the saints’ solace under suffering. Micaiah saw more splendours in his prison than Ahab in his palace. That cell was illuminated by the ineffable light, and visited by the aristocracy. Rutherford compared his dungeon to the king’s cellar, where all the best wines were kept; and like Micaiah he would sing—
“Thy presence, Lord, can cheer
This dungeon where we dwell;
’Tis heaven itself if Thou art near—
If Thou depart ’tis hell.”
IV. The man who sees the Lord can best wait for life’s rewards. Alas! how many have sacrificed truth and a good conscience for earthly rewards! Micaiah could wait for future rewards. Ahab could not have rewarded him—he had nothing that could have satisfied him. He had seen the Lord, and the light of the Divine presence revealed how valueless earth’s poor tinsel baubles are. Nothing but heaven could satisfy him—
“Had I a glance of Thee, my God,
Kingdoms and men should vanish soon;
Vanish as though I saw them not,
As a dim candle dies at noon.”
We can imagine the same officer taking him back, and, as the jailor pushed him into his dark cell, he would say—“Serve him right!” And then he would tell the jailor about the events of the day, and how foolish the prisoner had behaved in being so blind to his own interests, and then they would talk about what Ahab meant by keeping him until “I come in peace.” Did he mean to restore him to liberty then? They knew better than that. The day of Ahab’s return would be the day of Micaiah’s death. Such would be their rational conclusion. How much or how long he suffered we cannot tell, but we know it was well with him to the last. “Say ye to the righteous, it shall be well with him.”—Condensed from The Christian Age for 1873.
GERM NOTES ON THE VERSES
1 Kings 22:1-11.22.28. King Ahab appears here in the last act of his career, just as we have seen him always hitherto, devoid of religious or moral character. His penitence, which seemed so earnest, and which certainly falls in the period immediately preceding the renewed war with the Syrians, had, as we see from the story before us, borne no fruit. His attitude towards Jehovah and his covenant remained the same. There is not a sign of any change of heart. He is now enraged against Benhadad, whom, after the battle of Aphek, he called his “brother,” and suffered to depart out of weakness and vanity. He summons the chief soldiers to a war against Benhadad, and calls for Jehoshaphat’s aid also, in order to make sure of destroying him. As Jehoshaphat desired, before engaging on the expedition, to hear an oracle of Jehovah in regard to it, Ahab summoned only those in regard to whose declarations he could be sure they would accord with his own wishes; and when Micaiah, being called at the express wish of Jehoshaphat, gives another prophetic declaration, Ahab explains this as the expression of personal malice, as he had once done in regard to Elijah’s declarations (1 Kings 21:20). He allows Zedekiah to insult and abuse Micaiah, and even orders the latter into close confinement. Then, again, he becomes alarmed at the prophet’s words, though before he was passionate and excited; and he goes into battle disguised.—Lange.
1 Kings 22:1-11.22.4. National alliances.
1. Are justifiable against a dangerous and powerful enemy.
2. Are always attended with peril where there is want of harmony in religious beliefs.
3. Cannot result in permanent good without the Divine blessing.
1 Kings 22:3. It is a misfortune when great men have a fondness for war. They are not satisfied when they must be still, but seek war without necessity, and imperil their country. Do ye not know that heaven is ours, yet we be still! So should those cry out to their hearers who are charged with the cure of souls, and should encourage them to take the kingdom of heaven by force (Matthew 11:12).—Wurt. Summ.
1 Kings 22:5-11.22.12. The delusion of falsehood. I. All the more dangerous when it is the consentaneous declaration of acknowledged religious leaders (1 Kings 22:6; 1 Kings 22:12). II. Never lacks an audacious and ingenious champion (1 Kings 22:11). III. Meanly obsequious in the presence of royal pomp and circumstance (1 Kings 22:10). IV. Fears exposure from the tongue of the faithful (1 Kings 22:8). V. Is ever suspected by the truly good (1 Kings 22:5; 1 Kings 22:7).
1 Kings 22:7. Their number consent; confidence hath easily won credit with Ahab: we do all willingly believe what we wish. Jehoshaphat is not so soon satisfied. These prophets were, it is like, obtruded to him for the true prophets of the true God. The judicious king sees cause to suspect them, and now, perceiving at what altars they served, hates to rest in their testimony. “Is there nowhere a prophet of the Lord besides?” One single prophet speaking from the oracles of God is worth more than four hundred Baalites. Truth may not ever be measured by the poll. It is not number, but weight, that must carry it in a council of prophets. A solid verity in one mouth is worthy to preponderate light falsehood in a thousand.—Bp. Hall.
1 Kings 22:10-11.22.12. There is nothing that is more sinful and worthy of punishment than to flatter the great, who need to hear the truth. This is more sinful, however, in the clergy than in others. Who is not disgusted by those who fashion their words by popular favour? Yet he who would go on smoothly, easily, and prosperously must do this. Then he will not meet with opposition, nor lose his place at Jezebel’s table, nor his other emoluments. All the four hundred agreed unanimously, and yet their prophecy was false. In matters of Divine truth it matters not how many agree. Here voices ought to be weighed, not counted. The number of the unbelieving or the superstitious was always greater than that of the believers, for men agree in error or falsehood much more easily than in truth. Be not deceived, though thousands may think and say the same thing, and though the greatest and most learned may be amongst them; but cling thou to the word of Him who said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away.” Unanimity of opinion, even in the largest congregations of theologians, is not always a proof of truth, for a great company may err.—Lange.
1 Kings 22:12-11.22.28. Here we see the marks of the true and false prophets. The false teachers say what is popular, so as to enjoy rewards; they rely upon their numbers; they say that they have God’s Word, though they have it not, and claim to be in all things equal to the true teachers; they dispute more with blows and screams than with proofs from the Word of God; they are held in high esteem. On the contrary, true teachers do not speak to please anybody, but they preach fearlessly the truth of God’s Word, letting it strike whom it will, refusing to be turned aside and submitting to persecution.—Wurt. Summ.
1 Kings 22:12. These were fit helves for such a hatchet as Ahab was; fit lettuce for such lips. Itching ears shall have clawing preachers.—Trapp.
1 Kings 22:13-11.22.28. The intrepidity of truth. I. Is superior to the influence of bribery (1 Kings 22:13-11.22.14). II. Teaches when to use judiciously the weapon of irony (1 Kings 22:15-11.22.16). III. Fearlessly declares what is divinely revealed, irrespective of consequences (1 Kings 22:17-11.22.18). IV. Is explicit and uncompromising in the exposure of falsehood (1 Kings 22:19-11.22.23). V. Refuses to be silent, though threatened and afflicted with severest sufferings (1 Kings 22:24-11.22.28).
1 Kings 22:19-11.22.23. Heavenly visions. I. Present sublime and elevating revelations of truth. II. Sustain and strengthen the suffering faithful. III. Are intended to guide and instruct in a crisis of national and religious difficulty. IV. Aggravate national ruin when wilfully disregarded.
1 Kings 22:22. The difficulties which attach to this passage are considerable. While, on the one hand, it is hard to suppose that one of the holy angels would undertake to be, and be permitted to be, a “lying spirit,” on the other, it is not what we should have expected, to find Satan, or an evil spirit, included among the host of heaven (1 Kings 22:19), and acting as the minister of God. Still, as Satan appears sometimes to present himself to God among the angels (Job 1:6; Job 2:1), he may have done so on this occasion; and the service which he offered may have been accepted. On the other hand, we scarcely know enough of the Divine government in its action upon evil to say that the holy angels may not sometimes be employed, when God “sends men strong delusion that they should believe a lie” (1 Thessalonians 2:12). Finally, it may be doubted whether we ought to take literally, and seek to interpret exactly, each statement of the present narrative. Visions of the invisible world can only be a sort of parables; revelations, not of the truth as it actually is, but of so much of the truth as can be shown through such a medium. The details of a vision, therefore, cannot safely be pressed, any more than the details of a parable. Portions of each must be accommodations to human modes of thought, and may very inadequately express the realities which they are employed to shadow forth to us.—Speaker’s Comm.
1 Kings 22:23. These men called prophets were only pretenders to prophecy, whom the wicked king of Israel had in his pay, and who knew how to suit his humour and flatter his vanity. Micaiah distinctly calls them Ahab’s prophets. The address of Micaiah is not a real representation of anything done in the heavenly world, as if the Almighty were at a loss for expedients, or had any hand in the sins of his creatures. It is a parable, and tells in figurative language the events shortly to take place, and the permission on the part of God for these agents to act. It is a known idiom of the Hebrew language to express things in an imperative and active form which are to be understood only permissively.—T. H. Horne.
1 Kings 22:24-11.22.28. Micaiah’s suffering for the truth.
1. He is publicly insulted by Zedekiah, the chief of the prophets (Matthew 5:11).
2. He is thrown into prison by the godless king Ahab (1 Peter 2:19).
3. He is left unprotected by the pious king Jehoshaphat (Matthew 26:56).
1 Kings 22:26-11.22.28. Ahab’s conduct towards the witness of the truth. I. It was tyrannical. There is no greater tyranny than to suppress by force the Divine Word and the truth. II. It was foolish. We cannot accomplish anything against the truth (2 Corinthians 13:8). We can put the advocates of it in prison, but not the truth. It cannot be bound in chains, nor starved. It escapes and spreads, and only gains in glory by our attempts to oppress it.—Lange.
1 Kings 22:26. To prison, whence he was fetched, and whereof he might say, as that martyr did to the bishop who reviled and threatened him: Send me back to my frogs and toads, where I may be free to pray for your lordship.
1 Kings 22:27. This is the emphatic clause of Ahab’s speech. Micaiah is to be once more put in prison, but not on the same terms as before. In order to punish him for his uncomplying spirit, he is to be placed upon a poorer and scantier diet than he had been previously allowed; and this is to continue until Ahab returns in peace. Ahab introduces this expression purposely, in order to show his entire disbelief of Micaiah’s prophecy.—Speaker’s Comm.
1 Kings 22:28. The hope of unjust men perisheth (Proverbs 11:7). Julian, for instance, when he went out to war against the Persians, breathed out threatenings against the Christians on his return, which was never. And that French king who promised to see with his eyes a certain female martyr burnt, had, before that time, one of his eyes thrust out at the jousts, of which wound he died.
CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES.—
1 Kings 22:32. They turned aside to fight against him—יּסָרֻו—they turned to him. Sept. has εκύκλωσαν, surrounded him.
1 Kings 22:34.—Drew a bow at a venture—Lit., “in bis simplicity.” So 2 Samuel 15:11.
1 Kings 22:38. They washed his armour—A manifestly incorrect reading. Lit., The harlots bathed; either bathed him, or themselves bathed in the stream stained with his blood, his chariot having been washed therein. To the prediction chap. 1 Kings 21:19, the Sept. adds: “And the harlots shall wash themselves in thy blood.” Theodoret says it was customary for harlots—probably temple prostitutes—to bathe at evening.
HOMILETICS OF 1 Kings 22:29-11.22.40
THE DEATH OF A WICKED KING
I. That the death of a wicked king may be precipitated by an unbelieving disregard of divine warnings (1 Kings 22:29 compare with 1 Kings 22:17-11.22.23).
1. A wicked king is not indifferent to human threats (1 Kings 22:30-11.22.31). It is very likely that Ahab had heard, through the agency of his spies, of the order of the Syrian king for his charioteers to fight only with the king of Israel, and this had more effect upon him than the warning words of Micaiah, though he might regard them as an evil omen. To baffle the object of Benhadad, and perhaps with a secret wish to prove the words of Micaiah false, Ahab disguised himself. A wicked man is often more easily scared by the bluster and bullying of a weak, sinful, human creature, than by the threatenings of heaven.
2. A wicked king is reckless as to the danger in which he exposes his ally (1 Kings 22:32-11.22.33). Jehoshaphat in his kingly robes was mistaken for the king of Israel, and very nearly fell a victim to the Syrian fury. He cried to Heaven for help (2 Chronicles 18:31), perhaps using his own peculiar battle cry, which, as it contained the name of Jehovah, would be distinct from that of Ahab’s, and was probably known to the Syrians. Jehoshaphat now sees to his sorrow the great inconvenience of being in bad company; and that green wood also, if bound up with dry, easily takes fire and they burn together. Selfishness is the essence of wickedness; so that the sinner himself escapes, it matters little to him what may become of his companions.
II. That the death of a wicked king may be brought about by what seems the merest accident.
1. He may meet death with a princely fortitude (1 Kings 22:34-11.22.35). An archer shoots an arrow in the air, little dreaming what mischief it will work; it is the death warrant of the king of Israel. Feeling himself mortally wounded, he directed his chariot to be quietly driven aside that he might have his wounds dressed; and then returned to the battle, supported in his chariot in sight of his army until the sunset, when he expired. Let us give Ahab full credit for whatever was commendable in his conduct. Bad as he was, there was a touch of true heroism in the brave, resolute manner in which he insisted on being stayed up in his chariot, while his life-blood flowed about his feet, and his wound festered under the irritating heat of the sun. His death was kingly, and became him better than his life.
2. His death decides the fate of an important expedition (1 Kings 22:36). The attack on the Syrians was abandoned and the army dispersed, according to the custom of the Orientals on the death of the king. Death interrupts the work of the wicked, and in some cases happily ends it. The decease of a wicked ruler is an opportunity for the reform of national abuses.
III. That the death of a wicked king was accomplished in a manner that fulfilled the disregarded warnings of heaven (1 Kings 22:38). The manner of Ahab’s end left its traces in a form not to be mistaken. The blood which all through that day had been flowing from his wound had covered both the armour in which he was dressed and the chariot in which he had stood for so many hours. The chariot, perhaps the armour, was washed in state—according to one version in the tank of Samaria, according to another in the spring of Jezreel. The bystanders remembered that the blood, shed as it had been on the distant battle field, streamed into the same waters which had been polluted by the blood of Naboth and his sons, and was lapped up from the margin by the same dogs and swine, still prowling round the spot; and that when the abandoned outcasts of the city—probably those who had assisted in the profligate rites of the temple of Ashtaroth—came, according to their shameless usage, for their morning bath in the pool, they found it red with the blood of the first apostate king of Israel. So were accomplished the warnings of Elijah and Micaiah. So ended what may be called the first part of the tragedy of the House of Omri (Stanley). What would be the thoughts of the dying king that day on the battle field? Already he had proof of the fulfilment of one of Micaiah’s warnings regarding himself, and perhaps sullenly anticipated that the rest would follow. With what horror would he reflect upon his wicked life—the warnings he had slighted, the idolatry he had committed and championed, the stolen vineyard of Naboth, the heartless imprisonment of Micaiah! If we reject the warnings of heaven, we shall not prevent their accomplishment. The apparent delay affords time for repentance, and is not to be mistaken for indiscriminate leniency or forgetfulness.
IV. That the death of a wicked king was the more striking and humiliating that it occurred in the midst of external magnificence and power (1 Kings 22:39-11.22.40). All that Ahab lived for—affluence, pomp, pleasure—was taken away in a moment. The ivory house—a rival of the stately palace of the kings of Judah—the fortified and prosperous cities he had reared, the ease and gaiety of his luxurious court, must be abandoned for ever; and what would he get in exchange? Death is no respecter of persons or circumstances. The mortal scythe is master of the royal sceptre. What will riches, magnificent monuments, or heroic deeds avail when God requires the sinner’s soul? A wicked life does not pay.
1. Royalty is no defence against the havoc of death.
2. A wicked life will be cut short by an ignominious end.
3. A monarch who has lived for himself will perish unregretted.
GERM NOTES ON THE VERSES
1 Kings 22:29-11.22.40. Ahab’s end was truly tragical. It was brought about, not by a blind fate, but by a God who is just in His ways and holy in all His works (Psalms 145:17), whose judgments are unsearchable, and His ways past finding out (Romans 11:33). The conflict which Ahab had sought, and which no warning could induce him to abandon, became his punishment. He fell in battle with that very enemy who had once been delivered into his hands, and whom he had released out of vanity and weakness, to the harm of Israel; and so he made good the words of the prophet (1 Kings 20:42). He thought that a disguise would render him secure from the Syrian leaders who sought to find him out, and he did, indeed, escape them; but an unknown man, who did not know him and had no intention against him, shot him, while Jeshoshaphat, though undisguised, escaped unharmed. The arrow which struck him was not warded off by his corselet, but just struck the narrow opening between the corselet and the skirt, where it could penetrate and inflict a fatal wound. Everyone, therefore, who does not regard all incidents as accidents, must recognize the hand which guided the shaft. The words of the psalmist held true—“If he will not turn, he will whet his sword, he hath bent his bow and made it ready. He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors” (Psalms 7:12-19.7.13). Finally, Ahab did not die at once, but at evening, in consequence of the loss of blood. His blood flowed down in the chariot, which was so besmeared by it that it had to be washed. It was washed at the pool before the city, where dogs drank and harlots bathed. So it came to pass, although he was buried with all honour, that he was marked in his death as one condemned by God, and Elijah’s word was fulfilled (1 Kings 21:19).—Lange.
1 Kings 22:29. It might have been expected that Jehoshaphat, who had pressed enquiry at the Word of the Lord, and had not rested till a real prophet of Jehovah was sent for and made his appearance, would have withdrawn from the expedition when he heard Micaiah denounce it as fated to end in disaster. It must be remembered, however, that he had rashly committed himself to take part in the war by a solemn promise, couched in the strongest terms (1 Kings 22:4), before he bethought himself of enquiring what was the will of God in the matter. His honour was thus pledged, and he would be ashamed to draw back, especially as Ahab, whom the prophecy chiefly threatened, was resolved to brave it. He may also have had a personal affection for Ahab, and so have been loth to desert him in his need. This seems to be implied in the rebuke addressed to him by the prophet Jehu after his return to Jerusalem—“Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? Therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord” (2 Chronicles 19:2).—Speaker’s Comm.
—Men do far too readily what they want to do, although it is contrary to God’s will, putting aside God’s Word, or the warnings of others, or the voice of conscience. The event was never good. How often men ask for advice, yet follow their own will only! Jehoshaphat’s example ought to make us shy of the society of the wicked. The sun of grace in his heart became gradually dimmed. At first he had courage to remonstrate with Ahab, but gradually he comes to silence and indifference, even while Micaiah is abused and remanded to prison. In the end this evil companionship would have cost him his life, if God had not wonderfully interposed.—Kyburz.
1 Kings 22:30. The vanity of disguise. I. An evidence of cowardice and fear. II. Easily penetrated by the eye of the Omniscient Judge. III. Does not prevent the catastrophe it seeks to avoid.
—Unbelief in Ahab joined hands with superstition. The king despises and rejects the Word of God which is announced to him, and yet he is frightened, and seeks to escape the threatened dangers by disguising himself. This stratagem was intended to prove the prophet false. Neither cunning nor might avails against God’s will. Thou mayest disguise thyself as thou wilt: God will find thee when and where no man recognises thee (Psalms 139:7-19.139.12).
1 Kings 22:31. The king of Syria gives charge to his captains to fight against none but the king of Israel. Thus doth the unthankful infidel repay the mercy of his late victor; ill was the snake saved that requites the favour of his life with a sting: thus still the greatest are the fairest mark to envious eyes. By how much more eminent any man is in the Israel of God, so many more and more dangerous enemies must he expect: both earth and hell conspire in their opposition to the worthiest. Those who are advanced above others have so much more need of the guard, both of their own vigilancy and others’ prayers. Jehoshaphat had liked to have paid dear for his love: he is pursued for him in whose amity he offended; his cries deliver him—his cries, not to his pursuers, but to his God, whose mercy takes not advantage of our infirmity, but rescues us from those evils which we wilfully provoke. It is Ahab against whom, not the Syrians only, but for himself intends this quarrel; the enemy is taken off from Jehoshaphat.—Bp. Hall.
1 Kings 22:34. The greatest calamities. I. Often brought about by undesigned and accidental causes. II. Often occur to those who have taken the greatest pains to avoid them. III. May be traced to the unerring operations of retributive justice.
—The less of the human there is in those things which we commonly call accidents, the more there is of the Divine. The weal or woe of whole nations often depends on those things which are called accidents.
—O the just and mighty hand of that Divine providence which directeth all our actions to His own ends, which takes order where every shaft shall light, and guides the arrow of the strong archer into the joints of Ahab’s harness! It was shot at a venture, falls by a destiny; and there falls where it may carry death to a hidden debtor. In all actions, both voluntary and casual, thy will, O God, shall be done by us, with whatever intentions. Little did the Syrian know whom he had stricken, no more than the arrow with which he struck. An invisible hand disposeth of both, to the punishment of Ahab, to the vindication of Micaiah. How worthily, O God, art thou to be adored in thy justice and wisdom! to be feared in thy judgments! Too late doth Ahab now think of the fair warnings of Micaiah, which he unwisely condemned; of the painful flatteries of Zedekiah, which he stubbornly believed. That guilty blood of his runs down out of his wound into the midst of his chariot, and pays Naboth his arrearages.—Bp. Hall.
1 Kings 22:37-11.22.40. O Ahab, what art thou the better for thine ivory house, while thou hast a black soul? What comfort has thou now in those flattering prophets which tickled thine ears and secured thee of victories? What joy is it to thee now that thou wast great? Who had not rather be Micaiah in the jail, than Ahab in the chariot? Wicked men have the advantage of the way; godly men of the end. The chariot is washed in the pool of Samaria; the dogs come to claim their due; they lick up the blood of the great king of Israel. The tongues of those brute creatures shall make good the tongue of God’s prophet. Micaiah is justified, Naboth is revenged, the Baalites confounded, Ahab judged. “Righteous art thou, O God, in all thy ways, and holy in all thy works”!—Bp. Hall.
1 Kings 22:37. And now God was even with him for his idolatry, persecution of the prophets, cruelty to Naboth, who now was in far better condition, likely. The wicked are like hawks, of great esteem while living, but after, nothing worth. The godly are compared to tamer fowls, which are hushed forth and little heeded whilst living; but after death are brought into the parlour. Then, there is as much difference as betwixt the falcon and the capon, the hawk and the hen.—Trapp.
1 Kings 22:37-11.22.38. The death of Ahab.
1. It was sudden (1 Samuel 20:3; Luke 12:20). From sudden death, good Lord, deliver us.
2. It was unrepentant. Without conviction of sin, or repentance for it, or longing for grace and pardon.
3. It was shameful. He was indeed buried with honour, like the rich man (Luke 16:0); but the dogs licked his blood, and his memory does not remain in honour (Psalms 73:19; therefore,Psalms 90:12; Psalms 90:12; Psalms 39:5). As he lived, so he died; as he died, so he was judged. The death of Ahab is a testimony to Romans 11:33; Galatians 6:7; Isaiah 40:8.—Lange.
1 Kings 22:38. The inexorable law of retribution.
1. Is proportioned to the character and degree of the sin it punishes.
2. Is the terrible completion of the warnings and threatenings which foreshadowed it.
3. A proof of the unchanging justice of Jehovah.
4. An awful yet salutary method of instruction to all nations in all ages.
—From a narrative like this, it need scarcely be said, the stern justice of God may well be engraven on every heart. The examples we have of retributive providence in sacred Scripture are, to say the least, exceedingly striking. Judas hanged himself. Herod the Great, who slew the children of Bethlehem, was smitten with ulcers, from which issued swarms of loathsome vermin, and died in the greatest agony; a humbling spectacle to his meanest slave. Herod Agrippa, who permitted his fawning parasites to adore him as God, “was eaten of worms and gave up the ghost.” The other Herod, who sent and beheaded the Baptist, spent his closing years with his guilty partner an exile in Lyons; while Salome, who asked the Baptist’s head in a charger, met with her death, as related by Nicephorus, at the hand of a common assassin. Let examples such as these stand alongside of Ahab, to teach that even in this world these awful words have frequently an awful meaning: “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.”—Howat.
1 Kings 22:39. Nothing is known of these cities; but the fact of Ahab’s building cities is important, as indicating the general prosperity of the country in his time, and his own activity as a ruler. The close relations which he established with Phœnicia and Judea tended naturally to bring about a flourishing condition of things in Samaria; and thus the decay of religion was accompanied by a temporary increase in the material prosperity (2 Kings 3:4), the commercial enterprize (1 Kings 22:49), and even the military vigour of the country. Such prosperity, it is plain, may for awhile co-exist with causes which are sapping the vital power of a nation, and leading it surely, if slowly, to destruction.—Speaker’s Comm.
CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES.—
1 Kings 22:41. History of the reign of Jehoshaphat of Judah—Scant records of Judah occur in the Scriptures, but Chronicles give them more fully.
1 Kings 22:46. The sodomites … he took out of the land—Lit., extinguished from the land.
1 Kings 22:49. Then said Ahaziah—At that time king of Israel. He wished to unite with Jehoshaphat in maritime expeditions; the explanation of his refusal is found in 2 Chronicles 20:35-14.20.37. Ezion-geber (1 Kings 22:48) abounds in perilous and destructive rocks.—W. H. J.
HOMILETICS OF 1 Kings 22:41-11.22.50
THE PRAISEWORTHY EFFORTS OF A GOOD KING
AN agreeable change comes across the character of the history—like a wavering stream of light which silvers and beautifies the dark and restless sea. The last seven chapters have been wholly occupied with the history of the kingdom of Israel; a dismal record of defection, idolatry, bloodshed, ever intensifying wickedness, and of terrible judgments. Here we have interposed, as if to relieve the blackness of the picture, a brief epitome of the career of the good Jehoshaphat. For a fuller account of his reign consult 2 Chronicles 17:0 -
20. In the paragraph before us we have a representation of the praiseworthy efforts of a good king.
I. He is solicitous to maintain the religious prestige of the nation (1 Kings 22:43).
1. He follows the example of the good. “He walked in all the ways of Asa, his father, he turned not aside from it.” On the general piety of Asa see 1 Kings 15:11-11.15.15, and compare 2 Chronicles 14:2-14.14.5; 2 Chronicles 15:8-14.15.17. Jehosphaphat seems to have been a still better king, for he did not, like Asa, fall away in his old age (2 Chronicles 16:2-14.16.12). It is an unspeakable advantage to have an early pious training; and to have constantly in view the best patterns of religious excellence to imitate.
2. He strives after personal righteousness. “Doing that which was right in the eyes of the Lord.” Goodness should be sought and practised for its own sake, and with a sincere desire to please God. Nothing is good which will not bear the test of the Divine scrutiny—which is not right in the eyes of the Lord.”
3. He may not accomplish all the religious reforms he desires. “Nevertheless, the high places were not taken away.” The only faults with which Jehoshaphat is charged are his allowance of the high places, and his tenderness towards the house of Ahab, which led him, first, to take a wife for his eldest son from among Ahab’s daughters, and then to join both him and his successor in their military and other enterprises (1 Kings 22:29; 2 Kings 3:7; 2 Chronicles 20:35-14.20.37). There are few reformers who do not make some mistakes; and few who accomplish all at which they aim. Even to attempt a great and noble enterprise has an elevating moral influence on the zealous reformer. It is one of the first and highest duties of a king to look well after the religious condition of his people.
II. He labours to promote peace (1 Kings 22:44). For sixty years, from the first separation of the two kingdoms down to the accession of Jehoshaphat, there was an uninterrupted series of wars between Israel and Judah. This fratricidal policy was ended by the declaration of a formal peace, which was perhaps at once cemented by a marriage between the two children of the contracting parties, Jehoram and Athaliah. A wise and judicious king will use all legitimate means to promote and maintain an honourable peace, without the surrender of any one essential right, or the least sacrifice of dignity.
III. He is alive to the importance of a judicious manifestation of kingly power (1 Kings 22:45). “His might that he showed and how he warred.” He tries to promote peaceful relations with other nations, not because he is weak, but because he is strong! He discourages war in others by being always prepared for it himself. He will not suffer his authority to be despised, nor will he allow a wrong to his nation to go unpunished. Government that is not backed with power will soon drift into rebellion and anarchy.
IV. He is anxious about the morality of his people (1 Kings 22:46). Sensual indulgence grows into still more abominable enormities, the more it is practised and tolerated. It saps the foundations of national life and morality. Much had been done to root out the wretched class referred to in this verse (1 Kings 15:12); but the evil was so inveterate and deep-seated that it could not be all at once extinguished. An examination of the social life of the Greeks and Romans when at the acme of their national greatness shows how possible it is for the most brilliant attainments in literature, science, and art, to co-exist alongside the most debasing and shameless immorality. Christianity is the apostle and donor of the highest and purest morality.
V. He encourages the exercise of good government. “There was then no king in Edom: a deputy was king” (1 Kings 22:47). The last reference to Edom was in the time of Solomon, when Hadad, having returned thither from Egypt, was “an adversary unto Solomon” (1 Kings 11:14), and reigned over Egypt. It seems to have been again reduced, and to be dependent on the kingdom of Judah, being governed by a deputy, or viceroy, who, however, was allowed the royal title. This government of dependencies by means of subject kings was the all but universal practice in the East down to the time of Cyrus. A good king is careful to provide effective government in every part of his dominions. When the government is feeble, every other interest suffers.
VI. He seeks to advance commercial enterprise (1 Kings 22:48-11.22.49). Jehoshaphat sought to re-establish the maritime trade to Ophir, which had proved such a source of wealth in Solomon’s reign; and, though the shipbuilding in this instance proved a failure, it illustrates the active desire of the king to promote the commercial welfare of the nation. The ships were wrecked while in the harbour, because they were badly built, the Jewish sailors having but an imperfect knowledge of the sea and of the rig and management of ships; or, according to the prophet Eliezer, as a Divine judgment against Jehoshaphat for joining himself with the idolatrous Ahaziah in this business (2 Chronicles 20:36-14.20.37). The commercial genius of Jehoshaphat would find scope in other directions, which would all tend to increase the national prosperity. If commerce is stifled, the nation is starved. “Every profession implies system. The meanest trade demands it, and would run to waste without something of it. The marvellous achievements of modern commerce, stretching its relations over distant seas and many lands, and gathering the materials of every civilization within its ample bosom, are, more than anything, the result of an expanding and victorious system, which shrinks at no obstacles and adapts itself to every emergency.” A good king readily appreciates the application of system to commercial success, and is not too proud or too indifferent to act accordingly.
VII. He transmits a heritage of good to his successor (1 Kings 22:50). Jehoram enters upon the government with all the advantages of his father’s achievements and prestige. Fortunate indeed is the youthful king who succeeds a provident and far-seeing father; and who has before him, as a constant inspiration, the example of a holy and useful life. To leave a good name to posterity is better than riches. It is a solemn and sacred trust to receive all that Jehoram received. It may be shamefully abused, as, alas! it was in his case (2 Chronicles 21:6).
1. A crown brings great opportunities and great responsibilities.
2. The best king cannot accomplish all the good he would.
3. A good man is honoured for the good he attempted, as well as for what he actually accomplished.
GERM NOTES ON THE VERSES
1 Kings 22:41-11.22.50. The reign of Jehoshaphat was a very successful and prosperous one for Judah, both internally and externally. The author does not enter more particularly into the details of its history, evidently because, from the time of the division of the kingdom, his main object was rather to give a representation of the monarchy in Israel until its downfall. Jehoshaphat’s aim, after he had established legal order in his dominions as far as possible, reduced the neighbouring people to subjection again, and concluded peace with the brother kingdom, was to restore the times of prosperity that existed in the days of Solomon, and to bring his kingdom up to the height of that of Solomon once more. The glory of the kingdom, however, as it had existed under Solomon, was, according to the purpose of God, for ever gone by. Its return was not a part of the divine plan of salvation, and every human attempt to restore it must necessarily fail. The fleet of Jehoshaphat went down in the harbour of Ezion-geber, even before it had sailed out, and that, too, not by human fault, but by a storm—that is to say, by a dispensation of God.—Lange.
—All Christian rulers and governors ought to follow the example of the pious king Jehoshaphat—to do what is pleasing to God, to walk in His ways without departing from them, to maintain and extend pure religon, to remove and destroy what is evil, and especially not to permit whoredom, but with earnestness to do away with it and punish it, and to guard themselves from having too much intercourse with godless persons, or from entering into any covenant with them, because this leads to no good, as indeed Jehoshaphat got only danger and loss by it. Every one should profit by the life experience of Jehoshaphat. All that he undertook according to God’s word and will went on fortunately, and attained good success, and was attended with blessing; but all that he undertook in conjunction with Ahab and Ahaziah turned out unfortunately: there was no blessing upon that.—Wurt. Summ.
1 Kings 22:43. An upright life.
1. Is modelled after a worthy pattern.
2. Is marked by fidelity and perseverance.
3. Is approved and owned of God.
4. May not be free from some imperfections.
1 Kings 22:48-11.22.49. The risks of commerce.
1. Demand great toil and enterprise.
2. Liable to great losses.
3. May be involved in unfortunate partnerships.
4. Cultivate decision of character: “Jehoshaphat would not” (1 Kings 22:49).
1 Kings 22:48. “For his ships were broken.” This cross was in great mercy to Jehoshaphat. “Thou in very faithfulness hast afflicted me,” said David. This should be a patienting consideration; as it is said to have been to Philip of Spain, upon the defeating and scattering of his navy in 1588. He gave, and commanded to be given all over Spain, thanks to God that the loss was no more grievous; and used singular mercy in relieving the distressed soldiers and sailors—Trapp.
1 Kings 22:49-11.22.50. The heart of man proposes its own way, but the Lord alone allows it to proceed therein (Proverbs 16:9). He often confounds our purposes and destroys our plans which reach so far and so high, that we may not become puffed up, but learn to yield to His holy will, and to say: “It is the Lord; let Him do what seemeth Him good.”—What God has clearly destroyed as a punishment, that let us not build up again at the counsel or demand of any man, for when He breaks in pieces, it cannot avail to build again (Job 12:14).—So Jehoshaphat would not build again. The offers of a man who had departed from God, even if he offer thee ever so much profit and pleasantness, do thou reject with determined will.—Lange.
HOMILETICS OF 1 Kings 22:51-11.22.53
THE POWER OF EVIL TO PERPETUATE ITSELF
I. That evil perpetuates itself by the force of parental training and example (1 Kings 22:52). Ahaziah was cursed with a wicked ancestry. The evil wrought by a wicked father may be counteracted by the influences of a pious mother, or vice versa. But where both father and mother are morally bad, and especially where the mother is the superior genius, no wonder that the worst features of their characters are reproduced and perpetuated in their children. It is a fearful calamity for children to be born of the ignorant, the idolatrous, the vicious. Parents have much to answer for who train up their offspring in sin. It is said that Plato, seeing a child doing mischief in the street, went forth and corrected his father for it.
II. That evil perpetuates itself when it is individually sanctioned and practised. “For he served Baal, and worshipped him” (1 Kings 22:53). Ahaziah made the sin of his parents his own, by his own free, voluntary act. He rejected the God of Elijah, of Micaiah, and of Jehoshaphat, of whom he must have heard, and he elected to serve Baal and worship him. He threw all the weight of his kingly authority on the side of the national idol. Evil is strengthened and extended by the independent action of every additional votary.
III. That the perpetuation of evil is offensive to God. “Provoked to anger the Lord God of Israel, according to all that his father had done” (1 Kings 22:53). Sin is not unnoticed, nor will it long go unpunished. Every act of iniquity provokes the Divine anger, and though God is slow to wrath and reluctant to punish, the day is approaching when terrible and complete vengeance will overtake the evildoer. The judgment which fell on the house of Ahab is a signal example of the ultimate fate of the impenitent wicked.
1. Parents are responsible for the moral condition of their children.
2. Sin is a germ that has the alarming power of propagating itself.
3. Evil, though powerful, is not omnipotent, nor will it for ever triumph.
GERM NOTES ON THE VERSES
1 Kings 22:51-11.22.53. As regards his relation to Jehovah, which was the main point for every Israelitish king, Ahaziah was one of the very worst of them. This is marked, in the general description, by the fact that it is said of him, not only that “he did evil in the sight of the Lord,” and “walked in the ways of Jeroboam,” but that it is also added, “in the way of his father,” nay, even also, which is observed of no other king, “in the way of his mother,” the fanatical, idolatrous, and bloodthirsty Jezebel, who was still living, and perhaps controlled him even more than she had controlled his father. All the acts of God during the reign of his father, of which he had been eye-witness and ear-witness, the proofs of God’s power, long-suffering, and justice, even the tragical end of Ahab, had made no impression upon him. All had passed by him, and left no effect behind. For this very reason, then, in the first place, he is worse than Ahab.—Lange.
1 Kings 22:52. The curse of ancestral iniquity. I. Is ever displeasing to God. II. Pollutes succeeding generations. III. Is aggravated by voluntary adoption and individual practice of iniquity.
—It is bad enough, indeed, when one or the other of one’s parents is godless, but how much more when neither fears God? How can we hope for the good nurture of children in that case? The power of example is not greater in any relation than in that of parents to children. The way in which the father or mother walks has more influence upon the children than all the doctrines and teachings which they give them. It is not praiseworthy, nor a thing for which one can satisfactorily answer before God, if the parents and ancestors have been godless, or the adherents of a false religion, that the children should do the same, and follow in their footsteps. It will not suffice before God to say, “I believe what my parents and ancestors believed. They were of this religion, and I will not believe that they have been damned.”—Wurt. Summ.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 1 Kings 22". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
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