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Bible Commentaries
2 Chronicles 18

The Biblical IllustratorThe Biblical Illustrator

Verses 4-34

2 Chronicles 18:4-34

And Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Enquire, I pray thee, at the word of the Lord to-day.

Divine truth and its typical reception

Here are four types of human conduct in relation to Divine truth.

Those who seek the truth. Micaiah believed in its existence, prayed for its teaching, and determined to follow its leading.

Those who are opposed to the truth. The priests assumed to be its only depositaries, denied the claims of others, ridiculed and opposed its representative. None so slow to believe in a Divine Spirit as those accustomed to speak Divine words, but in whose hearts is no Divine life.

Those who believe yet disobey the truth. Jehoshaphat believed the prophet Micaiah, mildly defended his character, yet would not withdraw from Ahab.

Those who are alarmed at truth. Ahab roused in conscience, afraid of results, and tried to escape by stratagem. (J. Wolfendale.)

Verses 6-7

2 Chronicles 18:6-7

There is yet one man, by whom we may enquire of the Lord: but I hate him.

Micaiah the son of Imla

Jehoshaphat’s is the wise and reverent question to ask, amid the illusions of every fashionable opinion, amid all smooth and flattering promises. It marks the devout habit of looking behind the outward show and of searching every matter to its depths in the fear of God. Let us notice the frame of mind revealed in Ahab’s reply.

Note the significance of that one obdurate voice, rising clearly above the four hundred unanimous in their approval.

1. That is a voice which we hear again and again in our life; we hear it most loudly at special crises of our career.

2. When one solitary voice flatly contradicts the voice of a multitude, and contradicts it on matters of serious moment--which voice are we to believe? Sometimes the question is practically decided, as in Ahab’s case, by the mood with which we come to think of the unsilenced prophet. “I hate him.”

(1) That tribute of hatred sprang from Ahab’s conscience. It is the precise method by which weak and cruel men are wont to confess that not the man, but the message has found them out.

(2) Notice also Ahab’s device for suppressing an unwelcome truth.

This narrative symbolises man’s frequent attitude towards the truth. It is a test case.

1. Young men and women starting in life with abundant promise, amid the acclamation of hosts of friends, you may be irritated by perhaps one grim, dissenting voice, critical, dissatisfied, implacable, which sadly challenges the place in this universe to which general opinion reads your title clear. Be very careful how you treat that voice! It may be the voice of an ignorant, envious, churlish man, but, on the other hand, it may be the voice of one who has pierced to the secret of your inner life, and who, if you would only listen, might spare you an idle journey, might rescue you from misery and shame.

2. Again, there are books or teachers whom we have to deal with, and who sadly irritate us, and we say, like Marguerite to Faust, but often, alas, without her simplicity: “Thou art not a Christian.” Let us patiently ask: are we really angry in the name of the Lord of hosts? or, are we angry because these books or voices spoil our own theories, wound our prejudices, smile at our favourite catch-words, wither our ideas of success, and are, in the name of the Truth of God, relentless amid our flatterers? Do they simply offend our self-love, and rebuke our calculated prudence? Let us be careful. These books and voices may be wrong; if so, their’s the loss and the penalty. But, very often, conscience would tell us there is a possibility that they are right.

3. There is one solemn application of this incident which has, no doubt, occurred to us already. In every human heart disobedient to Christ, impenitent and unreconciled, there is a voice as of Micaiah the son of Imla; but it is really the voice of the Lord Himself, speaking to that heart, amid all its distractions and its earthly pleasures, the message of evil and not of good. And men may come to chafe so angrily under that patient, ever-haunting warning, and appeal, that finally they may cry: “I hate it, I hate it!” If that be so, remember Ahab’s doom. (T. Rhys Evans.)

Virtues necessary far religious warkers

Close sympathy with his kind, personal lowliness, self-suppression pushed even to pathetic extremes, unshakable loyalty to the teaching of the Spirit of God, and calm indifference to fashionable moods of flattery or disapproval--these are virtues necessary to every religious worker. If he deferentially consults the noble of this world what message he may utter; if he asks the man of affairs, whose difficult lifo reminds him always, not only of Jacob’s wrestling, but also of Jacob’s subtlety, and who is fiercely tempted to give his vote for a gospel of compromise; if he asks the poor and becomes spokesman, not of their wrongs, but of a maddened despair which does not represent their truer self, he passes from the side of Micaiah to that of the four hundred. (T. Rhys Evans)

The faithful prophet

The estimation in which he was held. “I hate him.” Hatred, inveterate and strong, often the reward of fidelity. Am I then become your enemy because I tell you the truth?”

The stand which he takes (2 Chronicles 18:13).

1. Dependence upon God.

2. Expectation of God’s help (Matthew 10:18-19).

3. Determination to utter God’s Word.

The pleas urged to move from this stand.

1. The opinion of the majority.

2. The difficulty of judging who is right. “Which way went the Spirit of the

Lord from me to thee?”

3. The employment of physical force. (J. Wolfendale.)

Hated for the truth’s sake

What an appalling illustration is this of the fact that men love to be flattered and encouraged even at the expense of everything holy and true. “A wonderful and horrible thing is come to pass in the land; the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and My people love to have it so.”

What a vivid illustration is this of the sublime function of an incorruptible truth-teller! This is not Micaiah’s first appearance before the king. He had established his reputation as a God-fearing and truth-speaking man, and Ahab’s denunciation was in reality Micaiah’s highest praise.

1. No wicked man should be quite easy in the sanctuary.

2. Do you suppose that it is pleasant for a minister to be always opposing any man?

3. A man is not your enemy because he tells you the truth. Opposition will come. (J. Parker, D.D.)

Truth awakens enmity

As the Turk taunted some Christians at Constantinople, who said that they came thither to suffer for the truth, telling them that they needed not to have come so far for that; for had they but told the truth at home, they could not have missed suffering for it. Telling truth needs not travel far for enmity; enmity will encounter it at home, wheresoever it be. Hence is that definition that Luther made of preaching, “Proedicare nihil eat quam derivare in se furorem, etc.--that to preach, and preach home, as he did, was nothing else but to stir up the furies of hell about their ears. (J. Spencer.)

Ministers not to accommodate their message to the likings of men

Suppose a number of persons were to call on a minister on the Sabbath-day morning, and being admitted into his study, one of them should say to him, “I hope, sir, you do not mean to-day to be severe against avarice, for I love money, and my heart goes after my covetousness.” Suppose another should say, “I trust you will not be severe against backbiting, for my tongue walketh with slanderers, and I consider scandal to be the seasoning of all conversation.” Suppose another should say, “Do not represent implacability as being inconsistent,, with Divine goodness, for I never did” forgive such an one, and I never will. And so of the rest. What would this minister say to these men? Why, if he were in a proper state of mind he would say, “Oh, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?” (W. Jay.)

Verse 16

2 Chronicles 18:16

Then he said, I see all Israel scattered.

The prophetic visions

Micaiah declared the visions revealed to him by the Spirit of God.

The sheepherdless people.

The parabolic providence.

1. A picture of God’s supremacy.

2. An insight into supernatural ministry. “All the host of heaven” ready to serve.

3. An interpretation of the events of history. (J. Wolfendale.)

Verses 25-27

2 Chronicles 18:25-27

Then the king of Israel said, Take ye Micaiah.

Ahab and Micaiah; or the false and true in character

The power of the popular voice. We see the multitude accommodating itself to the wishes of the king. How easy and how congenial it is to human nature to float with the tide. As a rule it pays best to suffer yourself to be carried along by the current. Light things and feeble things can travel this way with small demand on strength and skill. But dead things and all manner of refuse go this way, too. There is something to be feared in a great popular cry. I have heard men say that they dreaded a crowd as much as they did a contagion. If men had as wholesome a fear of going with the stream because it is the stream, society would be healthier. “Everybody” is a fearful tyrant.

Here is one man opposed to the popular sentiment. He valued truth. Of Micaiah it may be said, as it was of another more illustrious, “Of the people there were none with him.” He esteemed truth to be more precious than gold or any other earthly consideration. He was a hero of no common mould. Men are often misunderstood by those who should know them best.

Men of such moral heroism have often to suffer for them principles. Suffering for conscience sake is not yet obsolete.

Such men as Micaiah are morally brave and heroic because they are men of prayer. We are apt to take low views of the nature of prayer. It is more than simply an appointed means of telling God our wants, and of beseeching Him to supply. It is “waiting upon God “as a personal attendant waits upon his master with whom he converses, and from whose lips he receives commands and instructions. It is more than that, it is communion, fellowship, interchange of thought and sentiment. We may go a step further, and say it is a union of kindred minds--the Divine so flowing into the human that it becomes transformed, that God’s will and mind become its governing law. So life becomes one great connected prayer. A man who understands and enjoys this is one of the strongest and bravest of men. Stephen was such a man of prayer. A man of prayer is prepared to do deeds of holy heroism which put to the blush the vaunted deeds of chivalry.

A consciousness of moral weakness is closely allied to moral cowardice. Without a scruple Ahab put the life of Jehoshaphat in jeopardy to save his own. “Conscience makes cowards of us all.” What a noble tribute was that which was paid to Havelock and his pious soldiers more than once during the Indian Mutiny! When our army was hard pressed, or some specially perilous work had to be done, the command was given, “Call out Havelock and his praying men; if this work can be done at all, they are the men to do it.”

Retribution sometimes overtakes men in this life, Ahab was left alone to pursue his course of hardened folly until he was ripe for retribution; then God met him and ignominiously closed his career. (J. T. Higgins.)

Verse 33

2 Chronicles 18:33

And a certain man drew a bow at a venture.

The venturous aim

Now I would have you notice particularly the words: “A certain man drew a bow at a venture.” We take it that this was no distinguished warrior among the army of the Syrians, but simply one of the ordinary archers. He little thought that to him was the task committed of slaying the enemy of God and the king of His own nation. “At a venture” he drew his bow, or, in the words of the Revised Version, as given in the margin, “In his simplicity”--that is, never supposing at whom he was aiming the dart. We may be for year after year fighting the Lord’s battles, and seeking after some offender above other offenders, some Ahab in disguise; but our efforts shall in the end be rewarded with success--we may have mistaken some conspicuous fault as manifest as were the gorgeous robes of Jehoshaphat for the sin that doth so easily beset, bringing a host of others in its train; but at length God’s Spirit shall guide our words to the weak place in that soul’s armour. Some word spoken with no special purpose, perhaps in season, perhaps out of season, shall open the wound that means death to that besetting sin. But if what we have said applies to the case of those individual souls, the same rule holds good also as regards our pulpit ministrations. When we preach the Word we do not know who may be present before us; probably many faces are familiar to us, but we cannot see the inmost soul; we know not what has passed in the life of any single person since last we spoke. Therefore, to a great extent, our bow must be ever drawn at a venture. (J. Nepleton.)

A bow drawn at a venture

Mr. Spurgeon was wont to relate the following striking cases of drawing the bow at a venture: “I supposed the case of a young man who had got into fast company, and once there meant to have his fling unfettered; so was on the eve of starting to India, in order to escape the restraint of a godly, widowed mother’s influence. I pointed to him, and pleaded with him to retrace his steps ere yet he had broken his praying mother’s heart. At the close of the Monday evening prayer-meeting a young man was shown into my room by William Olney. As soon as alone with me he wished to know who had informed me as to his movements. He could scarcely believe me when I told him I had received no information concerning him, and did not even know his name. The same week, after the Thursday evening service, another young man wished to see me alone; wanted to know who had been telling me about him. I asked, What about him? About his fast life, and his intention to leave the country and escape his praying mother’s influence? He had been very distressed ever since. I pointed him out and appealed to him on Sunday evening; he wished to see me about it, but could not come on Monday evening as he had intended. ‘But,’ said he, ‘there is one mistake you made, Mr. Spurgeon; you told the people I was going to India, and it is China I am booked for.’”

Gospel archery

The hearts of the unsaved are encased in harness.

1. Indifference.

2. Pleasure.

3. Worldliness.

4. Religious formality.

Having these hearts for a mark, the gospel bow must be drawn. At some must be shot the arrows of--

1. Divine goodness.

2. Divine threatenings.

3. Divine love. (R. Berry.)


Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "2 Chronicles 18". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tbi/2-chronicles-18.html. 1905-1909. New York.
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