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Bible Commentaries

The Pulpit Commentaries
1 Kings 22

 

 

Verses 1-53

EXPOSITION

THE EXPEDITION OF AHAB AND JEHOSHAPHAT AGAINST HRAMOTH-GILEAD. THE DEATH OF AHAB. THE REIGNS OF JEHOSHAPHAT AND AHAZIAH.

1 Kings 22:1

And they continued [rather, rested. Heb. sate, dwelt. Cf. 5:17. The LXX. has ἐκάθισε, sing.] three years without war [The Hebrew explains the "rested"—there was not war, etc. See Ewald, 286 g. The three years (not full years, as the next verse shows) are to be counted from the second defeat of Ben-hadad; the history, that is to say, is resumed from 1 Kings 20:34-43. Rawlinson conjectures that it was during this period that the Assyrian invasion, under Shalmaneser II; took place. The Black Obelisk tells us that Ahab of Jezreel joined a league of kings, of whom Ben-hadad was one, against the Assyrians, furnishing a force of 10,000 footmen and 2000 chariots; see "Hist. Illust." pp. 113, 114. The common danger might well compel a cessation of hostilities] between Syria and Israel.

1 Kings 22:2

And it came to pass in the third year [Of the peace; not after the death of Naboth, as Stanley], that Jehoshaphat the king of Judah came down [The journey to Jerusalem being invariably described as a "going up," one from Jerusalem to the provinces would naturally be spoken of as a "going down"] to the king of Israel. [For aught that appears, this was the first time that the monarchs of the sister kingdoms had met, except in battle, since the disruption, though the marriage of Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat, with Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, had taken place some years before this date (2 Chronicles 18:1, 2 Chronicles 18:2). It is probable that it was the growing power of Syria had led to this affinity and alliance.]

1 Kings 22:3

And the king of Israel said unto his servants [During the visit. It seems likely that Jehoshaphat went down to Samaria by Ahab's invitation, and that the latter then had this campaign in view. The chronicler says that Ahab "incited," or "stirred him up" (same word as in 1 Kings 21:25) to go with him to battle. Ahab was unable to contend single-handed, and without Divine assistance—which he could not now look for—against Syria; and saw no means of compelling the execution of the treaty which Ben-hadad had made with him (1 Kings 20:34), and which he appears to have shamelessly broken, except by the help of Jehoshaphat, whose military organizetion at this time must have been great, and, indeed, complete (2 Chronicles 17:10-19). It is in favour of this view that Ahab entertained him and his large retinue with such profuse hospitality. The chronicler, who dwells on the number of sheep and oxen slain for the feast, intimates that it was this generous reception "persuaded" Jehoshaphat to join in the war], Know ye that Ramoth in Gilead [Generally, as below (1 Kings 22:4, 1 Kings 22:6, etc.), "Ramoth-Gilead," i.e; of Gilead. See note on 1 Kings 4:13. This "great frontier fortress was, in the hands of Syria, even after many reverses, a constant menace against Israel" (Stanley)] is ours [i.e; it was one of the cities which Ben-hadad had promised to restore (1 Kings 20:34). This shows that, as we might expect from a man of Ben-hadad's overbearing yet pusillanimous character, he had not kept good faith. Though so long a time had elapsed, it was still in his hands], and we be still [ חָשָׁה is onomatopoetic, like our "hush." Marg. rightly, silent from taking it. The word conveys very expressively that they had been afraid of making any movement to assert their rights, lest they should attract the attention and anger of their powerful and incensed neighbour], and take it not out of the hand of the king of Syria? [It is hardly likely that Ahab could have forgotten the warning of 1 Kings 20:42. It is probable that Ben-hadad's flagrant disregard of his treaty engagements determined him to run all risks, especially if he could secure the help of the then powerful king of Judah.]

1 Kings 22:4

And he said unto Jehoshaphat, Wilt thou go with me to battle to Ramoth-Gilead? [It is probable this question was asked with some misgivings. Such an alliance was altogether new, and Ahab might well wonder how the idea would strike a pious prince like Jehoshaphat. That the latter ought to have refused his help, we know from 2 Chronicles 19:2.] And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, I am as thou art [Heb. as I as thou], my people as thy people, my horses as thy horses. [From the ready and unreserved way in which he at once engages in this war, we may safely conclude that he, too, had reason to fear the power of Syria. Probably Ben-hadad, when he besieged Samaria (1 Kings 20:1), had formed the idea of reducing the whole of Palestine to subjection. And Jehoshaphat would remember that Ramoth-Gilead, where the Syrian king was still entrenched, was but forty miles distant from Jerusalem. Bähr holds that horses are specially mentioned "because they formed an essential part of the military power" (Psalms 33:16, Psalms 33:17; Proverbs 21:31). It is true that in a campaign against the Syrians they would be especially useful (see on 1 Kings 20:1.); but they receive no mention at the hands of the chronicler, who reads instead of this last clause, "And we (or I) will be with thee in the war."]

1 Kings 22:5

And Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Inquire, I pray thee, at [This word is redundant] the word of the Lord today. [ כַּיוֹם hardly conveys that "he asks to have the prophets called in at once," "lest Ahab should consent in word and put off the inquiry in act" (Rawlinson); but rather means, "at this crisis," "under these circumstances." This request agrees well with what we learn elsewhere as to Jehoshaphat's piety (2 Chronicles 17:4-9; 2 Chronicles 19:5-7, etc.) And, remembering how Ahab's late victories had been foretold by a prophet, and had been won by the help of Jehovah, Jehoshaphat might well suppose that his new ally would be eager to know the word of the Lord.]

1 Kings 22:6

Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets [Called by Micaiah "his prophets" (1 Kings 22:22), and "thy prophets" (1 Kings 22:23)] together, about four hundred men [From the number (cf. 1 Kings 18:19) it has been concluded that these were "the prophets of the groves," i.e; of Astarte, who escaped the massacre of the Baal prophets (1 Kings 18:40). Others have supposed that they were prophets of Baal. But both these suppositions are negatived

And yet that they were not true prophets of the Lord, or of the" sons of the prophets," appears

(2) from 1 Kings 22:20 sqq; where Micaiah disclaims them, and is found in direct opposition to them. The only conclusion open to us, consequently—and it is now generally adopted—is that they were the priests of the high places of Bethel and Dan, the successors of those whom Jeroboam had introduced into the priestly office. It need cause us no surprise to find these priests here described as "prophets" (of. Jeremiah 22:13; Ezekiel 13:1), and as claiming prophetic gifts, for the priests of Baal bore the same name (1 Kings 18:19, 1 Kings 18:22, etc.), and apparently pretended to similar powers. "No ancient people considered any cultus complete without a class of men through whom the god might be questioned" (Bähr). The existence of so large a number of prophets of the calves proves that the inroads of idolatry had by no means destroyed the calf worship. If its priests were so many, its worshippers cannot have been few], and said unto them, Shall I go against Ramoth-Gilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for the Lord [ אֲדֹנָי It is very significant that at first they hesitate to use the ineffable name. It was probably this circumstance excited Jehoshaphat's suspicions. It has been said that the reason why he was dissatisfied with this answer is unexplained; hut when we remember how careful the true prophet was to speak in the name of Jehovah (1 Kings 14:7; 1 Kings 17:1,1 Kings 17:14; 1 Kings 20:13, 1 Kings 20:14, 1 Kings 20:28), we can hardly doubt that it was their mention of "Adonai "occasioned his misgivings. The chronicler gives the word as Elohim] shall deliver it [LXX. διδοὺς δώσει, shall surely give it] into the hand of the king.

1 Kings 22:7

And Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the Lord [Heb. Jehovah] besides [i.e; in addition to these soi-disant prophets. He hardly likes to say bluntly that he cannot regard them as inspired, but at the same time hints clearly that he cannot be satisfied as to their mission and authority], that we might inquire of him?

1 Kings 22:8

And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man [Cf. 1 Kings 18:22], Micaiah [The name ( = Who is like Jehovah?) is as appropriate to the man who bore it as Elijah's name was to him (1 Kings 17:1; cf. 1 Kings 18:39). But it is not an uncommon name in the Old Testament—it is borne by eight different persons. Compare Michael, "Who is like God?"] the son of Imlah [The chronicler writes the name Imla, יִמְלָא], by whom we may inquire of the Lord [Ahab evidently had wished Jehoshaphat to understand that the prophets already consulted were prophets of Jehovah, as no doubt they claimed to be. One of them bore a name in which the sacred Jah formed a part]: but I hate [ שְׂנֵאתִי (cf. odi), have learned to hate] him [Ahab had good reasons for not caring to consult a man whom he had put into prison (see 1 Kings 18:26, and compare Matthew 14:3), because of his reproofs or unwelcome predictions. Josephus, and Jewish writers generally, identify Micaiah with the nameless prophet of 1 Kings 21:1-29 :42]; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil [The chronicler adds כָל־יָמָיו; i.e; persistently, throughout his whole career. Ahab insinuates that Micaiah is actuated by personal dislike. The commentators refer to Homer. I1. 4; 106-108.] And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so. [He does not mean that the prophet cannot say just what he will, but suggests that Ahab is prejudiced against him. Perhaps he suspected that there might be a very different reason for Micaiah's sinister predictions.]

1 Kings 22:9

Then the king of Israel caned an officer [Heb. one eunuch. So the LXX; εὐνοῦχον ἕνα. So that Samuel's forebodings have been realized Probably, like Ebed Melech, the Ethiopian (Jeremiah 38:7), he was a foreigner; possibly a prisoner of war (Herod. 3:49; 6:32). Deuteronomy 23:1 suggests that even such a king as Ahab would hardly inflict this humiliation upon an Israelite. From 1 Chronicles 28:1, Hebrews, we gather that even David's court had its eunuchs, and we may be sure that Solomon's enormous harem could not be maintained without them. In later days we find them prominent in the history, and occupying important positions under the king (2 Kings 8:6; 2 Kings 9:32; 2 Kings 23:11; 2 Kings 25:19; Jeremiah 29:2; Jeremiah 34:19; Jeremiah 52:25, etc. Cf. Genesis 37:36)], and said, Hasten hither Micaiah the son of.

1 Kings 22:10

And the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah sat each on his throne ["Oriental kings had portable thrones, which they took with them upon their journeys" Rawlinson], having put on their robes [As a council of state was to be held, the kings put on their official vestments. בְּגָדִים simply means "coverings," "clothes," but that the special royal dress is here intended is clear, as Bähr observes, from Le 1 Kings 21:10. This gathering of prophets and counsellors seems to have followed the banquet. When Jehoshaphat expressed his readiness to go to war, Ahab appears to have forthwith convened this assembly, in order that the matter might be put in train at once. Ewald says a review of the troops was designed, but of this the text knows nothing] in a void place [Heb. a threshing-floor. See note on 1 Kings 21:1. The "floor" implies not only a vacant space, but an exalted position. Ordinarily, it would not be enclosed within the city walls, nor does it appear that this floor was] in the entrance [The Hebrew has no preposition; simply פֶּתַח which would be more correctly rendered "at the entrance." The town gate was the great place of concourse (2 Kings 7:1). Here, too, justice was dispensed. See Ruth 4:1; 2 Samuel 15:2; 2 Samuel 19:8; Psalms 69:12; Psalms 127:5; Deuteronomy 21:19; Genesis 19:1; Genesis 23:10; Amos 5:12, Amos 5:15, etc.] of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets prophesied before them. [They continued their prophesyings even whilst Micah was being summoned. Or the reference may be to the prophesyings of verse 6.

1 Kings 22:11

And Zedekiah [This name = "Justice of Jehovah," is one of the proofs that these cannot have been prophets of Baal, as Stanley and others suppose] the son of Chenaanah [= "Canaanitess." But we gather from 1 Chronicles 7:10 that this, like Shelomith, was a man's name. The Benjamite there mentioned may be identical with the father (or ancestor) of Zedekiah] made him [Rawlinson would translate, had made him," He says that the horns must have "been made previously, in expectation of some such occasion as that now afforded him." But it is quite conceivable that during the prophesyings, which clearly lasted some time, the idea occurred to Zedekiah, and it would not take long to put it into execution] horns of Iron [Thenius understands that these were iron spikes held on the forehead. But the reference is clearly to the horns of a bullock, and the appropriateness of the prophetic act is only manifest when we remember that Ephraim is compared to a bullock (Deuteronomy 33:17), and more, that Moses spake beforehand of the strength of his horns, and predicted that with them he should "push the people together to the ends of the earth." Not only, that is to say, was the horn a familiar Oriental symbol of power (1 Samuel 2:1, 1 Samuel 2:10; 2 Samuel 22:3; Psalms 89:24; Psalms 92:10; Daniel 7:21; Daniel 8:8, etc.), but it was identified in a peculiar manner with the powerful tribe of Ephraim; in ether words, with the kingdom of Israel This symbolical act was not necessarily an imitation of the action of Ahijah (1 Kings 11:30). Such acted parables were not uncommon among the prophets (2 Kings 13:15; Isaiah 20:2; Jeremiah 13:1; Jeremiah 19:10; Jeremiah 32:9 sqq.; Ezekiel 4:5.; Acts 21:11)]: and he said, Thus saith the Lord [Heb. Jehovah. He now uses the sacred name; no doubt because of Jehoshaphat's demand, verse 7], With these shalt thou push [the word of Deuteronomy 33:17] the Syrians, until thou have consumed then.

1 Kings 22:12

And all the prophets prophesied [Heb. were prophesying] so, saying, Go up to Ramoth-Gilead, and prosper [a Hebraism for "thou wilt prosper." Gesenius, Gram. § 127. 2, cites parallels in Genesis 42:18; Proverbs 20:13; Psalms 37:27; Job 22:21; Isaiah 8:9; Isaiah 29:9, and reminds us that in the Latin divide et impera we have the same idiom]: for the Lord tall speak in His name now, hoping thus to satisfy the king of Judah] shall deliver it into the king's hand.

1 Kings 22:13

And the messenger that was gone [or went] to call Micaiah, spake unto him, saying, Behold now, the words of the prophets declare good unto the king with one mouth [Heb. one mouth good to the king. The messenger may possibly have had instructions to seek to conciliate Micaiah. In any case he thinks it well to tell him of the unanimity of the prophets. His testimony, he suggests, will surely agree with theirs]: let thy word, I pray thee, be like the word of one of them, and speak that which is good of the [Heb. speak good.]

1 Kings 22:14

And Micaiah said, As the Lord liveth, what the Lord saith unto me, that will I speak. [We are forcibly reminded of the answer of Balaam, Numbers 22:18, Numbers 22:38. And we may see not only in the suggestion of this messenger, but also in Ahab's belief (Numbers 22:8), that Micaiah could prophesy at pleasure, a striking correspondence with the ideas of Balak (ib. Numbers 5:6, Numbers 5:17). Instead of regarding the prophet as being merely the mouthpiece of Deity, he was believed in that age to have a supernatural influence with God, and to be entrusted with magical powers to shape the future, as well as to foretell it.]

1 Kings 22:15

So he came to the king. And the king said unto him, Micaiah, shall we go against Ramoth-Gilead to battle, or shall we forbear? [Same words as in 1 Kings 22:6. There is an apparent studied fairness in this repetition. It is as if Ahab said, "Despite his prejudice against me, I will not attempt to influence his mind. I only deal with him as with the rest."] And he answered him, Go, and prosper: for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king. [As Ahab's inquiry is the echo of the question of 1 Kings 22:6, so is Micaiah's response identical with the answer of the prophets. He simply echoes their words, of which, perhaps, he has been informed by the eunuch. There was an exquisite propriety in this. The question was insincere; the reply was ironical (cf. 1 Kings 18:27). Ahab is answered "according to the multitude of his idols" (Ezekiel 14:4). He wishes to be deceived, and he is deceived. No doubt Micaiah's mocking tone showed that his words were ironical; but Ahab's hollow tone had already proved to Micaiah that he was insincere; that he did not care to know the will of the Lord, and wanted prophets who would speak to him smooth things and prophesy deceits (Isaiah 30:10).]

1 Kings 22:16

And the king said unto him How many times shall I adjure thee that thou tell me nothing but that which is true in the name of the Lord? [Rawlinson concludes from these words that "this mocking manner was familiar to Micaiah, who had used it in some former dealing with the Israelite monarch." But we must remember that Ahab's words were really addressed to Jehoshaphat. He is so manifestly playing a part, that we need not assume that he is strictly truthful. His great desire evidently is to discredit Micah's predictions, which he clearly perceives, from the bitter and ironical tone of the latter, will be adverse to him.]

1 Kings 22:17

And he said [We may imagine how entire was the change of tone. He now speaks with profound seriousness. Thenius sees in the peculiarity and originality of this vision a proof of the historical truth of this history. "We feel that we are gradually drawing nearer to the times of the later prophets. It is a vision which might rank amongst those of Isaiah or Ezekiel" (Stanley)], I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd: and the Lord said, These have no master: let them return every man to his house in peace. [The last words are illustrated by the command of verse 31; compare verse 36. We may also picture the effect these words would have on the assembly at the city gate. For, however much they might be inclined to discredit Micaiah's words, and however much the reckless, unreasoning war spirit might possess them, there were none who did not understand that this vision portended the dispersion of the Israelite army and the death of its leader. King and people had been constantly represented under the figure of shepherd and sheep, and notably by Moses himself, who had used these very words, "sheep without a shepherd" (Numbers 27:17; cf. Psalms 78:70, Psalms 78:71; Isaiah 44:28; Jeremiah 23:1, Jeremiah 23:2; Ezekiel 34:1-31, passim). It is observable that Micaiah's vision, like Zedekiah's parable, borrows the language of the Pentateuch. Coincidences of this remote character are the most powerful proofs that the Pentateuch was then written.]

1 Kings 22:18

And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that he would [Heb. say to thee, He will, etc.] prophesy no good concerning me but evil? [It is clear that Ahab had understood perfectly the purport of Micaiah's words. He now appeals to them as a proof of the latter's malice.]

1 Kings 22:19

And he said, Hear thou [in 2 Chronicles 18:18, Hear ye] therefore [The LXX. has οὐχ οὕτως, whence it would almost appear that they had the text לא כֵן before them (Bähr). But לָכֵן is every way to be preferred. It is emphatic by position, and the meaning is, "Since you will have it that my words are prompted by malice, hear the message I have for you," etc.] the word of the Lord. I saw the Lord [It is not implied (Wordsworth) that he had any direct and objective vision of God, such as Moses (Exodus 34:5), Elijah, or St. Stephen. He here declares what he may have seen in dream or trance. (Cf. Revelation 1:10; Revelation 4:2; Isaiah 6:1; Ezekiel 1:1.) It was a real but inner vision (Keil). In its interpretation the caution of Peter Martyr is carefully to be borne in mind; Omnia haec dicuntur ἀνθρωποπαθῶς] sitting on his throne [It was natural for some of the commentators to see in these words a reference to the two kings then sitting in their royal apparel, each upon his throne. But it is very doubtful whether any such thought was present in the mind of the speaker, who, imply relates a vision of the past], and all the host of heaven [The celestial powers, cherubim, angels, archangels, who surround the Lord of glory. That there can be no reference to the sun, moon, and stars, notwithstanding that these are called "the host of heaven" in Deuteronomy 4:19, Deuteronomy 17:3, is clear from the next words. The expression is to be explained by Genesis 32:1, Genesis 32:2] standing by him [ עָלָיו; for the meaning, see Genesis 18:8] on his right hand and on his left. [The resemblance of this vision to that of Isaiah (1 Kings 6:1-8) must not be overlooked.]

1 Kings 22:20

And the Lord said, Who shall persuade [Same word in Exodus 22:16, Hebrews; 14:15; 16:5; Proverbs 1:10, etc.; in all of which instances it is translated "entice." Compare with this question that of Isaiah 6:8.] Ahab, that he may go up and fan at Ramoth-Gilead? [The meaning is that Ahab's death in battle had been decreed in the counsels of God, and that the Divine Wisdom had devised means for accomplishing His purpose.] And one said on this manner, and another said [Heb. saying] on that manner. [Bähr again quotes from Peter Martyr: "Innuit varies providentiae Dei modos, quibus decreta sua ad exitum perducit," and adds that in this vision "inner and spiritual processes are regarded as real phenomena, nay, even as persons."]

1 Kings 22:21

And there came forth a spirit [Heb. the spirit. By some, especially of the earlier commentators, understood of the evil spirit. But the view now generally adopted (Thenius, Keil, Bähr) is that "the spirit of prophecy" is meant, "the power which, going forth from God and taking possession of a man, makes him a prophet (1 Samuel 10:6, 1 Samuel 10:10; 1 Samuel 19:20, 1 Samuel 19:23). The נָביא is the אִישׁ הָרוּחַ (Hosea 9:7)" Bähr. This power is here personified], and stood before the Lord, and said, I [emphatic in the Hebrew] will persuade [or entice] him.

1 Kings 22:22

And the Lord said unto him, Wherewith? [Heb. By what?] And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit [Heb. a spirit of a lie. Cf. Zechariah 13:2; 1 John 4:6] in the mouth of all his prophets. [His prophets, not God's. Cf. 2 Kings 3:13.] And he said, Thou shalt persuade him. and prevail also: go forth, and do so.

1 Kings 22:23

Now therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth Of all these thy [Cf. ὁ οἷκος ὑμῶν, Matthew 23:38] prophets [This statement, especially to those who have taken the narrative literally, and who have seen in "the spirit" either one of the angels of God, or Satan himself, has presented almost insuperable difficulties. The main difficulty lies in the fact that the Almighty and All Holy is here made to give His sanction to deceit and lying, for the purpose of tempting Ahab to his death. We have precisely the same difficulty, though, if possible, more directly expressed in Ezekiel 14:9 : "If the prophet be deceived… I the Lord have deceived that prophet." Cf. Jeremiah 20:7; 1 Samuel 16:15. But this difficulty vanishes if we remember that this is euthropopathic language, and is merely meant to convey that God had "taken the house of Israel in their own heart," because they were "estranged from Him through their idols" (Ezekiel 14:5). Ahab wished to be guided by false prophets, and the justice of God decreed that he should be guided by them to his ruin. Sin is punished by sin. "God proves His holiness most of all by this, that He punishes evil by evil, and destroys it by itself" (Bähr). Ahab had chosen lying instead of truth: by lying—according to the lex talionis—he should be destroyed. The difficulty, in fact, is that of the permission of evil in the world; of the use of existent evil by God to accomplish His purposes of good], and the Lord [not I alone, 1 Samuel 16:18] hath spoken [i.e; decreed] evil concerning thee.

1 Kings 22:24

But Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah [Rawlinson holds that he was a sort of coryphaeus of the false prophets. It is more probable that, having put himself forward on a former occasion (1 Kings 22:11), he now feels specially aggrieved at Micaiah's blunt assertion, that he and the rest have been possessed by a spirit of lies] went near, and smote Micaiah [A thoroughly natural touch. But the whole narrative has every mark of naturalness and veracity. It is easy to see how enraged Zedekiah would be at the slight cast upon his prophetic powers. Apparently this gross indignity elicited no protest or word of displeasure from either of the kings. Micaiah, like Elijah, was left alone], on the cheek [cf. Job 16:10; Lamentations 3:30; Luke 6:29; and above all Matthew 26:67; Luke 22:64; Acts 23:2. Herein Micaiah had "the fellowship of sufferings" (Philippians 3:10) with our blessed Lord. Rawlinson thinks that his hands would be bound, but this is extremely improbable. In that case Ahab could hardly have asked him to prophesy (Acts 23:15), or if he did, Jehoshaphat would know beforehand what to expect], and said, Which way [Heb. What, or where. The chronicler supplies "way," thereby bringing the expression into unison with 1 Kings 13:12; 2 Kings 3:8; Job 38:24] went [Heb. passed, crossed, עָבַר] the Spirit of the Lord [These words are important, as showing that the speaker had not identified "the spirit" of verse 21 with the evil spirit: Job 1:6 sqq.] from me to speak unto thee? [It is pretty clear from these words, in connexion with verse 23, that Zedekiah had been conscious of an inspiration, of a spirit not his own, which impelled him to speak and act as he did. We must not attach too much import-ante to a taunting and passionate speech, but its meaning appears to be: I have spoken in the name and by the spirit of Jehovah. Thou claimest to have done the same. How is it that the Spirit of God speaks one thing by me, another by thee? Thou hast seen (Job 1:19) the secret counsels of Heaven. Tell us, then, which way, etc.

1 Kings 22:25

And Micaiah said, Behold, thou shalt see [Keil understands, "that the Spirit of the Lord had departed from thee." But the meaning rather appears to be, "Thou shalt see which was a true prophet." He does not answer the insolent question, but says," Thou wilt alter thy mind in the day," etc. With this may be compared our Lord's words, Matthew 26:64. He also manifests our Lord's spirit (1 Peter 2:22 sqq.) "as if the Great Example had already appeared before him" (Bähr)] in that day when thou shalt go into an inner chamber [see note on 1 Kings 20:30] to hide thyself. [When was this prediction fulfilled? Probably when the news of the defeat reached Samaria, or on the day after Ahab's death. Jezebel would almost certainly take summary vengeance upon the false prophets who were responsible for her husband's death and the reverses of the army. Or if she did not, the prophets had good reason to fear that she would, and would hide accordingly.

1 Kings 22:26

And the king of Israel said, Take [Sing. Take thou. This command was probably addressed to the eunuch mentioned in 1 Kings 22:9] Micaiah and carry him back [Heb. make him return. This shows clearly that he had come from prison] unto Amon the governor [ שַׂר chief; same word in 1 Kings 4:2; 1 Kings 11:24; 1 Kings 16:9; Genesis 37:36; Genesis 40:9, Genesis 40:22, etc. The "chief of the city" is also mentioned 2 Kings 23:8; cf. Nehemiah 11:9] of the city [who would naturally have charge of the town prison. Probably the prison was in his house. Cf. Genesis 40:3; Jeremiah 37:20], and to Joash the king's son. [Thenius supposes that this prince had been entrusted to Amon for his military education, and refers to 2 Kings 10:1. But in that case he would hardly have been mentioned as associated with him in the charge of so important a prisoner. Whoever Joash was, he was a man in authority. It is curious that we find another prophet, Jeremiah, put into the prison of Malchiah, the son of the king (A.V. the son of Hammelech; same expression as here), Jeremiah 38:6; cf. Jeremiah 36:26. Some have seen in this designation a name of office, and Bähr thinks that "Joash was not probably a son of Ahab, but a prince of the blood." But when we remember what a number of sons Ahab had (2 Kings 10:1), no valid reason can be assigned why Joash should not have been one of them. He may have been billeted upon Amon, and yet associated with him in the government of the city.]

1 Kings 22:27

And say [Heb. thou shalt say], Thus saith the king, Put this fellow in the prison [Heb. house of the prison. Bähr thinks that Micaiah had formerly been in arrest under Amon's charge, and now was to be committed to the prison proper. But more probably the words mean, "put him in the prison again." His superadded punishment was to be in the shape of prison diet. It is probable that it was owing to the presence of Jehoshaphat that Micaiah escaped with no severer sentence], and feed him with bread of affliction [or oppression, לָחַץ pressit; cf. Exodus 3:9; Numbers 22:25; 2 Kings 6:32], and with water of affliction [Josephus (Ant. 8.15. 4) relates that after Micaiah's prediction the king was in great suspense and fear, until Zedekiah deliberately smote him, in order to show that he was powerless to avenge an injury as the man of God did (1 Kings 13:4), and therefore no true prophet. This may be an "empty Rabbinical tradition" (Bähr), but we may be sure that Ahab did not hear Micaiah's words unmoved. He had had such convincing proofs of the foresight and powers of the Lord's prophets that he may well have trembled, even as he put on a bold front, and sent Micaiah back to the prison house], until I come in peace. [This looks like an effort to encourage himself and those around him. But it almost betrays his misgivings. He would have them think he had no fears.

1 Kings 22:28

And Micaiah said, If thou return at all in peace, the Lord hath not spoken by me. And he said, Hearken, O people [Rather, O nations. Audite, populi crones, Vulgate. He appeals, so to speak, to the world], every one of you. [It is a curious circumstance that these same words are found at the beginning of the prophecy of Micah (1 Kings 1:2). The coincidence may be purely accidental, or the words may have been borrowed by the prophet, not, indeed, from our historian, but from some record, the substance of which is embodied in this history. Micah lived about a century and a half after Micaiah; about a century before the Book of Kings was given to the world.

1 Kings 22:29

So the king of Israel and Jehoshapat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth-Gilead to battle. ["By the very network of evil counsel which he has woven for himself is the king of Israel led to his ruin" (Stanley). We can hardly doubt that Jehoshaphat at least would have been well content to abandon the expedition. After the solicitude he had manifested for the sanction of one of the prophets of Jehovah, and after that the one who had been consulted had predicted the defeat of the army, the king of Judah must have had re,my misgivings. But it is not difficult to understand why, notwithstanding his fears, he did not draw back. For, in the first place, he had committed himself to the war by the rash and positive promise of 1 Kings 22:4. In the next place, he was Ahab's guest, and had been sumptuously entertained by him, and it would therefore require some moral courage to extricate himself from the toils in which he was entangled. Moreover he would have subjected himself to the imputation of cowardice had he deserted his ally because of a prophecy which threatened the latter with death. The people around him, again, including perhaps his own retinue, were possessed with the spirit of battle, and treated the prophecy of Micaiah with contempt, and it would be difficult for him to swim alone against the current. It is probable, too, that he discounted the portentous words of Micaiah on account of the long. standing quarrel between him and Ahab. And, finally, we must remember that his own interests were threatened by Syria, and he may well have feared trouble from that quarter in case this war were abandoned. Rawlinson suggests that he may have conceived a personal affection for Ahab; but 2 Chronicles 19:2 affords but slender ground for this conclusion.]

1 Kings 22:30

And the king of Israel said unto Jehoahaphat [At Ramoth-Gilead, on the eve of the battle], I will disguise himself." [same word 1 Kings 20:38] and enter [The margin," when he was to disguise himself," etc; is quite mistaken. The Hebrew has two infinitives; lit; to disguise oneself and enter; a construction which is frequently employed to indicate an absolute command. Cf. Genesis 17:10; Exodus 20:8; Isaiah 14:31; and see Ewald, 828 c. "The infinitive absolute is the plainest and simplest form of the voluntative for exclamations" (Bähr). It agrees well with the excitement under which Ahab was doubtless labouring] into the battle. [It is not necessary to suppose with Ewald, Rawlinson, el; that he had heard of Ben-hadad's command to his captain, (verse 81). It is hardly likely that such intelligence could be brought by spies, and there would be no deserters from the Syrian army to that of the Jews. It is enough to remember that Micaiah's words, "these have no master," could not fail to awaken come alarm in his bosom, especially when connected with the prophecy of 1 Kings 20:42. He will not betray his fear by keeping out of the fray—which, indeed, he could not do without abdicating one of the principal functions of the king (1 Samuel 8:20), and without exposing himself to the charge of cowardice; but under the circumstances he thinks it imprudent to take the lead of the army, as kings were wont to do (2 Samuel 1:10), in his royal robes. He hopes by his disguise to escape all clanger]: but put thou on thy robes [LXX. τὸν ἱματισμόν μου. "My robed" "We can neither imagine Ahab's asking nor Jehoshaphat's consenting to such a procedure. Jehoshaphat had his own royal robes with him, as appears from 1 Kings 20:10" (Rawlinson). If this LXX. interpretation could be maintained it would lend some colour to the supposition, otherwise destitute of basis, that Ahab by this arrangement was plotting the death of Jehoshaphat in order that he might incorporate Judah into his own kingdom. It is clear, however, that Ahab then had other work on his hands, and it is doubtful whether even he was capable of such a pitch of villainy. What he means is, either

1 Kings 22:31

But the king of Syria commanded [rather, had commanded. These words are of the nature of a parenthesis. "Now the king," etc. צִוָּה is so rendered in 2 Chronicles 18:30] his thirty and two captains [mentioned in 1 Kings 20:24. It does not follow, however (Wordsworth), that these very men had been spared by Ahab] that had rule over his chariots [Heb. chariotry. Another indication that the chariots were regarded as the most important arm of the Syrian service], saying, Fight neither with small nor great, save only with the king of Israel. [This Orientalism, translated into Western ideas, means, "Direct your weapons against the king." What Ahab had done to provoke such resentment is not quite clear. Rawlinson supposes that Ben-hadad's "defeat and captivity were still rankling in his mind, and he wished to retaliate on Ahab the humiliation which he considered himself to have suffered." But it is impossible to see in Ahab's generous conduct towards him a sufficient reason for the fierce hatred which these words disclose. It is much more probable that some affront had subsequently been offered to the Syrian monarch, possibly in the shape of the reproaches which Ahab may have addressed to him on account of his retention of Ramoth-Gilead, and the gross violation of the treaty of 1 Kings 20:34. It is also possible that he hoped that the death of Ahab would terminate the war (Bähr).]

1 Kings 22:32

And it came to pass when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, Surely [ אַךְ, not only (Bähr, Keil), but certainly; cf. Genesis 44:28; 3:24; 2 Kings 24:3] it [Heb. he] is the king of Israel. And they turned aside [Cf. 1 Kings 20:39, same word. The Hebrew inserts עָלָיו. The chronicler reads יָסֹבוּ they surrounded him, instead of יָסֻרוּ; and the LXX. has ἐκύκλωσεν, in both places. But the Syrians can hardly have actually closed round the king, and the alteration might easily be made in the course of transcription] to fight against him [according to their instructions]: and Jehoshaphat cried out. [This cry has been very variously interpreted. According to some, it was his own name that he ejaculated, which is possible, if the command of 1 Kings 20:31 was known in the allied army. According to others, it was the battle cry of Judah, which, it is said, would be familiar to the Syrians, and which would rally his own soldiers round him. The Vulgate, no doubt influenced by the words of 2 Chronicles 18:31, "And the Lord helped him, and God moved them to depart from him," interprets, clamavit ad Dominum. That it was a cry for Divine help is the most probable, because it is almost an instinct, especially with a pious soul like Jehoshaphat, to cry to God in the moment of danger. That he had doubts as to whether the course he was pursuing was pleasing to God, would make him all the more ready to cry aloud for mercy the moment he found himself in peril. But it may have been merely a cry of terror. It must be carefully observed that the Scripture does not say that it was this cry led to his being recognized and spared.]

1 Kings 22:33

And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots perceived [in what way we are not told. But Ahab would be known to some of them, 1 Kings 20:1-43 :81] that it was not the king of Israel, that they turned back from pursuing him

1 Kings 22:34

And a certain man [Heb. a man. It was natural for some of the Rabbins to identify this archer with Naaman—the tradition is found in Josephus. But it is directly contrary to the spirit of the narrative to attempt to identify him. As it was a chance arrow, so it was by an unknown archer] drew a bow at a venture [Heb. in his simplicity, i.e; with no intention of shooting Ahab: not knowing what he was doing. That this is the meaning is clear from the use of the words in 2 Samuel 15:11], and smote the king of Israel between the Joints of the harness [The marg; joints and the breastplate, comes nearer the Hebrew. But it is clear that the rendering joints, notwithstanding that it has the support of Gesenius and others, is a mistaken one. "In the joints" we can understand, but "between the joints and the coat of mail," gives no sense. It is obvious that הַדְּבָקִים like הַשִּׁרְיָן following, must signify, some portion of the armour, and the meaning of the verb דָבַק, adhaesit, leads us to conclude that "the hanging skirt of parallel metal plates—hence the plural"—(Bähr) is intended. The coat of mail only covered the breast and ribs. To this a fringe of movable plates of steel was attached or fastened, hence called דְבָקִים. So Luther, Zwischen den Panzer und Hengel. One is reminded here of the Parthian arrow which wrung from Julian the Apostate the dying confession, "Thou hast conquered, O Galilean." Cf. Psalms 7:13, Psalms 7:14]: wherefore he said unto the driver of his chariot, Turn thine hand [or, according to the Chethib, hands. The charioteers of Palestine, like those of Egypt and Assyria, or those of modern Russia, held a rein in each hand. Same expression 2 Kings 9:23. The meaning is "turn round"] and carry me Out of the host; for I am wounded, [Heb. made sick. The king probably felt his wound to be mortal, as a wound in such a part, the abdomen (cf. 2 Samuel 2:23; 2 Samuel 3:27; 2 Samuel 20:10), would be Vulgate, graviter vulneratus sum. How far an arrow in such a place could penetrate, we may gather from 2 Kings 9:24; cf. Job 16:13. And he was seemingly anxious that the army should not know it, lest would soon discover it if he remained with the host; he can fight no longer; his wound needs attention; hence this command. It is quite possible that the charioteer, in the din and confusion of battle, may not have observed that his master was wounded. The arrow had not struck any part of the armour.]

1 Kings 22:35

And the battle increased [Heb. went up. Marg. ascended. The tide of warfare rose higher and higher. Both Keil and Bähr think that the image is taken from a swelling river and cite Isaiah 8:7. The object of this verse is to explain how it was that the king's request was not complied with] that day: and the king was stayed up in his chariot [Heb. made to stand. LXX. ἠν ἐστηκώς. He was supported in his chariot by some of his servants, and maintained in an erect posture. Chariots were destitute of seats. According to Thenius and Keil, he maintained himself erect, by his own strength. But the word is passive] against the Syrians [Heb. in the face of the Syrians. נֹכַח, coram. His back was not turned to them, as he had desired. The idea that he was in any way fighting against the Syrians is altogether foreign to the text. It is at first sight somewhat difficult to reconcile this statement with the direction given to the charioteer in the preceding verse, and some have been led, though without sufficient warrant, to conclude that Ahab left the field, had he wound bound up, and then returned to take his part in the battle. But the explanation is very simple. As the battle increased, it became impossible to comply with the king's desire. So thick was the fight that retreat was impossible. Hence the wounded king, who would otherwise have sunk down to the bottom of the chariot, had to be "stayed up in the presence of the Syrians." This circumstance may also account for the fact that he died at even. Had it been possible to remove him and staunch his wounds, he might have lingered for some time. As it was, he bled to death. It is not clear, therefore, that "his death was kingly" (Kitto), or that we must concede to Ahab "the credit of right princely fortitude on this occasion" (Rawlinson). He would have left the host could he have done so. It was his set-rants propped up the dying man in his chariot, to encourage the army. What a picture for an artist—the king with the pallor of death spreading over his face, the anxious faces of the attendants, the pool of blood, the sun sinking to the horizon, etc.], and died at even: and the blood ran out of the wound [Heb. the blood of the wound poured] into the midst [Heb. bosom; LXX. κόλπον, the hollow part, or "well." The same word is used of the concave part of the altar] of the chariot.

1 Kings 22:36

And there went a proclamation throughout the host [Heb. And the shouting passed over in the camp. Gesenius will have it that רִנָּה must mean a "joyful cry," and would see the cause of joy in the cessation of hostilities and the permission to return home] about the going down of the sun [According to the chronicler (1 Kings 18:34), it was at sunset that the king died. It seems natural, therefore, to connect this shout with his death. But the approach of night would of itself put an end to the battle. It does not appear that Israel had been utterly defeated, or had suffered great loss. But "they had no master"], saying, Every man to his city, and every man to his own country [or land].

1 Kings 22:37

So the king died [The LXX. makes this to be a part of the proclamation ἕκαστος εἰς τὴν… γῆν ὅτι τέθνηκεν ὁ βασιλεύς, which involves a very slight change in the Hebrew text, כי מת המלךְ instead of וימת המלךְ and gives a better sense. It has already been stated that the king died. Such repetitions however are common in Hebrew, and this reading has almost the look of an emendation] and was brought [Heb. came. The A.V. is against the grammar. As "came" would be a strange word to use of a dead man, it is highly probable that instead of ויבזא we should read ויבואו with the LXX. καὶ ἧλθον] to Samaria; and they buried the king in Samaria ["with his father," 1 Kings 16:28].

1 Kings 22:38

And one washed the chariot in [or at; Heb. עַל] the pool of Samaria. [Nearly all Eastern cities had their tanks or pools, often outside the city gate. Jerusalem has several of these, and we read of one at Hebron (2 Samuel 14:12) and Gibeon (2 Samuel 2:13). Cf. Song of Solomon 7:4. The Hebrew word בְּרֵכָה is preserved in the modern Arabic Birkeh]; and the dogs [The LXX. has the swine and the dogs. The mention of swine is hardly likely to have been omitted, had it formed part of the original text] licked up his blood [cf. 1 Kings 21:19, note. According to Josephus, the chariot was washed "in the fountain of Jezreel." The alteration would appear to have been made to avoid the difficulty occasioned by the discrepancy between the statement of the text, and that of 1 Kings 21:19], and they washed his armour [So the Chaldaic and the Syriac. But this translation is now abandoned,

1 Kings 22:39

Now the rest of the acts of Ahab, and all that he did, and the ivory house which he made [So called because it was adorned with ivory. See on 1 Kings 11:1-43.; and cf. Amos 3:15; Psalms 45:8; Song of Solomon 7:5. Rawlinson cites several passages from Greek and Latin authors to prove that ivory was anciently applied, not only to furniture, but to the doors and walls of houses], and an the cities that he built [Probably Jezreel was one, but we have no information concerning them. The fact that he did build cities, however, is one proof of Ahab's enterprize. He was not weak in all particulars], are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?

1 Kings 22:40

So Ahab slept with his fathers; and Ahaziah ["Whom Jehovah upholds." The name suggests that, notwithstanding his idolatries, Ahab cannot have completely abandoned the worship of the Lord] his son reigned in his stead.

Reign of Jehoshaphat.

1 Kings 22:41

And Jehoahaphat ["Whom Jehovah judges"] the son of Asa began to reign over Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel. [The historian now resumes for a moment the history of Judah, which has dropped out of notice since 1 Kings 15:24, where the accession of Jehoshaphat was mentioned. His reign, which is here described in the briefest possible way, occupies four chapters (17-20.) of 2 Chronicles]

1 Kings 22:42

Jehoshaphat was thirty and five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi.

1 Kings 22:43

And he walked in an the ways of Asa his father [Apart from his alliance with the house of Ahab, and the troubles in which it involved him, his reign was alike pious and prosperous. Like Asa's, it was distinguished by internal reforms, and By signal deliverances from foreign enemies]; he turned not aside from it [as Asa was tempted to do in his old age], doing [Heb. to do] that which was right in the eyes of the Lord: nevertheless the high places were not taken away [Heb. departed not, as in 1 Kings 15:14; 2 Chronicles 15:17; 2 Kings 12:4, Hebrews; 14:4, Hebrews But see 2 Chronicles 18:6. The discrepancy is the exact parallel of that between 1 Kings 15:14 and 2 Chronicles 14:3; or between this latter passage and 2 Chronicles 15:17. And the explanation is the same, viz; that an effort was made to remove the high places, which was partially, and only partially, successful]; for the people offered and burnt incense yet in the high places [cf. 1 Kings 3:2].

1 Kings 22:44

And Jehoshaphat made peace with the king of Israel. [One great feature of his reign was this: that the hostility which had lasted, even if it sometimes slumbered, between the two kingdoms for seventy years, from the date of their separation to the time of Asa's death, gave way to peace and even alliance. Judah now recognized the division of the kingdom as an accomplished fact, and no longer treated Israel, even theoretically, as in rebellion. It is probable that the marriage of Jehoram and Athaliah was at once the fruit of, and was intended to cement, this good understanding (2 Chronicles 18:1). It is hardly likely (Bähr) that the peace was the result of the union of the two families. From the analogy of 2 Chronicles 19:2; 2 Chronicles 20:37; cf. 1 Kings 16:31; 2 Kings 3:14, we should conclude that the marriage at any rate was ill advised and displeasing to God. Bähr sees in it a step on the part of Jehoshaphat towards realizing the union of the two kingdoms under the supremacy of Judah. He thinks that we cannot otherwise account for this complete change of front.]

1 Kings 22:45

Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, and his might [as in 1 Kings 15:23, 1 Kings 16:27, etc. It is noticeable that this word is not used of Ahab, notwithstanding his wars and victories] that he showed [see 2 Kings 3:9 sqq.; 2 Chronicles 17:12 sqq. His judicial reforms are hardly referred to here], and how he warred [2 Chronicles 18:1-34; 2 Chronicles 20:1-37.], are they not written in the book of he chronicles of the kings of Judah?

1 Kings 22:46

And the remnant of the Sodomites, which remained in the days of his father Asa [It appears hence that Asa's removal of the religious prostitutes (1 Kings 15:12), like that of the high places, had been but partial], he took [Heb. exterminated] out of the land.

1 Kings 22:47

There was then no king in Edom: a deputy [ נִצָב, same word as in 1 Kings 4:7. It is implied that this officer was appointed by the king of Judah (Wordsworth)] was king. [This fact is mentioned to show how it was that Jehoshaphat was able to build a fleet at Ezion-Geber, in the territory of Edom (1 Kings 9:26). That country would seem to have regained its independence very soon after Solomon's death (1 Kings 11:14), but would also appear from the text, and from 2 Kings 8:20, 2 Kings 8:22, to have been again made subject to Judah, probably by Jehoshaphat himself; see 2 Chronicles 17:10, 2 Chronicles 17:11.]

1 Kings 22:48

Jehoshaphat made [The Chethib has עשר ten, obviously a clerical error for עשה made] ships of Tharshish [see note on 1 Kings 10:22] to go to Ophir [In 2 Chronicles 20:36, Tharshish is read for Ophir. Wordsworth holds that two separate fleets are intended, but this is most improbable] for gold [Evidently the great prosperity of his reign had suggested to him the idea of emulating Solomon's naval exploits, and of reviving the commerce of his people with the East]: but they went not [Heb. it went not]: for the ships were broken [Probably they were dashed by a storm against the rocks which "lie in jagged ranges on each side," Stanley] at Ezion-Geber.

1 Kings 22:49

Then said Ahaziah the son of Ahab unto Jehoshaphat, Let my servants go with thy servants In the ships. But Jehoshaphat would not. [But we are told in 2 Chronicles 20:37 that the ships were broken, according to a prophecy of Eliezer, the son of Dodavah, because Jehoshaphat had joined himself with Ahaziah. The explanation is that the fleet had been built by the two kings conjointly, and manned by the subjects of Jehoshaphat exclusively; and that, after the disaster, Ahaziah proposed either to repair the injured vessels, or to construct a second fleet, which should then be partly manned by sailors of the northern kingdom, "men probably accustomed to the sea, perhaps trained at Tyre" (Rawlinson). This proposal was declined by the king of Judah, not so much on account of the "reflection on his subjects' skill contained in it," as because of the prophecy of Eliezer, and the evidently judicial disaster which had befallen the fleet already built.]

1 Kings 22:50

And Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father: and Jehoram his son reigned in his stead [2 Chronicles 21:1-20.]

Reign of Ahaziah.

1 Kings 22:51

Ahaziah the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned two years over Israel. [Parts of two years; 2 Kings 3:1; and of. 2 Kings 1:17 and 2 Kings 8:16. It is suggested that Jehoram was associated with his father in the government of Judah from the date of the expedition against Ramoth-Gilead, and this is not improbable. But it has been already remarked that these chronological notices appear to have undergone a revision which has sometimes resulted in confusion.]

1 Kings 22:52

And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of his father [1 Kings 16:30-33; cf. 2 Kings 3:2] and in the way of his mother [The powerful influence of Jezebel, even after Ahab's death, is hinted at here. It was to her that idolatry owed its position in Israel], and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat [the calf worship and idolatry existed side by side], who made Israel to sin.

1 Kings 22:53

For he served Baal, and worshipped him, and provoked to anger [or vexed] the Lord God of Israel, according to all that his father had done. [The termination of this book at this point could hardly be more arbitrary if it had been made by accident. These verses are closely connected with 2 Kings 2 Kings 1:1-18. The division here obscures the connexion between the sin of Ahaziah and the judgments which it provoked.]

HOMILETICS

1 Kings 22:1-40

The Death of Ahab and the Defeat of Israel.

This chapter is almost entirely occupied with an account of the death of Ahab, and of the circumstances which preceded and attended it. The earlier portion of the chapter, which contains the prophesyings of the false prophets and the vision of Micaiah, is only recorded because of its bearing on the death of the king, and the dispersion of his army.

And the prominence accorded to Ahab's end only corresponds with the space assigned to his reign. That reign was so full of evil for Israel that it occupies a fourth part of this entire book. It was meet, therefore, that the death which avenged it should be recorded with proportionate detail. For the battle of Ramoth-Gilead was the final payment—so far as this world is concerned—for the sins of two and twenty years.

But it is to be observed in the first place that Ahab's repentance (1 Kings 21:29), as the penitence begotten of fear often is, was but shortlived. Had it lasted, we had not read of this tragical death. How soon the king shook off his impressions we know not, but we do know that—thanks to the natural weakness of his character, still further enfeebled by years of self indulgence and submission to a stronger will than his own; thanks to the evil genius (1 Kings 21:25) ever at his side to stifle good resolves and to steel his heart against the true religion; thanks to the impious system to which he found himself committed, and the toils of which he found it impossible to break, this unhappy king steadily lapsed into his old sins. It "happened unto him according to the true proverb, "The dog is turned to his vomit again" (2 Peter 2:22).

And it is also to be considered here that Israel had gone hand in hand with him in his downward course. Had the king's career been one of steadily increasing demoralization? so had that of the people. The death of Naboth affords sufficient proof of this. The ready compliance of the elders, the alacrity with which they perpetrated that judicial murder, shows to what a moral depth the example of the court and the idolatry around them had plunged the holy nation. No; king and queen had not sinned alone, and justice required they should not suffer alone. Nations and their rulers, as we have already seen, receive a reckoning in this life; how much more the covenant people and the Lord's anointed? Placed as they were under a direct law of temporal punishments and rewards, it would have been strange, indeed, if such a reign as this had gone unrecompensed. But so far from that, they have already received part reckoning for their sin. The three years drought, the famine, the terrible Syrian invasions, have avenged a part of their idolatries and immoralities; but there still remains a long score of guilt to be expiated in shame and suffering and blood.

And here it may be well to remind ourselves what were the sins which awaited a settlement under the walls of Ramoth-Gilead. They were five in number.

Now there are two principles which underlie all God's retributive dealings with his ancient people. First, that sin is left, or made to bring its own penalties. Per quod quis peccat per idem quoque plectitur idem. Secondly, that the penalty is ever correspondent with the sin. This latter is what we commonly call the lex talionis. We have had instances of the working of both of these laws, but especially of the latter, in the earlier portions of this history. We shall find the same laws in operation here.

For consider—

I. By what means Ahab was led to death and Israel to defeat.

II. By what instruments these punishments were inflicted.

III. In what way they were signalized as the chastisements of sin.

I. In considering the INFLUENCES which moved Ahab to war, and which led to his destruction, we must assign the first place to—

1. The perfidy of Ben-hadad. No doubt it rankled in Ahab's breast that, after he had dealt so magnanimously with a prostrate foe, after he had treated an insolent invader with unexampled generosity, and after a solemn covenant had been made betwixt them, it rankled in his soul that a Syrian garrison, in spits of all embassies and remonstrances, should hold the Jewish fortress of Ramoth-Gilead and thus offer a standing menace to Israel and Judah alike. But did it never occur to him that the conduct of Ben-hadad was but the counterpart of his own? He too had forgotten his benefactor and deliverer, to whom he was bound by solemn covenant; he still maintained a garrison of idolatrous priests in the heart of Immanuel's land. Ben-hadad's breach of faith was no greater than his own. Probably, he never thought of this when he debated whether he should go up against Ramoth-Gilead. He would remember, however, that he had only himself to blame for this act of perfidy, and he would devoutly wish he had dealt with the oppressor as he had deserved; he would perhaps think that it only served him right for his weakness and sin. We see, however, that he is paid back in his own coin, that the measure he has meted to God is measured to him again. The sin of three years before gave the first impulse to war and death.

2. The lies of the false prophets. It is hardly likely that Ahab would have engaged in this war but for the unanimous verdict of the four hundred prophets in its favour. We see in Micaiah's vision that a "lying spirit" was the principal means employed to procure his fall (verse 22). But what were these prophets, and how came they to prophesy thus? One thing is certain, that they were not prophets of Jehovah, and another thing is also clear, that whether they were prophets of Baal, or, as is most probable, prophets of the calves, the false system which Ahab had supported became through them a means of his destruction. The schism or the idolatry, as the case may be, is bearing its bitter fruit. He has sown to lies, he reaps to delusions. It is a conspicuous instance of the just judgment of heaven that Ahab is lured to his death by the impostors he had cherished and patronized. "He that hates truth shall be the dupe of lies." The sin of the calves too brings its own retribution.

But how was it, it is worth asking, that these four hundred sycophants came to, counsel him thus? Was it not that they took their cue from him, and prophesied what they knew would please? They saw that the king had already made up his mind—for his resolution was taken before they were summoned (1 Kings 19:4, 1 Kings 19:5), and they thought it wisest to swim with the stream. It may be they were guided by other and inscrutable impulses (verse 23), and were constrained, they knew not how, to prophesy as they did; it may be they honestly mistook the vox populi for the vox Dei, but probably the working of their minds was this: "The king wishes it. Jehoshaphat assents to it. The people are set upon it. We should be going against common sense and our own interests to resist it."

And so the king was a second time paid in his own coin. Those martial prophecies had been minted in his own brain. He wished for lies and he had them. His own passions and pride were reflected, were echoed, in the voices of his four hundred soothsayers. It is the case of which both sacred and profane history supply so many examples, Homo vult decipi et decipiatur. It is thus God deals with deceivers still. He leaves them to be deceived, to be the prey of their own disordered fancies. It is notorious how men find in the Bible what they wish to find there; how all unsuspectingly they read their own meanings into the words of Scripture; how they interpret its injunctions by the rule of their own inclinations. "He feedeth on ashes; a deceived heart hath turned him aside that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?" (Isaiah 44:20). "Ephraim is joined unto idols: let him alone" (Hosea 4:17).

3. The silence of the Lord's prophets. Why was it, we cannot help asking here, why was it that there were no true prophets present, at this crisis in the history of Israel, to step forth and warn the king against this undertaking? Why were the four hundred deceivers left to have their own way? We see here the fruit of persecution, the recompense of those fierce dragonnades which Jezebel had maintained against the prophetic order. Of the men who might have interposed to prevent this disastrous expedition, some were dead, others were banished; king and queen had wickedly silenced them. They now reap the fruit of those repressive measures. Their curses come home to roost. Elijah might have saved king and country, but he is hiding from the wrath of Jezebel, or is withdrawn by God from the arena of history. Micaiah the son of Imlah foresaw the end, but Ahab had imprisoned him, and could not brook to take his advice, and had persuaded himself that his admonitions were the outcome of personal enmity. It is true this prophet was not silent, but plainly foretold defeat and death; but Ahab was in a manner bound not to regard his warnings. He had told Jehoshaphat it would be so. It would look like cowardice to be influenced by his vaticinations. And so he is left to the prophets of his choice: no hand is raised to stop him: he goes straight into the jaws of death, the victim of his own folly and cruelty and sin.

II. The INSTRUMENTS of retribution were—

1. The king whom Ahab had wickedly spared. We have already seen in what the sin of sparing the tyrant Ben-hadad consisted. It is now for us to observe that this foolish and impious deed brought its own peculiar Nemesis. It was Ben-hadad himself who said, "Fight neither with small nor great, but with the king of Israel only." Ahab's ill-advised clemency procures his own destruction. With base natures, it only needs that we should put them under obligations which they cannot possibly discharge, in order to provoke their bitter enmity. But it is much more material to observe here that in Ben-hadad's conduct we may see a parable of the cruel revenge which a cherished sin will often take on those who have once conquered and then trifled with it. The devil that was cast out returns bringing with him seven other devils more wicked than himself (Matthew 12:45). We are constantly as tender to the sins which tyrannized over us as was Ahab to Ben-hadad. Instead of slaying them—hewing them in pieces before the Lord—we leave the roots of bitterness in the heart's soil, and they spring up and trouble us. It is like that peasant of whom we have all read, who found a viper in the field, benumbed with the winter's cold, and put the venomous beast into his bosom to warm it back into life. The first use it made of its restored power was to wound and destroy its benefactor. How dearly have we often paid for our pleasant vices!

2. The Syrians who were once subjects of Israel. It is well to remember here that these enemies who gave Ahab his death wound at Ramoth were once under the heel of Israel (2 Samuel 8:6). Now we see their relations reversed. Syria has now become the standing oppressor of the chosen people. We have already pointed out some of the steps which led to this result. The sin of Solomon and the unfaithfulness of Asa alike were factors in the change. But the most influential reason was the godlessness of Ahab. But three years ago Syria lay at his mercy; its power was completely broken. But Ahab, so far from learning that the Lord was God (1 Kings 20:13, 1 Kings 20:28), had ignored the Lord, and acted as if his own might had gotten him the victory. How fitting that these same Syrians should be the instruments to scourge him.

3. An unknown, unconscious archer. The arrow that pierced Ahab's corselet was shot "in simplicity," without deliberate aim, with no thought of striking the king. It was an unseen Hand that guided that chance shaft to its destination. It was truly "the arrow of the Lord's vengeance." (Cf. 2 Kings 12:17.) It would be deeply instructive could we know the thoughts of that unhappy king, as with the arrow in his side, and the blood draining from his wound, and forming a sickening pool in the well of the chariot, he was stayed up those wretched weary, hours until the sunset against the Syrians. Surely he knew at last that "the Lord was God" (1 Kings 18:39; 1 Kings 20:13, 1 Kings 20:28). His cry would now be, "Thou hast found me, O my enemy." He would think, it may be, of Elijah's and Micaiah's prophecies; he would think of Naboth's bleeding and mangled corpse; he would think, above all, that his sin had found him out, and that Jehovah had conquered. He had fought all his life for Baal, but it was in vain; he had been kicking against the pricks; he had been wrestling not with flesh and blood, but with an Invisible, Irresistible, Omnipotent God, and now he is thrown, east down never to rise again.

III. It now only remains for us to consider the CIRCUMSTANCES of Ahab's death. These were of so portentous and exceptional a character as to mark it—

1. As a direct visitation of God. The army, that clay defeated, the contingent of Judah, the citizens of Samaria, the subjects of both kingdoms, could not think that a mere chance had happened to Ahab when they remembered

2. As God's appropriate recompense for the sins of that age. We have already seen how this history puts its stamp of reprobation on

And this ignominious death—in what sharp contrast it stands with the indolent, luxurious, sensual life! "The ivory house that he made," what an irony we may see in those words! "Shalt thou reign, because thou closest thyself in cedar ....

He shall be buried with the burial of an ass," etc. (Jeremiah 22:15, Jeremiah 22:19). The cities he built, the victories he won, how poor and empty do these exploits seem as we stand by the pool of Samaria, and see the livid, blood-stained corpse dragged from the chariot! The Latin poet asks what all his pleasures, travels, knowledge, can avail a man who has to die after all; but the question presents itself with tenfold force when life's fitful fever is followed by such a sleep, by such a dream, as Ahab's. "It had been good for that man if he had not been born" (Matthew 26:24).

And the death of Ahab was followed by the dispersion of his army. When the proclamation rang through the host, "Every man to his country," and when the sensed ranks precipitately broke up, and horseman and footman fled for his life, then the share of Israel in the sins of Ahab and Jezebel was in part expiated. There was not a man but knew why "the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies." "There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel." (Joshua 7:12, Joshua 7:13). Baal had troubled them, had made of the heights of Ramoth very valley of Achor.

HOMILIES BY J.A. MACDONALD

1 Kings 22:1-8

Bad Company.

According to the order of the chapters in the LXX; which is probably the original or true order, 1 Kings 20:1-43. should immediately precede this. Then, after the history of the war between Ahab and Ben-hadad, this chapter opens naturally: "And they continued three years without war between Syria and Israel." In the third year of this peace Jehoshaphat visited Ahab; and from this visit arose serious events, which are admonitory to us that we should avoid the company of the wicked.

I. BAD COMPANY COMPROMISES CHARACTER.

1. It injures morals.

2. It damages reputation.

3. It impairs influence.

(1) This follows. Character is influence. Reputation is influence. Advice will be readily received from a genuine man, which coming from an artificial character would be spurned.

II. BAD COMPANY COMPROMISES HAPPINESS. Because—

1. Happiness is involved in character.

2. Goodness is grieved in it.

3. It leads the most wary into trouble. For the persuasions of the wicked are subtle.

4. It provokes judgments of God.

1 Kings 22:9-14

The False and the True.

There would be no counterfeit coin if there were no sterling; so neither would there be false prophets if there were no true. Because there are both, their qualities have to be tested, that we may refuse the spurious and value the genuine (see Jeremiah 23:38). To this end let us consider—

I. TESTS WHICH MAY NOT BE TRUSTED.

1. The test of profession.

(a) They used modes usual with prophets to procure information from Heaven. These were sacrifice, prayer, music (see 1 Samuel 10:5, 1 Samuel 10:6; 2 Kings 3:15), and, when time permitted, fasting.

(b) They used modes usual with prophets to communicate the information when received. "Zedekiah, the son of Chenaanah, made him horns of iron: and he said, Thus saith the Lord, With these shalt thou push the Syrians, until thou have consumed them" (cf. Jeremiah 27:2; Jeremiah 28:1-17 :18). The "horn" was the symbol of a king (see Daniel 7:24; Revelation 17:12). These were "two," to represent Ahab and Jehoshaphat, Israel and Judah. They were of "iron" to express strength (see Daniel 2:40). The prophecy was that, aided by Jehoshaphat, Ahab should push the Syrians to destruction.

2. The test of numbers.

3. The test of unanimity.

4. How does this argument bear upon the authority of the Church?

II. TESTS WHICH MAY BE TRUSTED.

1. The witnesses should be honest.

2. They should have miraculous athentication.

3. Their testimony should be agreeable to the word of God.

1 Kings 22:15-23

Micaiah's Prophecy.

It is evident from the text and from 1 Kings 22:8 that this was not the first time Ahab and Micaiah had met. The Jews suppose, apparently with reason, that Micaiah was that prophet who, when Ahab sent Ben-hadad away with a covenant, said to the king of Israel, "Thus saith the Lord: Because thou hast let go out of thine hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore thy life shall go for his life, and thy people for his people" (see 1 Kings 20:35-43). In considering the prophecy of Micaiah now before us, we notice—

I. THAT IT IS PREFACED WITH A SALLY OF IRONY.

1. He answers the king in the words of his prophets.

2. But he repeats those words with significant expression.

3. God uses terrible rhetoric in His wrath.

II. THAT IT COMPARES FAVOURABLY WITH THAT OF HIS COMPETITORS.

1. Its burden is the reverse of equivocal.

2. The vision shows that all worlds are under Divine control.

1 Kings 22:24-29

The Argument of Wickedness.

The Bible is a book of texts because it is a book of types. It does not profess to give full histories, but refers to public records for these (see Joshua 10:13; 2 Samuel 1:18; 1 Kings 11:41; 1 Chronicles 9:1). Inspiration selects from histories typical or representative incidents to bring out the principles of the grace and truth of God. In the scene before us we have types of wickedness in Zedekiah and Ahab, the one ecclesiastical, the other civil, which may be profitably studied in the arguments they use contending with Micaiah, the representative of the truth of God. These arguments are—

I. RAGE AGAINST THE TRUTH. The reason is obvious, viz; because the truth is the worst that can be said of the wicked.

1. It is the worst that can be said of their character.

2. It is the worst that can be said of their doom.

3. They are therefore constrained to hypocrisy.

II. THE RESENTMENT OF VIOLENCE.

1. The logic of the wicked is weak.

2. The strength of the wicked is tyranny.

1 Kings 22:30-38

Lessons of the Battle.

After disposing of Micaiah by sending him to prison with hard fare as the reward of his faithfulness, Ahab and Jehoshaphat gathered their forces and set out together to fight for the recovery of Ramoth-Gilead. The events of the day show—

I. THAT PROPHECY MAY TEND TO ITS OWN FULFILMENT.

1. Micaiah's words influenced Ahab's conduct.

(a) Note the subtlety of the wicked. Ahab's proposal to Jehoshaphat was ostensibly to give him the post of honour in commanding the army. This, too, may have suggested the use of the third person in speaking of himself. Ahab's real purpose was to divert from himself the fury of the battle; and probably he hoped Jehoshaphat might be slain. In that case his son-in-law would succeed to the throne of Judah, and he might be able so to manage him as to serve his own purposes.

(b) In all this we see the danger of bad company. We see it likewise in the sad fact that Jehoshaphat should become a party to a contrivance to falsify the word of God!

2. They also influenced the conduct of the Syrians.

3. Note a remarkable illustration of this principle in the zeal of Jehu in exterminating the house of Ahab (see 2 Kings 9:25, 2 Kings 9:26; 2 Kings 10:10, 2 Kings 10:11, 2 Kings 10:16, 2 Kings 10:17). Those who are "looking for," are thereby "hastening the coming of the day of God" (see 2 Peter 3:12).

II. THAT NEVERTHELESS THE HAND OF GOD IS IN IT.

1. This was evident in the case of Ahab. The purpose of Ben-hadad, should Ahab have fallen into his hands, is not recorded. Would he return Ahab's compliment of releasing him with a covenant? Would he show Ahab how he ought to have treated him?

2. This was also evident in the case of Jehoshaphat.

1 Kings 22:39, 1 Kings 22:40, 1 Kings 22:51-53

Survival.

After the account of Ahab's death and burial, and of the manner in which the dogs of Samaria fulfilled the prophecy of Elijah, the earlier verses of our text follow. In the first of these the reader is referred to the archives of the nation for an account of the "rest of the Ac" and works of this monarch, viz; those to which inspiration was not here specially directed. In the second, the succession of Ahaziah is mentioned. With these verses, because of the unity of the subject, we associate the three verses referring to the reign of Ahaziah, with which the chapter closes. Taking the latter first in order, we see—

I. THAT AHAB SURVIVED IN AHAZIAH.

1. This was legally true.

2. It was also morally true.

(a) A Church is not the more true for being established. Here were two State Churches which were, in the Biblical sense, atheistic.

(b) For concurrent endowment, whatever may be said for its expediency, there can be no moral defence.

3. But there was no necessity for this.

II. THAT AHAB SURVIVES IN HISTORY.

1. He survived in secular history. His acts and works were written in the chronicles of his nation.

2. He survives in sacred history.

(a) the Providence which has preserved the Scriptures evinces their Divine authenticity.

(b) Things are permanent as they stand related to the everlasting God.

(c) The posthumous influence points to the immortality of man.—J.A.M.

1 Kings 22:41-50

Jehoshaphat.

These words give a summary of the life of this king of Judah, and faithfully record, as the Scriptures do to admiration, the good and the bad, as these will be considered in the judgment of the great day. Consider—

I. THE PRAISE OF JEHOSHAPHAT.

1. He came of a good stock.

2. He improved his advantages.

3. This was to his praise.

II. THE BLAME OF JEHOSHAPHAT. This seems all to have been connected with the "peace" which he made "with the king of Israel." It appears to have commenced with—

1. The marriage of his son.

2. His friendship with Ahab.

3. His friendship with Ahaziah.

HOMILIES BY J. URQUHART

1 Kings 22:1-28

Crime brings its own punishment.

I. THE WICKED RUSH UPON DESTRUCTION.

1. Ahab provokes the war in which he himself will perish. The peace which had lasted so long might have continued. Every day it was prolonged was a day placed between him and death; and yet with his own hand he brings to an end the period of grace. How often are the calamities of the wicked invoked by themselves, and are the fruit of their own rashness!

2. It came as the prompting of the deepest wisdom. Jehoshaphat's presence afforded the opportunity of forming a league to which success seemed certain. The selfish cunning of the sinful becomes a snare to them.

3. He closes his ear against God's deterring counsel.

II. THE FALSE PROPHETS.

1. They bind the cords which are leading a sinful soul to death. The word which they profess to speak for God is a word which it pleases the king to hear. It is the echo of his own desires (1 Kings 22:6). There are those who by voice and pen proclaim a new gospel It is no longer sought to lead up the world to God and thus reconcile it to Him. It is boldly declared that the reconciliation is already effected. God has come down to it. There is no anger and no threatening and no terrible shadow of judgment. There is nothing but goodness and love. They are the false prophets of today, and these do for the men of their generation what those did for Ahab.

2. Their blasphemy. When a prophet of Jehovah was asked for (1 Kings 22:7), they who have hitherto spoken only of Adonai do not scruple to take the name of the Highest into their lips (1 Kings 22:11, 1 Kings 22:12). We do not escape the false prophets when we appeal from their speech concerning the God of nature to His revealed will, the word of the Lord. They meet us there. It is in vain we seek to rest upon the plainest words; they are explained away. Hell is a superstitious dream, and the cross of the disciples of Christ a mere figure of speech, with no hard, stern reality behind it.

3. They are possessed by a spirit of falsehood (1 Kings 22:21-23). Their position is more a punishment of past sin than conscious transgression. They speak with honesty of a sort, but it is out of their heart's darkness. They were willing to be deceived, and they have been deceived. They did not wish to know God as He is, and they have been left with the god of their own imagination. In which school are we, that of the false prophets, or of the true?

4. They smite the true servants of God. Zedekiah's blow preceded the king's judgment. It proved nothing but his own soul's distance from God. It was the act of a man provoked by zeal for his own honour. He who had been moved by zeal for God's honour would have stood in silent awe of that terrible but certain judgment which the man was braving.

III. THE TRUE SERVANT OF GOD.

1. In a corrupt court his is no welcome presence (1 Kings 22:8). The distance between Ahab and God was reflected in that which separated him from the speaker of God's word. Continued faithfulness, if it may not win, must be repelled and hated. "Woe unto you when all men speak well of you; for so," etc.

2. The necessity laid on him to declare the whole counsel of God (1 Kings 22:14). He cannot turn to the right hand or the left; the world's wealth cannot bribe him, its power and cruelty cannot terrify him. What king or people desire to hear, or courtly prophets or current creeds have said, weighs nothing with him. He cannot speak in God's name aught save what God has said.

3. His message. He speaks first in easily discerned irony (1 Kings 22:15, 1 Kings 22:16). It was an intimation to the king that he desired to hear no prophecy that would run counter to his inclinations. Then, when he is solemnly appealed to, a picture is presented (1 Kings 22:17) of the smitten, shepherdless people, which might well have touched even Ahab's heart. Next king and people are led up to the throne of God. The servant and his words are forgotten in the revelation of his Master. Even the false prophet's utterances are turned to account; they and the reliance which the king is placing on them are part fulfilment of the Divine vengeance. There was deeper tenderness and truer love for Ahab in that one breast than in all the four hundred.

4. The greatness of all true service for God. There is a glory about that despised, persecuted man before which that of both kings pales. It is a glory which nothing can tear from the loyal heart, and which shines the brighter amid the world's darkening hate. It is a glory which may be our own.—U.

1 Kings 22:29-40

The Certainty of God's Threatenings.

I. AHAB'S ATTEMPT TO ELUDE THE DIVINE VENGEANCE.

1. His apprehension of coming evil. If Micaiah's words were not the words of God, why should he take precautions? His heart gives the lie to his own unbelief; the words cling to him. The bold refusal to listen to God's word is no assurance that the soul will not afterwards be shaken by a fearful looking for of judgment.

2. His ungenerousness (1 Kings 22:30). "I will disguise myself; but put thou on thy robes." The effect of the counsel was necessarily to concentrate the enemy's attention upon Jehoshaphat. Sin not only makes a man a coward, it robs him of nobleness.

3. The immediate effect of Ahab's stratagem. Ben-hadad's arrangements for the capture or slaughter of Ahab were rendered of no avail. The captains could not find the man they sought. A momentary success often attends the plans of those who endeavour to flee from God.

4. The chance shot. The success of Ahab's device only served to make the blow come more plainly from the hand of God. Ben-hadad's purpose could be baffled, but not His. There is no escape from God.

II. THE FULFILMENT OF GOD'S WORD.

1. He fell at Ramoth Gilead (1 Kings 22:20).

2. "Israel was scattered upon the hills," and the command was given to return (1 Kings 22:17, 1 Kings 22:36).

3. The dogs licked Ahab's blood (1 Kings 21:19), not in Jezreel, indeed, because the judgment then pronounced was that of the overthrow of the dynasty. This was delayed on account of Ahab's repentance, and happened, as predicted, "is his son's days" (1 Kings 21:29). But the personal part of the prediction, "The dogs shall lick thy blood, even thine," was not revoked. There are prophecies both of evil and of good, within the range of which we set ourselves. God's words are touching us, and will likewise be literally fulfilled.—U.

1 Kings 22:41-53

Two Life Stories.

I. JEHOSHAPHAT'S.

1. He prolonged the good influence of his father's reign. Judah's thought was still kept under the light of truth, and its life more fully led into the ways of God: he completed his father's reforms (1 Kings 22:46). The continuance of God s work anywhere is as important as the origination of it.

2. He was consistent. "He turned not aside from it." He did not merely begin well; over his whole reign there rested the Divine approval; he did "that which was right in the eyes of the Lord." The life which is ever sinning, repenting, forgetting, achieves nothing. It is like a plant uprooted and planted again, to be again uprooted, etc; and which, even should its life be preserved, will never bear fruit. It is like "a backsliding heifer," and with such a life the great Husbandman's work cannot be carried on.

3. There was failure as well as success in his career. "Nevertheless the high places were not taken away." tie had endeavoured to remove them (2 Chronicles 17:6). But "the people offered and burnt incense yet in the high places." The mightiest efforts in the great warfare with darkness leave something for other hands to do, and must till He come who alone can perfect all things.

4. He sought to be at peace with his brethren (1 Kings 22:44). He went further in this, indeed, than he ought to have done (2 Chronicles 19:2), but the desire for peace was laudable.

5. He humbled himself under God's rebuke (compare 1 Kings 22:48, 1 Kings 22:49 with 2 Chronicles 20:35-37). At first he had been beguiled into.fellowship with the idolatrous king of Israel without reflecting upon the danger which lay in it for himself and his people. But when God had manifested His displeasure, nothing could make him renew the confederacy. The judgment might mistake, but the heart was loyal to God.

II. AHAZIAH'S.

1. A sinful life. "He did evil in the sight of the Lord." With such a life there was no possibility of blessing for his people. The roots of his usefulness were destroyed. To do, we must first of all become. Our work cannot rise above the level of our life.

2. A disastrous policy (1 Kings 22:52, 1 Kings 22:53). He continued the work of Israel's destruction. The departure made by Jeroboam and perfected by Ahab and Jezebel, he accepted in its full rejection of Jehovah. He did not go beyond them, he simply did "according to all that his father had done," but in doing this his sin was of the deepest dye. His father had been judged, but God was still braved, and Israel was led still nearer to destruction. We may only continue what others have begun; but if we pay no heed to the proofs of God's anger, and take no thought of the inevitable results of the policy we pursue, our persistence may be one of the deepest crimes against God and man.—U.

HOMILIES BY A. ROWLAND

1 Kings 22:34

The Pierced Armour.

This occurred during the third campaign of Ben-hadad against Israel. Micaiah had forewarned Ahab against the danger he incurred, and was cast into prison for his pains. The warning was, however, taken sufficiently to heart to induce the king to disguise himself. Describe the expedient adopted, and its remarkable failure. Ahab was in many respects a typical sinner. He was an idolater, a persecutor, impenitent, though sometimes touched; and in the plenitude of power he fell. We see here—

I. A MAN ARMED AGAINST GOD. True he was fighting against the Syrians, but as he girded on his armour he remembered and defied the words of the prophet. His ominous prophecy should not be fulfilled, he would yet come back safe and victorious to put Macaiah to death, and with this determination he put Jehoshaphat in command, and clad himself with proof armour. In spirit, therefore, he was fighting not only against the hosts of Syria, but against the word of God. Hence let us depict one who is armed against God. Reverse the description St. Paul gives (Ephesians 6:1-24.) of one armed by God. The impenitent sinner represented by Ahab defends himself.

1. By false hopes (Deuteronomy 29:19, Deuteronomy 29:20). These constitute his "helmet," which wards off true thoughts of self and sin. He blindly trusts in Divine mercy, while sin is unrepented, forgetting that "a God all mercy is a God unjust" (Young). "There is none other name given under heaven whereby we may be saved," etc. "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?"

2. By a hardened heart. This is his "breastplate." A man impenitent is a man lost. Some are;' past feeling," their consciences are "seared as with a hot iron," and God gives them over to their "hardness of heart," and to an "impenitent mind." "Who has hardened himself against God, and prospered?" We may become "hardened by the deceitfulness of sin."

3. By defiant words. There is a tongue which is set on fire of hell Adduce examples. Ahab defied Micaiah.

4. By an unbelieving mind. The king questioned the truth of the prophet's message. He had more confidence in his own past success and in his military skill than in the declaration of a man who knew something of God but nothing of war. Unbelief ever prevents the inflowing of Divine goodness. Jesus "could do no mighty works because of their unbelief."

5. By a dumb spirit. No asking for pardon, no cry for mercy rose from Ahab's heart, or it would not have proved too late; for the Lord is "not willing that any should perish."

II. A MAN STRICKEN BY GOD. The chance arrow of the Syrian archer fulfilled the Divine purpose.

1. By the arrow of conviction. God's word is sharp and powerful, and pierces even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

2. By the arrow of judgment.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 1 Kings 22:4". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tpc/1-kings-22.html. 1897.

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