Ahab and the False Prophets
22 For three years Syria and Israel continued without war. But in the third year Jehoshaphat the king of Judah came down to the king of Israel. And the king of Israel said to his servants, “Do you know that Ramoth-gilead belongs to us, and we keep quiet and do not take it out of the hand of the king of Syria?” And he said to Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to battle at Ramoth-gilead?” And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.”
And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “Inquire first for the word of the LORD.” Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, “Shall I go to battle against Ramoth-gilead, or shall I refrain?” And they said, “Go up, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not here another prophet of the LORD of whom we may inquire?” And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the LORD, Micaiah the son of Imlah, but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil.” And Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say so.” Then the king of Israel summoned an officer and said, “Bring quickly Micaiah the son of Imlah.” Now the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah were sitting on their thrones, arrayed in their robes, at the threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria, and all the prophets were prophesying before them. And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made for himself horns of iron and said, “Thus says the LORD, ‘With these you shall push the Syrians until they are destroyed.’” And all the prophets prophesied so and said, “Go up to Ramoth-gilead and triumph; the LORD will give it into the hand of the king.”
Micaiah Prophesies Against Ahab
And the messenger who went to summon Micaiah said to him, “Behold, the words of the prophets with one accord are favorable to the king. Let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably.” But Micaiah said, “As the LORD lives, what the LORD says to me, that I will speak.” And when he had come to the king, the king said to him, “Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we refrain?” And he answered him, “Go up and triumph; the LORD will give it into the hand of the king.” But the king said to him, “How many times shall I make you swear that you speak to me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?” And he said, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd. And the LORD said, ‘These have no master; let each return to his home in peace.’” And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?” And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left; and the LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, saying, ‘I will entice him.’ And the LORD said to him, ‘By what means?’ And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.’ Now therefore behold, the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the LORD has declared disaster for you.”
Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near and struck Micaiah on the cheek and said, “How did the Spirit of the LORD go from me to speak to you?” And Micaiah said, “Behold, you shall see on that day when you go into an inner chamber to hide yourself.” And the king of Israel said, “Seize Micaiah, and take him back to Amon the governor of the city and to Joash the king’s son, and say, ‘Thus says the king, “Put this fellow in prison and feed him meager rations of bread and water, until I come in peace.”’” And Micaiah said, “If you return in peace, the LORD has not spoken by me.” And he said, “Hear, all you peoples!”
Ahab Killed in Battle
So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth-gilead. And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will disguise myself and go into battle, but you wear your robes.” And the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle. Now the king of Syria had commanded the thirty-two captains of his chariots, “Fight with neither small nor great, but only with the king of Israel.” And when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, they said, “It is surely the king of Israel.” So they turned to fight against him. And Jehoshaphat cried out. And when the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, they turned back from pursuing him. But a certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate. Therefore he said to the driver of his chariot, “Turn around and carry me out of the battle, for I am wounded.” And the battle continued that day, and the king was propped up in his chariot facing the Syrians, until at evening he died. And the blood of the wound flowed into the bottom of the chariot. And about sunset a cry went through the army, “Every man to his city, and every man to his country!”
So the king died, and was brought to Samaria. And they buried the king in Samaria. And they washed the chariot by the pool of Samaria, and the dogs licked up his blood, and the prostitutes washed themselves in it, according to the word of the LORD that he had spoken. Now the rest of the acts of Ahab and all that he did, and the ivory house that he built and all the cities that he built, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? So Ahab slept with his fathers, and Ahaziah his son reigned in his place.
Jehoshaphat Reigns in Judah
Jehoshaphat the son of Asa began to reign over Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel. Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. He walked in all the way of Asa his father. He did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the LORD. Yet the high places were not taken away, and the people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places. Jehoshaphat also made peace with the king of Israel.
Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, and his might that he showed, and how he warred, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? And from the land he exterminated the remnant of the male cult prostitutes who remained in the days of his father Asa.
There was no king in Edom; a deputy was king. Jehoshaphat made ships of Tarshish to go to Ophir for gold, but they did not go, for the ships were wrecked at Ezion-geber. Then Ahaziah the son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, “Let my servants go with your servants in the ships,” but Jehoshaphat was not willing. 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 place.
Ahaziah Reigns in Israel
Ahaziah the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and he reigned two years over Israel. He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and walked in the way of his father and in the way of his mother and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin. He served Baal and worshiped him and provoked the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger in every way that his father had done.
1 Kings 22 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Spiritual wisdom and discernment are needed on all decisions we make and carry through with. This story in 1 Kings 22 could not show that more clearly.
The sad reality is many times we only seek counsel from those who are like minded or those who will tell us what we want to hear. When we do so we can easily be misled. How many times have we simply made decisions based upon what we wanted or really even, the advice others have given? And how well did that work out?
King Jehoshaphat of Judah and King Ahab of Israel lay aside their differences to join forces and fight against the King of Aram. Jehoshaphat, a godly king wants to seek the counsel of the Lord; strangely it almost seems that this never occurred to Ahab. Regardless, a slew of prophets paraded in front giving affirmation to go forward in victory. Something simply doesn’t add up to Jehoshaphat who asks if there is actually a prophet of the Lord. And here is the crux, there is but Ahab doesn’t like the guy, Micaiah because everything he says is contrary to what he wants.
Micaiah sarcastically gives lip service and follows the trait of the other prophets declaring victory. Ahab knew better and asked for truth. Not only would he go into war, but he would also lose and die. More disturbing is a scene from heaven Micaiah witnesses and watches as a lying spirit is allowed to come deceive Ahab into following this false advice. Now, there’s a lot of depth we could unpack here in all of this but the simple point to consider for ourselves is this: Are we seeking the counsel of man or the counsel of God in our decisions? Are we seeking those who are always like-minded or are we willing to hear from those who may speak contrary?
But something else to consider as well is Ahab’s actions. He knew Micaiah had spoken truth but he went forward with what he wanted to do. Even though hearing the truth he chose to ignore it and instead of humbling himself, he went to war and was brutally killed. Sometimes we ourselves can be so bullheaded in what we want we will go forward despite the warnings.
1 Kings 22 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
What’s the deal with Ramoth-Gilead and why did they want it back?
Ramoth was a Levitical city so it was considered important to the Jews. During King Solomon’s reign, it was a key administrative center and it was positioned as a military stronghold in Jewish history. But we must look several chapters back to see how it connects to the ongoing narrative of 1 Kings.
Israel had been at war with Aram for 2 long years and Ramoth is currently under Aram’s control. During that time, Ben-Hadad, the leader of Aram, had gone to war against King Ahab of Israel along with many other supplementary leaders and armies. God delivered Ahab from the danger of Ben-Hadad’s attacks, but Ahab let his enemy off the hook. He made a covenant with Ben-Hadad and it seems that in 1 Kings 20, Ramoth-Gilead was negotiated as part of the deal for Ben-Hadad to go free.
After this entire incident, a prophet tells Ahab he has made a terrible decision to let Ben-Hadad go, and predicts that Ahab will die in a future battle with him. Our story today, 1 Kings 22, picks up 3 years after they had made that peace deal because it opens with that exact phrase in verse 1… “Three years passed without war between Aram and Israel.”
Ironically, Ahab is sitting around thinking about that old city that used to be theirs – Ramoth-Gilead. And so he calls a meeting with Jehoshaphat from down south in Judah and he says, “Hey, do you know that scoundrel Ben-Hadad still occupies our honorable city of Ramoth-Gilead? How about you and I join forces and go kick him out for good?” Jehoshaphat, being a Godly king (at least for the majority of his reign), agrees on one condition. We must seek the Lord. So, Ahab goes back and gets his 400 puppets, uh, I mean prophets, to inquire if he should go to war.
You Can’t Handle The Truth!
Micaiah is the only authentic prophet in Ahab’s court, yet, he is vastly outnumbered 400 to 1 by false prophets. The most intriguing part of this chapter for me is the bizarre revelation found in the parable. God asks for a lying, deceitful spirit to go and entice Ahab to fall at Ramoth-Gilead. Instead of Micaiah coming right out and saying the prophets are deceived by the enemy, he veils his response with a parable in order to powerfully illustrate the truth of the situation. And, in the end, Micaiah pays a price. That cost, however, would not be greater than Ahab’s.
Ahab has surrounded himself with people who agree with him. Once again, his life speaks of compromise. Unwilling to see the truth, he stubbornly tries to outsmart God and he ends up dead. Ahab was given every opportunity to repent. He was told prophetically on several occasions and saw firsthand how God lavished him with sheer grace.
Even though God allows sin He doesn’t leave us without a compass. Ahab had surrounded himself with idols, hardened his heart, and was determined to take his own path toward destruction. So, God let him have what he wanted. Ahab’s life is a sad story of how our lives will turn out if we fail to walk in humility and repentance. Praise God for the grace found in Jesus, and the power found in the Holy Spirit to turn from our past life of sin.