Well...if you've following along on the recent adventures in my blog you'll know that Ahab finally brought God to the end of His mighty patience and God poured out a most severe judgement. Ahab finally expressed some grief and humility- bringing God to delay the judgement package until Ahab's son.
Chapter 22:1 opens with an update on the relations between Ahab's Israel and Ben-hadad's Aram (previously known as Syria). Ahab spared the man's life and called him brother. They made a covenant which boiled down to a property and trade agreement. This bought Israel three years of peace.
A few chapter back, in I Kings 15:24 were the last words we've read about what was going on in Judah. Since then it's been all Israel. At that time, Asa was king and had been a pretty good one until his last few years. When he died his son Jehoshaphat became king. And that was the end of the Judah updates.
Now King Jehoshaphat has traveled to see Ahab. Ahab says to his servants that King Ben-hadad of Aram has failed to return one of the cities he promised to restore to Israel, per their covenant. He then turns to Jehoshaphat and asks if he will join him in battle to restore the city to Israel.
Jehoshaphat's first response is I am as you are. My people and my horses as yours. But then he adds,
Please inquire first for the Word of the Lord.I Kings 22:5b
There seems to be some context missing here. Both Israel and Judah warred endlessly with one another. But suddenly they seem like buddies. A Ryrie footnote tells me that Ahab gave one of his daughters to one of Jehoshaphat's sons. So that may explain the sudden cordiality.
In response to Jehoshaphat's request, Ahab gather 400 prophets to inquire about warring for the city of Romath-gilead. They said, sure...go for it. God will give it to you.
But then Jehoshaphat has a follow-up request...hey, are even one of these paid prophets of the Lord, so we can ask Him? (which was my original request...if you remember correctly)
Oh wow. I'll let Ahab respond for himself:
There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. He is Micaiah, son of Imlah.I Kings 22:8 (truncated)
I see Ahab's season of repentance is over and he's back to his old ways of counting anything not his way as evil and anything he wants as good. He's openly admitting these paid prophets just tell him what he wants to hear. He's not even pretending.
What a shame. And what a baby. He sounds so childish and immature every time he speaks.
This time the Lord has included another King who has something Ahab wants, so the Lord is being represented.
Jehoshaphat asks for Micaiah and Ahab can't really say no. So he calls for Micaiah.
Kings Ahab and Jehoshaphat were holding court at the gate of Samaria in their robes and on their thrones. And they had a wad of paid prophets prophesying before them. One prophet made horns and promised they would gore the Arameans. They all prophesied that the Lord would give it into their hands.
In verse 13, the messenger arrives to summon Micah, which is described in verse 9 as an officer, so probably an intimidating military figure. This man explains that the rest of the prophets are in agreement with what Ahab wants, so could he please also agree.
Micaiah is not having it. He explains that he will say whatever the Lord tells him to say.
So, as I read it, and based on a footnote in the Ryrie Study Bible, Micaiah shows up and sarcastically parrots exactly what the other prophets say. A straight reading would indicate that he agrees with them; but in verse 16 it is clear that Ahab is annoyed with his answer- so it had to be sarcastic.
So Ahab whines and rages against Micaiah's refusal to support the prophesy that Ahab will prevail. So Micah quotes a verse from Number (27:17) that alludes to the leader of the sheep being gone and the sheep on their own.
Ahab really doesn't like that and whines to Jehoshaphat.
Then it becomes a little unusual.
Micaiah doesn't just "Thus says the Lord...", he has a whole story and image to accompany his message. I know this becomes a bigger prophesy; but right now I'm just looking at in context of this story.
He saw the Lord of heaven sitting on His throne with all of the hosts of heaven surrounding Him. (v.19)
I'm no theologian; but the writer starts this section with Ahab and Jehoshaphat on their thrones ion robes, holding court with a bunch of false prophets. Now Micaiah's vision starts with the real King on His throne and the hosts of heaven surrounding Him. It sort of seems like God is level-setting what the earthly kings should have been like. He should have found them serving their brothers and not elevating themselves, as commanded in Deuteronomy. The Lord warned the people this is what would happen if they demanded an earthly king. And it was never more apparent than comparing these broken little men and their earthly trappings to the King of Heaven holding court.
And, again, I have no bible training; but I cannot help but to see a strong similarity in this next section to a scene from the book of Job.
In verse 20, God asks His court who will entice Ahab to go to Romath-gilead. "One said this while another said that." (I would love to know what the specifics of that exchange were.)
Then a spirit came forward and volunteered to do it. (I have so many questions here.)
God asks for the spirit's plan. The spirit explains he will deceive the prophets. After a brief exchange, God sends him on his way.
In verse 23, after Micaiah completes his vision he turns back to Ahab and summarizes that the Lord was the one who placed the deicing spirit in the prophets, proclaiming disaster for Ahab. This causes one of Ahab's prophets to strike Micaiah and ask how the Lord's spirit would leave him and go to Micaiah. Micaiah gives the false prophet a way to prove who was correct in their prophesy.
Ahab throws Micaiah in prison with spare food and water until Ahab returns safely. Micaiah agrees that if Ahab returns safely, then it wasn't God who spoke to him.
And then both kings made a conscious decision now having all the details they needed to make the right decision. Yes, God enticed Ahab; but then informed him that he had been deceived by the prophets. Jehoshaphat started off wanting guidance from the Lord and even suspected the other prophets were wrong. He also heard what the Lord had to say via Micaiah and somehow lost his way.
It's good to remember that we're never in the clear to do what we want. We can start with good intentions and be blinded by what we really want. there's a hint where Jehoshaphat went wrong. His first response was loyalty to Ahab and then inquiring of the Lord.
How very many times has this been my response. Yes! But first let me pray about it. No! But first let me pray about it.
If we know how we want it to go...we can lose sight of the word the Lord is giving us.
I so want my reflex to be seeking the Lord first. Listening, hearing, and obeying. It shouldn't be that hard. It's the desire of my heart...but my heart is deeply flawed awaking with hope for my ultimate salivation to incorruptibility. Until then...this story of Jehoshaphat should remain a cautionary tale.
If we need further evidence of something being wrong with Jehoshaphat here- naivety, stupidity, blindness? It's found in verse 30. Ahab offers a bewildering tactic. He'll disguise himself and Jehoshaphat should put on his robes. So now Jehoshaphat is a big fat target and Ahab is safe. Supposedly. And Jehoshaphat agrees? Why? Why? Why? We knew Ahab suspected that Micaiah was right and thought he could fool God. But Jehoshaphat? Why?
For some reason, Ben-hadad must have felt more inclined to keep the covenant, because he told his captains not to fight the men, but only Ahab. At first, the captains fell for Ahab's ruse and chased Jehoshaphat, until he cried out and they saw that it was not Ahab. Then they turned away.
Then God's word prevailed and Ahab was hit. The poetic justice being that he was hit through a joint in his armor by a random arrow. No glory. No heroism.
And most importantly, no protection from God. Those things we do to hide ourselves, disguise our sin, use others for our own gain won't add up to what we think we want. Wiersbe often uses a quote that God will not let us proposer from our sin.
Ahab left the fight and died in his chariot as the battle raged.
All of the soldiers were sent home and the battle ended. Ahab was buried in Samaria.
His chariot was soaked with blood so they washed in the pool of Samaria and the dogs licked it up- just as the Lord foretold. His final paragraph is similar to other kings, referring us to another book for more details, including an ivory house he built, along with other cities.
His son Ahaziah became king.
The Reign of Jehoshaphat in Judah
I think there is much more on this in the Chronicles, but the author of I Kings does a short section here.
According to verse 41, Jehoshaphat became king in Ahab's fourth year as king. Judah and Israel marked time differently, so it's difficult to get precision on dates.
- He was thirty five when he became king.
- He ruled 25 years.
- He is given credit for , himself, walking the ways of the Lord, following in his father's footsteps (Asa, who did well until his last years)
- However, he did pull down the high places, so people still sacrificed to idols.
- It was Jehoshaphat who made peace with Ahab.
The author refers us to the Chronicles for more.
- He expelled the remaining sodomites.
- There's a closing episode of him making a run for gold, but the ships broke. He wouldn't let Ahab's sons men on the ships.
- He was buried in the city of David and his son, Jehoram became the King of Judah.
The Reign of Jehoshaphat in Judah
The book of I Kings closes with three paragraphs about Ahab's son.
He became king in Jehoshaphat's 17th year in Judah. He reigned two years.
As you might guess...he did evil in the sight of the Lord in the way of his father, and his mother, and Jeroboam. He served Baal and caused Israel to sin.
He provoked the Lord to anger.
I just want to point out that he was given two years. Some might complain that Ahab's brief dance with grace that delayed the worst of the consequences was unfairly delayed to land on the son. But the son had two years. He took on the mantle of the King and could have humbled himself and seen God's grace and mercy. But instead, he provoked the Lord.
I think there is a lot more regarding these final personalities in the coming books. But we'll wrap up I Kings first.
It has been such a pleasure to be able to take a deep dive into the last portion of I kings. It is a blessing beyond measure to get paid time off around the holidays and I have been so blesses being able to reflect here in a blog my husband thoughtfully made for me.
I hope others are blessed by this blog and this precious time given to me by God.