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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

1 Kings 22

 

 

Verses 1-53

AHAB WARNED BUT DETERMINED

(vs.1-28)

Three years later the show of repentance on Ahab's part had worn off. There had been no war between Israel and Syria, but rather than leaving matters as they were, Ahab was aiixious to regain Ramoth in Gilead from the Syrians. Jehoshaphat king of Judah was a godly king, but made the serious mistake of showing friendliness toward Ahab. He went down to visit Ahab, and Ahab told him that Ramoth belonged to Israel, but Syria had taken it (v.3). He did not say that God had allowed Syria to take Ramoth because of the wickedness of Ahab. But he asked Jehoshaphat to join him in fighting against Syria (v.4).

Jehoshaphat foolishly responded, "I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses" (v.4). He committed himself without any thought of inquiring of God. Yet after this he asked Ahab to enquire as to the Word of the Lord. He evidently felt uneasy, and he had reason to.

Ahab therefore gathered his idolatrous prophets, numbering 400, and asked them if he should go up to Ramoth or not. The prophets knew that Ahab had engineered this project and they therefore all agreed that he should go through with it. This was not at all inquiring of the Lord, but inquiring from men who were pleasing to him.

Jehoshaphat saw through this vain show of the false prophets and asked Ahab if there was not just one prophet of the Lord of whom they could enquire. Ahab admitted there was one, Micaiah, the son of Imlah, but Ahab hated him because he did not prophesy with the object of pleasing Ahab, but against him. When Jehoshaphat heard this he realized that Micaiah might be a true prophet of God, and wanted to hear him.

Ahab sent a messenger to call Micaiah (v.9), as the two kings sat on thrones at the gate of Samaria. We are told also that one false prophet had made horns of iron to back up his false message that Ahab would gore the Syrians until they were destroyed (v.11). All the prophets were agreed in telling Ahab that the Lord would deliver Ramoth into Ahab's hand. But Jehoshaphat knew that these prophets were only Ahab's "yes men," with no authority to speak for the Lord at all.

The messenger who called Micaiah urged him to agree with the false prophets because they were all agreed (v.13), but Micaiah told him that whatever the Lord told him to speak he would speak (v.14).

When Ahab asked Micaiah if he should go to Ramoth or not, Micaiah answered just at the false prophets did, "Go and prosper, for the Lord will deliver it into the hand of the king" (v.15). But Ahab knew that Micaiah spoke sarcastically, and he reproved him for not telling the truth in the name of the Lord (v.16). Why did he not tell the false prophets the same? Because they spoke by the power of evil spirits and sounded convincing. Micaiah had no such power behind what he had said, and Ahab knew the difference.

Therefore Micaiah now spoke by the power of the Spirit of God, giving a message that was far from welcome to Ahab, "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 house in peace" (v.17). He said nothing about a battle, whether Israel or Syria would win,. but only that Israel would be left without a leader. Of course this pointed to the death of Ahab, and Ahab petulantly reminded Jehoshaphat that he had said Micaiah always prophesied evil against Ahab (v.18).

However, Micaiah had more to say, telling them, "Therefore hear the word of the Lord." He had a message from God of vital consequence. He had seen the Lord on His throne and all the host of heaven standing by. It may seem strange that this included evil spirits, but God is in perfect control of satanic powers as well as all other powers.

God had already determined that Ahab would fall at Ramoth Gilead, and God questioned the spirits as to which of them could persuade Ahab to go to Ramoth Gilead. Some spoke in different ways as to how they could accomplish this (v.20), but one said he would go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of Ahab's prophets (vs.21-22). The Lord told him, "Go out and do so," for this would persuade Ahab.

Thus God, who is in perfect control of every matter, had put a lying spirit in the mouth of Ahab's prophets, and He had declared disaster against Ahab (v.23). In this prophecy we see how God can use even those who are most opposed to Him to accomplish His own ends. One of the false prophets, Zedekiah, became bitterly angry at Micaiah and struck him on the cheek, saying haughtily, "Which way did the spirit go from me to speak to you?" (v.24).

Micaiah however did not respond angrily to this injustice, but faithfully prophesied, "Indeed you shall see on that day when you go into an inner chamber to hide" (v.25). Zedekiah would certainly remember these words when this prophecy was fulfilled. He would then be convinced of his own folly, whether he would repent or not.

But Ahab gave orders that Micaiah was to be put in prison on a diet of only bread and water until Ahab returned in peace (v.27). This was gross cruelty, for Ahab had asked Micaiah to give him the word of the Lord and Micaiah had done so. But even this sentence did not intimidate Micaiah. He firmly declared, "if you ever return in peace, the Lord has not spoken by me." More than this, he appealed to every one present, "Take heed, all you people." Why did Jehoshaphat at least not reason with Ahab against his unjust treatment of Micaiah? Because he had already compromised righteousness by his alliance with Ahab, and evil associations will always rob us of courage of faith.

In spite of such warning as Micaiah had given, Ahab was determined in his course and wanted to make every effort to defeat Micaiah's prophecy, so in going to battle he disguised himself, yet told Jehoshaphat to wear his kingly robes (v.30)! Did Jehoshaphat not realize that Ahab wanted him to die rather than Ahab himself? The king of Syria had instructed his men to fight only with the king of Israel and with no one else. Naturally, when the soldiers saw Jehoshaphat with his kingly attire, they thought he was Ahab and came to attack him. Jehoshaphat cried out, but evidently not to Lord. The soldiers realized he was not Ahab, and left him. Thus the Lord preserved Jehoshaphat by pure grace (vs.32-33).

THE DEATH OF AHAB

(vs.34-40)

While Jehoshaphat in his kingly robes was spared from death, not so Ahab in his disguise, for a man shot an arrow from a bow at random and the arrow struck Ahab, penetrating between the joints of his armor (v.34). Certainly it was God who directed that arrow. Ahab told his chariot driver to take him out of the battle, for he was wounded. Though he was propped up in his chariot, he died at evening (v.35). Israel was left without a leader, as Micaiah had prophesied.

Then a shout was heard telling every man to return to his own city or country. The battle was over without Israel gaining its objective. The king was buried in Samaria, but the blood washed from his chariot was licked up by dogs, as Elijah had prophesied to Ahab (ch.21:19). Such was the end of the most wicked king Israel ever had. Things he did during his life are mentioned in verse 39, his building an ivory house and several cities, but he is remembered for his wickedness rather than for his accomplishments. His son Ahaziah took the throne at his death.

JEHOSHAPHAT'S REIGN IN JUDAH

(vs.41-50)

Not a great deal is said about Jehoshaphat in Kings, though more is recorded of him in 2 Chronicles 17:1-19; 2 Chronicles 18:1-34; 2 Chronicles 19:1-11; 2 Chronicles 20:1-37. He became king at 35 years of age and reigned 25 years. He followed the exaniple of his father Asa, in general doing what was right before God. However, he allowed the high places of worship to remain, where the people offered sacrifices and burned incense (v.43). These high places had an idolatrous association, so the sacrifices were not really sacrificed to the Lord. They were like the present day religious show of "every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God" (2 Corinthians 10:5). Hezekiah later had the spiritual energy to remove the high places (2 Kings 18:4). Yet they were brought back after this, and Josiah "defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense" (2 Kings 23:8). But Jehoshaphat did not have the same godly zeal as Josiah.

Jehoshaphat failed also in his making peace with Ahab, king of Israel. Perhaps he thought he was being gracious in this friendship, but this was a mistaken view of grace, for it ignored faithfulness to God.

Verse 45 tells us that other activities of Jehoshaphat are recorded in the book of the Chronicles. But it is added that he banished from the land those morally perverted people who had remained in the land after the death of Asa (v.46). Edom had no king, being in subjection to Israel (v.47).

Jehoshaphat evidently wanted to follow Solomon in building ships to bring gold from Ophir, but the ships were wrecked at Ezion Geber. 2 Chronicles 20:37 shows us the reason for their wreckage. Jehoshaphat had unwisely allied himself with Ahaziah the son of Ahab, who followed his father in wickedness, so God sent a prophet to Jehoshaphat to tell him that He would destroy his works. Ezion Geber means "the counsel of a man." Jehoshaphat had sought such counsel, not the counsel of God.

Even after this Ahaziah asked Jehoshaphat to let his servants go with those of Jehoshaphat in the ships, but Jehoshaphat had learned a serious lesson, so he refused (v.49). Why should he have more ships wrecked? Yet we might ask, was he more concerned about the consequences of making wrong alliances, such as having his ships wrecked, than he was about simply honoring God by abstaining from making wrong alliances? Whether we suffer for this kind of thing of not, the fact is that God has told us. "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers," and simple faith will desire obey the Word of God without questioning. But it seems Jehoshaphat was slow to learn, for he should have realized through the history of Ahab's attempt to regain Ramoth Gilead that his friendship with Ahab was foolish. Why are we so slow to learn?

Jehoshaphat's death is recorded in verse 50, his burial being in Jerusalem. In the main had had been a good king, and God fully approved of this, though we cannot ignore the blemishes that were found in him, but rather should deeply learn not to fail in the same sad ways that he did. Jehoram his son then took the throne of Judah.

AHAZIAH'S REIGN IN ISRAEL

(vs.51-53)

Ahaziah began to reign in Israel in the 17th year of Jehoshaphat. But he reigned only two years in Samaria, adopting the same evil course as Ahab and Jezebel who followed Jereboam the son of Nebat who made Israel sin. He worshiped and served Baal, which provoked the Lord to anger.

Thus ends the first Book of Kings, a history that confirms the fact that authority put into the hands of men ends in general failure. How true is the word of Ezekiel 21:27, "Overthrown, Overthrown, I will make it overthrown! It shall be no longer, until He comes whose right it is, and I will give it to Him." Every kingdom of man will have its turn in being overthrown. What a relief for the entire world when Christ who alone has the right of authority will take His great power and reign!

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 1 Kings 22:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/1-kings-22.html. 1897-1910.

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