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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

2 Chronicles 18

 

 

Verses 1-34

JEHOSHAPHAT'S COMPROMISES

(vv.1-27)

Though Jehoshaphat had at first strengthened himself against Israel (ch.1:17), his decision wavered badly after he had become strong and wealthy. He became friendly with Ahab, a king of Israel "who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the Lord" (1 Kings 21:25). Did Jehoshaphat not realise that Israel was in a state of idolatrous worship and disregard for God? He must have done so at first or he would not have strengthened himself against Israel. Now by the very fact of his going to visit Ahab, he was compromising his devotion to the Lord (v.2). Ahab flattered him by offering large numbers of sheep and oxen for him, not for the Lord, though he may have wanted Jehoshaphat to take the impression that he was honouring the God of Israel.

In response to Ahab's request that Jehoshaphat go with him to fight against Ramoth Gilead, Jehoshaphat immediately responded favourably. He knew that Ramoth Gilead actually belonged to Israel but had been captured by the Syrians. But why had God allowed Syria to take Ramoth? Because of Israel's bad condition. Jehoshaphat did not mention this, but his conscience troubled him enough that he asked Ahab to enquire of the Lord about this project. How sad that he would first make his commitment and afterward suggest asking the Lord's guidance. But believers can sometimes be too kind to people.

Ahab however was agreeable and gathered together 400 prophets (or so-called prophets) to ask their counsel. But they already knew what Ahab wanted and they wanted to please him rather than have any concern for pleasing the Lord. They all dared to tell Ahab that God would deliver Ramoth into Ahab's hand (v.5). There are such smooth talking prophets today who claim to be speaking for God, but are plainly lying! If we have God's clear word in the scriptures, we may declare this with full confidence, but if we do not, then let us not dare to speak as though representing Him. For this we shall have to give account to Him.

Jehoshaphat was not persuaded by this great crowd of prophets. Why not? Because he was a believer and discerned that they did not speak as the oracles of God" (1 Peter 4:11), but merely as programmed robots with no spiritual conviction. He asked Ahab if there was not a prophet of the Lord available of whom they might inquire (v.6). Ahab admitted there was one prophet whom he had not called because Ahab hated him, since he did not prophesy good concerning Ahab, but always evil.

Since Jehoshaphat wanted to hear this prophet, however, Ahab had him brought. Both kings were sitting on thrones at the entrance of the gate of Samaria. One of the false prophets, Zedekiah, to draw special attention to himself, had made iron horns and prophesied that with these horns Ahab would attack and completely defeat the Syrians (v.10).

The messenger sent to call Micaiah thought it necessary to urge him to speak just the same as all the false prophets spoke (v.12). Micaiah's answer was simple and to the point: he would speak what God gave him to speak (v.13).

When Ahab asked Micaiah if he should go to war against Ramoth Gilead, Ahab knew that Micaiah was speaking sarcastically when he said, "Go and prosper, and they shall be delivered into your hand" (v.14). Notice, he did not say the Lord would deliver them, nor that his message was from God. But Ahab told Micaiah that he should only speak truth in the name of the Lord. Ahab knew the difference between the prophets, but he must have realised that none of those prophets had spoken truth in the name of the Lord! ¾ since Micaiah had said the same as they did.

Therefore Micaiah spoke the truth, "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.16). Terrible, startling message for Ahab! But he had asked for truth, and God gave it to him!

When Micaiah told Ahab that the Lord had prophesied that Israel would have no master, Ahab rightly considered that Micaiah had prophesied evil concerning him (v.17). But Micaiah had much more to say, and declared this to Ahab as the word of the Lord. He had seen the Lord on His throne and all the host of heaven standing, some on His right hand, others on His left. This included evil spirits. The Lord asked them, "Who will persuade Ahab king of Israel to go up that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?" After some had made suggestions, a spirit spoke confidently that he would persuade Ahab, by being a lying spirit In the mouths of all Ahab's prophets. This may seem a strange situation, but it illustrates the fact that the Lord allows evil spirits to do their evil work of lying so that ungodly people will be deceived, just as 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17 indicates the folly of those who are deceived by the strong delusion the Lord sends by means of the antichrist because of people's refusing to believe the truth of God (vv.6-11). Thus, because Ahab had refused God's Word, he would accept the falsehood of Satan's prophets. Micaiah therefore declares that the Lord had put a lying spirit in the mouths of these prophets, and the Lord had declared disaster to fall on Ahab (v.22).

Ahab was not happy about such a prophecy, but it did not change his stubborn will to do as he pleased. But Hezekiah! Surely he realised that this prophecy was from God, but he had already committed himself to accompany Ahab.. What did Hezekiah think when Zedekiah not only spoke disdainfully to Micaiah, but struck him on the cheek, claiming that since he himself had spoken by the Spirit of the Lord, how could the Spirit have spoken to Micaiah? (v.23). Such was the contemptible wickedness of a false prophet. Micaiah replied that Zedekiah would yet have the experience of going into an inner chamber to hide himself (v.24). When that did take place, what would be the thoughts of that poor, deluded dupe of Satan?

In foolish pride Ahab commanded that Micaiah should be put in prison and fed only bread and water until Ahab returned in peace (v.26). Did he think such action would defeat the prophecy of Micaiah? But Micaiah gave one parting message, "If you ever return in peace. the Lord has not spoken by me" (v.27). He emphasised this by calling on all the people to witness what he said. Why did Hezekiah say nothing? He surely ought to have defended the man of God.

THE DEATH OF AHAB

(vv.28-34)

Ahab feared there might be some truth to Micaiah's prophecy, and he exposed both that fear and his own selfishness when he told Jehoshaphat to wear his royal robes, saying that he would disguise himself! ¾ He was plainly telling Jehoshaphat that he would much rather see him killed than himself! But Jehoshaphat meekly submitted to this.

The Syrians knew that in this battle Ahab was their chief enemy, and their king gave orders that his men were to concentrate only on attacking, Ahab (v.30). When the captains of the chariots of Syria saw Jehoshaphat in his royal attire, they of course thought he was Ahab and surrounded him in his chariot, just as Ahab desired! Jehoshaphat cried out, but it is not said he cried out to the Lord. Why not? Perhaps it was because he had (rather unwillingly) left the Lord out of this whole project and was not so confident of the Lord's protection. But in pure grace the Lord helped him and diverted the Syrians from him when they realised he was not the king of Israel (vv.31-32).

However, Ahab's disguise did not fool God, and it was God who directed a Syrian to shoot an arrow at random, and God caused the arrow to pierce through between the joints of Ahab's armour, inflicting a mortal wound. Ahab ordered his chariot driver to turn and take him out of the battle (v.33). Why did he prop himself up in his chariot? Was it because he wanted to persuade himself that he was not so badly injured and would by this means defeat the likelihood of death? How many there are who seek to prop themselves up instead of turning in prayer to God! They will no more succeed than did Ahab. He died about the time of sunset. 1 Kings 22:38 adds that his chariot was washed in Samaria and the dogs licked up his blood, as Elijah had prophesied (1 Kings 21:19).

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 18:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/2-chronicles-18.html. 1897-1910.

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