1 Kings 22:19
And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left.
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(19-22) The symbolic vision of Micaiah, which naturally recalls the well-known description in Job 1:6-12 of the intercourse of Satan with the Lord Himself, is to be taken as a symbol, and nothing more. (Josephus, characteristically enough, omits it altogether.) The one idea to be conveyed is the delusion of the false prophets by a spirit of evil, as a judgment of God on Ahab’s sin, and on their degradation of the prophetic office. The imagery is borrowed from the occasion. It is obviously drawn from the analogy of a royal court, where, as is the case before Micaiah’s eyes, the king seeks counsel against his enemies.

1 Kings 22:19. And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the Lord — Because thou givest credit to thy false prophets, and disbelievest my words, as if they were but the suggestions of my own fancy, and of hatred to thy person, I will give thee a distinct and true account of the whole matter in God’s name and presence. I saw the Lord sitting on his throne — Not with his bodily eyes certainly, for with them he could not see God, but with the eyes of his mind, or rather in a vision. For we must by no means look upon what follows as the relation of an affair really transacted, but merely as an account of a symbolical vision, like that of Peter, (Acts 10.,) when he saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him; whereby Micaiah was informed how it came to pass that so many prophets prophesied falsely, or contrary to what the event of things would prove; which was, that these prophets were influenced, not by the Spirit of God, which is the spirit of truth, but by an evil spirit, a spirit of error and falsehood, of flattery and dissimulation. For we should form most unjust ideas of the truth and holiness of God, if we supposed he would really send a spirit of lying into any of his prophets, which they could not distinguish from true inspiration; for this would be to confound false prophecy with true, and to make God the author of moral evil, which he can in no way or manner ever be. It would have been to overturn the whole authority of prophecy; for, if the true prophets had been once actuated by a false spirit, there would have been an end of placing any dependance on them for the future. The whole foundation of their authority would have been overthrown.

22:15-28 The greatest kindness we can do to one that is going in a dangerous way, is, to tell him of his danger. To leave the hardened criminal without excuse, and to give a useful lesson to others, Micaiah related his vision. This matter is represented after the manner of men: we are not to imagine that God is ever put upon new counsels; or that he needs to consult with angels, or any creature, about the methods he should take; or that he is the author of sin, or the cause of any man's telling or believing a lie. Micaiah returned not the blow of Zedekiah, yet, since he boasted of the Spirit, as those commonly do that know least of the Holy Spirit's operations, the true prophet left him to be convinced of his error by the event. Those that will not have their mistakes set right in time, by the word of God, will be undeceived, when it is too late, by the judgments of God. We should be ashamed of what we call trials, were we to consider what the servants of God have endured. Yet it will be well, if freedom from trouble prove not more hurtful to us; we are more easily allured and bribed into unfaithfulness and conformity to the world, than driven to them.David's Psalms had familiarised the Israelites with Yahweh sitting upon a throne in the heavens (Psalm 9:7; Psalm 11:4; Psalm 45:6; Psalm 103:19, etc.); but to be allowed to see in vision the ineffable glory of the Almighty thus seated, was a rare favor. It was granted to Isaiah, to Daniel (marginal references), to Ezekiel EZechariah 1:26, and in Christian times to Stephen Acts 7:56, and John Rev 4:2.18-23. Did I not tell thee that he would prophesy no good concerning me, but evil?—Since Ahab was disposed to trace this unwelcome truth to personal enmity, Micaiah proceeded fearlessly to tell the incensed monarch in full detail what had been revealed to him. The Hebrew prophets, borrowing their symbolic pictures from earthly scenes, described God in heaven as a king in His kingdom. And as earthly princes do nothing of importance without asking the advice of their counsellors, God is represented as consulting about the fate of Ahab. This prophetic language must not be interpreted literally, and the command must be viewed as only a permission to the lying spirit (Ro 11:34) [Calmet]. Because thou givest credit to thy false prophets, and distrustest my words, as if they were but the suggestions of my own fancy, and hatred of thy person, I will give thee a distinct and true account of the whole matter, in God’s name and presence.

I saw the Lord, by the eyes of my mind; for he could not see the Lord with bodily eyes.

The host of heaven, i.e. the angels, who are oft called God’s host or hosts, because of their great number, excellent order, and constant readiness to attend upon God, and to execute his commands. See Genesis 2:1 Psalm 103:21 148:2. These angels were both good and bad; the one possibly on his right, the other on his left hand. Nor is it strange that the devils are called the host of heaven, if you consider, first, That their original seat was in heaven, and men in Scripture are oft called by the name of the place from whence they came. Secondly, That the name of heaven is oft given to all that part of the world which is above the earth, and among the rest to the air, as Genesis 1:20 7:11 8:2 27:28 Deu 4:11 11:11, where the devil’s residence and dominion lies, Ephesians 2:2; and that both Michael and his angels, and the dragon and his angels, are said to be and to wage war in heaven, Revelation 12:7, i.e. either the air, or the church. And this place is not to be understood as if Micaiah had seen with his bodily eyes the Lord and his angels sitting in the third heaven; but that he saw a representation of the Divine presence in the air, attended with good and bad angels.

Standing by him, in the posture of ministers, to receive and execute his commands.

And he saith, hear thou therefore the word of the Lord,.... Since he had represented what he had said as proceeding from hatred to him, he would make it clear and plain that what he had said was the word of the Lord, and according to his mind; and that what the other prophets had said was owing to a lying spirit in them, which the Lord suffered for his ruin; all which are represented as in a vision, in which things are brought down to the capacities of men, and not as really transacted:

I saw the Lord sitting on his throne; so it was represented to his mind, as if he had seen with his bodily eyes the divine Being in a glorious form, as a king sitting on his throne, to do justice and judgment; as Ahab and Jehoshaphat were now sitting on their thrones, only as a far greater King, even the King of kings, and in a more splendid manner:

and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left the ministering angels ready to do his will.

And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the {p} host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left.

(p) Meaning, his angels.

19. And he said] After these words the LXX. adds οὐχ οὕτως οὐκ ἐγώ, ‘Not so, I do not.’ Here we can discern how the insertion was made. The next word in the Hebrew text is לכן= Therefore. This the translators have taken for לא כן = not so, and have put in the οὐκ ἐγὼ to round off the sense. Apparently they must have seen or thought they saw the same reading in 1 Kings 22:17 above, for there they have made a similar insertion.

Hear thou therefore] R.V. Therefore hear thou. Conforming to the order of the Hebrew, and the order in 2 Chronicles.

I saw the Lord] A vision in which Micaiah had been shewn the heavenly council-chamber. Jehovah was sitting as ruler of the universe, and all ministers waiting around to speed at His bidding. These are the ministering spirits of Hebrews 1:14. But they also discharge other ministry, as when the angel of the Lord destroyed David’s people (2 Samuel 24:16) or the army of Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:35).

Verse 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 כֵּן before them (Bahr). 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, 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 22:19Micah was not led astray, however, by this, but disclosed to him by a further revelation the hidden ground of the false prophecy of his 400 prophets. וגו שׁמע לכן, "therefore, sc. because thou thinkest so, hear the word of Jehovah: I saw the Lord sit upon His throne, and all the army of heaven stand around him (עליו עמד as in Genesis 18:8, etc.) on His right hand and on His left. And the Lord said, Who will persuade Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth in Gilead? and one spake so, the other so; and the spirit came forth (from the ranks of the rest), stood before Jehovah, and said, I will persuade him...I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And He (Jehovah) said, Persuade, and thou wilt also be able; go forth and do so. And now Jehovah has put a lying spirit into the mouth of all his prophets; but Jehovah (Himself) has spoken evil (through me) concerning thee." The vision described by Micah was not merely a subjective drapery introduced by the prophet, but a simple communication of the real inward vision by which the fact had been revealed to him, that the prophecy of those 400 prophets was inspired by a lying spirit. The spirit (הרוּח) which inspired these prophets as a lying spirit is neither Satan, nor any evil spirit whatever, but, as the definite article and the whole of the context show, the personified spirit of prophecy, which is only so far a πνεῦμα ἀκάθαρτον τῆς πλάνης (Zechariah 13:2; 1 John 4:6) and under the influence of Satan as it works as שׁקר רוּח in accordance with the will of God. For even the predictions of the false prophets, as we may see from the passage before us, and also from Zechariah 13:2 and the scriptural teaching in other passages concerning the spiritual principle of evil, were not mere inventions of human reason and fancy; but the false prophets as well as the true were governed by a supernatural spiritual principle, and, according to divine appointment, were under the influence of the evil spirit in the service of falsehood, just as the true prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit in the service of the Lord. The manner in which the supernatural influence of the lying spirit upon the false prophets is brought out in Micah's vision is, that the spirit of prophecy (רוח הנבואה) offers itself to deceive Ahab as שׁקר רוּח in the false prophets. Jehovah sends this spirit, inasmuch as the deception of Ahab has been inflicted upon him as a judgment of God for his unbelief. But there is no statement here to the effect that this lying spirit proceeded from Satan, because the object of the prophet was simply to bring out the working of God in the deception practised upon Ahab by his prophets. - The words of Jehovah, "Persuade Ahab, thou wilt be able," and "Jehovah has put a lying spirit," etc., are not to be understood as merely expressing the permission of God, as the fathers and the earlier theologians suppose. According to the Scriptures, God does work evil, but without therefore willing it and bringing forth sin. The prophet's view is founded upon this thought: Jehovah has ordained that Ahab, being led astray by a prediction of his prophets inspired by the spirit of lies, shall enter upon the war, that he may find therein the punishment of his ungodliness. As he would not listen to the word of the Lord in the mouth of His true servants, God had given him up (παρέδωκεν, Romans 1:24, Romans 1:26, Romans 1:28) in his unbelief to the working of the spirits of lying. But that this did not destroy the freedom of the human will is evident from the expression תּפתּה, "thou canst persuade him," and still more clearly from תּוּכל גּם, "thou wilt also be able," since they both presuppose the possibility of resistance to temptation on the part of man.

Zedekiah was so enraged at this unveiling of the spirit of lying by which the pseudo-prophets were impelled, that he smote Micah upon the cheek, and said (1 Kings 22:24): "Where did the Spirit of Jehovah depart from me, to speak to thee?" To אי־זה the Chronicles add as an explanation, הדּרך: "by what way had he gone from me?" (cf. 2 Kings 3:8, and Ewald, 326, a.) Zedekiah was conscious that he had not invented his prophecy himself, and therefore it was that he rose up with such audacity against Micah; but he only proved that it was not the Spirit of God which inspired him. If he had been inspired by the Spirit of the Lord, he would not have thought it necessary to try and give effect to his words by rude force, but he would have left the defence of his cause quietly to the Lord, as Micah did, who calmly replied to the zealot thus (1 Kings 22:25): "Thou wilt see it (that the Spirit of Jehovah had departed from thee) on the day when thou shalt go from chamber to chamber to hide thyself" (החבה for החבא, see Ges. 75, Anm. 21). This was probably fulfilled at the close of the war, when Jezebel or the friends of Ahab made the pseudo-prophets suffer for the calamitous result; although there is nothing said about this in our history, which confines itself to the main facts.

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