and tell them that this is what the king says: 'Put this man in prison and feed him only bread and water until I return safely.'"
Joshua 10:13; 2 Samuel 1:18; 1 Kings 11:41; 1 Chronicles 9:1). Inspiration selects from histories typical or representative incidents to bring out the principles of the grace and truth of God. In the scene before us we have types of wickedness in Zedekiah and Ahab, the one ecclesiastical, the other civil, which may be profitably studied in the arguments they use contending with Micaiah, the representative of the truth of God. These arguments are -
I. RAGE AGAINST THE TRUTH. The reason is obvious, viz., because the truth is the worst that can be said of the wicked.
1. It is the worst that can be said of their character.
(1) It shows up their selfishness. The one object of Ahab was that "good" might be prophesied for him. To gain this he sold himself to his four hundred liars. These liars, to gain the patronage of Ahab, sold their consciences. Because Ahab could not gain flattery from Micaiah, he hated him.
(2) It shows up their folly. For what was the selfishness of Ahab but self-deception? The patronage of liars could not convert falsehood into truth, neither could the persecution of a true man convert truth into falsehood. Zedekiah, in deceiving Ahab, deceived his own soul. All sin is folly.
(3) It evinces their degradation, for it proves them to be the dupes and serfs of infernal spirits. Can degradation go lower?
2. It is the worst that can be said of their doom.
(1) The wicked are to be destroyed in time. Ahab in particular was to fall at Ramoth-Gilead. From that battle he was "not to return in peace." Zedekiah was to "go into an inner chamber to hide himself," as Ben-hadad had done (1 Kings 20:30), and there to meet his fate. While to the righteous death is an entrance to glory, it is the "king of terrors" to the wicked (see 1 Corinthians 15:55-57). The sting is here:
(2) The wicked are to be destroyed in eternity. The alarm with which the ancients received predictions of maltreatment to their corpses arose from their apprehension that it presaged a posthumous retribution upon the soul. The dogs licking the blood of Ahab would suggest that devils would not only be the instigators but also the instruments of his ruin.
(3) Who can estimate the horrors of damnation? The truth will prove to be the worst that can be said of the lost. Is it wonderful, then, that the wicked should abhor the truth?
3. They are therefore constrained to hypocrisy.
(1) For their own sakes they have to play the hypocrite. They conceal their selfishness and affect generosity, conscious that were their base soul hunger to come honestly to the day, they would become odious. They hide their folly and affect wisdom lest they should suffer contempt.
(2) For the sake of society wicked men are hypocrites. Were they to be honestly known to each other, respect and confidence would be at an end; in fact, society would be impossible. There are no friendships in hell.
II. THE RESENTMENT OF VIOLENCE.
1. The logic of the wicked is weak.
(1) Zedekiah's speech was pertinacious: "Which way went the Spirit of the Lord from me to speak unto thee?" He assumed what Micaiah had not conceded, that he ever had the Spirit of the Lord. Micaiah had declared him, on the contrary, to have been influenced by a "spirit" of a very different description. Zedekiah also denied what he should have disproved, viz., that Micaiah had the Spirit of the Lord.
(2) Ahab wanted a prophet of the God of truth to tell lies to please him. He found four hundred to tell him lies, professedly in the name of the Lord. But the one honest man who told him the truth he imprisoned, because the truth did not please him. Yet the truth was what he adjured him to tell. What reason is there in all this?
2. The strength of the wicked is tyranny.
(1) The reason of Zedekiah was in his fist (ver. 24). "Which way?" From the fist to the cheek? The coward us d this argument with a council of four hundred ecclesiastics about him, and the civil power in reserve. So was Jesus insulted (see Matthew 26:57-68). So were the Protestant confessors. False prophets have ever been the worst enemies of the true. Micaiah did not return the blow, but referred the decision to God. True prophets wield other than carnal weapons.
(2) The reason of Ahab was in his bribes and prisons. Micaiah could not be cajoled as the four hundred were, therefore "the king of Israel said, Take Micaiah, carry him back unto Amen the governor of the city, and to Joash the king's son, and say, Thus saith the king, put this fellow in prison, and feed him with bread of affliction, and with water of affliction, until I come in peace."
(3) But truth is not vanquished thus. How confident was Ahab that he should "come in peace"! And this is that Ahab who three or four years before so sagaciously said to Ben-hadad, "Let not him that girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off." Persistency in sin does not sharpen men's wits. Time vindicates truth. To this vindicator Micaiah called the attention of the people (ver. 29).
(4) But where was Jehoshaphat? He was silent when he should have spoken for the prophet of God. See the influence of bad company. "So the king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth-Gilead." Alas, Jehoshaphat! - J.A.M.
Martin Luther once said: "It is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience." But Ahab puts Micaiah in prison, and we shut up our consciences in a dungeon, and put a gag in their mouths, and a muffler over the gag, that we may hear them say no word, because we know what we are doing, and we are doggedly determined to do, is wrong.
Put this fellow in the prison.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
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