1 Kings 22:8
The king of Israel answered, "There is still one man who can ask the LORD, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good for me, but only bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah." "The king should not say that!" Jehoshaphat replied.
Sermons
Aim in Preaching1 Kings 22:8
An Unpleasant View Blocked UpSword and Trowel.1 Kings 22:8
Dislike to the PreacherSpurgeon, Charles Haddon1 Kings 22:8
Hostility to Truth Lies in the WillCanon Liddon.1 Kings 22:8
Loyalty to TruthThe Duke of Wellington.1 Kings 22:8
Micaiah Prophesying EvilC. Girdlestone, M. A.1 Kings 22:8
Preachers for the TimesQuiver.1 Kings 22:8
Standing AloneH. O. Mackey.1 Kings 22:8
The Hated Prophet of EvilJ. Waite, B. A.1 Kings 22:8
Truth Most RequiredA. Maclaren, D. D.1 Kings 22:8
Bad CompanyJ.A. Macdonald 1 Kings 22:1-8
Crime Brings its Own PunishmentJ. Urquhart 1 Kings 22:1-28
Character of JehoshaphatR. S. Candlish, D. D.1 Kings 22:2-50
The Character of AhabR. S. Candlish, D. D.1 Kings 22:2-50
According to the order of the chapters in the LXX., which is probably the original or true order, chapter 20. should immediately precede this. Then, after the history of the war between Ahab and Ben-hadad, this chapter opens naturally: "And they continued three years without war between Syria and Israel." In the third year of this peace Jehoshaphat visited Ahab; and from this visit arose serious events, which are admonitory to us that we should avoid the company of the wicked.

I. BAD COMPANY COMPROMISES CHARACTER.

1. It injures morals.

(1) The earlier career of Jehoshaphat was faultless. He is highly commended for his faithfulness to God and zeal against idolatry (2 Chronicles 17:1-6).

(2) His first fault was sanctioning the marriage of his son Jehoram with Athaliah the daughter of Ahab (2 Kings 8:18, 26).

(3) This led the way to the further fault of that friendly visit to Ahab mentioned here, for which he was rebuked by "Jehu the son of Hanani the seer" (2 Chronicles 19:2).

(4) Yet once again we find him falling into a similar snare. He agreed with Ahaziah the son of Ahab, a wicked scion of wicked house, jointly to equip a fleet at the port of Ezion-Geber, on the Bed Sea, to sail to Ophir for gold. In this also he incurred the anger of the Lord and suffered the loss of his fleet (ver. 48; 2 Chronicles 20:35-37). Note: A fault is like a seed, fruitful "after its kind." A fault once committed prepares the way for a repetition.

2. It damages reputation.

(1) Reputation is character as estimated by men. This estimate may or may not be just; for men may judge wrongly through ignorance of circumstances which would put a new complexion upon conduct. Therefore judgments should be charitable, and not too hastily formed.

(2) But it is a maxim among men, generally true, that "you may know a man by his friends." Friendships involve sympathies. It had been better for Jehoshaphat's reputation had he never made affinity with the wicked house of Ahab.

(3) This principle will apply to books. Hence the kindred maxim, "You may see a man in his library." It is bad enough when the newspaper shuts up the Bible; it is worse when the Bible is neglected through preference for sensational fictitious literature.

3. It impairs influence.

(1) This follows. Character is influence. Reputation is influence. Advice will be readily received from a genuine man, which coming from an artificial character would be spurned.

(2) What a power for good or evil is moral influence! See the evil exemplified in Israel under Ahab and Jezebel. See the good in Judah under Jehoshaphat. Lessons: Let your character be true. Jealously guard your reputation. Look to these for the sake of your influence.

II. BAD COMPANY COMPROMISES HAPPINESS. Because -

1. Happiness is involved in character.

(1) This truth is abundantly illustrated in sacred history. Examples are furnished in the text. Secular history teaches this truth. Everyday experience evinces it.

(2) Yet is it difficult so to convince individuals of this as to lead them to abandon sin and throw their energies wholly into the blessed service of God. Happiness is proportionate to the completeness of consecration. This consecration cannot be reconciled with the friendship of the world (James 4:4).

2. Goodness is grieved in it.

(1) Jehoshaphat was not long in the company of Ahab before his ear was offended by horrible words. "I hate him." Whom did Ahab hate? Micaiah, the faithful prophet of the Lord. Does not this look like a declaration of hatred against the Lord? (See Proverbs 14:31; Proverbs 17:5; Zechariah 2:8.)

(2) Why does Ahab hate Micaiah? "For he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil." Because he does not falsify the truth of God to flatter me. Because he does not play the devil to please me, as these four hundred do! Note: Hatred to God means love to Satan.

(3) Such sentiments were distressing to the feelings of Jehoshaphat. To the revulsion of his righteous soul he gave expression (but too feeble) in the remonstrance, "Let not the king say so." The conversation of such as are in sympathy with evil will offend the good in proportion to their pureness.

3. It leads the most wary into trouble. For the persuasions of the wicked are subtle.

(1) In presence of Jehoshaphat "The king of Israel said unto his servants, Know ye that Ramoth in Gilead is ours, and we be still, and take it not out of the hand of the king of Syria?" It was a considerable city in the tribe of Gad on the other side Jordan, and one of the cities of refuge. It was one of the cities which Ben-hadad, by the letter of his covenant, was bound to restore (see 1 Kings 20:34). The cause of Israel was obviously just.

(2) Then turning to Jehoshaphat, Ahab said, "Wilt thou go with me to battle at Ramoth-Gilead?" To which, carried away with the obvious justice of the cause, Jehoshaphat responded, "I am as thou art, my people as thy people, my horses as thy horses." This was too strong a compliment to Ahab and his people, and the response was too ready. We may not champion every just cause. It may be wrong to champion a good cause in wicked company.

(3) Bethinking himself, as a godly man should do, "Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Inquire, I pray thee, at the word of the Lord." A good man seeks to take God with him, and so long as he abides in this holy company he is safe. But let him beware that he be not persuaded by the wicked to forsake it.

(4) Ahab was equal to the occasion. He had four hundred prophets ready with one mouth to pronounce for the war, and that, too, in the name of the Lord. This hireling company, however, did not satisfy Jehoshaphat, yet he fell into their snare. He should have availed himself of the opportunity to withdraw given him in the prophecy of Micaiah; but, under the spell of Ahab's evil influence, he went to the battle and got into trouble. There is no safety in the company of the wicked.

4. It provokes judgments of God.

(1) The good partake in the plagues of their wicked associates. Jehoshaphat barely escaped, through the mercy of God, with his life; and he suffered the loss of many of his people (see Revelation 18:4). The fly that keeps aloof is not entangled in the spider's web.

(2) The good incur Divine judgments for their own sin. The sin of friendship with the enemies of God. The sin such friendship must infallibly occasion. Such was the experience of Jehoshaphat (see 2 Chronicles 19:2). Such will be yours. Avoid it. - J.A.M.







There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah.
In all the course of my acquaintance with Sir Robert Peel, I never knew a man in whose truth and justice I had a more lively confidence. In the whole course of my communication with him, I never knew an instance in which he did not show the strongest attachment to truth, and I never saw, in the whole course of my life, the smallest reason for suspecting that he stated anything which he did not firmly believe to be the fact.

(The Duke of Wellington.)

I. YOU ARE IN DANGER OF COMMITTING AHAB'S FOLLY, IN THE CHOICE OF YOUR ACQUAINTANCES AND FRIENDS. You find some ready to give you countenance, by their example and conversation, in all the evil which your heart desires; willing, whatever be your besetting sin, to help you in excusing it to your conscience; forward, however unholy be your enterprise, to say with the false prophets of Samaria, "Go up; for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king" (Ver. 6) There are others who warn you of evil, who recommend you to desist from sinful courses, whose very example is a reproof to you, though their tongue be silent; Now which sort of friends do you most highly esteem?

II. A LIVELY WARNING AGAINST THE UNWISE CONDUCT OF MANY PERSONS IN THE CHOICE OF THEIR RELIGION. But be ye well assured, that one kind of religion only can be right; and that this must be one which prophesieth evil concerning you, which tells you that you are lost if you sin, and which bids you seek for heaven, not by show of piety, not by dissension one with another, not by resorting to images, and saints, and masses; but by secret wrestling with your own desires, by fervent spiritual prayer, and by painful denial of yourselves, in the faith and by the strength of Jesus Christ your Saviour.

III. TO PROFESS THE RIGHT FAITH IS ONE THING; TO APPLY IT RIGHTLY IN OUR PRACTICE IS ANOTHER. It may be you fall not into the error of running after false systems of faith, and yet regard not as you ought to do the prophets of the truth. And into this error you may fall, either in regard to the public preaching, or to the private exhortations, of the ministers of religion. "He doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil," is a reflection with which you often probably return home from church.

(C. Girdlestone, M. A.)

When Archbishop Abbot was visited by one of James I.'s emissaries, who came to persuade him to do evil to please the court, he stood boldly in defiance of the royal request, and asked: "Shall I, to please King James, and to shelter and satisfy his vile favourites, shall I send my soul to hell? No, I will not do it!" So he stood alone in that unholy court, and sought to be true to the King of kings. The price for becoming traitor to God is too great for us to afford

(H. O. Mackey.).

I hate him, for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil
I. A GUILTY CONSCIENCE MAKES MEN FEAR THE TRUTH. And yet, how senseless and impolitic is this! Whatever the reality of things may be, is it not better that we should know it, rather than live in a fool's paradise of flattering self-delusions, crying, "Peace, peace," when there is no peace? It was a wise and noble spirit that said, "I will seek after the truth, by which no man was ever injured." We have mastered one of the grandest lessons of life when we have learnt to welcome the truth from whatever quarter it may come.

II. FEAR OF TRUTH MAY OFTEN DEVELOP INTO PERSONAL HATE OF HIM WHO IS THE MESSENGER AND MINISTER OF IT. "I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil." There is nothing strange in this. A very subtle connection exists between the conditions of mind here indicated. Fear leads to hate, and is itself a form of hate. The feeling of aversion is readily transferred from the thing dreaded to him who is the means of bringing it upon us; .and when a man hates the light, he is not likely to have much love for the human medium through whom it shines.

III. Divine laws and purposes are surely accomplished, in spite of human fear and hate. The "lying spirit" in the pretended prophets may utter its persuasive flatteries (ver. 22); Zedekiah may add violence to falsity (ver. 24); Micaiah may be imprisoned and fed with "the bread and water of affliction" (ver. 27), — but the fatal decree has gone forth, and must be fulfilled. The king shall return no more from Ramoth-Gilead.

(J. Waite, B. A.)

Many an objector to Christianity in our day, if he said out what he really thinks, would say, "I disbelieve Christianity, because it does not prophecy good concerning me, but evil; it makes such serious demands, it sets up so high a standard, it implies that so much I say and do is a great mistake that I must away with it. I cannot do and be what it enjoins without doing violence to my inclinations, to my fixed habits of life and thought." This, before his conversion, was the case with the great . Augustine tells us in his Confessions how completely he was enchained by his passions, and how, after lie had become intellectually satisfied of the truth of the creed of the Christian Church, he was held back from conversion by the fear that he would have to give up so much to which he was attached. In the end, we know, through God's grace he broke his chains — those chains which held poor Ahab captive. In such cases lasting self-deceit is only too easy. Men treat what is only a warp of the will as if it were a difficulty of the understanding, while the real agent — ought I not to say the real culprit? — is almost always the will. The will sees religion advancing to claim the allegiance of the will, it sees that to admit this claim will oblige it to forego much, and to do much that is unwelcome to flesh and blood, and so it makes an effort to clog or to hinder the direct action of the understanding. Its public language is, "I cannot accept religion because it makes this or that assertion, which to my mind is open to historical or philosophical or moral objections of a decisive character"; but, if it saw deeper into itself, it would say, "I dislike this creed, for it doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil, while I continue to live as I do."

(Canon Liddon.)

"It was an old joke against Lord Islay, who formerly lived at Hounslow, that ordering his gardener to cut an avenue to open a view, the landscape disclosed a gibbet with a thief on it; and several members of the Campbell family having died with their shoes on, the prospect awoke such ominous and unpleasant reminiscences that Lord Islay instantly ordered the avenue to be closed up again with a clump of thick Scotch firs." The amusing incident has a moral side of it. Certain doctrines of the Gospel bear very heavily upon proud human nature, and therefore many are determined to block up the view which they open up. Curiosity impelled them to hear, but perceiving that the truth condemns them they wish to hear no more. The preacher's teaching would be all very well, but it brings sin to remembrance and reveals the hell which will follow it, and therefore the self-convicted hearer cannot abide it. It is, however, no joke to block up our view of eternity. The gibbet is there even if the sinner refuses to see it.

(Sword and Trowel.)

The class of sermons which, according to Mr. Gladstone, is most needed, is the class one of which so offended Lord Melbourne tong ago. He was one day seen coming from a church in the country in a great fume. Meeting a friend, he exclaimed, "It is too bad! I have always been a supporter of the Church, and I have always upheld the clergy. But it is really too bad to have to listen to a sermon like that we have had this morning. Why, the preacher actually insisted upon applying religion to a man's private life!"

(Quiver.)

The truth which a man or a generation requires most is the truth which he or they like least; and the true Christian teacher's adaptation of his message will consist quite as much in opposing the desires and contradicting the lies, as in seeking to meet the felt wants of the world. Nauseous medicines or sharp lancets are adapted to the sick man quite as truly as pleasant food and soothing ointment.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

A sailor just off to a whaling expedition asked where he could hear a good sermon. On his return from the church his friend asked him, "How did you like the sermon?" "Not much, it was like a ship leaving for the whale fishing; everything shipshape; anchors, cordage, sails, and provisions all right, but there were no harpoons on board."

One excuse a man makes for not heeding the message is, "I did not like the man himself; I did not like the minister; I did not like the man who blew the trumpet, I had a personal dislike to him, and so I did not take any notice of what the trumpet said." Verily, God will say to thee at the last, "Thou fool, what hadst thou to do with that man; to his own master he stands or falls; thy business was with thyself." What would you think of a man? A man has fallen overboard from a ship, and when he is drowning some sailor throws him a rope, and there it is. "Well," he says, "in the first place. I do not like that rope; I do not think the rope was made at the best manufactory; there is some tar on it, too; I do not like it; and in the next place, I do not like that sailor that threw the rope over; I do not like the look of him at all," and then comes a gurgle and a groan, and down he is at the bottom of the sea; and when he was drowned, they said that it served him right. On his own head be his blood. And so shall it be with you at the last. You are so busy with criticising the minister and his style, and his doctrine, that your own soul perishes. Remember you may get into hell by criticism, but you will never criticise your soul out of it.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

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