1 Kings 22:30-38
And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, I will disguise myself, and enter into the battle; but put you on your robes…
After disposing of Micaiah by sending him to prison with hard fare as the reward of his faithfulness, Ahab and Jehoshaphat gathered their forces and set out together to fight for the recovery of Ramoth-Gilead. The events of the day show -
I. THAT PROPHECY MAY TEND TO ITS OWN FULFILMENT.
1. Micaiah's words influenced Ahab's conduct.
(1) Though Ahab had imprisoned the prophet he could not shake off the influence of his prophecy. So with a view to obviating its effect he proposed to disguise himself. He speaks of himself in the third person (ver. 30), thus (אדנים), "He will [strip] disguise himself' - a form of speech, perhaps, considered suitable to an action in which he was to appear as a third person. To complete the deception, if we follow the LXX., he induced Jehoshaphat to put on his (Ahab's) robes.
(a) Note the subtlety of the wicked. Ahab's proposal to Jehoshaphat was ostensibly to give him the post of honour in commanding the army. This, too, may have suggested the use of the third person in speaking of himself. Ahab's real purpose was to divert from himself the fury of the battle; and probably he hoped Jehoshaphat might be slain. In that case his son-in-law would succeed to the throne of Judah, and he might be able so to manage him as to serve his own purposes.
(b) In all this we see the danger of bad company. We see it likewise in the sad fact that Jehoshaphat should become a party to a contrivance to falsify the word of God!
(2) But how useless are disguises when the providence of Omniscience is concerned! Ahab might hide himself from the Syrians, but he could not hide himself from God. Neither could he hide himself from angels and devils, who are instruments of Divine Providence, ever influencing men, and even natural laws, or forces of nature. Note: No disguise will avail to evade the scrutiny and retributions of the judgment day.
(3) Yet by his disguise Ahab, unwittingly, helped the prophecy. "The king of Syria commanded his thirty and two captains that had rule over his chariots, saying, Fight neither with small nor great, save only with the king of Israel." Suppose Ahab had been in Jehoshaphat's place, and had fallen into the hands of the captains, what would have become of the words of Elijah? (See 1 Kings 21:19.) But as things worked out these words became literally true.
2. They also influenced the conduct of the Syrians.
(1) The Syrians would be aware of the prophecy of Micaiah dooming Ahab to fall at Ramoth-Gilead. For in a country about the size of North Wales, Samaria being distant from Ramoth-Gilead only thirty miles, the news of this public meeting of kings and contest of prophets could not be a secret. Ahab would facilitate the publication of the encouragement he had from the four hundred, to strike terror into the Syrians; but where the news of his encouragement went the words of Micaiah also would travel.
(2) Probably this intelligence determined the Syrians to "fight only against the king of Israel," in which they would have the God of Israel with them, the formidableness of whose hostility they had experienced in the last two battles (compare 2 Chronicles 35:21, 22). To this Jehoshaphat probably was indebted for the sparing of his life, for "God moved the Syrians to depart from him" (see 2 Chronicles 18:31). And probably they were influenced by it to agree to the proclamation to disband, when the death of Ahab became known (cf. vers. 17, 36).
3. Note a remarkable illustration of this principle in the zeal of Jehu in exterminating the house of Ahab (see 2 Kings 9:25, 26; 2 Kings 10:10, 11, 16, 17). Those who are "looking for," are thereby "hastening the coming of the day of God" (see 2 Peter 3:12).
II. THAT NEVERTHELESS THE HAND OF GOD IS IN IT.
1. This was evident in the case of Ahab. The purpose of Ben-hadad, should Ahab have fallen into his hands, is not recorded. Would he return Ahab's compliment of releasing him with a covenant? Would he show Ahab how he ought to have treated him?
(2) But God had other means than the captains of Ben-hadad to accomplish His purpose. A man drew a bow at a venture (marg. "in his simplicity") and smote the king of Israel between the joints and harness." A simpleton brings clown a king! (See Proverbs 1:32.) God guided the arrow to the opening in the joints of the armour, as He guided the pebble from the sling of David into the frontals of Goliath. No armour is proof against the shafts of Divine vengeance.
(3) The hand of God also was seen in the sequel. The prophecies of Elijah and Micaiah seem to be in conflict. The one speaks of the dogs licking the blood of Ahab at" Samaria;" the other of Ahab falling at "Ramoth-Gilead." Who but God could so order events that there should be no conflict here? "The blood ran out of the wound into the midst (Heb. bosom) of the chariot;" perhaps more correctly, "into the bosom of the charioteer," on which the king leaned. "And one washed the chariot;" or rather, "And the driver washed himself in the pool of Samaria, and the dogs licked his blood" i.e., the blood of Ahab which fell from the bosom of the driver. "And the things they washed." For זנות denotes the several kinds of things, being derived from זן, a kind or species. Before the person and things defiled with blood were permitted to enter the city, they were to be washed; and the dogs licked up the blood that fell from the driver's bosom, and off the things, as they lay to be washed (see Psalm 68:28).
(4) But were not the words of Elijah "In the place where the dogs licked the blood of Naboth" (viz., Jezreel) "shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine '? But in the context there, the vineyard of Naboth is said to be in Samaria (see 1 Kings 21:18, 19), because Jezreel, like Bethel, was one of the "cities of Samaria" (see 1 Kings 13:32). In the very vineyard of Naboth did the blood of Ahab flow from the veins of his son (see 2 Kings 9:25, 26). The providence that accomplished is no less admirable than the omniscience that predicted.
2. This was also evident in the case of Jehoshaphat.
(1) Micaiah did not say that the king of Judah should fall at Ramoth-Gilead; but his prophecy did intimate that he would be of little use to the army. The word (אדנים) in ver. 17 rendered "master" is plural, and evidently associates Jehoshaphat with Ahab. When Ahab was wounded to death and Jehoshaphat had fled for his life, the people had "no masters," so the proclamation soon followed which determined "every man to his house in peace."
(2) Jehoshaphat's danger lay in his being assimilated to Ahab. He should never have said, "I am as thou art" (ver. 4), then would he not have been persuaded to don Ahab's robes. By the influence of his company Jehoshaphat was becoming morally like him, and therefore was in danger of sharing his miserable fate (see Proverbs 13:20).
(3) To avoid this danger he had to become himself again. "He cried out" [to Jehovah] (see 2 Chronicles 18:81); and thus was discovered to the captains, who would expect to hear Ahab cry rather to Baal. The hand of God was evident in his deliverance; and this he might read as a parable assuring him that his future safety must lie in his renouncing evil companions and returning to the piety of his earlier years. - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, I will disguise myself, and enter into the battle; but put thou on thy robes. And the king of Israel disguised himself, and went into the battle.