1 Kings 22:15-23
So he came to the king. And the king said to him, Micaiah, shall we go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall we forbear?…
It is evident from the text and from ver. 8 that this was not the first time Ahab and Micaiah had met. The Jews suppose, apparently with reason, that Micaiah was that prophet who, when Ahab sent Ben-hadad away with a covenant, said to the king of Israel, "Thus saith the Lord: Because thou hast let go out of thine hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore thy life shall go for his life, and thy people for his people" (see 1 Kings 20:35-43). In considering the prophecy of Micaiah now before us, we notice -
I. THAT IT IS PREFACED WITH A SALLY OF IRONY.
1. He answers the king in the words of his prophets.
(1) Cf. vers. 6, 12, 15.
(2) These words are equivocal. "The Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king." What king? "The king" may mean either Ahab or Ben-hadad. What? This is not clear; for the word "it" is supplied. Is it Ramoth-Gilead or something else that is to be delivered into the hand of the king (of Israel)? or is it the king of Israel or something else to be delivered into the hand of the king (of Syria)? What kind of prophecy is this?
(3) The utterance of these prophets resembles those of the heathen oracles, the following appropriate samples of which are given by A. Clarke: "The Delphic oracle spoke thus of Croesus, which he understood to his own destruction: 'Croesus, Halym penetrans, magnum subverter opum vim;' which is to say, ' If you march against Cyrus, he will overthrow you,' or 'you will overthrow him.' He trusted in the latter, the former took place. He was deluded, yet the oracle maintained its credit. So in the following: 'Aio te, AEacida, Romanos vincere posse. Ibis redibis hnunquam in bello peribis.' Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, understood by this that he should conquer the Romans, against whom he was making war; but the oracle could be thus translated: 'The Romans shall overcome thee.' He trusted in the former, made unsuccessful war, and was overcome; and yet the juggling priest saved his credit. The latter line is capable of two opposite meanings: 'Thou shalt go, thou shalt return, thou shalt never perish in war,' or, 'Thou shalt go, thou shalt never return, thou shalt perish in war.'"
2. But he repeats those words with significant expression.
(1) The bare repetition, with proper emphasis, of the equivocal words of the false prophets would be a fine stroke of irony. But when to emphasis were added tone, gesture, play of feature, the irony would become very keen.
(2) This sarcasm of Micaiah is worthy to compare with that of Elijah (see 1 Kings 18:27). "Go and prosper." This assurance of thy prophets is vague enough to encourage the confidence of a simpleton!
3. God uses terrible rhetoric in His wrath.
(1) Irony and sarcasm are fitting weapons to be wielded against those who have neither conscience nor reason (see Proverbs 26:3-5). Ahab was a man of this class. Witness the logic of his hatred (ver. 8). He felt the sting (ver. 16).
(2) These weapons are formidable in the hands of the Almighty (see Psalm 2:4, 5; Psalm 37:13; Proverbs 1:24-32; Ecclesiastes 11:9; Malachi 2:17 and Malachi 3:1; Romans 2:1-9).
II. THAT IT COMPARES FAVOURABLY WITH THAT OF HIS COMPETITORS.
1. Its burden is the reverse of equivocal.
(1) There is in sacred prophecy a double sense, but the sound is certain. It is not a dubiousness but a manifoldness of meaning, a development, an evolution, such as we find in a seed that opens first into the blade, then into the ear, and eventually into the full corn in the ear.
(2) This prophecy of Micaiah gave a distinct answer to the question of Ahab (ver. 13). The advice was to forbear. These "sheep." The sheep is not a creature fitted for battle. They have "no shepherd." Their king, deserted by the Spirit of God, has not the qualities of a shepherd. Therefore "Let them return every man to his house in peace."
(3) But the advice contains a prophecy. It is to this effect: their king who ought to be their shepherd, shall fall at Ramoth-Gilead, and his people shall be like sheep, "scattered upon the mountains" by the power of the enemy (compare Zechariah 13:7).
2. The vision shows that all worlds are under Divine control.
(1) "I saw the Lord sitting on his throne." Here was a comparison with the scene before him, described ver. 10. Ahab and Jehoshaphat are enthroned as kings on the earth; but there is a King in the heavens immeasurably above them.
(2) "And all the host of heaven standing by him on the right hand and on the, left." The host of heaven stood while Jehovah sat. They awaited His commands. Those on His "right hand" probably to render services of benevolence; those on His "left," services of judgment.
(3) Then comes in another kind of agency (vers. 20-23). This scene is analogous to that described in the Book of Job (see Job 1:6; Job 2:7). Things in heaven, things in earth, things under the earth, all serve the purposes of Divine Providence (see Job 12:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:11, 12; Revelation 20:7, 8).
(4) The waywardness of Ahab showed how fully he was under the control of the spirit of falsehood. This is seen in his senseless resentment against Micaiah. Turning to Jehoshaphat, he said, "Did I not tell thee that he would prophesy no good concerning me, but evil?" as if Micaiah's own utterances could control the providence of God. Then turning to his officers he had Micaiah marched back to the prison where Ahab knew he could find him (cf. ver. 8 with vers. 26, 27). Let us give due heed to the more sure word of prophecy. - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: So he came to the king. And the king said unto him, Micaiah, shall we go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall we forbear? And he answered him, Go, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver it into the hand of the king.
WEB: When he had come to the king, the king said to him, "Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth Gilead to battle, or shall we forbear?" He answered him, "Go up and prosper; and Yahweh will deliver it into the hand of the king."