1 Kings 22:1-28
And they continued three years without war between Syria and Israel.…
I. THE WICKED RUSH UPON DESTRUCTION.
1. Ahab provokes the war in which he himself will perish. The peace which had lasted so long might have continued. Every day it was prolonged was a day placed between him and death; and yet with his own hand he brings to an end the period of grace. How often are the calamities of the wicked invoked by themselves, and are the fruit of their own rashness!
2. It came as the prompting of the deepest wisdom. Jehoshaphat's presence afforded the opportunity of forming a league to which success seemed certain. The selfish cunning of the sinful becomes a snare to them.
3. He closes his ear against God's deterring counsel.
(1) When asked to inquire of God, he brings those only who will speak the things that accord with his own determination. The false prophets are called, but not the true.
(2) When compelled to bring Micaiah from the prison (see ver. 26, "carry him back unto Amon," etc.), he endeavours to prevent Jehoshaphat being moved by his words. Micaiah is his enemy, therefore a prophecy of good is not to be expected from him.
(3) When warned he will not be hindered, but defies God, who would save him, by insulting and persecuting His servant (ver. 27).
II. THE FALSE PROPHETS.
1. They bind the cords which are leading a sinful soul to death. The word which they profess to speak for God is a word which it pleases the king to hear. It is the echo of his own desires (ver. 6). There are those who by voice and pen proclaim a new gospel It is no longer sought to lead up the world to God and thus reconcile it to Him. It is boldly declared that the reconciliation is already effected. God has come down to it. There is no anger and no threatening and no terrible shadow of judgment. There is nothing but goodness and love. They are the false prophets of today, and these do for the men of their generation what those did for Ahab.
2. Their blasphemy. When a prophet of Jehovah was asked for (ver. 7), they who have hitherto spoken only of Adonai do not scruple to take the name of the Highest into their lips (vers. 11, 12). We do not escape the false prophets when we appeal from their speech concerning the God of nature to His revealed will, the word of the Lord. They meet us there. It is in vain we seek to rest upon the plainest words; they are explained away. Hell is a superstitious dream, and the cross of the disciples of Christ a mere figure of speech, with no hard, stern reality behind it.
3. They are possessed by a spirit of falsehood (vers. 21-23). Their position is more a punishment of past sin than conscious transgression. They speak with honesty of a sort, but it is out of their heart's darkness. They were willing to be deceived, and they have been deceived. They did not wish to know God as He is, and they have been left with the god of their own imagination. In which school are we, that of the false prophets, or of the true?
4. They smite the true servants of God. Zedekiah's blow preceded the king's judgment. It proved nothing but his own soul's distance from God. It was the act of a man provoked by zeal for his own honour. He who had been moved by zeal for God's honour would have stood in silent awe of that terrible but certain judgment which the man was braving.
III. THE TRUE SERVANT OF GOD.
1. In a corrupt court his is no welcome presence (ver. 8). The distance between Ahab and God was reflected in that which separated him from the speaker of God's word. Continued faithfulness, if it may not win, must be repelled and hated. "Woe unto you when all men speak well of you; for so," etc.
2. The necessity laid on him to declare the whole counsel of God (ver. 14). He cannot turn to the right hand or the left; the world's wealth cannot bribe him, its power and cruelty cannot terrify him. What king or people desire to hear, or courtly prophets or current creeds have said, weighs nothing with him. He cannot speak in God's name aught save what God has said.
3. His message. He speaks first in easily discerned irony (vers. 15, 16). It was an intimation to the king that he desired to hear no prophecy that would run counter to his inclinations. Then, when he is solemnly appealed to, a picture is presented (ver. 17) of the smitten, shepherdless people, which might well have touched even Ahab's heart. Next king and people are led up to the throne of God. The servant and his words are forgotten in the revelation of his Master. Even the false prophet's utterances are turned to account; they and the reliance which the king is placing on them are part fulfilment of the Divine vengeance. There was deeper tenderness and truer love for Ahab in that one breast than in all the four hundred.
4. The greatness of all true service for God. There is a glory about that despised, persecuted man before which that of both kings pales. It is a glory which nothing can tear from the loyal heart, and which shines the brighter amid the world's darkening hate. It is a glory which may be our own. - U.
Parallel VersesKJV: And they continued three years without war between Syria and Israel.