1 Ki 22:1 For three years there was no war between Aram and Israel.
1 Ki 22:2 But in the third year Jehoshaphat king of Judah went down to see the king of Israel.
Jehoshaphat king of Judah went down to see the king of Israel – Evidently, peace has been established between the northern and southern kingdoms after a long period of war. This peace had been cemented by marriage between Johoshaphat’s son Jehoram and Ahab’s daughter Athaliah, 2 King 8:18; 2 Chron 18:11. We cannot be sure whether Athaliah was the offspring of Jezebel or of one of Ahab’s other wives, but she was a Jezebel clone in every other way, 2 King 11.
1 Ki 22:3 The king of Israel had said to his officials, “Don’t you know that Ramoth Gilead belongs to us and yet we are doing nothing to retake it from the king of Aram?”
“Ramoth Gilead belongs to us” – This town, 25 or so miles east of Jordan, stood on an important trading route. ‘It’s a shame to have a turnpike running through a place if you aren’t sitting in the toll booth.’ (Davis)
1 Ki 22:4 So he asked Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to fight against Ramoth Gilead?” Jehoshaphat replied to the king of Israel, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.”
“I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses” – In other words, ‘Yes’.
1 Ki 22:5 But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, “First seek the counsel of the LORD.”
1 Ki 22:6 So the king of Israel brought together the prophets—about four hundred men—and asked them, “Shall I go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?” “Go,” they answered, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.”
Although godly Jehoshaphat sought to enquire of Yahweh, it seems that Ahab summoned the prophets of Asherah – the very four hundred – who had failed to turn up to the contest at Carmel.
1 Ki 22:7 But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not a prophet of the LORD here whom we can inquire of?”
This makes clear what was implied in the previous verse, that the prophets summoned by Ahab were not prophets of Yahweh at all, but rather the 400 (cf v6) prophets of Asherah who had been absent from, and therefore missed the consequences of, the ‘god contest’ in ch 18. Davis, however, disputes this, and noting that they prophesy in the name of Yahweh suggests that they belong to the syncrestic Jeroboam cult, 1 King 12:25-33.
1 Ki 22:8 The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, “There is still one man through whom we can inquire of the LORD, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.” “The king should not say that,” Jehoshaphat replied.
“I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad” – Davis wonders if the church is drifting back to an Ahab mind-set, one that discourages candour and only wants people to feel good about themselves. The ultimate sin, it seems, is judgementalism and making peoeple feel guilty. ‘What will the ministry of the word be like in such a church? Will it ever press home the word of God in its searing honesty? Or must that be sacrificed lest it destroy the non-judgemental ambiance? Ahab would love such a place.’
1 Ki 22:9 So the king of Israel called one of his officials and said, “Bring Micaiah son of Imlah at once.”
1 Ki 22:10 Dressed in their royal robes, the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah were sitting on their thrones at the threshing floor by the entrance of the gate of Samaria, with all the prophets prophesying before them.
1 Ki 22:11 Now Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had made iron horns and he declared, “This is what the LORD says: ‘With these you will gore the Arameans until they are destroyed.’”
This prophecy does not come out of the blue. Obviously, the iron horns had been manufactured. And Zedekiah has pulled apiece of paper out of God’s promise box (Deut 33:17) and applied it to the present situation.
1 Ki 22:12 All the other prophets were prophesying the same thing. “Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious,” they said, “for the LORD will give it into the king’s hand.”
1 Ki 22:13 The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, “Look, as one man the other prophets are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favorably.”
The messenger who has been sent to fetch Micaiah urges him to side with the majority and speak positively (for once). Neither Ahab (v8) nor the messenger (v12) understand that a prophet is under compulsion to speak the truth, however uncomfortable it may be. The prophet is captive to the word; he is not at liberty to bend, distort or manipulate it.
1 Ki 22:14 But Micaiah said, “As surely as the LORD lives, I can tell him only what the LORD tells me.”
The prophet has been placed under tremendous pressure, but he cannot help speak the word of the Lord.
1 Ki 22:15 When he arrived, the king asked him, “Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?” “Attack and be victorious,” he answered, “for the LORD will give it into the king’s hand.”
Micaiah’s first response is one of ironic agreement with the prophets of Asherah. Ahab clearly understood it as such by his reaction in v16.
1 Ki 22:16 The king said to him, “How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?”
Ahab recognises the irony in Micaiah’s response and pleads with him to tell the truth.
Ahab’s response (“How many times must I make you…?”) tells us that this was a stock routine between Micaiah and himself.
1 Ki 22:17 Then Micaiah answered, “I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the LORD said, ‘These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.’”
‘These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace’ – This implies two things: first, that Ahab is to be eliminated; second, that once he is dead, Israel can enjoy ‘peace’.
1 Ki 22:18 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Didn’t I tell you that he never prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?”
1 Ki 22:19 Micaiah continued, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the host of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left.
‘Clearly our writer wants us to see verses 19-23 as the antithesis of verses 10-12. Both sections depict “royal” scenes with kings upon their thrones. In the one, two earthly kings in all their regalia listen to the prophetic cheerleading of Zedekiah & Co. In the other, the sovereign King of all determines the manner in which he will dispose of Ahab. Is there any doubt as to which decision will shape history?’ (Davis)
1 Ki 22:20 And the LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’ “One suggested this, and another that.
1 Ki 22:21 Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the LORD and said, ‘I will entice him.’
1 Ki 22:22 ” ‘By what means?’ the LORD asked. ” ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said. ” ‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the LORD. ‘Go and do it.’
1 Ki 22:23 “So now the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The LORD has decreed disaster for you.”
1 Ki 22:24 Then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah went up and slapped Micaiah in the face. “Which way did the spirit from the LORD go when he went from me to speak to you?” he asked.
1 Ki 22:25 Micaiah replied, “You will find out on the day you go to hide in an inner room.”
There are true prophets and there are false prophets, each claiming to speak the word of the Lord. How do we know which message is authentic? Is it the one who is in the majority? Is it the one who has the most authoritative tone? Is it the one who claims to be inspired? Micaiah’s answer at this point is, “Wait and see” (cf his answer to Ahab, v28; cf. also Deut 18:21f).
1 Ki 22:26 The king of Israel then ordered, “Take Micaiah and send him back to Amon the ruler of the city and to Joash the king’s son
1 Ki 22:27 and say, ‘This is what the king says: Put this fellow in prison and give him nothing but bread and water until I return safely.’”
1 Ki 22:28 Micaiah declared, “If you ever return safely, the LORD has not spoken through me.” Then he added, “Mark my words, all you people!”
“Mark my words, all you people!” – These closing words from Micaiah are the same as the opening words of the book of Micah (1:2). Micah looks forward to the destruction fo Samaria because of idolatry and prostitution, 1:2-7 and it condemns both social injustice, 2:1-5 and false prophecy, 2:6-10; 3:1-12. (Provan)
1 Ki 22:29 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah went up to Ramoth Gilead.
Ahab (and godly Jehoshaphat) side with the majority and go to war.
1 Ki 22:30 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will enter the battle in disguise, but you wear your royal robes.” So the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle.
“I will enter the battle in disguise” – Evidently, Ahab had a secret forboding that all was not well. ‘Ahab is an interesting bundle of perversion: he hates the word, v8, yet wants the word, v16; he fears the word, v30ab, yet defies the word, v29, 30c.’ (Davis)
1 Ki 22:31 Now the king of Aram had ordered his thirty-two chariot commanders, “Do not fight with anyone, small or great, except the king of Israel.”
1 Ki 22:32 When the chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat, they thought, “Surely this is the king of Israel.” So they turned to attack him, but when Jehoshaphat cried out,
Jehoshaphat cried out – His shout reveals that he is not the man Ben-Hadad is after. ‘Like a dupe – almost a dead one – Jehoshaphat complied with Ahab’s battle plan.’ (Davis)
1 Ki 22:33 the chariot commanders saw that he was not the king of Israel and stopped pursuing him.
1 Ki 22:34 But someone drew his bow at random and hit the king of Israel between the sections of his armor. The king told his chariot driver, “Wheel around and get me out of the fighting. I’ve been wounded.”
Someone drew his bow at random – Jewish legend, recorded in Josephus but unsubstantiated, identifies this person as Naaman (2 King 5). Ahab thought to avoid by disguise what Micaiah had foretold. In this he almost succeeded. But then the word of the Lord is fulfilled almost casually, as if by accident.
An arrow shot ‘at random’ ‘flies unerringly to its divinely ordained target – to a single figure in the vast crowd, to one of the few undefended spots on his body.’ (Provan)
1 Ki 22:35 All day long the battle raged, and the king was propped up in his chariot facing the Arameans. The blood from his wound ran onto the floor of the chariot, and that evening he died.
1 Ki 22:36 As the sun was setting, a cry spread through the army: “Every man to his town; everyone to his land!”
The army is now leaderless, cf. v17.
1 Ki 22:37 So the king died and was brought to Samaria, and they buried him there.
1 Ki 22:38 They washed the chariot at a pool in Samaria (where the prostitutes bathed), and the dogs licked up his blood, as the word of the LORD had declared.
‘For the writer of Kings, history is no accident but is directed by the word Yahweh speaks. Both the unwilling and the unknowing only fulfil it. Precisely here a bit of gladness reaches out of this dark narrative and grabs the people of God, for if Yahweh’s word is certain (the writer’s point), we know that Yahweh’s words of hope must be as solid as his words of judgement.’ (Davis)
1 Ki 22:39 As for the other events of Ahab’s reign, including all he did, the palace he built and inlaid with ivory, and the cities he fortified, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel?
1 Ki 22:40 Ahab rested with his fathers. And Ahaziah his son succeeded him as king.
1 Ki 22:41 Jehoshaphat son of Asa became king of Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel.
1 Ki 22:42 Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-five years. His mother’s name was Azubah daughter of Shilhi.
1 Ki 22:43 In everything he walked in the ways of his father Asa and did not stray from them; he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD. The high places, however, were not removed, and the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.
1 Ki 22:44 Jehoshaphat was also at peace with the king of Israel.
1 Ki 22:45 As for the other events of Jehoshaphat’s reign, the things he achieved and his military exploits, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?
1 Ki 22:46 He rid the land of the rest of the male shrine prostitutes who remained there even after the reign of his father Asa.
1 Ki 22:47 There was then no king in Edom; a deputy ruled.
1 Ki 22:48 Now Jehoshaphat built a fleet of trading ships to go to Ophir for gold, but they never set sail—they were wrecked at Ezion Geber.
1 Ki 22:49 At that time Ahaziah son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, “Let my men sail with your men,” but Jehoshaphat refused.
1 Ki 22:50 Then Jehoshaphat rested with his fathers and was buried with them in the city of David his father. And Jehoram his son succeeded him.
1 Ki 22:51 Ahaziah son of Ahab became king of Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and he reigned over Israel two years.
1 Ki 22:52 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, because he walked in the ways of his father and mother and in the ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin.
1 Ki 22:53 He served and worshiped Baal and provoked the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger, just as his father had done.