Blogging the Bible 84 – 1 Kings 20-22 – Tame prophets?

There’s a wonderful moment in these chapters, when in chapter 22 the king of Judah, Jehoshaphat, proposes an alliance with Israel against Aram. Jehoshaphat is one of the higher-scoring kings in the book, and he shows a bit of wisdom while in Ahab’s court.

He asks Ahab to consult God as to whether or not the joint army should attack Aram, and Ahab duly calls together 400 ‘prophets’ who are on his payroll. Not surprisingly, they all predict glorious and blessed success. For some reason Jehoshaphat is clearly uneasy, and so he asks ‘is there no other prophet of the LORD here of whom we may inquire?’ Ahab’s response is wonderful.

‘There is still one other by whom we may inquire of the Lord, Micaiah son of Imlah; but I hate him, for he never prophesies anything favourable about me, but only disaster.’ (22:8)

Sure enough, Micaiah refuses to listen to all the professional advice to say what the king wants, and says what God has told him. He warns Ahab that the campaign is not God’s will, except as a means to end Ahab’s awful reign. He ends up in prison for his trouble, but is proven right when God’s word through him is ignored, and Ahab dies in battle.

So perhaps Ahab can be a useful reminder to us to seek God’s wisdom not only from those who we know will agree with us (whether that’s because we’re paying them to do so or because we’ve chosen advisers whom we know already will agree with us) but to hear his voice through those who are willing to speak up and challenge or contradict us.

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