Read: 1 Kings 22:1-28
Consider: Today’s reading from 1 Kings recounts an incident during a time of peace between Israel and Aram. Although there was peace, it must have been a tense time because Ramoth Gilead had been lost to the Arameans and this must have irked Ahab, king of Israel. Three years into the time of peace Ahab contacted Jehoshaphat, king of Judah and put it to him that it was time to retake Ramoth Gilead. His request of Jehoshaphat was: ‘Will you go with me to fight against Ramoth Gilead?’ (1 Kings 22:4). We are told that: Jehoshaphat replied to the king of Israel, ‘I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses’ (22:4). Basically Jehoshaphat was saying that Judah would join Israel in regaining Ramoth Gilead. However, this is not the end of the matter. We read in 1 Kings 22:5 – But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, ‘First seek the counsel of the LORD.’ Sound advice from Jehoshaphat, but we learn from the rest of the reading that Ahab didn’t really want to hear what God had to say about the matter. Instead he would rather accept the word of his prophets who only told Ahab what he wanted to hear.
Only one prophet could be found who was prepared to speak the word of God faithfully. The prophet Micaiah was not popular with Ahab because he was not prepared to pamper to the king’s ego and his need for affirmation of his own choices. When approached by the king’s messengers we are told that Michaiah’s response was: ‘As surely as the LORD lives, I can tell him only what the LORD tells me’ (22:14). Can you imagine the pressure of being told that all the other prophets confirmed Ahab’s wish to fight against Aram to regain Ramoth Gilead? On first reading it would appear that Michaiah gives in to this pressure (22:15), but even Ahab sees through this and says: ‘How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?’ (22:16). Michaiah then speaks the truth to the king and receives abuse and derision for it.
What can we learn from this incident? Firstly, when faced with major decisions in life it is appropriate to turn to God in prayer and seek his counsel on the matter. Secondly, we must come openly and honestly to God, not expecting him to confirm a decision we have already made. Thirdly, we must be prepared to speak the truth, even when it flies in the face of popular opinion. Lastly, when we speak the truth it might well bring us into conflict with those who don’t want to hear the truth.
Pray: Father, the Bible gives us encouragement to seek your will on matters of life that affect us. May we always turn to you before deciding what to do. Help us also to speak the truth even when it makes us unpopular and unfashionable. Amen