1 Kings 22


‘For three years there was no war between Aram and Israel. But in the third year Jehoshaphat king of Judah went down to see the king of Israel. 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?’ 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.’ But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, ‘First seek the counsel of the LORD.’ 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.’ But Jehoshaphat asked, ‘Is there no longer a prophet of the LORD here whom we can inquire of?’ The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, ‘There is still one prophet 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 such a thing,’ Jehoshaphat replied. So the king of Israel called one of his officials and said, ‘Bring Micaiah son of Imlah at once.’ 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. 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.’ 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 Kings 22:1-12

Micaiah Prophesies Against Ahab

Israel made an alliance with Syria which lasted for three years, 1 Kings 20:26-29, but at the end of those three years, Ahab made an alliance with Jehoshaphat and Judah, so that he could secure himself from the threat of Syria and Assyria in the north, 2 Chronicles 18:1-27.

It was to be a huge mistake for Jehoshaphat to go to Ahab because this alliance or any marital alliance was never given approval from God, 2 Chronicles 19:2. He also ignored the huge differences which were happening between the two kingdoms. This was the first time that a king of Judah, of the house of David, had visited one of the kings who had revolted from that dynasty.

It appears that even though 450 false prophets of Baal were killed at Mount Carmel, 1 Kings 18:19 / 1 Kings 18:40, there were still other false prophets around, Isaiah 9:15 / Jeremiah 5:13 / Jeremiah 5:31 / Jeremiah 23:11 / Jeremiah 23:15-16 / Hosea 4:5 / Micah 3:5-7.

They were ‘ear tickling’ prophets who told Ahab what Ahab wanted to hear, 2 Timothy 4:3. The good news is that Jehoshaphat wasn’t like Ahab, he still relied on God for guidance, hence why he asks, ‘Is there no longer a prophet of the LORD here whom we can inquire of?’

Coffman in his commentary says the following.

‘We may be certain that Ahab called Micaiah reluctantly, and that while Micaiah was being summoned the false prophets redoubled their efforts in the hope of convincing Jehoshaphat. The occasion was a spectacular display of the kings on their thrones dressed in all their royal regalia at the gate of Samaria and those four hundred false prophets putting on a vigorous display of their false prophecies.’

‘It seems very likely that Micaiah was in prison when Ahab sent for him, this is indicated by the fact of his ready availability to Ahab and his being sent for by a eunuch, the type of officer usually in charge of the harem and the prison, and likewise by the fact of Zedekiah’s arrogant slap of the defenceless Micaiah.’

‘The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, ‘Look, the other prophets without exception are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs and speak favourably.’ But Micaiah said, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, I can tell him only what the LORD tells me.’ When he arrived, the king asked him, ‘Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or not?’ ‘Attack and be victorious,’ he answered, ‘for the LORD will give it into the king’s hand.’ 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?’ 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.’ The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ‘Didn’t I tell you that he never prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?’ Micaiah continued, ‘Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. And the LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’ ‘One suggested this, and another that. Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the LORD and said, ‘I will entice him.’ ‘By what means?’ the LORD asked. ‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said. ‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the LORD. ‘Go and do it.’ ‘So now the LORD has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The LORD has decreed disaster for you.’ 1 Kings 22:13-23

It’s clear that the false prophets of Ahab were very confident in what they were saying because Jehoshaphat was present. They obviously assumed that because the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel were united at this point in time, that victory in the battle with the Syrians was certain.

It’s also clear that Ahab was very familiar with Micaiah, because he asks, ‘how many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?’ Ahab was also very familiar with other prophecies which Micaiah had made, 1 Kings 20:13 / 1 Kings 20:35. Notice that Ahab said that Micaiah never prophesied anything good for him, but this isn’t the case, 1 Kings 20:13-34.

After asking that question, Micaiah replies by saying, ‘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 words are the same words which God told Moses concerning Israel, Numbers 27:17.

Everyone was well aware of the judgment which God brought upon Ahab and Jezebel because of the way they dealt with Naboth in order to steal his inherited vineyard, 1 Kings 21:17-29. And so, failure to win this battle would provide the perfect opportunity for God to fulfil his judgment on Ahab.

Micaiah exposed the false prophecies of the false prophets whom Ahab had asked to help him with his desires and at the same time, he also revealed the judgment, which was now coming upon Ahab, 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12.

When we go back and look at the attitude of Ahab, 1 Kings 21:25-26 / 1 Kings 22:8 / 1 Kings 22:19-23, it becomes evident that God didn’t in reality command that the false prophets lie to Ahab. He simply permitted them to do so, as they had already been doing. Micaiah’s vision simply related in figurative language how God would use Ahab’s own false prophets to bring about his downfall.

The fact that Ahab was punished shows that Ahab himself was held responsible for rejecting the truth and believing the lie. God didn’t lie to Ahab nor did He put lies in the mouth of Ahab’s prophets. God simply made use in a providential way of those who were already lying to Ahab. The false prophets lied because they chose to lie and Ahab believed them because he chose to believe them, Romans 1:24-25.

‘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. Micaiah replied, ‘You will find out on the day you go to hide in an inner room.’ 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 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.’ Micaiah declared, ‘If you ever return safely, the LORD has not spoken through me.’ Then he added, ‘Mark my words, all you people!’ 1 Kings 22:24-28

The people were frightened to death of Ahab, and because of men like Zedekiah, no one would say anything bad against him. however, when the truth is spoken against what most people believed, the fulfilment of the prophecy was actually proof that the prophecy was from God Himself, Deuteronomy 18:18-22.

The prophecy was very clear, and everyone present would have heard the words that Ahab would die at Ramoth Gilead. Micaiah accepted the test of all true prophecy, namely, that it will come to pass, Jeremiah 28:9.

Ahab Killed At Ramoth Gilead

‘So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah went up to Ramoth Gilead. 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. 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.’ 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, the chariot commanders saw that he was not the king of Israel and stopped pursuing him. 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.’ 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. As the sun was setting, a cry spread through the army: ‘Every man to his town. Every man to his land!’ 1 Kings 22:29-36

When we read these verses it appears that Ahab to a degree anyway, believed what Micaiah has said, because he wants to go into battle in disguise. Because of this, he asks Jehoshaphat to wear his royal robes, so that the Syrians wouldn’t be able to identify him asking of Israel in the battle, 2 Chronicles 18:28-34.

Ben-Hadad, the king of Aram commands his men not to fight with anyone, except the king of Israel. The reason behind this is simple enough to understand, if any king of any nation was captured or killed in battle, then the opposing side would automatically claim the victory. It appears that Ben-Hadad wants his soldiers’ to focus on the king of the northern kingdom, not Jehoshaphat.

Notice that someone drew their bow at ‘random’ and killed Ahab, it’s surely possible that this arrow didn’t randomly hit Ahab but was guided by God Himself.

Remember this was God’s judgment upon Ahab, and although he disguised himself, he couldn’t escape the judgment of God. After news got around the Israelite army that Ahab was dead, every man dispersed and returned to their homes.

‘So the king died and was brought to Samaria, and they buried him there. 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. As for the other events of Ahab’s reign, including all he did, the palace he built and adorned with ivory, and the cities he fortified, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? Ahab rested with his ancestors. And Ahaziah his son succeeded him as king.’ 1 Kings 22:37-40

Because Ahab died, this was the fulfilment of God’s judgment upon him because of his sinfulness and the way he treated Naboth and in the taking of his vineyard, 1 Kings 21:19 / 1 Kings 20:42.

Coffman in his commentary says the following.

‘The critics who reject this as a fulfilment of Elijah’s prophecy, 1 Kings 21:23, betray themselves as unrealistic nitpickers. The basis upon which some deny the fulfilment is that the same place mentioned in the prophecy is diverse from the facts of Naboth having died in Jezreel and Ahab’s blood having been licked at the pool of Samaria, but BOTH places were in the one place called Samaria, the kingdom, BOTH were Ahab’s places of residence; and they were less than seven miles apart!’

‘Our text here says that this licking of the blood at the pool of Samaria was according to the word of Jehovah, which he spoke, 1 Kings 22:38, all of the nit-pickers to the contrary notwithstanding! Such critical scholars are of the same identity as those whom our Lord identified as straining out gnats and swallowing camels! It should also be remembered in this connection that the repentance of Ahab also resulted in some changes in what God had prophesied regarding his death.’

Jehoshaphat King Of Judah

‘Jehoshaphat son of Asa became king of Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel. 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. In everything he followed 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. Jehoshaphat was also at peace with the king of Israel. 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? He rid the land of the rest of the male shrine prostitutes who remained there even after the reign of his father Asa. There was then no king in Edom; a provincial governor ruled.’ 1 Kings 22:41-47

Jehoshaphat now becomes king of Judah, and unlike to the idolatrous practices of the northern kingdom, Jehoshaphat refused to get involved in, or even promote any kind of idolatrous practices at this time in the history of the southern kingdom, 2 Chronicles 17:1-20:37.

Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned for twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Azubah, she was the daughter of Shilhi. He walked in all the way of Asa his father, doing that which was right in the eyes of God.

Jehoshaphat is credited with being a godly and righteous king, doing that which was right in the eyes of the Lord. However, because Asa, his father, tolerated the sodomites and allowed the high places of the Canaanite sacrifices to remain, 1 Kings 14:21-24, he didn’t remove the high places and so, the people still sacrificed and burnt incense there and he shouldn’t have made peace with Ahab.

It’s obvious that the king’s removal from the land of Judah of all of the practitioners of ‘male shrine prostitutes’ was a God-approved act of Jehoshaphat, 1 Corinthians 6:10.

‘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. At that time Ahaziah son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, ‘Let my men sail with yours,’ but Jehoshaphat refused. Then Jehoshaphat rested with his ancestors and was buried with them in the city of David his father. And Jehoram his son succeeded him as king.’ 1 Kings 22:48-50

Just as Solomon had done before him, 1 Kings 9:26-28, Jehoshaphat, starts the big rebuilding process in the southern kingdom of Israel by sending trading ships to Ophir.

It appears that Ahaziah of the northern kingdom wants to join in, however, but Jehoshaphat didn’t think this was a good idea because he knew Ahaziah’s men would influence his sailors into idolatry, 2 Chronicles 20:31-21:1. He was very much aware that Ahaziah would want to get involved in his affairs as king.

Jehoshaphat dies and his son, Jehoram succeeds him as king of Judah.

Ahaziah King Of Israel

‘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. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, because he followed the ways of his father and mother and of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin. He served and worshiped Baal and aroused the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel, just as his father had done.’ 1 Kings 22:51-53

We don’t know much about Ahaziah, but we do know that he became king of Israel and he reigned for two years. Notice that he ‘followed the ways of his mother’, this is the only place in the Scriptures where we find this phrase, but this tells us that he continued in the ways of Jezebel, even after Ahab had died.

He continued to encourage sacrifices to be made at the altars that Jeroboam set up in Bethel and Dan, 1 Kings 12:29, and he continued to encourage sacrifices to Baal. It was because of these actions that the northern kingdom would eventually be led into captivity by the Assyrians in 722/21 B.C.

When we read 2 Kings 1, we see that these final verses of 1 Kings 22, are very closely related.