A King’s Vanity and a Slap in the Face

Scripture Focus: 1 Kings 22:6-8
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.”
7 But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there no longer a prophet of the Lord here whom we can inquire of?”
8 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.

1 Thessalonians 5:19-22
19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.

Reflection: A King’s Vanity and a Slap in the Face 
By Jon Polk

It’s official. Ahab was the worst king of Israel.

The stinging indictment is made in 1 Kings 16, “Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him.”

Why does Ahab deserve this dubious distinction? Aside from implementing Baal worship and the shocking murder of Naboth, Ahab was notorious for antagonistic relations with God’s prophets.

Ahab tussled with Elijah on several occasions, but 1 Kings 22 records an encounter with the sharp-tongued Micaiah. The scene opens with Ahab attempting to convince king Jehoshaphat of Judah to join him in attacking Aram to reclaim the land of Ramoth Gilead. Jehoshaphat suggests that they seek God’s counsel, so Ahab calls in all 400 of his official prophets.

Led by the overly dramatic Zedekiah, who had crafted iron horns representing victory, the king’s prophets unanimously proclaimed that the Lord would give the land to Ahab in battle.

Jehoshaphat was not convinced and saw through the blatant pandering of those false prophets. He asked if there were still any true prophets around. 

Ahab’s response sums up his desire to be surrounded by “yes” men. “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.”

That prophet, Micaiah, is asked if they should go to war. He quipped sarcastically, “Sure, go ahead, attack and be victorious,” prompting Ahab to insist that Micaiah actually tell him the truth from God.

So he did: War with Aram will not end well, Israel will be sacked, Ahab will be killed, and by the way, all those other prophets were filled with a deceiving spirit.

Micaiah’s prophecy of doom earned him a slap across the face from the sanctimonious Zedekiah.

Alas, the king decided to make war anyway, and, lo and behold, everything happened exactly as Micaiah said it would.

Are we any better than Ahab, with our echo chambers of social media reinforcing only those opinions and attitudes that we want to believe? Do we find enjoyment in metaphorically slapping the faces of our opponents, real or imagined? Do we surround ourselves with voices that only tell us what we want to hear?

Let us learn from the foolish Ahab that we must not only be able to discern truth from error but we should also not discount the voice of God simply if it comes to us from sources we may find disagreeable. Let the hearer understand.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Search for the Lord and his strength; continually seek his face. — Psalm 105.4

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
1 Kings 22 (Listen – 7:51)
1 Thessalonians 5 (Listen – 2:37)

Read more about “Trivial” Sin
Ahab is notorious for promoting the worship of Baal and Asherah…For Ahab, these were “trivial”

Read more about Kingdoms Breaking Bad
As Israel fractures, each dynasty hopes to be the answer. But each one, especially in the northern kingdom, “breaks bad.”

Incomparable King and Kingdom

Scripture Focus: 1 Kings 15.11-15
11 Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as his father David had done. 12 He expelled the male shrine prostitutes from the land and got rid of all the idols his ancestors had made. 13 He even deposed his grandmother Maakah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive image for the worship of Asherah. Asa cut it down and burned it in the Kidron Valley. 14 Although he did not remove the high places, Asa’s heart was fully committed to the Lord all his life. 15 He brought into the temple of the Lord the silver and gold and the articles that he and his father had dedicated.

Reflection: Incomparable King and Kingdom
By John Tillman

1 and 2 Kings include summaries at the beginning of a king’s reign. Was he better or worse than the last king?

Kings did “what was right in the eyes of the Lord,” or they did not. Wicked kings are compared to wicked kings of the past. Nadab, Jeroboam’s son, is described as, “committing the same sin his father had caused Israel to commit.” Many wicked kings will be compared to Jeroboam until Ahab takes his place as the most wicked king of the northern kingdom.

We all love to compare kings. “Mine is better than yours.” “Yours is the worst ever.” How childish. Unless one is employed as a historian, these types of statements are not only immature but are typically shaped by partisan narratives rather than facts. 

The narrator of scripture is uninterested in the types of comparisons we make. These stories are not the whole story. After each, we find a statement similar to “and as for all the other events of his reign… are they not written in the books of the annals of the kings” etc. In other words, the narrator is telling us that scripture is concerned with higher and greater things than economic policy or political intrigue. Those details are only mentioned if they further the purpose of the writer.

Scripture’s accounts of kings are focused on the only statistic that matters—righteousness.

When we come to these works, we should evaluate ourselves (and our kings) with sober judgment, (Romans 12.3) asking the same questions biblical authors asked:
Did they establish justice? 
Were they faithful to God? 
Did they care for the poor? 
Did they worship with a pure heart?

We fall short. Every leader does. There is only one incomparable king who accomplishes all these things—Jesus. When he is introduced, the angels report, “Peace on earth, goodwill to men.” (Luke 2.14) When he begins to establish God’s kingdom, God says, “This is my son in whom I am pleased.” (Matthew 3.17; Mark 1.11) At his transfiguration before his closest disciples, God said of him, “This is my son…listen to him.” (Matthew 17.5; Mark 9.7; Luke 9.35)

May we be fully devoted to him, like Asa. And like Peter, James, and John, may we listen to him, please God by following him, and announce to humanity that peace and goodwill are available in his incomparable kingdom.

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus taught us, saying: “There is no need to be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom.” — Luke 12.32

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
1 Kings 15 (Listen – 5:30)
Colossians 2 (Listen – 3:27)

Read more about Our Forgetfulness, God’s Faithfulness
Just one generation before, God’s people had been faithful and obedient to him. Yet within a short time, Israel abandoned God.

Read more about Our Sins Ever Before Us
Confessions rarely come without confrontations. We must see our sins before us, before we can put them behind us in repentance.