This chapter finishes the history of Ahab's reign. It was promised in
the close of the foregoing chapter that the ruin of his house should
not come in his days, but his days were soon at an end. His war with
the Syrians at Ramoth-Gilead is that which we have an account of in
I. His preparations for that war. He consulted,
1. His privy-council,
1 Kings 22:1-3.
1 Kings 22:4.
3. His prophets.
(1.) His own, who encouraged him to go on this expedition
(1 Kings 22:5,6),
1 Kings 22:11,12.
(2.) A prophet of the Lord, Micaiah, who was desired to come by
(1 Kings 22:7,8),
(1 Kings 22:9-14),
upbraided Ahab with his confidence in the false prophets
(1 Kings 22:15),
but foretold his fall in this expedition
(1 Kings 22:16-18),
and gave him an account how he came to be thus imposed upon by his
1 Kings 22:19-23.
He is abused by Zedekiah
(1 Kings 22:24,25),
and imprisoned by Ahab,
1 Kings 22:26-28.
II. The battle itself, in which,
1. Jehoshaphat is exposed. But,
2. Ahab is slain,
1 Kings 22:29-40.
In the close of the chapter we have a short account,
(1.) Of the good reign of Jehoshaphat king of Judah,
1 Kings 22:41-50.
(2.) Of the wicked reign of Ahaziah king of Israel,
1 Kings 22:51-53.
Jehoshaphat's League with Ahab.
B. C. 897.
1 And they continued three years without war between Syria and
2 And it came to pass in the third year, that Jehoshaphat the
king of Judah came down to the king of Israel.
3 And the king of Israel said unto his servants, Know ye that
Ramoth in Gilead is ours, and we be still, and take it not
out of the hand of the king of Syria?
4 And he said unto Jehoshaphat, Wilt thou go with me to battle
to Ramoth-gilead? And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, I
am as thou art, my people as thy people, my horses as thy
5 And Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Enquire, I pray
thee, at the word of the LORD to day.
6 Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about
four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall I go against
Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up;
for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king.
7 And Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the
LORD besides, that we might enquire of him?
8 And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet
one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the
LORD: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning
me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so.
9 Then the king of Israel called an officer, and said, Hasten
hither Micaiah the son of Imlah.
10 And the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah sat
each on his throne, having put on their robes, in a void place in
the entrance of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets
prophesied before them.
11 And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made him horns of iron:
and he said, Thus saith the LORD, With these shalt thou push the
Syrians, until thou have consumed them.
12 And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, Go up to
Ramoth-gilead, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver it into
the king's hand.
13 And the messenger that was gone to call Micaiah spake unto
him, saying, Behold now, the words of the prophets declare good
unto the king with one mouth: let thy word, I pray thee, be like
the word of one of them, and speak that which is good.
14 And Micaiah said, As the LORD
liveth, what the LORD saith
unto me, that will I speak.
Though Ahab continued under guilt and wrath, and the dominion of the
lusts to which he had sold himself, yet, as a reward for his
professions of repentance and humiliation, though the time drew near
when he should descend into battle and perish, yet we have him blessed
with a three years' peace
(1 Kings 22:1)
and an honourable visit made him by Jehoshaphat king of Judah,
1 Kings 22:2.
The Jews have a fabulous conceit, that when Ahab humbled himself for
his sin, and lay in sackcloth, he sent for Jehoshaphat to come to him,
to chastise him; and that he staid with him for some time, and gave him
so many stripes every day. This is a groundless tradition. He came now,
it is probable, to consult him about the affairs of their kingdoms. It
is strange that so great a man as Jehoshaphat would pay so much respect
to a kingdom revolted from the house of David, and that so good a man
should show so much kindness to a king revolted from the worship of
God. But, though he was a godly man, his temper was too easy, which
betrayed him into snares and inconveniences. The Syrians durst not give
Ahab any disturbance. But,
I. Ahab here meditates a war against the Syrians, and advises
concerning it with those about him,
1 Kings 22:3.
The king of Syria gave him the provocation; when he lay at his mercy,
he promised to restore him his cities
(1 Kings 20:34),
and Ahab foolishly took his word, when he ought not to have dismissed
him till the cities were put into his possession. But now he knows by
experience, what he ought before to have considered, that as the
kisses, so the promises, of an enemy are deceitful, and there is
no confidence to be put in leagues extorted by distress. Benhadad is
one of those princes that think themselves bound by their word no
further and no longer than it is for their interest. Whether any other
cities were restored we do not find, but Ramoth-Gilead was not, a
considerable city in the tribe of Gad, on the other side Jordan, a
Levites' city, and one of the cities of refuge. Ahab blames himself,
and his people, that they did not bestir themselves to recover it out
of the hands of the Syrians, and to chastise Ben-hadad's violation of
his league; and resolves to let that ungrateful perfidious prince know
that as he had given him peace he could give him trouble. Ahab has a
good cause, yet succeeds not. Equity is not to be judged of by
II. He engages Jehoshaphat, and draws him in, to join with him in this
expedition, for the recovery of Ramoth-Gilead,
1 Kings 22:4.
And here I do not wonder that Ahab should desire the assistance of so
pious and prosperous a neighbour. Even bad men have often coveted the
friendship of the good. It is desirable to have an interest in those
that have an interest in heaven, and to have those with us that have
God with them. But it is strange that Jehoshaphat will go so entirely
into Ahab's interests as to say, I am as thou art, and my people as
thy people. I hope not; Jehoshaphat and his people are not so
wicked and corrupt as Ahab and his people. Too great a complaisance to
evildoers has brought many good people, through unwariness, into a
dangerous fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.
Jehoshaphat had like to have paid dearly for his compliment when, in
battle, he was taken for Ahab. Yet some observe that in joining with
Israel against Syria he atoned for his father's fault in joining with
Syria against Israel,
1 Kings 15:19,20.
III. At the special instance and request of Jehoshaphat, he asks
counsel of the prophets concerning this expedition. Ahab thought it
enough to consult with his statesmen, but Jehoshaphat moves that they
should enquire of the word of the Lord,
1 Kings 22:5.
1. Whithersoever a good man goes he desires to take God along with
him, and will acknowledge him in all his ways, ask leave of him, and
look up to him for success.
2. Whithersoever a good man goes he ought to take his religion along
with him, and not be ashamed to own it, no, not when he is with those
who have no kindness for it. Jehoshaphat has not left behind him, at
Jerusalem, his affection, his veneration, for the word of the
Lord, but both avows it and endeavours to introduce it into Ahab's
court. If Ahab drew him into his wars, he will draw Ahab into his
IV. Ahab's 400 prophets, the standing regiment he had of them
(prophets of the groves they called them), agreed to encourage
him in this expedition and to assure him of success,
1 Kings 22:6.
He put the question to them with a seeming fairness: Shall I go or
shall I forbear? But they knew which way his inclination was and
designed only to humour the two kings. To please Jehoshaphat, they made
use of the name Jehovah: He shall deliver it into the hand of
the king; they stole the word from the true prophets
and spoke their language. To please Ahab they said, Go up. They
had indeed probabilities on their side: Ahab had, not long since,
beaten the Syrians twice; he had now a good cause, and was much
strengthened by his alliance with Jehoshaphat. But they pretended to
speak by prophecy, not by rational conjecture, by divine, not human,
foresight: "Thou shalt certainly recover Ramoth-Gilead." Zedekiah, a
leading man among these prophets, in imitation of the true prophets,
illustrated his false prophecy with a sign,
1 Kings 22:11.
He made himself a pair of iron horns, representing the two kings, and
their honour and power (both of which were signified by horns,
exaltation and force), and with these the Syrians must be pushed. All
the prophets agreed, as one man, that Ahab should return from this
expedition a conqueror,
1 Kings 22:12.
Unity is not always the mark of a true church and a true ministry.
Here were 400 men that prophesied with one mind and one mouth, and yet
all in an error.
V. Jehoshaphat cannot relish this sort of preaching; it is not like
what he was used to. The false prophets cannot so mimic the true but
that he who had spiritual senses exercised could discern the fallacy,
and therefore he enquired for a prophet of the Lord besides,
1 Kings 22:7.
He is too much of a courtier to say any thing by way of reflection on
the king's chaplains, but he waits to see a prophet of the Lord,
intimating that he could not look upon these to be so. They seemed
to be somewhat (whatever they were, it made no matter to him), but,
in conference, they added nothing to him, they gave him no
One faithful prophet of the Lord was worth them all.
VI. Ahab has another, but one he hates, Micaiah by name, and, to please
Jehoshaphat, he is willing to have him sent for,
1 Kings 22:8-10.
Ahab owned that they might enquire of the Lord by him, that he
was a true prophet, and one that knew God's mind. And yet,
1. He hated him, and was not ashamed to own to the king of Judah that
he did so, and to give this for a reason. He doth not prophesy good
concerning me, but evil. And whose fault was that? If Ahab had done
well, he would have heard nothing but good from heaven; if he do ill,
he may thank himself for all the uneasiness which the reproofs and
threats of God's word gave him. Note, Those are wretchedly hardened in
sin, and are ripening apace for ruin, who hate God's ministers because
they deal plainly with them and faithfully warn them of their misery
and danger by reason of sin, and reckon those their enemies that
tell them the truth.
2. He had (it should seem) imprisoned him; for, when he committed him
(1 Kings 22:26),
he bade the officer carry him back, namely, to the place whence he
came. We may suppose that this was he that reproved him for his
clemency to Ben-hadad
(1 Kings 20:38-43,
&c.) and for so doing was cast into prison, where he had lain these
three years. This was the reason why Ahab knew where to find him so
1 Kings 22:9.
But his imprisonment had not excluded him for divine visits: the spirit
of prophecy continued with him there. He was bound, but the word of
the Lord was not. Nor did it in the lease abate his courage, nor
make him less confident or faithful in delivering his message.
Jehoshaphat gave too gentle a reproof to Ahab for expressing his
indignation against a faithful prophet: Let not the king say so,
1 Kings 22:8.
He should have said, "Thou art unjust to the prophet, unkind to
thyself, and puttest an affront upon his Lord and thine, in saying so."
Such sinners as Ahab must be rebuked sharply. However he so far yielded
to the reproof that, for fear of provoking Jehoshaphat to break off
from his alliance with him, he orders Micaiah to be sent for with all
1 Kings 22:9.
The two kings sat each in their robes and chairs of state, in the gate
of Samaria, ready to receive this poor prophet, and to hear what he had
to say; for many will give God's word the hearing that will not lend it
an obedient ear. They were attended with a crowd of flattering
prophets, that could not think of prophesying any thing but what was
very sweet and very smooth to two such glorious princes now in
confederacy. Those that love to be flattered shall not want
VII. Micaiah is pressed by the officer that fetches him to follow the
1 Kings 22:13.
That officer was unworthy the name of an Israelite who pretended to
prescribe to a prophet; but he thought him altogether such a one as the
rest, who studied to please men and not God. He told Micaiah how
unanimous the other prophets were in foretelling the king's good
success, how agreeable it was to the king, intimating that it was his
interest to say as they said--he might thereby gain, not only
enlargement, but preferment. Those that dote upon worldly things
themselves think every body else should do so too, and true or false,
right or wrong, speak and act for their secular interest only. He
intimated likewise that it would be to no purpose to contradict such a
numerous and unanimous vote; he would be ridiculed, as affecting a
foolish singularity, if he should. But Micaiah, who knows better
things, protests, and backs his protestation with an oath, that he will
deliver his message from God with all faithfulness, whether it be
pleasing or displeasing to his prince
(1 Kings 22:14):
"What the Lord saith to me, that will I speak, without addition,
diminution, or alteration." This was nobly resolved, and as became one
who had his eye to a greater King than either of these, arrayed with
brighter robes, and sitting on a higher throne.
B. C. 897.
15 So he came to the king. And the king said unto him, Micaiah,
shall we go against Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we forbear?
And he answered him, Go, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver
it into the hand of the king.
16 And the king said unto him, How many times shall I adjure
thee that thou tell me nothing but that which is true in the
name of the LORD?
17 And he said, I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as
sheep that have not a shepherd: and the LORD said, These have no
master: let them return every man to his house in peace.
18 And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell
thee that he would prophesy no good concerning me, but evil?
19 And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the LORD: I saw
the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven
standing by him on his right hand and on his left.
20 And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go
up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? And one said on this manner, and
another said on that manner.
21 And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD,
and said, I will persuade him.
22 And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will
go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his
prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail
also: go forth, and do so.
23 Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in
the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken
evil concerning thee.
24 But Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah went near, and smote
Micaiah on the cheek, and said, Which way went the Spirit of the
LORD from me to speak unto thee?
25 And Micaiah said, Behold, thou shalt see in that day, when
thou shalt go into an inner chamber to hide thyself.
26 And the king of Israel said, Take Micaiah, and carry him
back unto Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash the king's
27 And say, Thus saith the king, Put this fellow in the
prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of
affliction, until I come in peace.
28 And Micaiah said, If thou return at all in peace, the LORD
hath not spoken by me. And he said, Hearken, O people, every one
Here Micaiah does well, but, as is common, suffers ill for so
I. We are told how faithfully he delivered his message, as one that was
more solicitous to please God than to humour either the great or the
many. In three ways he delivers his message, and all displeasing to
1. He spoke as the rest of the prophets had spoken, but ironically:
Go, and prosper,
1 Kings 22:15.
Ahab put the same question to him that he had put to his own prophets
(Shall we go, or shall we forbear?) seeming desirous to know
God's mind, when, like Balaam, he was strongly bent to do his own,
which Micaiah plainly took notice of when he bade him go, but with such
an air and pronunciation as plainly showed he spoke it by way of
derision; as if he had said, "I know you are determined to go, and I
hear your own prophets are unanimous in assuring you of success; go
then and take what follows. They say, The Lord shall deliver it
into the hand of the king; but I do not tell thee that thus
saith the Lord; no, he saith otherwise." Note, Those deserve to be
bantered that love to be flattered; and it is just with God to give up
those to their own counsels that give up themselves to their own lusts.
In answer to this Ahab adjured him to tell him the truth, and not to
jest with him
(1 Kings 22:16),
as if he sincerely desired to know both what God would have him to do
and what he would do with him, yet intending to represent the prophet
as a perverse ill-humoured man, that would not tell him the truth till
he was thus put to his oath, or adjured to do it.
2. Being thus pressed, he plainly foretold that the king would be cut
off in this expedition, and his army scattered,
1 Kings 22:17.
He saw them in a vision, or in a dream, dispersed upon the mountains,
as sheep that had no one to guide them. Smite the shepherd, and the
sheep will be scattered,
(1.) That Israel should be deprived of their king, who was their
shepherd. God took notice of it, These have no master.
(2.) That they would be obliged to retire re infecta--without
accomplishing their object. He does not foresee any great slaughter
in the army, but that they should make a dishonorable retreat. Let
them return every man to his house in peace, put into disorder
indeed for the present, but no great losers by the death of their king;
he shall fall in war, but they shall go home in peace. Thus Micaiah, in
his prophecy, testified what he had seen and heard (let them take it
how they pleased), while the others prophesied merely out of their
own hearts; see
"The prophet that has a dream let him tell that, and so quote his
authority; and he that has my word, let him speak my word
faithfully, and not his own; for what is the chaff to the
wheat?" Now Ahab finds himself aggrieved, turns to Jehoshaphat, and
appeals to him whether Micaiah had not manifestly a spite against him,
1 Kings 22:18.
Those that bear malice to others are generally willing to believe that
others bear malice to them, though they have no cause for it, and
therefore to put the worst constructions upon all they say. What evil
did Micaiah prophesy to Ahab in telling him that, if he proceeded in
this expedition, it would be fatal to him, while he might choose
whether he would proceed in it or no? The greatest kindness we can do
to one that is going a dangerous way is to tell him of his danger.
3. He informed the king how it was that all his prophets encouraged him
to proceed, that God permitted Satan by them to deceive him into his
ruin, and he by vision knew of it; it was represented to him, and he
represented it to Ahab, that the God of heaven had determined he should
fall at Ramoth-Gilead
(1 Kings 22:19,20),
that the favour he had wickedly shown to Ben-hadad might be punished by
him and his Syrians, and that he being in some doubt whether he should
go to Ramoth-Gilead or no, and resolving to be advised by his prophets,
they should persuade him to it and prevail
(1 Kings 22:21,22);
and hence it was that they encouraged him with so much assurance
(1 Kings 22:23);
it was a lie from the father of lies, but by divine permission. This
matter is here represented after the manner of men. We are not to
imagine that God is ever put upon new counsels, or is ever at a loss
for means whereby to effect his purposes, nor that he needs to consult
with angels, or any creature, about the methods he should take, nor
that he is the author of sin or the cause of any man's either telling
or believing a lie; but, besides what was intended by this with
reference to Ahab himself, it is to teach us,
(1.) That God is a great king above all kings, and has a throne above
all the thrones of earthly princes. "You have your thrones," said
Micaiah to these two kings, "and you think you may do what you will,
and we must all say as you would have us; but I saw the Lord sitting
upon his throne, and every man's judgment proceeding from him, and
therefore I must say as he says; he is not a man, as you are."
(2.) That he is continually attended and served by an innumerable
company of angels, those heavenly hosts, who stand by him, ready to go
where he sends them and to do what he bids them, messengers of mercy
on his right hand, of wrath on his left hand.
(3.) That he not only takes cognizance of, but presides over, all the
affairs of this lower world, and overrules them according to the
counsel of his own will. The rise and fall of princes, the issues
of war, and all the great affairs of state, which are the subject of
the consultations of wise and great men, are no more above God's
direction than the meanest concerns of the poorest cottages are below
(4.) That God has many ways of bringing about his own counsels,
particularly concerning the fall of sinners when they are ripe for
ruin; he can do it either in this manner or in that manner.
(5.) That there are malicious and lying spirits which go about
continually seeking to devour, and, in order to that, seeking to
deceive, and especially to put lies into the mouths of prophets, by
them to entice many to their destruction.
(6.) It is not without the divine permission that the devil deceives
men, and even thereby God serves his own purposes. With him are
strength and wisdom, the deceived and the deceivers are his,
When he pleases, for the punishment of those who receive not the truth
in the love of it, he not only lets Satan loose to deceive them
but gives men up to strong delusions to believe him,
2 Thessalonians 2:11,12.
(7.) Those are manifestly marked for ruin that are thus given up. God
has certainly spoken evil concerning those whom he had given up
to be imposed upon by lying prophets. Thus Micaiah gave Ahab fair
warning, not only of the danger of proceeding in this war, but of the
danger of believing those that encouraged him to proceed. Thus we are
warned to beware of false prophets, and to try the spirits; the
lying spirit never deceives so fatally as in the mouth of
II. We are told how he was abused for delivering his message thus
faithfully, thus plainly, in a way so very proper both to convince and
1. Zedekiah, a wicked prophet, impudently insulted him in the face of
the court, smote him on the cheek, to reproach him, to silence
him and stop his mouth, and to express his indignation at him (thus was
our blessed Saviour abused,
that Judge of Israel,
and as if he not only had the spirit of the Lord, but the monopoly of
this Spirit, that he might not go without his leave, he asks, Which
way went the Spirit of the Lord from me to speak to thee?
1 Kings 22:24.
The false prophets were always the worst enemies the true prophets had,
and not only stirred up the government against them, but were
themselves abusive to them, as Zedekiah here. To strike within the
verge of the court, especially in the king's presence, is looked upon
by our law as a high misdemeanour; yet this wicked prophet gives this
abuse to a prophet of the Lord, and is not reprimanded nor bound to his
good behaviour for it. Ahab was pleased with it, and Jehoshaphat had
not courage to appear for the injured prophet, pretending it was out of
his jurisdiction; but Micaiah, though he returns not his blow (God's
prophets are not strikers nor persecutors, dare not avenge themselves,
render blow for blow, or be in any way accessory to the breach of the
peace), yet, since he boasted so much of the Spirit, as those commonly
do that know least of his operations, he leaves him to be convinced of
his error by the event: Thou shalt know when thou hidest thyself in
an inner chamber,
1 Kings 22:25.
It is likely Zedekiah went with Ahab to the battle, and took his horns
of iron with him to encourage the soldiers, to see with pleasure the
accomplishment of his prophecy, and return in triumph with the king;
but, the army being routed, he fled among the rest from the sword of
the enemy, sheltered himself as Ben-hadad had done in a chamber
within a chamber
(1 Kings 20:30),
lest he should perish, as he knew he deserved to do, with those whom he
had deluded, as Balaam did
and lest the blind prophet should fall into the ditch with the
blinded prince whom he had misled. Note, Those that will not have their
mistakes rectified in time by the word of God will be undeceived, when
it is too late, by the judgments of God.
2. Ahab, that wicked king, committed him to prison
(1 Kings 22:27),
not only ordered him to be taken into custody, or remitted to the
prison whence he came, but to be fed with bread and water, coarse bread
and puddle-water, till he should return, not doubting but that he
should return a conqueror, and then he would put him to death for a
(1 Kings 22:27)--
hard usage for one that would have prevented his ruin! But by this it
appeared that God had determined to destroy him, as
2 Chronicles 25:16.
How confident is Ahab of success. He doubts not but he shall return in
peace, forgetting what he himself had reminded Ben-hadad of, Let not
him that girdeth on the harness boast; but there was little
likelihood of his coming home in peace when he left one of God's
prophets behind him in prison. Micaiah put it upon the issue, and
called all the people to be witnesses that he did so: "If thou
return in peace, the Lord has not spoken by me,
1 Kings 22:28.
Let me incur the reproach and punishment of a false prophet, if the
king come home alive." He ran no hazard by this appeal, for he knew
whom he had believed; he that is terrible to the kings of the earth,
and treads upon princes as mortar, will rather let thousands of them
fall to the ground than one jot or tittle of his own word; he will not
fail to confirm the word of his servants,
B. C. 897.
29 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went
up to Ramoth-gilead.
30 And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, I will
disguise myself, and enter into the battle; but put thou on thy
robes. And the king of Israel disguised himself, and went into
31 But the king of Syria commanded his thirty and two captains
that had rule over his chariots, saying, Fight neither with small
nor great, save only with the king of Israel.
32 And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw
Jehoshaphat, that they said, Surely it is the king of Israel.
And they turned aside to fight against him: and Jehoshaphat cried
33 And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots
perceived that it was not the king of Israel, that they turned
back from pursuing him.
34 And a certain man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the
king of Israel between the joints of the harness: wherefore he
said unto the driver of his chariot, Turn thine hand, and carry
me out of the host; for I am wounded.
35 And the battle increased that day: and the king was stayed
up in his chariot against the Syrians, and died at even: and the
blood ran out of the wound into the midst of the chariot.
36 And there went a proclamation throughout the host about the
going down of the sun, saying, Every man to his city, and every
man to his own country.
37 So the king died, and was brought to Samaria; and they
buried the king in Samaria.
38 And one washed the chariot in the pool of Samaria; and the
dogs licked up his blood; and they washed his armour; according
unto the word of the LORD which he spake.
39 Now the rest of the acts of Ahab, and all that he did, and
the ivory house which he made, and all the cities that he built,
are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings
40 So Ahab slept with his fathers; and Ahaziah his son reigned
in his stead.
The matter in contest between God's prophet and Ahab's prophets is here
soon determined, and it is made to appear which was in the right.
I. The two kings march with their forces to Ramoth-Gilead,
1 Kings 22:29.
That the king of Israel, who hated God's prophet, should so far
disbelieve his admonition as to persist in his resolution,
notwithstanding, is not strange; but that Jehoshaphat, that pious
prince, who had desired to enquire by a prophet of the Lord, as
disrelishing and discrediting Ahab's prophets, should yet proceed,
after so fair a warning, is matter of astonishment. But by the easiness
of his temper he was carried away with the delusion (as Barnabas was
with the dissimulation,
of his friends. He gave too much heed to Ahab's prophets, because they
pretended to speak from God too, and in his country he had never been
imposed upon by such cheats. He was ready to give his opinion with the
majority, and to conclude that it was 400 to one but they should
succeed. Micaiah had not forbidden them to go; nay, at first, he said,
Go, and prosper. If it came to the worst, it was only Ahab's
fall that was foretold, and therefore Jehoshaphat hoped he might safely
II. Ahab adopts a contrivance by which he hopes to secure himself and
expose his friend
(1 Kings 22:30):
"I will disguise myself, and go in the habit of a common
soldier, but let Jehoshaphat put on his robes, to appear in the
dress of a general." He pretended thereby to do honour to Jehoshaphat,
and to compliment him with the sole command of the army in this action.
He shall direct and give orders, and Ahab will serve as a soldier under
him. But he intended,
1. To make a liar of a good prophet. Thus he hoped to elude the danger,
and so to defeat the threatening, as if, by disguising himself, he
could escape the divine cognizance and the judgments that pursued him.
2. To make a fool of a good king, whom he did not cordially love,
because he was one that adhered to God and so condemned his apostasy.
He knew that if any perished it must be the shepherd (so Micaiah had
foretold); and perhaps he had intimation of the charge the enemy had to
fight chiefly against the king of Israel, and therefore basely
intended to betray Jehoshaphat to the danger, that he might secure
himself. Ahab was marked for ruin; one would not have been in his coat
for a great sum; yet he will over-persuade this godly king to muster
for him. See what those get that join in affinity with vicious men,
whose consciences are debauched, and who are lost to every thing that
is honourable. How can it be expected that he should be true to his
friend that has been false to his God?
III. Jehoshaphat, having more piety than policy, put himself into the
post of honour, though it was the post of danger, and was thereby
brought into the peril of his life, but God graciously delivered him.
The king of Syria charged his captains to level their force, not
against the king of Judah, for with him he had no quarrel, but against
the king of Israel only
(1 Kings 22:31),
to aim at his person, as if against him he had a particular enmity. Now
Ahab was justly repaid for sparing Ben-hadad, who, as the seed of the
serpent commonly do, stung the bosom in which he was fostered and saved
from perishing. Some think that he designed only to have him taken
prisoner, that he might now give him as honourable a treatment as he
had formerly received from him. Whatever was the reason, this charge
the officers received, and endeavoured to oblige their prince in this
matter; for, seeing Jehoshaphat in his royal habit, they took him for
the king of Israel, and surrounded him. Now,
1. By his danger God let him know that he was displeased with him for
joining in confederacy with Ahab. Jehoshaphat had said, in compliment
(1 Kings 22:4),
I am as thou art; and now he was indeed taken for him. Those
that associate with evil doers are in danger of sharing in their
2. By his deliverance God let him know that, though he was displeased
with him, yet he had not deserted him. Some of the captains that knew
him perceived their mistake, and so retired from the pursuit of him;
but it is said
(2 Chronicles 18:31)
that God moved them (for he has all hearts in his hand) to
depart from him. To him he cried out, not in cowardice, but
devotion, and from him his relief came: Ahab was in no care to succour
him. God is a friend that will not fail us when other friends do.
IV. Ahab receives his mortal wound in the battle, notwithstanding his
endeavours to secure himself in the habit of a private sentinel. Let no
man think to hide himself from God's judgment, no, not in masquerade.
Thy hand shall find out all thy enemies, whatever disguise they
1 Kings 22:34.
The Syrian that shot him little thought of doing such a piece of
service to God and his king; for he drew a bow at a venture, not
aiming particularly at any man, yet God so directed the arrow that,
1. He hit the right person, the man that was marked for destruction,
whom, if they had taken alive, as was designed, perhaps Ben-hadad would
have spared. Those cannot escape with life whom God hath doomed to
2. He hit him in the right place, between the joints of the
harness, the only place about him where this arrow of death could
find entrance. No armour is of proof against the darts of divine
vengeance. Case the criminal in steel, and it is all one, he that
made him can make his sword to approach him. That which to us seems
altogether casual is done by the determinate counsel and fore-knowledge
V. The army is dispersed by the enemy and sent home by the king. Either
Jehoshaphat or Ahab ordered the retreat of the sheep, when the shepherd
was smitten: Every man to his city, for it is to no purpose to
attempt any thing more,
1 Kings 22:36.
Ahab himself lived long enough to see that part of Micaiah's prophecy
accomplished that all Israel should be scattered upon the mountains
(1 Kings 22:17),
and perhaps with his dying lips did himself give orders for it; for
though he would be carried out of the army, to have his wounds dressed
(1 Kings 22:34),
yet he would be held up in his chariot, to see if his army were
victorious. But, when he saw the battle increase against them, his
spirits sunk, and he died, but his death was so lingering that he had
time to feel himself die; and we may well imagine with what horror he
now reflected upon the wickedness he had committed, the warnings he had
slighted, Baal's altars, Naboth's vineyard, Micaiah's imprisonment. Now
he sees himself flattered into his own ruin, and Zedekiah's horns of
iron pushing, not the Syrians, but himself, into destruction. Thus is
he brought to the king of terrors without hope in his
VI. The royal corpse is brought to Samaria and buried there
(1 Kings 22:37),
and hither are brought the bloody chariot and bloody armour in which he
1 Kings 22:38.
One particular circumstance is taken notice of, because there was in it
the accomplishment of a prophecy, that when they brought the chariot to
the pool of Samaria, to be washed, the dogs (and swine, says the LXX.)
gathered about it, and, as is usual, licked the blood, or, as
some think, the water in which it was washed, with which the blood was
mingled: the dogs made no difference between royal blood and other
blood. Now Naboth's blood was avenged
(1 Kings 21:19),
and that word of David, as well as Elijah's word, was fulfilled
That thy foot may be dipped in the blood of thy enemies, and the
tongue of thy dogs in the same. The dogs licking the guilty blood
was perhaps designed to represent the terrors that prey upon the guilty
soul after death.
Lastly, The story of Ahab is here concluded in the usual form,
1 Kings 22:39,40.
Among his works mention is made of an ivory house which he built, so
called because many parts of it were inlaid with ivory; perhaps it was
intended to vie with the stately palace of the kings of Judah, which
B. C. 897.
41 And Jehoshaphat the son of Asa began to reign over Judah in
the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel.
42 Jehoshaphat was thirty and five years old when he began to
reign; and he reigned twenty and five years in Jerusalem. And his
mother's name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi.
43 And he walked in all the ways of Asa his father; he turned
not aside from it, doing that which was right in the eyes of
the LORD: nevertheless the high places were not taken away; for
the people offered and burnt incense yet in the high places.
44 And Jehoshaphat made peace with the king of Israel.
45 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, and his might that
he showed, and how he warred, are they not written in the book
of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
46 And the remnant of the sodomites, which remained in the days
of his father Asa, he took out of the land.
47 There was then no king in Edom: a deputy was king.
48 Jehoshaphat made ships of Tharshish to go to Ophir for gold:
but they went not; for the ships were broken at Ezion-geber.
49 Then said Ahaziah the son of Ahab unto Jehoshaphat, Let my
servants go with thy servants in the ships. But Jehoshaphat would
50 And Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers, and was buried with
his fathers in the city of David his father: and Jehoram his son
reigned in his stead.
51 Ahaziah the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in
Samaria the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and
reigned two years over Israel.
52 And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the
way of his father, and in the way of his mother, and in the way
of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin:
53 For he served Baal, and worshipped him, and provoked to
anger the LORD God of Israel, according to all that his father
I. A short account of the reign of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, of which
we shall have a much fuller narrative in the book of Chronicles, and of
the greatness and goodness of that prince, neither of which was
lessened or sullied by any thing but his intimacy with the house of
Ahab, which, upon several accounts, was a diminution to him. His
confederacy with Ahab in war we have already found dangerous to him,
and his confederacy with Ahaziah his son in trade sped no better. He
offered to go partner with him in a fleet of merchant-ships, that
should fetch gold from Ophir, as Solomon's navy did,
1 Kings 22:49.
2 Chronicles 20:35,36.
But, while they were preparing to set sail, they were exceedingly
damaged and disabled by a storm (broken at Ezion-geber), which a
prophet gave Jehoshaphat to understand was a rebuke to him for his
league with wicked Ahaziah
(2 Chronicles 20:37);
and therefore, as we are told here
(1 Kings 22:49),
when Ahaziah desired a second time to be a partner with him, or, if
that could not be obtained, that he might but send his servants with
some effects of board Jehoshaphat's ships, he refused: Jehoshaphat
would not. The rod of God, expounded by the word of God, had
effectually broken him off from his confederacy with that ungodly
unhappy prince. Better buy wisdom dear than be without it; but
experience is therefore said to be the mistress of fools because those
are fools that will not learn till they are taught by experience, and
particularly till they are taught the danger of associating with wicked
people. Now Jehoshaphat's reign appears here to have been none of the
longest, but one of the best.
1. It was none of the longest, for he reigned but twenty-five years
(1 Kings 22:42),
but then it was in the prime of his time, between thirty-five and
sixty, and these twenty-five, added to his father's happy forty-one,
give us a grateful idea of the flourishing condition of the kingdom of
Judah, and of religion in it, for a great while, even when things were
very bad, upon all accounts, in the kingdom of Israel. If Jehoshaphat
reigned not so long as his father, to balance this he had not those
blemishes on the latter end of his reign that his father had
(2 Chronicles 16:9,10,12),
and it is better for a man that has been in reputation for wisdom and
honour to die in the midst of it than to outlive it.
2. Yet is was one of the best, both in respect of piety and prosperity.
(1.) He did well: He did that which was right in the eyes of the
(1 Kings 22:43),
observed the commands of his God, and trod in the steps of his good
father; and he persevered therein: He turned not aside from it.
Yet every man's character has some but or other, so had his; the
high places were not taken away, no not out of Judah and
Benjamin, though those tribes lay so near Jerusalem that they might
easily bring their offerings and incense to the altar there, and could
not pretend, as some other of the tribes, the inconveniency of lying
remote. But old corruptions are with difficulty rooted out, especially
when they have formerly had the patronage of those that were good, as
the high places had of Samuel, Solomon, and some others.
(2.) His affairs did well. He prevented the mischiefs which had
attended their wars with the kingdom of Israel, establishing a lasting
(1 Kings 22:44),
which would have been a greater blessing if he had contented himself
with a peace, and not carried it on to an affinity with Israel; he put
a deputy, or viceroy, in Edom, so that the kingdom was tributary to him
(1 Kings 22:47),
and therein the prophecy concerning Esau and Jacob was fulfilled, that
the elder should serve the younger. And, in general, mention is
made of his might and his wars,
1 Kings 22:45.
He pleased God, and God blessed him with strength and success. His
death is spoken of
(1 Kings 22:50),
to shut up his story, yet, in the history of the kings of Israel, we
find mention of him afterwards,
2 Kings 3:7.
II. The beginning of the story of Ahaziah the son of Ahab,
1 Kings 22:51-53.
His reign was very short, not two years. Some sinners God makes quick
work with. It is a very bad character that is here given him. He not
only kept up Jeroboam's idolatry, but the worship of Baal likewise;
though he had heard of the ruin of Jeroboam's family, and had seen his
own father drawn into destruction by the prophets of Baal, who had
often been proved false prophets, yet he received no instruction, took
no warning, but followed the example of his wicked father and the
counsel of his more wicked mother Jezebel, who was still living.
Miserable are the children that not only derive a stock of corruption
from their parents, but are thus taught by them to trade with it; and
unhappy, most unhappy parents, are those that help to damn their
Matthew Henry "Verse by Verse Commentary for '1 Kings' Matthew Henry Bible Commentary".