Genesis 1:24-31, All God's Children
Genesis 4:1-15, Stubborn Grace
Genesis 9:8-17, My Rainbow
Genesis 12:10-13:12, Faith-filled Choices
Exodus 2:1-15, Spectacular Failures
Exodus 15:1-18, Whose Strength?
Exodus 15:22-27, Blessings from Difficulties
Exodus 16:2-5, 13-31, 35, The “Manna” Test
Exodus 18:13-26, Sharing the Work
Exodus 23:1-9, Responsible for Fairness
Exodus 33:7-17, Reassurances from God
Leviticus 19:1-18, God's Economics
Leviticus 19:9-18, Love in Action
Numbers 20:2-13, Unfaithful Leadership
Numbers 21:4-9, The Essence of Salvation
Deuteronomy 2:1-9, God's Mysterious Goals
Deuteronomy 10:12-21, All About Love
Judges 6:11-24, Unlikely Warrior
Judges 7:1-8, 19-22, Too Many
Judges 10:6-16, Same Old Story
1 Samuel 2:1-10, The Constant in Life
1 Samuel 9:1-21, Qualifications for Service
1 Samuel 16:1-13, From God's Perspective
2 Samuel 22:2-20, Our Source of Strength
1 Kings 8:22-30, 35-53, A Repeated Practice of Repentance
1 Kings 8:54-61, Timeless Truths from Solomon
1 Kings 17:1-16, Obedience When It Hurts
1 Kings 22:1-18, Listening to the Truth
2 Kings 6:8-23, Those Who Are With Us
1 Chronicles 14:8-12, Miracles in the Mundane
Ezra 3:8-13, Forever
Nehemiah 8:1-3, 6-12, Live in God's Moment
Job 28:12-28, Trying to Figure It Out
Job 38:1-13, Only God Is God
Proverbs 8:1-14, Understanding Wisdom
Proverbs 16:1-9, An Obedient Life
Proverbs 19:8, 20-21, 23, The Best Source for Self-Worth
Proverbs 19:20-23, God's Plans for a Rich Life
Proverbs 30:1-9, Only Enough, Please
Ecclesiastes 1:1-11, Nothing New
Ecclesiastes 5:10-20, A Gift from God
Ecclesiastes 9:1-2, 7-10, God's Blessings in Simple Things
Listening to the Truth
1 Kings 22:1-18
22:1 For three years Syria and Israel continued without war. But in the third year Jehoshaphat the king of Judah came down to the king of Israel. And the king of Israel said to his servants, “Do you know that Ramoth-gilead belongs to us, and we keep quiet and do not take it out of the hand of the king of Syria?” And he said to Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to battle at Ramoth-gilead?” And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.”
And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “Inquire first for the word of the Lord.” Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, “Shall I go to battle against Ramoth-gilead, or shall I refrain?” And they said, “Go up, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not here another prophet of the Lord of whom we may inquire?” And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, Micaiah the son of Imlah, but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil.” And Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say so.” Then the king of Israel summoned an officer and said, “Bring quickly Micaiah the son of Imlah.” Now the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah were sitting on their thrones, arrayed in their robes, at the threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria, and all the prophets were prophesying before them. And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made for himself horns of iron and said, “Thus says the Lord, ‘With these you shall push the Syrians until they are destroyed.’” And all the prophets prophesied so and said, “Go up to Ramoth-gilead and triumph; the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.”
And the messenger who went to summon Micaiah said to him, “Behold, the words of the prophets with one accord are favorable to the king. Let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably.” But Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, what the Lord says to me, that I will speak.” And when he had come to the king, the king said to him, “Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we refrain?” And he answered him, “Go up and triumph; the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” But the king said to him, “How many times shall I make you swear that you speak to me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?” And he said, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd. And the Lord said, ‘These have no master; let each return to his home in peace.’” And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?”
English Standard Version
This is a story of two kings, both of whom expressed their commitment to hearing the word of God. In the tumultuous era from the end of King Solomon’s reign until Judah was conquered by Babylon, that desire to listen to God makes both King Ahab of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah relatively “good” kings. King Ahab even employed 400 prophets of God as his advisers!
This meditation last updated on 2010-10-24
However, King Jehoshaphat was open to whatever God wanted to say, while King Ahab was willing only to accept what he wanted to hear. In the battle recorded in the latter part of chapter 22, that difference in attitude was literally the difference between life and death for Ahab. It was King Jehoshaphat’s searching inclination that cause him to question the false adulations of the 400 prophets. It was King Ahab’s arrogant mind set that caused him to dismiss Micaiah as no more than a trouble-maker.
We can notice judgment errors similar to those made by King Ahab all around us. We witness powerful organizational leaders who surround themselves with advisers selected for their homogeneous opinions. We hear convoluted explanations from proclaimed experts that seek to convince us that what we think we know is not really what we know. We might even shrug along with our friends when the ways of the “real world” conflict with what we know to be right. This story shows us that part of our human frailty is our willingness to filter out the truth, leading to sorrowful and preventable outcomes like that of King Ahab. We then have both a spiritual and a practical responsibility to learn from this passage how we might better work with others, gather information, and relate to God.
King Ahab succumbed to the temptation of surrounding himself with “yes men”. Everyone feels honored when their decisions have the support of esteemed consultants, but weaker leaders “stack the deck” by selecting advisers who support their boss’s opinions over those with greater expertise that includes differing views. One of the fundamental imperatives of a strong leader is that the leader encourages and listens to opposing viewpoints and unfavorable assessments. A strong leader uses contrary ideas to improve his organization; a weak leader stifles and ignores contrary ideas, and his organization stagnates.
Even if we are not formally leaders, we have opportunities and imperatives to practice these same inclusive principles in the information we receive. Today, we have an unprecedented number of dedicated news channels available through our broadband television infrastructures compared to the few television and radio broadcast networks of several decades ago. We have a seemingly unlimited number of information sources on the internet, including a vast array of amateur publishers, compared to the oligarchy of printed news publishers of the twentieth century. For the first time in human history, we are required to be selective in what news we receive, for there is far more news reported to us in a day than we can possibly absorb.
The same is true for “soft” news, for editorial commentary, and even for devotional readings. A lack of time forces us to exclude most of the reading material available to us. If we choose only to read and listen to ideas that exactly match our own, we will fossilize our ideas and stifle our growth. Especially in our spiritual lives, we need the challenge of hearing different ways of thinking, for we need to consider that God’s interaction with all of humanity is greater than we are capable of comprehending. As we ponder these different ideas, we should seize the opportunity of prayerfully exploring why we believe what we believe, and we need to listen with an open mind for the unexpected call from God to follow a different path and embrace a more complete spiritual truth.
In contrast, if we, like King Ahab, successfully block all dissenting opinions and information sources, we inevitably will make the same blasphemous decisions as King Ahab when he dismissed God’s messages. We cannot treat other people with a self-righteous attitude, then “turn off” that arrogance when we pray to God. This truth about arrogance is expressed in Jesus’ teaching that what we do “to the least of these” is what we do to God.
We can be certain that we will not like every message that God sends to us, but God knows best—and we do not. We can be certain that God will allow us to experience situations that are uncomfortable, painful, even frightening, if doing so can strengthen our faith and make us more useful followers of Christ. We can be certain that each of us will fail God and fall into sin, and the Good Shepherd will come find us and lead us back into the fold. Will we follow the Good Shepherd home? Or will we, like King Ahab, stubbornly ignore God when God doesn’t tell us what we want to hear?
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