1 Kings 22 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of 1 Kings 22)

Verse 2

[2] And it came to pass in the third year, that Jehoshaphat the king of Judah came down to the king of Israel.

Came down, … — It is strange, that so good a man would be so closely connected with a king revolted from the worship of God! But he appears to have been of too easy a temper, which betrayed him to many inconveniencies.

Verse 3

[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?

Is ours — Belongeth to us by right. both by God's donation, and by our last agreement with Ben-hadad, chap. 20:34, which yet he refuseth to deliver up.

Verse 5

[5] And Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Enquire, I pray thee, at the word of the LORD to day.

Enquire — A good man, wherever he goes, will take God along with him, will acknowledge him in all his ways, and look to him for success. And wherever he goes, he ought to take his religion along with him: and not be ashamed to own it, even among those who have no kindness for it.

Verse 6

[6] Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall I go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king.

The prophets — Doubtless his own false prophets, or the priests of the groves; who yet gave in their answer in the name of Jehovah; either, in compliance with Jehoshaphat, or by Ahab's direction, that Jehoshaphat might be deceived by them, into a good opinion of the war.

Verse 8

[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.

One man — In this place, for whom I can speedily send: for there were also other prophets elsewhere in the kingdom, but these were not at hand.

Micaiah — Not one of the twelve prophets, who lived about a hundred and fifty years after this time, but another of that name.

Let not, … — Let us neither hate his person, nor despise his message; but first hear it, and then do as we see cause.

Verse 9

[9] Then the king of Israel called an officer, and said, Hasten hither Micaiah the son of Imlah.

Micaiah — It seems, he had imprisoned him; for verse 26, he bids the officer carry him back, namely to the place where he was before. Probably this was he that had reproved him, for letting Ben-hadad go: And for that, had lain in prison three years. But this did not make him less confident, or less faithful in delivering his message.

Verse 14

[14] And Micaiah said, As the LORD liveth, what the LORD saith unto me, that will I speak.

Said — What answer God shall put in to my mouth. Bravely resolved! And as became one who had an eye to a greater king than either of these.

Verse 15

[15] So he came to the king. And the king said unto him, Micaiah, shall we go against Ramothgilead 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.

Go — Using the very words of the false prophets, in way of derision. Micaiah's meaning is plainly this, because thou dost not seek to know the truth, but only to please thyself, go to the battle, as all thy prophets advise thee, and try the truth of their prediction by thy own experience.

Verse 17

[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.

I saw — In the spirit, or in a vision.

The hills — Upon the mountains of Gilead, nigh Ramoth, where they lay encamped by Ahab's order.

As sheep — As people who have lost their king.

Return — Discharged from the war: which was fulfilled, verse 26.

Verse 18

[18] And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that he would prophesy no good concerning me, but evil?

Evil — Nay, but what evil was it, to tell him, what would be the event, if he proceeded in his expedition, while it was in his own power, whether he would proceed, or no? The greatest kindness we can do to one that is walking in a dangerous way, is to tell him of his danger.

Verse 19

[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.

He said — I will give thee a distinct and true account of the whole matter, in God's name and presence.

I saw — By the eyes of my mind: for he could not see the Lord with bodily eyes.

The Host — The angels, both good and bad, the one possibly on his right, the other on his left hand. Nor is it strange that the devils are called the host of heaven; if you consider, first, that their original seat was in heaven. Secondly, that the name of heaven is often given to all that part of the world which is above the earth, and among the rest, to the air, and where the devil's residence and dominion lies, Ephesians 2:2, and that both Michael and his angels, and the Dragon and his angels, are said to be, and to wage war in heaven, Revelation 12:7, either the air, or the church.

Verse 20

[20] And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner.

Who shall — This is not to be grossly understood, as if God were at a loss to find out an expedient to accomplish his own will; but only to bring down divine things to our shallow capacities, and to express the various means which God hath to execute his own designs.

Verse 21

[21] And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him.

A spirit — An evil spirit came, and presented himself before the throne.

Verse 22

[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.

He said — I will inspire a lie into the minds and mouths of his prophets.

Thou shalt — I will give them up into thy hands, and leave them to their own ignorance and wickedness.

Go — This is not a command, but only a permission.

Verse 24

[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?

Zedekiah — The chief of the false prophets, who was much in the king's favour.

Which way — In what manner went it? Forasmuch as I and my brethren have consulted the Lord, and have the same spirit which thou pretendest to have.

Verse 25

[25] And Micaiah said, Behold, thou shalt see in that day, when thou shalt go into an inner chamber to hide thyself.

Hide thyself — Probably he went with Ahab to the battle, after which he was glad to shelter himself where he could.

Verse 27

[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.

Bread, … — With a very course and sparing diet, whereby he may be only supported to endure his torment.

Verse 31

[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.

Save only — This he ordered, truly supposing this to be the best way to put an end to the war: and by the providence of God, which disposeth the hearts of kings as he pleaseth; and inclined them to this course, that they might, though ignorantly, accomplish his counsel. Perhaps Ben-hadad only designed to have taken him prisoner, that he might now give him as honourable a treatment, as he had formerly received from him.

Verse 34

[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.

The joints — Where the several parts of his armour were joined together. The only place about him where this arrow of death could find entrance. No armour is 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 approach him. And that which to us seems altogether casual, comes by the determinate counsel of God.

Verse 37

[37] So the king died, and was brought to Samaria; and they buried the king in Samaria.

Died — Finding too late the truth of Micaiah's words; and Zedekiah's horns of iron, pushing not the Syrians, but himself, into destruction.

Verse 39

[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 of Israel?

Ivory house — Not that it was made of solid ivory, but because the other materials were covered, or inlaid with ivory.

Verse 41

[41] And Jehoshaphat the son of Asa began to reign over Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel.

Of Ahab — Who reigned twenty two years; therefore he reigned about eighteen years with Ahab.

Verse 43

[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.

High places — He took them away, but not fully; or not in the beginning of of his reign.

Verse 44

[44] And Jehoshaphat made peace with the king of Israel.

Made peace — With Ahab first, and then with his son. This is noted as a blemish in his government, 2 Chronicles 19:2, and proved of most mischievous consequence to his posterity.

Verse 47

[47] There was then no king in Edom: a deputy was king.

A deputy — Sent, and set over them by the kings of Judah, from the time of David, until the days of Jehoram, 2 Chronicles 21:8.

Verse 49

[49] Then said Ahaziah the son of Ahab unto Jehoshaphat, Let my servants go with thy servants in the ships. But Jehoshaphat would not.

Would not — He did join with Ahaziah before this time, and before the ships were broken: for the breaking of the ships mentioned here, is noted to be the effect of his sin, in joining with Ahaziah, 2 Chronicles 20:37. And Jehoshaphat being warned and chastised by God for this sin, would not be persuaded to repeat it.

Verse 51

[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.

Ahaziah, … — Ahaziah was made king by his father, and reigned in conjunction with him a year or two before Ahab's death, and as long after it; even as Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat was made king by his father in his life-time, which possibly was done in compliance with Ahab's desire upon marriage of his daughter to Jehoshaphat's son; and it may be Ahab, to induce him to do so, give him an example of it, and made his son his partner in the kingdom.

Verse 52

[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:

In the way — Which seems added, to shew, how little the example of parents, or ancestors, is to be valued where it is opposed to the will and word of God.

Verse 53

[53] For he served Baal, and worshipped him, and provoked to anger the LORD God of Israel, according to all that his father had done.

His father, … — Most unhappy parents, that thus help to damn their own children's souls!