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1 Kings 22

Micaiah Prophesies Against Ahab (22:1–28)

52 After enjoying all these luxuries for most of his life, Solomon then wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, in which he described the vanity and emptiness of seeking worldly pleasures.

53 God had forbidden the Israelites to intermarry with Canaanite women (Exodus 34:15–16; Deuteronomy 7:1–4); He had told them to destroy all the objects of Canaanite worship (Exodus 34:13–14; Deuteronomy 7:5). But some of Solomon’s wives were not from Canaanite nations: some were Moabites and Ammonites, descendants of Abraham’s nephew Lot (Genesis 19:36–38); others were Edomites, descendants of Jacob’s brother Esau (Genesis 36:9); others were Sidonians, who lived along the Mediterranean coast north of Israel (modern Lebanon). If women from these nations worshiped Israel’s God, it was all right for Israelites to marry them (Ruth 1:4; 4:13); but if they continued to worship their own gods, it was not all right. Solomon’s sin was that he married pagan women—and not just one, but one thousand of them! (see Deuteronomy 17:17).

Having committed the sin of marrying pagan women, Solomon then committed the even greater sin of worshiping their deities (verses 5–8): Ashtoreth (Judges 2:12–13), Molech (Leviticus 18:21; 20:5), and Chemosh (Numbers 21:29). Solomon even built a high place (an altar) for Chemosh (see 1 Kings 3:2).

54 After the death of Solomon and the division of his kingdom, the one full tribe that remained to David’s descendants was Judah. Originally Judah and Simeon had been the two “southern” tribes, leaving ten tribes in the north. However, the Simeonites (those who had not been absorbed into Judah) migrated north and became part of the northern tribes (2 Chronicles 15:9; 34:6), leaving Judah alone in the south. When the nation was divided after Solomon’s death, the tribe of Benjamin was divided too, part of it remaining with Judah (1 Kings 12:21). It is easiest, therefore, to think of the northern ten tribes (verses 31,35) as consisting of all the Israelite tribes except Judah and Benjamin.

55 Damascus, along with Jerusalem, is one of the oldest cities in the world; it is now the capital of Syria.

56 Because Ephraim and Manasseh were the largest tribes, the term house of Joseph was sometimes used to refer to all ten of the northern tribes. Solomon’s use of conscripted laborers from the northern tribes was a major reason they eventually rebelled after his death and formed the northern kingdom, which became known as “Israel"—as distinct from “Judah,” the southern kingdom.

57 A lamp or light is often used in Scripture to symbolize one’s life and also the continuation of one’s house or heritage (see 2 Samuel 21:17; 1 Kings 15:4; Psalm 132:17). A man’s influence—his lamp"didn’t have to be extinguished at his death; it could be perpetuated through his descendants.

58 Shishak was unrelated to the Egyptian princess Solomon had married earlier (1 Kings 3:1); thus he had no family ties with Solomon.

59 According to 2 Chronicles 9:29, these annals included the writings of Nathan, Ahijah, and Iddo, prophets during the reign of Solomon.

60 Just as his grandfather David had been anointed king by the elders of the northern tribes (2 Samuel 5:3), so also Rehoboam went to Shechem in Ephraim so that all the Israelites—that is, representatives from the northern tribes—could anoint him king. Shechem was one of Israel’s most historic cities, starting from the time of Abraham (Genesis 12:6).

61 For further discussion of how the Lord hardens certain people’s hearts to accomplish His purposes, see Exodus 4:21; Jeremiah 13:23 and comments.

62 The real Levitical priests did not take part in the false worship Jeroboam had instituted; instead, they migrated south to Judah where true worship was still being maintained (see 2 Chronicles 11:1317).

63 We might think that the old prophet’s sin was the greater, and that he’s the one who should have been killed by the lion. But only God is able to accurately weigh each person’s sin and render a true judgment. Sometimes our sins are punished severely in this life in order that our spirits might be saved (see 1 Corinthians 5:1–5). In the end, the man of God may well have come away with the lesser punishment.

64 In verse 32, the writer mentions the towns of Samaria. Some years after this episode, Samaria became the capital of the northern kingdom (Israel). However, the name “Samaria” was also used to designate the entire area of the northern kingdom. Thus the writer is correct to use the expression “towns of Samaria.”

65 Jeroboam’s son Abijah, however, would be honored with burial because the Lord had found some good in him (verses 12–13). That was the only positive word the Lord had to say about Jeroboam and his family. Jeroboam was succeeded for a short time by his son Nadab (verse 20), but very quickly Nadab’s reign was brought to an end and the rest of his family was destroyed (see 1 Kings 15:25–30).

66 To be eaten by animals and birds was one of the curses that God said would fall on those who broke His covenant (Deuteronomy 28:26).

67 Not only did the ten tribes worship the two golden calves that Jeroboam had set up; they also made Asherah poles (verse 15), symbols of the goddess Asherah, whom the Canaanites worshiped (Exodus 34:13).

68 Tirzah was the capital of the northern kingdom at this time; later the capital would be moved to Samaria (1 Kings 16:23–24).

69 To “rest with one’s fathers” was a Hebrew expression meaning “to die.” It usually implied that one was buried in the family tomb.

70 Rehoboam’s reign is described in greater detail in 2 Chronicles Chapters 11–12.

71 Ritual prostitution was an important part of Canaanite worship (Deuteronomy 23:17–18; Romans 1:24–25).

72 Shishak’s invasion of Judah is described more fully in 2 Chronicles 12:2–4. Earlier Shishak had given refuge to Jeroboam during Solomon’s last years (1 Kings 11:40).

73 Both Rehoboam and Jeroboam had sons with the same name (1 Kings 14:1). In some ancient manuscripts, however, Rehoboam’s son’s name is spelled “Abijam.”

74 In verse 11, David is referred to as Asa’s father; in fact, David was Asa’s great-great-grandfather. In Scripture, the terms “father” and “son” can also mean “ancestor” and “descendant."

75 Before the temple was built, the people had been offering sacrifices to the Lord on hilltops or other elevated areas (see 1 Kings 3:2–4). After the temple was completed, it was expected that the people would offer sacrifices only at the temple.

76 Being fully committed does not mean that one is without sins or shortcomings; later in his life, Asa’s sins and shortcomings became all too apparent. Rather, to be “fully committed” means to sincerely desire to honor the Lord and to obey Him; it means that one’s heart is undivided. Though in the end Asa failed the Lord, he never turned from Him.

77For a discussion of the significance of “dedicating” or devoting” objects or humans to the Lord, see Leviticus 27:1,28–29 and comment.

78 This is the first occurrence in Scripture of the persecution of a prophet; many more such instances would follow. Notice how one sin leads to another. First, Asa failed to trust God; second, he imprisoned God’s prophet; third, he began to brutally oppress the people (2 Chronicles 16:10). Nowhere do we read that Asa repented of these sins; he seems to have gotten further and further removed from God.

79 We are not told what Asa’s foot disease was, but according to 2 Chronicles 16:12, it was severe;it likely contributed to his death. His funeral bier was covered with spices and perfumes (2 Chronicles 16:14) in accordance with ancient custom (John 19:39–40); perhaps this is mentioned because Asa’s feet smelled so badly. On a spiritual level, no amount of external perfume can overcome the smell” of a life separated from God.

80 Jehu was the son of the prophet Hanani, who had earlier rebuked Asa (2 Chronicles 16:7–10). Jehu’s prophetic ministry lasted fifty years (2 Chronicles 20:34).

81 For further discussion on the subject of God’s use of evil men and on who bears responsibility for sin, see Exodus 4:21; 2 Samuel 24:1; Jeremiah 13:23 and comments.

82 Baasha himself had destroyed Jeroboam’s family (1 Kings 15:29); now a similar fate struck his own family.

83 Ethbaal succeeded Hiram as king of Tyre and Sidon, the two major port cities located north of Israel in presentday Lebanon. His people were referred to as Sidonians, or Phoenicians.

84 For the meaning of the expressions “devote to the Lord” and “totally destroy,” see Leviticus 27:2829 and comment; comment on Numbers 21:1–3 and first footnote to comment.

85 The name Elijah means “the Lord is my God.” To appreciate Elijah’s importance, we need only to recall the transfiguration of Jesus, when Jesus met with Moses and Elijah on top of a high mountain (see Mark 9:2–8).

86 Ahab’s wife Jezebel, who brought Baal worship to Israel, was the daughter of the king of the Sidonians (1 Kings 16:31).

87 As surely as the LORD . . . lives was a commonly used oath that was meant to reinforce the truth of what one was saying. In this case, this nonIsraelite widow must have recognized that Elijah was an Israelite and perhaps even a man of God.

88 Notice here a spiritual principle: only by using our resources for God and for others will our resources be multiplied; if we hoard resources for ourselves, we will ultimately lose them—if not in this life, then surely in the next!

89 It was commonly thought that suffering and death were the direct results of sin. That is often the case, of course, but not always (see John 9:1–3). In this life, sin does not inevitably lead to suffering, and righteousness does not inevitably lead to blessing; there are many instances of suffering that, by human reckoning, are undeserved, unexplained. In other instances, physical suffering may be the means God uses to discipline us, to test us. For further discussion on the subjects of discipline, testing, and suffering, see Exodus 15:25–27; Psalms 22:1–2; 44:9–22 and comments.

90 This is the first instance in Scripture of someone being raised from the dead. Two similar examples are found in 2 Kings 4:32–35 and Luke 7:11–17.

91 The Lord did not decide to end the drought because Ahab and the Israelites had repented of their false worship; they had not. Rather, the Lord was giving the Israelites one more chance to turn back to Him by showing them that it was He, not Baal, who controlled the rain.

92 Ahab’s steward, Obadiah, should not be identified with the prophet of the same name.

93 Obadiah had good reason to fear that Elijah might suddenly be carried away; it seemed to him that Elijah was always “suddenly appearing” and “suddenly disappearing.” For an example of the Spirit carrying someone away, see Acts 8:39.

94 These false prophets were supported by Jezebel; she was the real power behind the throne, and the main promoter of Baal worship.

95 Elijah said that he was the only one of the LORD’S prophets left (verse 22)—that is, he was the only one left who was standing publicly against Baal worship; the others were in hiding (verse 4).

96 See comment on Genesis 32:27–29.

97 Christians today are not called upon to kill God’s enemies; we do not live in a theocratic society, as the ancient Israelites did. However, we are certainly called upon to “purge evil” from our own lives and from our churches.

98 One might ask why Elijah needed to pray if God had already decided to send the rain. First of all, in numerous passages throughout Scripture we are commanded to pray; God often waits to hear our prayers before He takes action. The first key to effective praying is to pray in faith; the second key is to understand God’s will and pray in accordance with it. When God sees that we are seeking His will and honor above all, then He will graciously answer our prayers, as He answered Elijah’s (see James 5:15–18).

99 From Mount Carmel, Elijah’s servant could look out over the Mediterranean Sea; and so the cloud appeared to him to be rising from the sea (verse 44).

100 Ahab’s official palace was in Samaria, the capital of Israel. He also had another residence at Jezreel (1 Kings 21:1).

101 Other Old Testament figures were also especially empowered by God’s Spirit; for examples, see Judges 14:6,19; 1 Samuel 16:13.

102 Jezebel used a common curse formula: “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if. . .” (verse 2). For other examples, see 1 Samuel 3:17; 1 Kings 2:23.

103 Depression is a very common human condition; depression is not necessarily a sign of sin or spiritual failure. Godly and faithful believers can become depressed from time to time. There are also medical and hormonal factors that can trigger depression. Depression often follows a period of great elation—as is seen, for example, in postpartum depression.

104 Note that the angel gave Elijah very simple instructions: “Get up and eat” (verse 5). When we are depressed, God often leads us to recovery by simple and practical steps. Instead of trying to overcome the depression on our own, which usually fails, we should instead listen for God’s instructions and follow them. God’s method does not fail.

For a discussion of the role of angels, see Genesis 16:7–10; 18:1–8 and comments; Word List: Angel.

105 The Lord had also appeared to Moses by “passing in front of him” (Exodus 33:21–23).

106 In verse 16, the word anoint simply means “appoint” or “designate"; it was actually Elisha who designated Hazael and Jehu (see 2 Kings 8:7–15; 9:1–6).

107 The name Elisha means “God saves"; in this, it is similar to Joshua’s name, which means “the Lord saves."

108 Ben—Hadad was the son of a prior king of Aram of the same name (1 Kings 15:18–20).

109 Ahab was either bluffing, or the unnamed prophet (verse 13) had already told Ahab that BenHadad would be defeated.

110 It is likely that Ahab did not regard BenHadad as his greatest enemy. North of Aram there was an even greater enemy waiting for the opportunity to seize both Aram and Israel: the Assyrians. Perhaps Ahab hoped to make an alliance with BenHadad in order to ward off their common enemy.

111 The sons of the prophets (verse 35) were members of a group of prophets that lived and traveled together (see 1 Samuel 10:5; 19:20). Here the word “sons" simply means “members” of the group.

112 In ancient times, a soldier guarding a prisoner would often be executed if the prisoner escaped. Furthermore, the principle of making restitution for the loss of something (or someone) entrusted to one’s care had long been established in the law of Moses (Exodus 22:7–15).

113 In verse 42, the Hebrew word to die means to be “devoted to destruction.” For the meaning of the terms “devoted to destruction” and “devoted to the Lord,” see Leviticus 27:28–29; Numbers 21:1–3 and comments.

114 The kings of other nations, however, customarily did whatever they pleased. Since Ahab’s wife Jezebel was the daughter of such a king, she couldn’t understand why Ahab didn’t just seize Naboth’s vineyard.

Much earlier, the prophet Samuel had warned the Israelites that if they had a king ruling over them, as they had demanded, that king would seize their fields and vineyards and much more (1 Samuel 8:10–18); Samuel’s prophecy was now about to come true once again.

115 Naboth was accused (falsely) of breaking just one of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:7), but Jezebel was guilty of breaking four of them! (Exodus 20:13,15–17).

116 To have remorse is to grieve over the judgment; to repent is to grieve over the sin and then turn from it. For further discussion, see Word List: Repentance.

117 In verse 2, the writer says that Jehoshaphat went down to see the king of Israel. Jerusalem was higher in elevation than Samaria, so even though Samaria was to the north it was still correct to say that Jehoshaphat “went down” to Samaria.

118 According to 2 Chronicles 18:1, Jehoshaphat had allied himself with Ahab by marriage; Jehoshaphat’s son Jehoram had married Ahab’s daughter Athaliah (2 Kings 8:18,25–26). This marriage alliance was to cause much trouble for Judah in the years that followed.

119 It is uncertain who this spirit was; it was a “spirit” that God used for His purposes. Perhaps this spirit was a symbol of the “power of a lie.” At any event, this was only a vision and not an actual heavenly meeting. Furthermore, God did not lie to Ahab; through this vision He truthfully revealed to Ahab what was going to happen to him.

120 It is noteworthy that the godly Jehoshaphat, having asked for counsel from the Lord, did not in the end follow it any better than Ahab did! Maintaining his alliance with Ahab was evidently more important to him than listening to the Lord.

121 The fulfillment of Elijah’s prophecy had been modified—that is, delayed—because of Ahab’s earlier contrition (1 Kings 21:29).

122 For a fuller account of Jehoshaphat’s reign, see 2 Chronicles Chapters 17–20. For an account of the reign of Jehoshaphat’s son Jehoram (verse 50), see 2 Kings 8:16–24.

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