Reflections From 2 CHRONICLES: 17-18 “THE CONTRAST BETWEEN A FOOLISH AND WISE KING IS WORD FOCUSED”

top-10-jewish-warriors-660x350

Jehoshaphat followed Asa his father as king over Israel and Judah.  He was like David in his earlier years and did not worship the Baals, but instead sought God, followed his commandments and did not become stiff-necked like the rest of Israel:

The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the example of his father David’s earlier days and did not seek the Baals, but sought the God of his father, followed His commandments, and did not act as Israel did. So the Lord established the kingdom in his control, and all Judah brought tribute to Jehoshaphat, and he had great riches and honor. He took great pride in the ways of the Lord and again removed the high places and the Asherim from Judah.  (17:3-6) 

 This king walked with God and was thus honored by Him in battle (18:31).  By contrast Ahab was an evil king, for unlike Jehoshaphat he did not receive the word of the LORD, but instead the word of man as ultimate.  Before going into battle this king would inquire of prophets who would tell him “good news”, but they were merely mouthpieces of deceiving spirits sent by God:

20 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘How?’ 21 He said, ‘I will go and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ Then He said, ‘You are to entice him and prevail also. Go and do so.’ 22 Now therefore, behold, the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouth of these your prophets, for the Lord has proclaimed disaster against you.”(18:20-22)

Several observations are evident from the context; first, Ahab viewed the word of God from a true prophet as (Micaiah) evil and the deceptive false word of man as good:

But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not yet a prophet of the Lord here that we may inquire of him?”The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me but always evil. He is Micaiah, son of Imla.” But Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say so.” (18:6-7)

Somewhere it is written, “Woe to the nation that calls what is righteous evil and what is wicked good” (sort of).   Second, Micaiah was determined to speak God’s word whether or not it was popular or even if it caused him harm—which it did landing him in prison (18:12-13, 14-18).

Third, God was behind the scenes working out His providential purposes, puzzling as it may be to us:

18 Micaiah said, “Therefore, hear the word of the Lord. I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing on His right and on His left. 19 The Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab king of Israel to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said this while another said that. 20 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘How?’ 21 He said, ‘I will go and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ Then He said, ‘You are to entice him and prevail also. Go and do so.’ 22 Now therefore, behold, the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouth of these your prophets, for the Lord has proclaimed disaster against you.” (18:18-22)

This text is one of many (Is.19:1-15; Ez.14:6-11) that reveals the God of love acting in a way that evil might be attributed to Him; actions that seem cruel, wicked and manipulative for the purpose of ridding Israel of her idolatry and letting the nations know that God is the LORD.

Fourth, Micaiah lets Ahab know that if he returns from battle, then he indeed is not God’s prophet; “27 Micaiah said, “If you indeed return safely, the Lord has not spoken by me.” And he said, “Listen, all you people.”  Here the prophet is putting himself under the authority of God’s word.  He is not above the word, nor is any earthly king.

The events turned out as God said they would, how could they not?!  And yet the choices of human beings play significant roles in how history unfolds.  For every action we take, an account to the God of creation will be given.  This is a deeply sobering matter.

The wise king heeded the prophet’s word, the foolish king did not.  So if any of us are going to be considered either wise or foolish, there’s one issue to settle: what will be our response to the revelation of Yahweh?

(SDG)

Reflections From 1 SAMUEL 22-24: “A TALE OF TWO KINGS—Part 1”

29995_1_samuel_t_sm

The trials of David continue to unfold as he hides from King Saul in caves and forests (22:1-5).  In chapter 22 a turn of events reveals the type of man David was:

 

“So David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; and when his brothers and all his father’s household heard of it, they went down there to him. Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Now there were about four hundred men with him. (Vv.1-2)

 There was a quality of character and leadership that David possessed that even in the worst of times his brothers (who once despised him) came to him for direction and hope.  David gathered unto himself (I think by God’s doing) people that were also like him: distressed, indebted and discontented.  How ironic that David would be surrounded by people who could relate to his plight, but it seems that God will often do that for us so that we don’t lose heart in the battles of life.   

            Saul’s madness once again manifests as he has the priests of Nob killed because they helped David in his hour of need.  When Ahimelech inquires of Saul and recounts David’s faithfulness it only leads to his death (22:11-19):

11 Then the king sent someone to summon Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father’s household, the priests who were in Nob; and all of them came to the king. 12 Saul said, “Listen now, son of Ahitub.” And he answered, “Here I am, my lord.” 13 Saul then said to him, “Why have you and the son of Jesse conspired against me, in that you have given him bread and a sword and have inquired of God for him, so that he would rise up against me by lying in ambush as it is this day?”   14 Then Ahimelech answered the king and said, “And who among all your servants is as faithful as David, even the king’s son-in-law, who is captain over your guard, and is honored in your house? 15 Did I just begin to inquire of God for him today? Far be it from me! Do not let the king impute anything to his servant or to any of the household of my father, for your servant knows nothing at all of this whole affair.” 16 But the king said, “You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you and all your father’s household!” 17 And the king said to the guards who were attending him, “Turn around and put the priests of the Lord to death, because their hand also is with David and because they knew that he was fleeing and did not reveal it to me.” But the servants of the king were not willing to put forth their hands to attack the priests of the Lord. 18 Then the king said to Doeg, “You turn around and attack the priests.” And Doeg the Edomite turned around and attacked the priests, and he killed that day eighty-five men who wore the linen ephod. 19 And he struck Nob the city of the priests with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and infants; also oxen, donkeys, and sheep he struck with the edge of the sword.”     

This type of madness reveals not only that God had taken the kingdom from Saul but also that his thirst for righteous blood demanded to be satisfied.  Even though David is fleeing from Saul, he nevertheless makes time to ask God whether or not to help Keilah from being plundered by the Philistines (23:1-12).  The term for prayer used here is “David inquired of the LORD” as to which actions to take.

The text does not say to us that God used an audible voice, but what else could it be when the text reads, “And the LORD answered…and the LORD said” when speaking to David?  Assuredly, David was clear and acted accordingly.  This was intercessory prayer.  Ironically, the very people David rescued here from the Philistines would be the same people that would turn him over to King Saul given the opportunity.

What we see here is that David asks for direction from God concerning battle strategy and it’s granted, David asks if a people will either betray him or protect him and God answers him.  When sovereigns inquire of the LORD, answers often come.  What Saul however does not seem to get is that unless the LORD deliver David into his hands, he won’t be successful.

Perhaps the most revealing account between these two kings is where Saul’s thirst for David’s blood remains unquenched, but David stays his opportunity to kill Saul (24:1-9).  David knew he had done nothing wrong toward Saul but he also knew that God is the one who exalts leaders and removes them ultimately.  The text reads;

10 Behold, this day your eyes have seen that the Lord had given you today into my hand in the cave, and some said to kill you, but my eye had pity on you; and I said, ‘I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed.’

The difference between David and Saul: the latter is merciless and mad; the former is merciful and sober.  When rulers reject God’s ways, they meander in a degree of madness that blinds their judgment.  This section ends with Saul’s confession and plea to David which are moving and sobering:

20 Now, behold, I know that you will surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hand. 21 So now swear to me by the Lord that you will not cut off my descendants after me and that you will not destroy my name from my father’s household.” 22 David swore to Saul. And Saul went to his home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.

Saul’s confession reveals that he knew what he was doing was wrong but he couldn’t help himself (again, I think it’s because God’s favor was no longer on him).  Nevertheless, he pleads for David to be gracious to his house in spite of Saul’s wickedness and his request is granted.  This love/hate relationship is somewhat sick but also reveals the human condition that even when our enemies desire our harm, we can by God’s spirit truly bless them.  David’s dealings with Saul instruct believers on how to trust God with our enemies and treat them nevertheless with mercy.  Astounding!

(SDG)