Don’t Want to Hear It

I hate him…he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad.” 1 Kings 22:8

Those are words from a notoriously awful king of Israel, a fellow by the name of Ahab.  Ahab is famous for his opposition to Yahweh and to his prophets.  Elijah confronted Ahab and, at the command of the Lord brought three years of famine.  Elijah also demonstrated the true identity of Yahweh as the one true Lord through the contest on Mt. Carmel.  Despite all the best efforts of the priests of Baal, no fire fell from heaven to receive their sacrifice.  Yet in response to Elijah fire fell from heaven, consuming not just sacrifice, but water-soaked wood, altar, and all!

Did Ahab learn anything from these lessons from the Lord?  No.  Despite these (and many other) gracious interventions from heaven, Ahab persisted in his hardness of heart.  He colludes with his wife to murder Naboth and steal his vineyard.  He resists the words of God’s prophets.

In the course of time, Ahab longed to regain the city of Ramoth Gilead from his Aramean enemies.  Jeshoshaphat king of Judah is willing to help him in the task, but asks for the advice of a prophet of the Lord.  Ahab bristles.  His own yes-men pseudo-prophets have already told him to go up to battle, that victory was at hand.  And the one prophet of the Lord at hand, Micaiah, is distasteful to Ahab.

Why doesn’t Ahab like Micaiah?  Is he a dishonest spokesman?  Just the opposite.  He is too truthful for Ahab’s taste.  He doesn’t tell Ahab what he wants to hear.  He tells him what the Lord actually says.

4 So he asked Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to fight against Ramoth Gilead?” Jehoshaphat replied to the king of Israel, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.” 5 But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, “First seek the counsel of the LORD.” 6 So the king of Israel brought together the prophets– about four hundred men– and asked them, “Shall I go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?” “Go,” they answered, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.” 7 But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not a prophet of the LORD here whom we can inquire of?” 8 The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, “There is still one man through whom we can inquire of the LORD, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.” “The king should not say that,” Jehoshaphat replied. (1 Ki. 22:4-8 NIV)

Ahab is a reprehensible fellow in many ways, so it is easy to shake our head at his foolishness in a dismissive way.  Yet…are we not like him in this regard?  Sometimes we just don’t want to hear what we don’t want to hear.  Most people I know will confess that they tend to get defensive when they are confronted with any kind of criticism.  Is this not true of husbands and wives?  Of children and parents?  Of employees and employers?  We want to hear good, not bad.

This is human nature to a significant degree, but it is increasingly true in our day.  People have lost the ability to receive a word of critique in humility without being offended.  Everything seems to be a personal attack.  And yet, if we are ever to learn anything, to grow, we must be challenged – it is a gift.

God moves in our life by convicting us – the Holy Spirit convicts us.  The scriptures confront us.  The truth of God’s character and nature are firm and unmoving – the same yesterday, today, and forever.  We must allow the truth to confront and transform us.  Inquire of the Lord, and receive what he says: whether good or bad.