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.” [1 Kings 22:7-8 ESV]
King Ahab knew what he wanted to do. He had already decided to wage war against the king of Syria. They had not fought for three years yet there was constant tension. When king Jehoshaphat, visiting from Jerusalem, he was drawn into Ahab’s conspiracy to attack Syria.
Ahab listened to the 400 prophets of Asherah who encouraged him to go to war. These were the prophets of Jezebel not slaughtered by Elijah on Mount Carmel because they knew better than to accept the invitation from a real prophet (see 1 Kings 18). They were false prophets serving a fictional god.
Jehoshaphat, on the other hand, wanted to hear from God before they attacked Syria. He asked to hear from a legitimate prophet of God and Macaiah was summoned. Ahab hated Micaiah because he told the truth and never prophesied good about the king. Micaiah told the truth because this is what the true prophets of God speak. If they did not tell the truth then God commanded they die (see Deuteronomy 18:20).
Asherah’s false prophets spoke lies to the king, which he accepted as truth. Macaiah told the truth which Ahab considered bad advice. At the center of Ahab’s universe was himself and all reality must revolve around him. If it did not then the king, and his wife Jezebel, would conspire and murder and manipulate people until it did fit his expectations. Read 1 Kings 16:29 to the end of the book.
Ahab was the worst of a rebellious line of kings of the Northern kingdom of Israel. None of these kings followed God. Rebellion against God is rebellion against truth and the moral standards of truth which originate and come to fulfillment in God.
Micaiah spoke the truth of God because he was righteous in God’s eyes. His righteousness did not come from himself but from the God who made him righteous and put righteous words in his mouth.
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.” [1 Kings 22:11-14 ESV]
Micaiah knew this king, and knew the prophets of the demon Asherah. Knowing the king did not want to hear the truth he entered the presence of the kings and dismissively told Ahab to do what he wanted to do. Go to war with Syria. Be triumphant. Ahab didn’t believe him. His body language and unconcerned posture may have shown Ahab the prophets disdain for the king.
Before Jehoshaphat, whom Micaiah respected, Ahab declared he was to speak only the truth. So Micaiah told him the truth. Israel would be scattered. The king would be killed. Ahab’s false prophets had been given a lying spirit and the king would believe them.
One of the false prophets slapped Micaiah. Then, Ahab ordered him into a prison cell, with only enough food to exist, until he returned from warring with Syria.
Micaiah’s retort was simple. “‘If you return in peace, the LORD has not spoken by me.’ And he said, ‘Hear, all you peoples!’” [1 Kings 22:28 ESV]. God’s message was not just for the king but for everyone present. Micaiah suffered because of the righteousness of God. He did not compromise the truth of God. He did not allow anyone to act as if God were not who He is. He spoke the words of God to a people who cared nothing for God. It was not Macaiah’s but God’s words Ahab considered evil.
We do not know if Micaiah was ever released from his prison cell after Ahab died. We can know God cared for him and did not abandon him, for God is trustworthy and takes to Himself those who stand for Him.
How many Christians stand for God and suffer for righteousness and have been forgotten by the world? They are never forgotten by God.