During a visit with Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, Ahab, king of Judah, Ahab, king of Israel, requested that they form an alliance in going to battle to reclaim RamothGilead from the Syrians. Jehoshaphat expressed to Ahab his desire to unite to fight—if Ahab would inquire whether it was God’s will (1 Kings 22:4-5).
With about 400 of his prophets assembled, Ahab asked, “Shall I go against Ramoth-Gilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king” (v. 6). Something they said, or perhaps how they said it, indicated to Jehoshaphat that these men were not true prophets. He could tell that they had entered into an alliance to lie. They were going to tell Ahab whatever he wanted to hear. Consequently, Jehoshaphat said to Ahab, “Is there not here a prophet of the Lord besides, that we might inquire of him?” (v. 7).
Ahab confessed that there was “yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the Lord” (v. 8). Why was he not a part of the original prophetic party who assembled before the kings? Ahab admitted “but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil” (v. 8).
Jehoshaphat insisted that Micaiah be brought to prophesy. Meanwhile, as Ahab and Jehoshaphat sat on their thrones in royal apparel, all the prophets continued to prophesy. In particular, Zedekiah “made him horns of iron” and claimed “Thus saith the Lord, with these shalt thou push the Syrians, until thou have consumed them” (v. 11). Zedekiah was not alone in his insistence. In fact, “all the prophets prophesied so” (v. 12).
The messenger who was sent to retrieve Micaiah insisted, “the words of the prophets declare good unto the king with one mouth: let thy word I pray thee, be like the word of one of them, and speak that which is good” (v. 13).
Micaiah minced no words in reply. He made it perfectly clear that he would rely upon the Lord, and the Lord alone, for the message he delivered. Specifically, he said, “As the Lord liveth, what the Lord saith unto me, that will I speak” (v. 14). Micaiah would not be intimidated by peer pressure to conform his message to please the masses. He refused to follow a multitude to do evil (Ex. 23:2). He would rely upon God and not men for the content of his message. His attitude is like Paul in Galatians 1:10: “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” Paul did not rely upon men for the source of his message: “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:11-12). Likewise, Micaiah relied completely upon God for his message. When Micaiah appeared, Ahab asked, “Micaiah, shall we go against Ramoth-Gilead 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” (1 Kings 22:15). You would think Ahab would have been overjoyed. After all, Micaiah’s words were the very same words spoken by the other prophets. However, Ahab’s response reveals that there must have been something in the tone of Micaiah’s words to indicate that he was speaking sarcastically. Ahab said, “How many times shall I adjure thee that thou tell me nothing but that which is true in the name of the Lord?” (v. 16). It would be hard to find a better example of words spoken in sanctimonious hypocrisy. Ahab had no real love for the truth, but he was about to hear an unpleasant truth. Micaiah spoke of how Israel would be scattered as sheep without a shepherd (v. 17). Ahab turned to Jehoshaphat and said, “I told you that Micaiah never has anything good to say about me” (v.18). Micaiah explained that God had allowed a lying spirit to lead the prophets to encourage Ahab to go into a battle in which he would lose his life (vv. 19-23).
As Micaiah preached God’s truth, Zedekiah defiantly “went near, and smote him on the cheek” and mockingly asked, “Which way went the Spirit of the Lord from me to speak unto thee?” (v. 24). Undeterred, Micaiah assured Zedekiah that he would someday personally experience the fulfillment of Micaiah’s prophecies (v. 25). At this point Ahab ordered Micaiah to prison with the following orders: “Put this fellow in the prison, and feed him with the bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I come in peace” (v. 27).
Micaiah assured the king, “If thou return at all in peace, the Lord hath not spoken by me” (v. 28). Micaiah understood that “when a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him” (Deut. 18:22). Micaiah knew his prophecies would come true because they originated with God—not him. Hence, he begged the people, “Hearken, O people, every one of you” (1 Kings 22:28).
Micaiah is truly an unsung hero of the Bible. He appears as a loyal prophet who would rather suffer persecution than to preach more or less than God revealed. He cared not for the demands nor the applause of men. He disappears from Scripture as an obedient prophet who preached the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. May God give us more Micaiahs!
-B.J. Clarke serves as the Director for the Memphis School of Preaching.