The scriptures are full of wisdom of how to keep ourselves from destroying our lives. In fact, God is trying to keep us from destroying ourselves by giving us his laws, his ways, and his teachings. But 1 Kings 22 is going to show us how to destroy our lives. This is going to be shown through the lens of Ahab’s life. We had hoped in 1 Kings 21 that Ahab’s repentance was going to be long-lasting and now he would devote himself to following the Lord. But even after humbling himself after hearing the decree of destruction for himself and his dynasty, Ahab returns to his old ways. Ahab returns to life as it was before. So we are going to consider how to destroy our lives by seeing how Ahab ruins his life after his repentance.
Do Not Inquire of the Lord (22:1-5)
The problems begin with Ben-hadad, the king of Syria, not keeping the terms for peace that he and Ahab agreed on back at the end of 1 Kings 20. Of course this would not have been a problem if Ahab had done what God commanded him to do in chapter 20. Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, is visiting Ahab, the king of Israel. Ahab points out that the king of Syria is not keeping to the peace terms and asks Jehoshaphat to help him recapture Ramoth-gilead. Jehoshaphat says he will but first we need to ask for the word of the Lord. This is the first picture of how to destroy your life. Ahab has no interest in seeking the will of the Lord. He just wants to act. He just wants to go to battle against Syria because that is what he thinks is the right thing to do. The first way to destroy your life is never ask God for direction. Never look to God’s word for guidance. Blaze ahead with your life without consulting the Lord. Thankfully, Jehoshaphat puts on the brakes and says that he need to seek the counsel of the Lord first. Jehoshaphat is generally regarded as a righteous king according to 2 Chronicles and so he says what Ahab should have said.
Only Surround Yourself With People Who Agree With You (22:6-12)
Ahab seems agreeable to seeking the word of the Lord. But what he does is interesting. Ahab gathers 400 prophets and asks them if he should go up to battle at Ramoth-gilead or not. All the prophets responds, “Go up, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” The nature of the response seems to cause Jehoshaphat a little bit of concern. He asks if there is a prophet of the Lord that they can ask (22:7). He does not seem convinced that this is really the word of the Lord. Ahab answers that there is still one prophet that we used to ask. His name is Micaiah but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me but only disaster. Jehoshaphat tells Ahab that you should not say something like that about a prophet of the Lord. So both the kings are dressed in their royal robes, sitting on their thrones, and these 400 prophets are still prophesying to attack Ramoth-Gilead and be victorious. The Lord will give it into your hand (22:12). In fact, a man named Zedekiah makes horns of iron and says that they will gore the Syrians to death. It is a whole production with all of these prophets saying yes to King Ahab.
This is the second way that we destroy our lives. Surround yourself with people who will always agree with you. Make sure that you are only friends with people who will always validate what you are doing and always agree with your decisions. Further, be like Ahab and hate anyone who does not agree with you. This is the sure way to disaster. Surround yourself only with the people who always agree with you and cut off anyone who disagrees with you. We see to really have this problem in our society right now. Apparently in our culture you cannot be friends with someone without whom you disagree. Taken to its logical and furthest extent, means you cannot have any friends because you will always have something you will not agree on. As followers of Jesus we have to make sure that we do not fall into the same trap, only surrounding ourselves with people who will agree with our life decisions and choices. I had one person tell me that I had hurt this person’s feelings. I tried to understand how and I was told that the way I hurt this person’s feelings was because I did not agree with the life choices being made. I responded that I did not hurt your feelings but you just do not like what I am telling you. This is one reason why you see people jump around to other churches. They are looking for a place that will completely agree with all their life choices. They want to surround themselves with people who will validate their feelings and never tell them that they are wrong. This is why you have churches who teach vaguely about the Bible and become megachurches. They are not going to tell you anything you do not want to hear. They will only tell you that you can keep living how you are living. We need to be careful that we do not do the same thing. We cannot cut ourselves from others in the church just because we do not like what they say to us. Do not surround yourselves with only people who agree with you or you will destroy your life.
Do Not Listen To God (22:13-28)
A messenger goes to bring Micaiah, the prophet of the Lord, into the presence of these two kings. The messenger tells Micaiah what the other prophets said. The other prophets gave a favorable response to the king and you need to do the same thing. Here is some pressure to tell Ahab what he wants to hear. But Micaiah says in verse 14 that he is only going to say what God says. You are not going to pressure me to say what you want to hear. I can only say what God says. This is such an important message for us that we would also do the same thing. We have to tell people what God says. We cannot tell people what they want to hear. This is hard but it must be done.
So Micaiah is put before the two kings and Ahab asks Micaiah if they should go to battle against Ramoth-gilead or not. Micaiah says, “Go up and triumph; the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” He says the same words as the other prophets. But it is clear that he says it in such a way so that Ahab does not believe that he is telling him the truth. Ahab responds in verse 16, “How many times shall I make your swear that you speak to me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?” So Micaiah now gives the true word of the Lord. Do you really want the truth? Let me tell you the truth. So he says that he sees Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd. The Lord tells the sheep to go home in peace because they have no master. No shepherd and no master means that Ahab is going to die if he goes up to this battle. Ahab immediately tells Jehoshaphat that I told you he always prophesies evil against me.
But Micaiah is not done. He goes on to explain that it is the will of the Lord for Ahab to be destroyed. His time has come and the way it is going to happen is by having these prophets telling him that he will succeed in this battle when he is actually going to die in the battle. Zedekiah strikes Micaiah in the cheek over this, asking how Micaiah has the Spirit of the Lord with a different message than him? Micaiah simply says that you will see soon enough. Now consider what Ahab does. He orders for Micaiah to be put in prison with meager rations until he comes back in peace. Micaiah responds that if Ahab comes back in peace, then the Lord has not spoken by me. But Ahab knows that God has spoken through Micaiah. He knows that he is a true prophet of the Lord. But he does not listen. He knows that what Micaiah is saying is right. But he is not going to listen.
If you want to destroy your life, do not listen to what God says. Let the word of the Lord be an empty formality to you. Ahab allows the word of the Lord to effectively go in one ear and out the other. What Ahab fails to understand is that God’s laws and messages are given for his good. It is disaster to him because he will not listen to what God says. But we often do not look at God’s laws in this way. I recently had to buy my daughters cars for school. The car comes with an owner’s manual and a quick start guide. Why do they include these things with the car? They include these things to keep you from destroying your car. They include these things so you can maximize the joy and value of your car. No one reads the owner’s manual with anger about having change the oil, rotate the tires, and when to have general maintenance performed. We want to know this information so that we do not destroy the car. But when it comes to God’s law, the human default is to hear was God says with anger and reject what he says to do. We think that God is trying to limit our joy and keep us from enjoying life. In fact, God is trying to maximize our joy and help us enjoy life to the fullest. But will we listen to what God tells us? We destroy our lives when we do not.
Go Forward With Your Plan Anyway (22:29-40)
Finally, you will destroy your life if, when you hear the word of the Lord, you go forward with your plans. Ahab pretends that he has heard what God says and then goes forward with his own plans. All he wanted was God to validate what he was going to do anyway. But Ahab believes he can get around what God has said. It is amazing to read in verse 29 that both the kings went up to Ramoth-gilead. I am particularly surprised that Jehoshaphat goes up with Ahab after hearing the prophecy delivered by Micaiah. Clearly, Ahab has some concerns because he says that he is going to disguise himself as he goes into this battle. But he wants Jehoshaphat to wear his royal robes as a distraction. I do not know why Jehoshaphat would agree to this either. It nearly gets him killed as the Syrian army attacks him until they realize that this is not Ahab (22:32). The king of Syria had given the order to not fight with anyone except Ahab. Ben-hadad wants Ahab dead. That is his focus and only concern.
But notice what happens in verse 34. A certain man drew his bow and at random hit King Ahab between a joint in his armor. It was not even the intent of this soldier to shoot Ahab. It was just a random, stray arrow that hits Ahab with a fatal wound. The soldier had no specific target. But God did. God will have his word accomplished, even if it seems to be a random event. God will work through what appears to be random actions to accomplish his will.
The point is that if you resist the Lord, you do so to your own destruction. Please think about this. Ahab was specifically told that he would die in battle if he went up to Ramoth-gilead. Ahab did not believe it. He disregarded what God said and died. Ahab thought he could even try a disguise to get away with what he wanted to do. But that did not matter either. Ahab died and it was completely avoidable. None of this had to happen. He just had to listen to the word of the Lord this disaster would have never happened.
We can destroy our lives just like Ahab. We can choose not to seek God’s will, surround ourselves with only people who will agree with us, disregard what God says, and go forward with what we want to do. As we do this we are destroying ourselves. God comes along and tells us words like these:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor those habitually drunk, nor verbal abusers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9–10 NASB 2020)
But we come along and do what we want while surround ourselves with people who agree with our assessment. Our eternal destruction can be avoided if we would only listen to what God is telling us. God warns us again in another place in his word.
Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I am warning you about these things—as I warned you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19–21 CSB)
Divorce is not okay. Sexual immorality is not okay. Adultery is not okay. Greed is not okay. Selfishness is not okay. Being drunk is not okay. Being verbally abusive is not okay. Cheating people is not okay. Stealing from people is not okay. But we try to disguise our sins like Ahab, thinking that our disguise will allow us to get away with what we are doing. Listen to what God says: “Do not be deceived.” Ahab was deceived. He did not listen to God but listened to his false prophets who surrounded him with approval for his decisions.
Think back to last year during the difficulties of Covid-19 through today. What did we do without seeking the will of the Lord or seeking God’s approval? What decisions did we make because that is what we felt good about doing rather than what would have been God’s will? Think back to times when you were in trials or suffering. What did we do without seeking the will of the Lord or seeking God’s approval? What decisions did we make because that is what we felt good about doing rather than what would have been God’s will? Think about your plans. Do we make our plans without seeking the will of the Lord or seeking God’s approval? What plans do we make because that is what sounds good to us rather than what would have been God’s will?
It really is easy to destroy your life. Simply do not seek, listen, or follow what God says to do. Instead, do what you think sounds best and surround yourself with people who agree with you. But disaster can be avoided if we would just listen to what God is telling us to do. Follow his ways and seek him with your heart and you will be blessed with eternal life.